Sailboat Skipper Rating System

Basic Skipper Ratings - Junior and Novice

The Junior Skipper Rating is the rating achieved by the majority of active CSC sailors. This rating allows a member to sail most of the smaller boats in the daysailing area between Berkeley and Emeryville. Jr. Skippers can bring non-members out sailing as guests, and can also earn credits towards free memberships by teaching lessons (so can Novices, but a Novice can teach only one person at a time in the Novice Area).

The Jr. Skipper rating can be obtained by members who have contributed (and been signed off for) at least 4 hours of work and who can pass three tests: a written test covering terminology, basic sailing skills, and CSC rules (all covered in the CSC online "handbooks"); a rigging test demonstrating ability to properly rig and launch a CSC boat; and a practical sailing test demonstrating the skills listed below. The sailing test requires at least ten knots of wind, and includes a capsize.

Requirements

To get a Novice or Junior rating, you must pass a written test, a rigging test, and a practical test. The written and rigging tests are the same for Novice and Junior (you take them once only), but the practical is different.

  • Written Test - This is a 21 question multiple choice test on basic sailing and on Club rules as they apply to Novice and Junior sailors. You take it on the website. You can read the test here and take the test here (you must be logged into the website to use these links).
  • Rigging Test - This must be administered by a Senior Sailor. You will inspect a boat, find an fix any problems, put it into the water using the hoist without hittiing the rigging on the hoist, raise the main sail and set it for the conditions you see, and reef the main sail.
  • Practical Test - This must be administered by a Senior Sailor. For the Novice rating, it can be given in any wind conditions that will move the boat, and it is a very basic demonstration of skills - leaving the dock, tacking gybing, capsize recovery, anchoring while capsize, and returning to the dock. You will be by yourself in the boat (single-handing). The Junior test is described in more detail below, and it is given in higher winds (at least 10 knots, but some testers prefer closer to 15 knots).

You can do a self assessment for the Rigging and Practical Tests here (you must be logged in to use this link). You can use this to track your progres, and when you're ready, answer the last question (Are you ready for the test?) Yes, and a request will be posted to the testers' bulletin board.

How long will it take to get a Junior Rating?

The answer, of course, is "it depends". But the way to think about it is in terms of hours, not calendar time - hours of lessons and practice. If you're a beginner, it will probably take between 20 and 30 hours of lessons and practice to be ready for the on-the-water test. If you have sailing experience, it will take less time. Even very experienced sailors from other places may need time to adapt to the conditions on the SF Bay in the summer. And different people learn these skills at different rates.

Jr Skipper Sailing Skills Checklist:

1. Know the sailing circle and be able to sail a steady course on each trim:
· Close haul
· Close reach
· Beam reach
· Broad reach
· Run

2. Be able to sail on a close haul and close reach tack and be confident in sitting on the gunwale (AKA "Rail"), hiking out, and using the tiller extension.

3. Come about from a close haul course to a close haul course.

4. Heave to.

5. Gybe from a run to a run or a broad reach to a broad reach.

6. Slow sailing:
· crew overboard and recovery
· docking

7. Sailing backwards from the dock.

8. Capsize and recovery.
· Capsize prevention, by releasing mainsheet and jibsheet as needed, hiking out
· Preventing crew from climbing cockpit when masthead float is submerged
· Directing crew to hold bow when capsized, if needed to keep bow into wind
· Use of righting lines on Bahia
 
9. Anchoring especially while capsized

10. Reef underway.

11. Sail in tight circles around a buoy.
 
12. Right of Way Rules
 
Here is what to expect on your on-the-water Junior test and how to prepare for it.
 
Novice Rating
 
If you're not ready for the Junior rating, the Novice rating may be useful for you. It's a sort of Learner's Permit that lets you sail in the low-wind area under the Day Leaders supervision, either by yourself or with one other person, who needs to be a Club member (but doesn't need a rating). The rating allow you to go out and practice for the Junior test or just sail. You can even earn volunteer hours by teaching (one student only in the boat, and only in the Novice area, but great experience).  To earn the Novice rating, you need to pass the same Written and Rigging tests required for Junior and to pass a practical (on-the-water) test. The practical can be given by a sailing Senior in any wind conditions that can move the boat. You'll have to demonstrate taking the boat away from the dock by yourself, tacking, gybing, capsizing and anchoring while capsized, righting the boat and recovering the anchor, and docking.
 
Resources
  • First of all, you should read the Dinghy Sailing Manual. It has a lot of information about how to rig and sail a CSC dinghy.
  • The Club Operating Rules are here. You need only pay attention to the General rules and those that apply to Novice and Junior Sailors.
  • This video shows you how to inspect a Quest, put it into the water, raise the main sail, and reef it
  • There are blogs on sailing skills and theory written over the past years
  • And we're a club, a community. Don't hesitate to ask questions, either in person or on one of our lists.

Advanced Skipper Ratings - Senior and Cruising


More advanced ratings are earned by members who demonstrate an extremely high level of sailing skill and a commitment to the club's programs (teaching, maintenance, public service). See the links below for details on how to acquire each rating.

These ratings are obtained by passing advanced written and sailing tests, and (for the Senior Skipper rating only) contributing a work project of at least 10 hours. Refer to the Club Operating Rules to see specific requirements, sailing areas, and required equipment for advanced ratings.

The Senior Dinghy Skipper rating allows members to sail any CSC dinghy at any time, whether the club is open or not, in a much larger area than the Junior area.

This is a comprehensive guide focusing on the Senior Dinghy rating.

The Senior Skipper rating allows members to sail any of the CSC sailboat fleet, including the larger keelboats, within an area extending out into the Bay along the Berkeley Pier, and, for keelboats only, within a much greater area ranging from Emeryville to Richmond. This is a skills checklist for the Senior Keelboat practical test.

The Cruising Skipper rating allows members to sail the Club keelboats anywhere within the entire San Francisco Bay and Delta system. 

The Cruising Dinghy Skipper  rating allows members to sail the Club dinghies in a wider area on the San Francisco Bay.



Click here to see who can sign off on tests and ratings.