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Learn to Sail at J-Town

Learn to sail in downtown Toronto with St. James Town Sailing Club this season! We offer adult sailing lessons for sailors of all skill levels, from total beginner ("How do you get in the boat?") to seasoned racers (race training clinics).

At J-Town, we do not compromise on safety. While anyone is welcome to crew, all members need to have sufficient skills to helm (be responsible for taking a boat out). To become helm, you either need to successfully pass your CANSail 1&2 course at J-Town or you need to pass the Old Salt Test.

We offer members beginners' Sailing Lessons covering CANSail 1 and 2 curriculum, as well as more advanced CANSail 3 & CANSail 4 courses. All these classes are taught on Albacores.


Beginner's course is called CANSail 1&2. It is offered between May and August. 

Click here for more details on beginner courses, including schedule, fees and registration links.

Old salts are needed to helm albacores during the first sessions of each course. If you are available to do so, please sign up using the Old Salt 4 CANSail Sign up spreadsheet.


More advanced sailors can follow the more advanced CANSail 3 and CANSail 4 courses. They are offered once or twice a year.

Click here for more details on intermediate and advanced courses, including schedule, fees and registration links.

Cansail Instructors

All of our instructors are certified by the Canadian Yachting Association (CYA), and our course is based on the CANSail standard set out by the CYA.  The CANSail 1&2 certification awarded at the end of a successful course is recognized nationally by the CYA.

Our two lead instructors are George Chenery and Claire Shenstone-Harris.

George has taught sailing at J Town since 2011, and been involved with the club since long before he could drive. He has a passion for getting people on the water, from first timers who have never been in a boat to avid racers looking to hone their technique. George is also a Learning Facilitator who trains instructors for the CYA and has seen many thousands of capsizes, so you should never feel embarrassed on that front. When he's not on the water George can be found playing upright bass in several bands, making board games or training for marathons in the snow and ice.

Claire grew up sailing on Lake Ontario, began racing in her teens and has been a sailing instructor to both children and adults for eight years. She is passionate about the community at J-Town and has come to call J-Town her favourite place in the city. Claire is an actor by trade and in her spare time loves the torture of marathon running, and creative pursuits including publishing a board game with fellow instructor George. 

Laser and catamaran CLINICs

A few times a year, we run Laser  and catamaran clinics, which are required to sail those boats, on top of CANSail 1&2.

Click here for more details on Laser training

Click here for more details on Catamaran training

old salt TEST

New to J-Town but already an experienced dinghy sailor? If you prefer to skip our Learn to Sail course we offer the option to take our Experienced Sailor Test or, as we like to call it, the Old Salt Test.

Tests are conducted in our Albacore dinghies. You will be asked to demonstrate the following:

  • Basic sailboat and sailing knowledge
  • Departing and returning to our docks
  • Tacking and gybing
  • Good sail trim on all points of sail
  • Crew overboard drill
  • Capsize recovery
If you haven't sailed for many years, have sailed but not in a dinghy, or you're due for a refresher in any of the above skills, we strongly recommend you take a Learn to Sail course.

You can request an Old Salt test while registering as a new member


Learned to sail? Polish your skills by racing! For many members, racing is an integral part of the J-Town experience.  It is a great way to improve your sailing skills and get to know more sailors both at J-Town and the surrounding clubs.  

Once you have completed CANSail 1 & 2 or you old salted, consider coming out and crewing on Friday nights, attending Race Training/Skills Building on Monday evenings, participating in Team Racing Thursdays, or otherwise finding out more about racing.  If you have raced before, come on out and join in!

Race training is held every Monday evening between May and September. It starts with an on-shore briefing starting at 6 pm, followed by on water practice. The training is typically done by a seasoned racer, either from our club or a guest.

We are very lucky that the Toronto Inner and Outer Harbours are home to a diverse group of dinghy sailors and some competitive Albacore, Nacra, and Laser fleets. These sailors are happy to share with us the skills that they learned over the years.