Since opening our doors in 2008, Black Rock Sailing School has been the only school in New England to earn national recognition from the American Sailing Association EVERY year that the national awards were being offered (ASA stopped issuing the annual “Outstanding School” awards after 2012 when competitors complained it was an unfair marketing advantage for those who earn it).
What sets us apart from our competition? Below are a few of the considerations that should make Black Rock your school of choice!
QUALITY – NOT QUANTITY!
We do not fill our boats up with students to maximize profit. Our student-to-instructor ratio is the best in the industry, providing hours of extra tiller time for each student which translates into better results and student satisfaction. Small class sizes are better, and BRSS has always believed in this!
Our programs and products continue to evolve and improve – inspired by many leaders in our industry. We are NOT a sailing school “factory” like our larger competitors, and have always sacrificed growth for quality since day one. We take pride in our results.
THE BEST GUIDANCE – RIGHT FROM THE START!
When you contact us by phone or email, you will always speak directly with the owner of the school. There is nobody better qualified to assess your goals, make recommendations, and offer guidance.
WE ARE A “LEARN TO CRUISE” SCHOOL – NOT A RACING SCHOOL!
Our instructors have extensive racing resume’s, but their hearts are very much into cruising. In our courses, we focus on anchoring methods, boat systems, better docking techniques, coastal navigation, and weather forecasting, rather than how to beat another boat around the buoys.
However, while out on the water, our well rounded backgrounds enable us to answer any questions regarding performance sailing, and teach you techniques that will allow you to sail faster and more efficiently when you need to make port before dark, outrun or avoid a storm, or reduce wear and tear on your sails. Our teaching methods will make you a smarter sailor, so you may find that you pass boats out there naturally.
If you are interested in learning how to race, there is no better racing instruction than our friends over at North U.
FINE-TUNED INSTRUCTORS AND WORLD CLASS CURRICULUM
Larger schools may have a few excellent instructors, but their students usually don’t have access to their most experienced staff for every course since their junior instructors teach the first few levels.
Two of our three full-time instructors have earned national recognition from the American Sailing Association. Considering that there are over two thousand active ASA instructors, this places our “ASA Outstanding Instructors” in the top 1.5% of their peers for quality education as judged by their own customers. We have always sacrificed growth for high standards, and waiting to hire only the best instructor candidates has been paying off.
At BRSS, you will have a true professional teaching you at every level. We have some of the toughest hiring standards in the industry. Our program is small, so we can afford to wait and hire the very best, and our rigorous in-house staff training sets us apart from the rest.
WE TRULY HAVE THE MOST EXPERIENCED AND EFFECTIVE INSTRUCTORS!
Our instructors teach more sailing classes in a month than many of our competitors instructors teach in a year. Instructors need practice too, and this repetition helps insure a higher level of instruction! As of 2015, our four sailing instructors have 70 years of teaching experience between them – an average of 17.5 years per instructor as a US Sailing and/or ASA certified sailing instructor!
They have a combined 140 years of quality sailing experience – an average of 35 years per instructor! Nick was racing at the national level for England at age nine!
ALL of our instructors:
- Hold at the very least, a US Coast Guard Captains license and ASA Instructor Certifications for the courses they teach.
- Have spent at least four – twenty four months living aboard full time with extensive cruising experience along the Atlantic coast of the US and Caribbean.
- Own, or have owned, cruising and racing yachts 27 – 50 feet in length.
- Have extensive offshore sailing experience as well as decades of coastal cruising experience ACTING AS CAPTAIN.
Two of our instructors:
- Teach year-round. This means that every year they teach, they are gaining two or three times more experience than a seasonal instructor!
- Have attended a Merchant Marine Academy and/or been employed in the Merchant Marine.
Compare our staff to other schools, and you will understand why we have won so much national recognition!
WE REQUIRE “GROUND SCHOOL” TO ENSURE BETTER RESULTS!
At Black Rock Sailing School, ASA certification courses spend two hours of classroom each morning, followed by 5 1/2 to six hours of hands-on sailing each afternoon. This format, has proven to be extremely effective – especially in an intense 3-day format. Repetition, repetition, repetition.
Be wary of schools who boast that they are, “light on theory – high on doing,” or that “the entire class is spent out on the water!” Their students are missing at least 40% of the “whys” and “hows!” If pilots weren’t required to sit in a classroom, would you go flying with them? Classroom time is critical if you want to learn all of the details that make for much better sailors! Reading books can get you ahead, but a dynamic classroom session with Q & A can do wonders and pull everything together.
We are quite confident that our curriculum is more thorough than our competitors!
WE ARE A SAILING SCHOOL WITH A SMALL SAILING CLUB – NOT A SAILING CLUB WITH A SMALL SAILING SCHOOL!
Look closely at the name of the organization to see where their focus is placed. This is a KEY difference!
- We are a sailing school. Our focus is on being the BEST sailing school in New England, and our small sailing and charter club is solely to benefit our graduates by providing them with an inexpensive option to get out on the water.
