Student Level Keelboat / Cruising Progression:

Entry points for the novice are Introduction to Boating, Start Keelboat Sailing, Basic Crew and Basic Cruising. There are Crew and Cruising levels for the basic through offshore standards. The primary differences involve (in most cases) the ability to take command of and responsibility for the crew and the vessel.  Individuals achieving the crew level of the standard have demonstrated the ability to operate the vessel under the direction of a skipper. Crew level may also have fewer requirements for award of a certification, particularly at the offshore level. Students may follow the Crew or Cruising streams from Basic through Offshore or may at some point in their development move from Cruising to Crew. The detailed Sail Canada Keelboat standards are available on the Sail Canada website.


Starting with the Intermediate Crew / Cruising standards, the practical student levels build on the knowledge and skills developed in prior Sailing and Navigation levels. Candidates with previous boating experience may challenge a level by demonstrating the practical skill and theory knowledge defined in the standard. Learning/skill objectives in the standards are divided into afloat (practical) and ashore (theory) components. Ashore knowledge and navigation theory are often taught in a classroom environment, with the practical sessions on-water focused on application of theory, skill development, coaching and evaluation.

Evaluation of practical skill is through observation of performance by a Sail Canada Cruising / Keelboat Instructor. A student must demonstrate the ability to carry out all of the skills without coaching for Basic Cruising and succeeding levels in order to be awarded a certification. Successful completion of a written exam testing theory knowledge is for most levels also a requirement for certification.

Practical evaluation through observation is supported by the standard (syllabus), one page checklists and a web based system that tracks student development. The web based tool used to track student progression supports a focus on skill development as well as certification of individual achievement of defined knowledge and practical skills.