Youth Sail Training

Welcome to sailing at the Squadron

Dear RNSYS Sailors and Parents,

Welcome to another season of sailing at the Royal Nova Scotia Yacht Squadron! We are very excited that you will be joining our Sail Training program and we have been working hard to ensure that you will have an exceptional experience. 

Mission Statement

The RNSYS Sail Training Program strives to provide safe, challenging and educational sailing instruction while promoting seamanship, sportsmanship, and a lifelong interest in sailing to young people in our community. Awarded Sail Training Program of the Year in 2014 by Sail Canada, we offer a leading program with up-to-date equipment, ranging from elementary sailing to competitive racing at the local, national and international levels.

 Meet the Coaching Team

Sebastian von Kursell - Co-Head Instructor | [email protected] | Ext 118

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Hello Sailors! My name is Sebastian von Kursell and I am one of the Co-Head instructors this year at the RNSYS. I've been lucky enough to say the squadron has been my home club since I was five. I first started racing in Optis at the age of 11 and loved it! Since then I've raced in 420's, 29ers and lasers. Sailing is my passion and I think everyone should have an opportunity to try it. I am very thankful to have had such an amazing opportunity to help develop sailors at such an incredible club. Really looking forward to seeing everyone back this summer and meeting many more new sailors. We're going to have a great summer!

Curtis Giacomantonio - Co-Head Instructor

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Hello sailors and parents. My name is Curtis Giacomantonio and I am one of the Co-Head Instructors here at the Squadron this summer. I started sailing out of the Waegwoltic club at 7 years old, and I have been obsessed with the sport ever since. In my many years of sailing I practiced and raced in Optis, 420’s, and lasers. If I could pick one thing thought out my years of sailing that has kept me so involved, it would have be the great coaches I had. I aspire to deliver the same amazing experience that I was gifted with. I look forward to working alongside our staff to make this summer one for the books!

Lunch Program

Lunch program is offered Monday through Friday for program participants. Please note that this covers food during the lunch hour only. Recommended to still pack water and snacks as this only covers a main lunch course.

Tender Service

Participants may take a tender from either the foot of Oakland or Jubilee Roads for the duration of the Program to assist those living across the Arm.  Pick up and drop off times for Jubilee and Oakland tender service will be as follows: 

Jubilee- Pick up: 8:30 - Drop off: 4:15
Oakland- Pick up: 8:45 - Drop off: 4:05

Sail Training Pathway

Sail Canada and Sail Nova Scotia has implemented a new sail training level system entitled CANSail Dinghy ( The CYA describes CANSail as such: 

“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.”

CANSail levels run 1 through 6, and can be completed in both singlehanded (Optimist, Laser) and doublehanded (420) sailboats. Level specific checklists will be distributed on an individual basis depending on your sailor’s specific course. Please refer to Appendix A – New CANSail Pathway for a chart which corresponds our new CANSail levels with previously used White / Bronze Sail levels.


Safety is paramount to the RNSYS Sail Training program. Our professional coaching staff are all certified for the following: First Aid / CPR, Pleasure Craft Operators Certificate, Coach Boat Safety and Radio Operators Certificate. Coaches carry a Participant Information Form and Emergency Action Plan (EAP) at all times on the water. Each coach boat is equipped with all Transport Canada required safety equipment and an updated first aid kit and a VHF radio. Coaches are trained and equipped to activate our EAP whenever necessary. While at the Swimming Pool, sailors are supervised by our certified lifeguard staff.

The following is a list of safety guidelines that sailors must adhere to when participating in our Sail Training programs:

  • Every day sailors must check-in with coach upon arrival and check-out prior to departure.  Between 0900 and 1600, sailors may not leave supervision of their coach without approval from their parent / guardian.
  • Sailors must always wear appropriately sized, Transport Canada approved lifejacket or PFD when on or near water(includes docks, ramps, tenders, etc.).
  • Sailors may not leave the dock and / or launch ramp before their instructor is on the water.
  • Sailors must remain within eyesight of their coach at all times when on the water.
  • Sailors must notify the Coordinator of Sail Training in advance of any potentially harmful medical condition(s). If applicable, please provide Coordinator of Sail Training with appropriate allergy / emergency medication.
  • Sailors are asked to notify their coach immediately if they become injured or feel unsafe.
Required Gear

During Sail Training, sailors are exposed to salt water, sun wind and rain. To keep sailors safe, comfortable and having fun, we require that each sailor bring the following every day to the program:

  • Canadian Coast Guard approved lifejacket or PFD, with whistle attached
  • Sun hat or baseball cap (snug fit recommended due to wind)
  • Sunglasses
  • Sunscreen
  • Water bottle
  • Lunch and snacks (if not on Lunch Program, or if specific by coach)
  • Swimsuit and towel
  • Footwear: sneakers, Crocs, beach shoes or sailing-specific “dinghy boots”. For
  • Good-weather clothing: use a “layering” strategy because the temperature can be very different on land versus on the water, and may change during the day. Quick- dry fabrics and a wind-proof outer layer on the upper body is recommended. Clothes will get wet and salt-stained most days, and the seats of pants and shorts have a good chance of getting torn or ripped. Always pack a spare set of clothes.
  • Foul-weather clothing: a standard rain jacket and rain pants. Sailing-specific items (such as a “spray top”) are usually well designed and are often worth the investment. Wetsuits are recommended, but not required.
  • Allergy medication and instructions for use (if required).
  • safety reasons, all footwear must be closed-toe. Footwear can be expected to get soaked every day; unless specifically designed for sailing or the beach, footwear worn in the program will be very well-used by the end of the session.
  • We strongly recommend that each item is clearly and prominently labelled with your family name since items will inevitably get misplaced during the course of the day.
  • The decision to send a sailor out sailing each day will be a decision made by each sailor's coach. If the sailor does not have proper clothing or equipment, the coach may decide that he or she should not go out on the water.