Sailing “Centers” try to be all things boating, and this is very hard to do successfully. They make most of their money by having huge club and racing programs, and steer their customers toward these two programs.
WE ARE NOT A YACHT BROKERAGE FIRM or CHARTER COMPANY DISGUISED AS A SAILING SCHOOL!
There are a few sailing schools in our region that were founded solely on years of yacht sales experience. The sole purpose of these schools is to feed their yacht sales coffers – much like charter companies do. These folks have no background in instruction, and may not know proper boating techniques themselves – a major disservice to their customers.
Black Rock Sailing School has, and always will be, a sailing school FIRST. Black Rock was founded on a lifelong career as a full time sailing instructor and sailing school manager. Naturally, over the years, students began seeking advice on how to select and purchase a boat of their own, and in since 2005, our senior staff have been working as knowledgeable yacht brokers, taking pride in “completing the cycle” by helping a few graduates find their dream boats each year.
Let us gain your trust while you take courses with us, and then put our decades of boating knowledge and experience to work finding you your dream boat. We have been delivering boats since 1993, and in many cases, we will have sailed the types of boats you are considering – offering first hand knowledge on the pros/cons of each vessel!
Check out our “Yacht Sales” page if you are thinking of buying or selling a boat!
WORLD CLASS PRIVATE INSTRUCTION IS ALSO AVAILABLE ABOARD YOUR
A large portion of our business is providing specialized instruction aboard private vessels. Owners looking to build confidence while docking, maneuvering in tight quarters, navigation systems, boat systems, etc., will appreciate our approach to their needs.
See our “Private Lessons” page for more information.
WE KNOW WHAT WE KNOW, AND WE KNOW WHAT WE DO NOT KNOW!
We do not pretend to be certified diesel engine mechanics or marine electronics specialists. We teach you the fundamentals extremely well, and then refer you directly to the true professionals like Hansen Marine, Mack Boring, and Massachusetts Maritime Academy who offer a range of diesel mechanic courses.
WE OFFER THE BEST LEARNING ENVIRONMENT FOR OUR STUDENTS!
If the wind is less than six knots of breeze, we don’t waste everyone’s time by drifting around. At BRSS, we will cover classroom material and re-schedule the on the water time at your convenience.
It is physically impossible to learn how to sail if there is no wind, so why not reschedule for a better day? BRSS literally “guarantees wind,” making our students safer, more confident sailors, while having a lot more fun! Did we mention we usually do this for heavy rain too?
NO SHORT CUTS!
We have earned a reputation as being a rigorous school. Our students appreciate how many drills we have them do. It builds their confidence, makes them safer, and makes our school look good. A certain amount of repetition is required to truly master each skill, and our effective instructors make a huge difference in your success.
During “Vacation Week” or “Combo Courses,” we give you the full length of each three day course by repeating any overlap between course curriculum. Many other schools just shave off a day by skipping the repetition! Time on the water is critical to a student’s success, and we want you to have plenty of it before graduating.
NO CRAM SESSIONS!
At Black Rock, we will provide a student with a maximum of two courses per week, and then strongly encourage practice within our sailing club or abroad before continuing!
Most schools try and pack three courses into one week. We feel that “Fast Track” and “Instant Bareboater” schemes simply make students good enough to be dangerous. Sure they can sail at that moment, but what will they retain after a few weeks or months of no sailing? What if conditions change or they have a boat break-down?
Black Rock feels that sailing mastery is a series of steep learning curves, followed by plateaus. Practice will allow you to master one skill set, before moving to the next. Our sailing club and sailing vacations are two of our solutions to insuring our students are the best they can be.
YEAR ROUND SAILING INSTRUCTION AND SAILING OPPORTUNITIES!
We offer a full spectrum of ASA Courses and BRSS clinics out of our Boston, MA and Warwick, RI locations year round, including live-aboard courses and “boat & breakfast” opportunities for folks who traveled far to get to us.
Our winter base in the Virgin Islands, offers ASA 101, 103, 104, & 106 in a live-aboard format. Practice what you have learned all summer, or get a jump on the up-coming season back north, while visiting a different island paradise each night!
Practice what you have learned in one of our guided sailing vacations in the Caribbean or Mediterranean! These sailing flotillas provide a community and support for those who choose to command your own bareboat charter for the first time, as well as provide organized events and sailing clinics for our more experienced guests.
MANY OPTIONS TO PRACTICE WHAT YOU’VE LEARNED!
Practice is VERY important! We offer all of our ASA graduates up to a 30% discount on our annual sailing club memberships to practice their new skills. Keep your skills sharp, learn by doing, and most importantly, have fun. See our “Membership” page to learn more about our sailing club and fractional sailing program aboard a fleet of young, well maintained Harbor 20s, Colgate 26s, J/80s, Hunter 33s and Hunter 36’s!
See our “Caribbean” page or “Adventure Cruising” page to learn more about big boat cruising opportunities that provide advanced coaching for cruising sailors.
NEW BOATS AND MODERN DESIGNS
Don’t judge a school by the size of it’s fleet; go by the age, condition, design, and comfort of the fleet. We have the youngest, most modern designed fleet than any other sailing school in New England!
