Join the Luffing Lassies and Learn to Sail and Race a Sunfish

Introduction to Sailing Program


Overview of ITS Program:
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Sailing and Racing Instruction

Learn to Sail and Race a 14' Sunfish:
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Skill Building and Racing

September - May
9:00 AM - 2 PM

Join the Fun!

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How fit do I need to be?

Sailing is a physical activity. Basic fitness and agility is essential to:

  • Pull the 130 lb. Sunfish from a storage rack onto a dolly and roll it up and down the beach slope to launch
  • Quickly crouch into a squat, duck under a moving boom and move from side to side on the boat
  • Swim comfortably for at least 200 yards unassisted
  • Pull yourself from deep water onto your boat in the event of a capsize

What are the Estimated Costs?

The Introduction to Sailing program includes access to a training boat, numerous sailing events and social gatherings, and membership with the Luffing Lassies and the SSS.

Estimate of First Year Costs
Intro to Sailing/Racing Program$250 (Sept-May)
Training Boat Usage$250 (Sept-May)
SSS Initiation Fee/Membership Dues*see SSS website

*SSS Initiation/Joining fees (paid one time) and Annual Dues (recurring) are 50% higher for non-Sarasota residents. SSS membership is mandatory; it provides access to the launch area and the entire facility, plus participation in all SSS events. Fees are subject to change.

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How do I become a Luffing Lassie?

It’s easy and the requirements are pretty simple. If you know how to swim and think you can handle a sailboat on your own, then you are a candidate. If you’d like to learn to sail from women who will coach you on and off the water, then join us. We ask that you bring curiosity and enthusiasm and respect for the process. In return you will learn to skipper a boat on your own, to make your way around a race course, cross the finish line and find joy on the water with dozens of other sailing women. You will laugh with new friends and share new skills.


Every fall we invite new sailors to join the Luffing Lassies. They enroll in the Introduction to Sailing program, 8 days of sailing instruction at the Sarasota Sailing Squadron. Then every Thursday our novices sail and race with us throughout the season until May. If you are one of them, you will sail a Sunfish alongside veteran sailors who encourage and teach you as racing enhances the learning process. If you wish, you can advance to two-or three-person boats. The key element here is women teaching women how to sail.


The learning process has a heavy dose of safety training. New sailors must feel safe on the water before they can develop skills and confidence that will make them lifelong sailing enthusiasts. Freshman year you will develop skippering skills and master navigating a race course. All while ensuring safety first.

If you cannot devote two weeks to our Introduction to Sailing program and have no sailing experience, private lessons are available through the Sarasota Sailing Squadron.

Are you experienced in skippering a Sunfish or 420 or Flying Scot? If you pass an on-the-water sailing evaluation with one of our experienced Lassies, you can also become a member. Supply your own boat or use one of ours. Now, let’s get out on the Bay.


When and Where do the Luffing Lassies sail?

Luffing Lassies sail every Thursday morning from September through May at the Sarasota Sailing Squadron. Participants at all skill levels sail and race against one another weekly. Other women’s sailing clubs, fellow members of the Florida Women’s Sailing Association, visit Sarasota to compete on the water and socialize afterwards at the Squadron. And the Lassies are invited to do the same at member clubs up and down the Gulf Coast. These carpool “away” events are team building sessions or gypsy caravans or both. Friendly competition and spirited enthusiasm define these days.


What are my obligations as a Luffing Lassie?

Call yourself a sailor. Luffing Lassies have the opportunity to master all the boats in the fleet. Or, at the very least, master one. Sailing clinics are frequent and convenient; Come. Learn. Become a better sailor. In fact, each time you launch your boat you should come back a better sailor than when you started out. Help another sailor. Offer a hand pulling a dolly out of the water at low tide. Help another Lassie lift her boat onto a storage rack. Give a new sailor tips on boat cleaning. Look around you and see who needs a hand.

Financially, you are obliged to pay the Introduction to Sailing course fee. If you are in your first year learning phase and sail a Luffing Lassies owned training boat, you pay an annual rental fee. You must become a member of the Sarasota Sailing Squadron, the best sailing venue bargain in Florida.

Many years ago, Lassies adopted the term “Holy Thursday” to define their dedication to sailing and racing every Thursday morning from September through May. You need to be there Thursday mornings. No kidding. You can’t learn to sail if you are not there.

Any sailor will tell you that part of the culture is caring for and maintaining boats. You and everyone LL-Member6else will care for the Lassies’ boats by properly cleaning and putting boats in storage racks. From time to time, Lassies leaders will ask everyone to participate when “work parties” form to keep our gear in good order. Did you read The Wind in the Willows as a child? Perhaps you will remember this quote from the Water Rat, “There is nothing-absolutely nothing-half so much worth doing as simply messing about in boats.”

The Squadron area where the Lassies store boats, have chalk talks and care for the boats sometimes needs attention. Weeding, trash pickup, general area maintenance is part of our volunteer relationship with the Squadron. We have all learned to just do these things without being asked. In true Lassie fashion, we make work into a work party.


If you don’t already exercise, start moving. Walk or swim or run or do yoga. Or ask one of the experienced Lassies what they do to stay in shape.

There are many reasons that Luffing Lassies have sailed together for more than 40 years, not least of which is the mutual respect that builds with the experience. Bring a positive attitude and share it with other Lassies. You’ll be one of us in no time.

We respect one another both on and off the LL-Member8water. We treat our own equipment and the Lassies equipment with respect. We look around us and cannot help but respect our environment. If you see trash on the water, safely scoop it into your boat and put it in a trash bin when you return to shore. Sarasota Bay needs you as much as you need Sarasota Bay. Maybe more.

Have fun. Laugh. Make someone smile. Veteran Lassies will tell you that one of the most joyous sounds on the water is the whooping and celebrating as boats cross the finish line and hear that horn or whistle from the Race Committee boat. Last or first or somewhere in the middle, every skipper is happy to finish the race. Isn’t there a life lesson there? Have fun. Laugh. Make someone smile.