Directions to the RNSYS

From Armdale Rotary:

  1. Take Herring Cove Road out of Rotary
  2. Turn left onto Purcells Cove Road
  3. RNSYS is located at 2372 Purcells Cove Road
  4. Once through gate, turn right and drive across bridge through parking lot
  5. Follow road through boatyard parking lot until you reach large blue Marine Activity Center (MAC) at the southeastern extent of the property
The RNSYS Gate will be open Monday to Friday from 0830-0930hrs and1530-1630hrs. If you wish to gain access to the property at any other time, please dial 0001 on the keypad.

Sail Training Facility

(refer to Appendix B – Site Map)

Marine Activity Center (MAC) - see Junior Sailing on Site Map.

Our large two-story, blue building located at southeastern extent of the property.

Officially opened in 2011, the wheelchair accessible MAC building is the home base for our Sail Training program. The ground floor includes classroom space, change rooms, equipment storage, gear storage and a tool room. The upper floor has offices, an instructor area and meeting space.

Dinghy Park

Northeast of the MAC building is our Dinghy Park - a paved area shared between club-owned and member-owned dinghies. Sail Training uses the docks adjacent to this area for supplementary dinghy storage. The docks opposite to our launch ramp are where our coach boats are stored.

Spar Loft Washrooms

While in the area surrounding the MAC building, sailors will use the Spar Loft washrooms. The Spar Loft is located across the parking lot from the MAC and the washrooms are accessible using the entrance on the southeast aspect of the building.

Swimming Pool and Grassy Knoll (Children’s Playground)

The Swimming Pool and Grassy Knoll are located beside the RNSYS Main Clubhouse. Depending on the weather, this is generally where sailors will spend their lunch hour. The Swimming Pool is equipped with washroom facilities. The Grassy Knoll is commonly a venue for fitness and activity classes.

Daily Routine

Please note that sailing is a sport entirely dependent upon weather. The following schedule is intended for ideal weather conditions. In the event of poor weather conditions, our instructors are prepared with enjoyable, educational and interactive contingency plans. Activities vary from level to level, but may include: sailing crafts and sailing related games, seamanship and knot typing, racing rule, tactics and sailing theory lessons, and fitness classes.

0830 – Tender pick up at Jubilee Wharf*

0845 – Tender pick up at Oakland Wharf*

0900 – Check In and Wake Up Activity [Swim Lessons for Weetfeet and Opti 1 sailors]

0915 – Day’s Objective, Rigging and Briefing

1000 – Sailing

1145 – Partial De-rig and Debrief

1200 – Lunch

1300 – Rigging and Briefing

1330 – Sailing

1515 – De-rig and Debrief

1600 – Check Out

1605 – Tender drop off at Oakland Wharf*

1615 – Tender drop off at Jubilee Wharf*

*Optional Tender pick-up/drop-off from Jubilee Wharf and Oakland Wharf. Please notify Coordinator of Sail Training if you are unable to make the scheduled pick up and / or drop off time. During tender drop off, our coaches will not leave a sailor alone without their parent / guardian unless the Coordinator of Sail Training has been notified.

 Important Dates

The Sail Training program strives to provide a fun and dynamic atmosphere for our sailors by participating in special events and theme days throughout our programming schedule. Below is a list of special events and theme days that we are planning this summer. Notice will be given in advance to allow for any necessary preparations.

Furthermore, please feel free to email contact the Coordinator of Sail Training if you have an idea for a special event or theme day for our sailors.

  • Dingle Battle – challenge the Waegwoltic and Armdale sailors to an on-land game of Capture the Flag (may include an ice cream break).
  • Mini-Marblehead / Mini Route St. Pierre – the friendly rivalry continues when Squadron sailors challenge the Waegwoltic and Armdale sailors to an on-water race up the Northwest Arm followed by a barbecue at the Saraguay Club.
  • Harbour Cruises – sail and / or boat rides to view the beautiful Halifax waterfront (may include an ice cream break).
  • McNabs Island Picnics – pack a lunch and set sail to McNabs for a great day on the beach. Lunch program will be delivered.
  • Squadron Summer Olympics – a smaller scale version of the big show. There will be opening and closing ceremonies and many friendly competitions in between.
  • Build a Boat Competition – sailors are divided into groups and must construct their own seaworthy vessel sturdy enough for one group member to manoeuvre across the RNSYS harbour.
  • Regatta Day – Sailors and coaches will get placed in teams and compete in our Squadron Regatta Day. Prizes will be awarded to all participants.
  • Pirate Day – put on your makeup, eye patch and pirate clothes and act like the meanest pirate around. Plastic weapons only.
  • Cartoon Character Day – come dressed like your favourite cartoon character.
  • Rock Star Day – come dressed like your favourite rock star. Bonus points if you can sing and dance too.
  • World Food Day – everyone bring their favourite dish for a big Sail Training potluck. Please include ingredients for allergy purposes.
  • Cookie Day – bring in your favourite baked goods and share. Please include ingredients for allergy purposes.


Optimist, 420 and Laser sailors in the Advanced / Learn to Race programs (CANSail 3&4) will be encouraged to participate in local regattas and training camps. This great opportunity allows sailors to interact with youth from other clubs, learn from many of the provinces great sailors and coaches and challenge themselves in a friendly, racing environment. 

End of the season Banquet  August 2019

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 Please note: Junior Sailing is the Marine Activity Center


CAREERS: Apply now for our 2020 Sail Training Careers