The Colgate 26 is simply the best training boat available and an incredible racing machine as well! The U.S. Naval Academy, Maine Maritime Academy, the Coast Guard Academy, and leading sailing programs chose this design over everything else on the market. So much thought was put into this design by internationally renowned sailing instructor/business owner, Steve Colgate; that this modern day-sailor was the obvious choice for a high end sailing school to teach aboard.
Older designs, built specifically for racing, such as the Ensign, J24, and Soling, can be a lot of fun to sail, but are not very good teaching designs. We would be happy to discuss the many reasons why this is true.
Our larger cruising yachts are also an excellent platform for teaching our Coastal Cruising and Bareboat Charter certifications.
Some schools have over fifty boats in their fleet, but 95% of them are older designs from the 1970’s and ’80’s. We have a relatively small fleet, BUT every one of our boats are late models with modern designs and modern equipment.
INTERNATIONALLY RECOGNIZED CERTIFICATIONS
The United States has two competing organizations that offer internationally recognized sailing certifications – US Sailing, and the American Sailing Association (ASA). The standards and value of their certifications are identical, and it is up to the individual schools to uphold these high standards. The curriculum and customer service that BRSS provides, has won national recognition from both organizations over the years!
The American Sailing Association (ASA) has been around for decades, providing instructor training and student level sailing certifications to over 853,000 students worldwide.
You will receive a “logbook” which will keep track of your certification levels and future sailing experience that will eventually enable you to bareboat charter a boat a exotic locations around the world.
WE USE THE BEST COURSE MANUALS AVAILABLE!
The American Sailing Association completely re-vamped and updated their Basic Keelboat, Coastal Cruising, and Bareboat Charter certification course manuals between 2010 and 2014. The results are impressive, and Black Rock is thrilled to be able to utilize these books that have won national acclaim! Packed with modern photos, clear diagrams, and excellent content that exceeds all ASA standards so that they can all be used as reference books for years to come. I would say that these new books even blow away US Sailings line up of course books! Any ASA school that isn’t utilizing these books is missing out!
NO HIDDEN FEES!
At BRSS, your internationally recognized ASA Certification is included in all of our courses! There are other schools out there that charge you extra for certification – which is against ASA policy.
BEST ACCESS FROM ALL MAJOR HIGHWAYS/ROUTES
BOSTON, MA: Why drive into the downtown traffic and deal with limited/expensive parking options. Fan Pier Marina is directly off of I-93 and the Mass Pike, and within minutes of downtown Boston. We are literally surrounded by parking options.
WARWICK, RI: Our classroom is only six or seven minutes off of I-95, twenty minutes from downtown Providence, and only twenty minutes from the Connecticut border!
BEST PARKING OPTIONS ON THE WATERFRONT!
Fan Pier Marina is literally surrounded by parking lots – above and below ground. Metered parking is also available on the street, and is free on Sundays!
THE BEST ACCESS TO OPEN WATER!
All of our locations provide INSTANT access to sailing waters. Sail on/off docks or moorings! No long narrow channels between you and where you want to be! Save 20 – 30 minutes round-trip getting out to the best cruising grounds.
BOSTON, MA: Our marina is the furthest out toward the open waters around the Boston Harbor Islands. The most congestion and erratic wind is found within the inner-harbor of Boston. We are best positioned to get away from this heavy traffic if we choose and can sail further out in a fixed amount of time than any other school!
WARWICK, RI: Our marina offers immediate access to the protected waters of Narragansett Bay. Our competition has to motor in/out of narrow channels – thus losing approx. 30 minutes of sailing time each day! We are also positioned far enough south in the bay to get you out to Block Island, Buzzards Bay, and Vineyard Sound in no time!
MORE TIME TO SAIL OUTSIDE THE HARBOR!
Our course structure ensures that you will have more time sailing the open waters and gorgeous harbor islands out toward the mouth of Boston Harbor. Since we sail for five or six hours a day, we can keep sailing out, while other school’s boats turn and remain in the inner harbor during their three hour sessions.
FOUR GREAT LOCATIONS TO BETTER SERVE OUR CUSTOMERS!
Click on “Locations” to learn more about each location! NEW LOCATIONS WILL BE ANNOUNCED!
CONTINUED SERVICES AND SUPPORT TO ALL OF OUR GRADUATES:
Learning how to sail and/or joining our sailing club is just the beginning! Graduates come to us for advice on charter companies, charter locations, and yacht purchases. Graduates use us as a resource when planning cruises aboard their private boats. We have a lot of local knowledge from Maine to Florida, and the Virgin Islands, and plenty of ideas to share!
Two decades of teaching & managing at highly successful, year-round programs, has taught us what students want and need to be successful themselves. Black Rock Sailing School is attracting students that take learning seriously. Our school is there for you every step of the way, offering ongoing advice to our graduates as they purchase boats themselves, and in many cases, sail south and follow their dreams. Check out our website or give us a call. We would love the opportunity to discuss your goals and set a course for success!