CANSail Dinghy

CANSail Dinghy

The CANSail program is designed to provide sailors with the skills they need to enter into fun, challenging experiences suited to their age and stage of development. Programs are designed to get – and keep – sailors excited about sailing! CANSail programs are offered by local clubs and schools across Canada.

What is CANSail?

The CANSail Program is Sail Canada’s national training program for sailing in dinghies. The program is made up of core standards that promote progressive training of core dinghy sailing skills and knowledge. CANSail programming means lots of time on the water in a safe, fun and active learning environment. Sailors learn the skills and enter into fun and challenging experiences suited to their age and stage of development. The programming is designed to get – and keep – sailors excited about sailing for life! 

CANSail Programs are delivered locally by clubs and schools across Canada, with a goal of fostering performance in sailing and life long participation in the sport.

Why CANSail?

CANSail is designed to be a set of progressive learn to sail standards focused on providing sailors with a solid foundation of core skills. It allows sailors to learn and progress in any type of boat and consolidates key skills and solid experiences before adding complex skills.

The CANSail Program

Introductory Programs – Fundamental Skills Acquisition

  • WetFeet – Introduction to sailing for sailors aged five to eight years and designed for implementation in an Optimist Dinghy.
  • ICANSail – Basic concepts are introduced and tried by first time participants as part of an opportunity to get out on the water and experience sailing.
  • CANSail 1 – Introduction to sailing. CANSail 1 teaches sailors the fundamental sailing skills including basic sheeting, steering, and boat handling on all points of sail. Sailors can sail within defined boundaries set by an instructor
  • CANSail 2 – Basic sailing. CANSail 2 teaches sailors to adjust their bodies and boats for changes in direction and wind speed while sailing, and to perform boat-handling manoeuvers in a controlled manner while in a controlled setting.

Intermediate Programs – Fundamental Skill Consolidation

  • CANSail 3 – Intermediate sailing. CANSail 3 teaches sailors to integrate the fundamental boat handling manoeuvers and balance with basic tactics and strategy as well as applied sail trim. Sailors are exposed to a greater variety of conditions and participate in a club race or club training camp.
  • CANSail 4 – Advanced sailing. CANSail 4 teaches sailors to perform advanced boat handling manoeuvers in a variety of conditions. Sailors can successfully execute manoeuvers in competitive settings and for tactical and strategic purposes. Sailors participate in a one to two-day local regatta.

Advanced Programs – Applied Skill Acquisition

  • CANSail 5 – Basic integration of racing. CANSail 5 fully integrates boat handling with tactics and strategy. Sailors are also introduced to the concept of rig tuning and its relation to boat trim and conditions. Sailors participate in a one to two-day local regatta.
  • CANSail 6 – Full integration of racing. CANSail 6 fully integrates boat handling, sail trim, and rig setup with racing. Sailors train to perform all skills within a competitive race setting in order to achieve accurate sailing within a regatta and in all conditions. Sailors participate in a regional or provincial regatta.

More About the CANSail Dinghy Program

Delivery of the CANSail Program

There are many ways to deliver the CANSail program. Sailing clubs or schools may choose to deliver the CANSail program in different formats which include evening, weekend and full-day programming. The CANSail standards are designed to be flexible so that sailors can work on skills from different levels at the same time and take part in a program that works best for them.

Sailors may progress through CANSail in a daily summer program or on weekends at their local club. Those interested in racing may choose to join a club race team and complete elements of the CANSail program while sailing with their team. There are lots of ways to progress through the CANSail Program, find one that is right for you!

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CANSail Dinghy Instructors

The CANSail program can only be delivered by current CANSail Instructors who have completed their annual Sail Canada Registration and maintained all their prerequisite certifications.

CANSail Instructors are Trained and Certified following the Coaching Association of Canada, National Coaching Certification Program. Any Instructor or Coach seeking the training to become CANSail accredited should check with their Provincial Sailing Association

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Long Term Sailor Development Framework

The CANSail Dinghy standards and program delivery support systems have been developed to meet the objectives of Sail Canada and Provincial partners in implementing the Long Term Sailor Development Framework (LTSD). The CANSail standards correlate with the first four stages of development in the LTSD, with skills, learning, and experiences meeting the objectives of the developmental stage.

View Long Term Sail Development Framework


  • Rolex
  • Helly Hansen
  • Gallagher Skippers' Plan
  • BMO Sail Canada MasterCard
  • Government of Canada