This page is for Club Officials wanting to know more about the Sailing Pathway. If you are new to sailing click here for further information on the Pathways at the Discover Sailing website.


Most sports and recreational activities present their participants with a pathway of incremental skills to provide progression and ongoing challenge. Think of the coloured belts in karate or the grades in a musical instrument. The pathway concept has been extensively developed and deployed in sports around the world, as the structure of player/athlete development and retention.

Yachting Australia has had some elements of a pathway underpinning some of its activities for many years. Its learn to sail courses have been based on a stepped level of courses, and its Development and High Performance Program’s success have been guided by a clear pathway. Yachting Australia has now take a whole of sport approach to developing participation at clubs and completed the pathway. Yachting Australia’s Sailing Pathway has 10 clear steps that can be broadly grouped into
  • Learning to sail (steps 1- 3)
  • Club and Class racing (steps 4-6)
  • Development and High Performance (steps 7-10)
The benefit of looking at sailing in the context of a pathway accrues to
  • Sailors who can understand and assess their current sailing activity and decide future aspirations and progression.
  • Clubs and their Officials, who can understand and assess their current sailing activity, and identify what strengths, gaps and opportunities they may have in terms of what they offer their sailors.
  • Strategy can be guided by the flow of participants through The Sailing Pathway to identify factors that facilitate retention and prevent drop out.
Yachting Australia has so far illustrated and documented four versions of The Sailing Pathway.
The Sailing Pathway. This is the generic version clearly identifying the first six steps undertaken at clubs. It illustrates that once someone has attained a level of sailing skill they can progress in a variety of directions, officiating, vocational employment, offshore racing, cruising, or pursue national and international racing success. Click here for full explanation and diagram of the Sailing Pathway.
The Youth Development Pathway. In this version the well understoond steps into State Development Programs through to the Australian Sailing Team are illustrated. They are explained in detail in Yachting Australia's Youth Development Guidelines. Click here for explanation and diagram of the Youth Development Pathway.
The Youth Recreational Pathway. For juniors and youth who do not want to pursue the Development Pathway this diagram illustrates the variety of the types of boats they can progress to, including the opportunity to crew for someone else. It equally applies to adults in dinghies. Click here for explanation and diagram of the Youth Recreational Pathway.
The Officiating Pathway. Aims to illustrates in one page the diversity of opportunities that exist for people to be involved in sailing, whether that be instructing at Levels 1-3, or Coaching at higher Levels or Race Officiating from Level 4 and above. Click here for explanation and diagram of the Officiating Pathway.
The Sailing Pathway is a valuable tool for all clubs, officials, and sailors in all types of boats and of all ages and abilities. Clubs are not expected to delivery all aspects of pathway and should discuss with their State Association what levels they can focus on. 
The Sailing Pathway – the 10 Steps
The Sailing Pathway is applicable to participants of all abilities and ages, in all types of boats., and at all clubs. The first six levels are relevant to most to club-level participation.  
(Step 0 Discover Sailing Day or Experience) A visit to a club for a Discover Sailing Day or a Discover Sailing Experience. Click here to find out more about Discover Sailing Days and Discover Sailing Experiences.
Step 1 Start Sailing. The first level of sailing, usually the Yachting Australia Learn to Sail Dinghy, or Keelboat Program (Start Crewing and Start Helming courses). Courses involve a syllabus and set number of hours, and are run by qualified instructors, at clubs that are accredited Discover Sailing Centres.
Step 2 Better Sailing.  The Yachting Australia Dinghy - Better Sailing course, or the Yachting Australia Start Skippering course in Keelboats.
Step 3 Start Racing For people wanting to get into racing this step provides the skills through the Learn to Race – Dinghy, or the Keelboat Start Racing and Spinnakers courses. Skills learnt at this level also provide enhanced boat handling and management skills.
Step 4 Introductory Racing. Sailing in simplified races, using the ISAF Introductory Rules, where the emphasis is on practicing skills, and social enjoyment, rather than outright competition. For kids it’s usually called “Green Fleet” and for Keelboats it’s more social racing, and shorter races, often with pursuit starts and no use of spinnakers. Modified rules may also be used to assist people of all-abilities build confidence for racing.
Step 5 Club Racing. The core activity of most yacht clubs, conducted under the International Rules of Racing. Once sailors have attained this level of skill they can chose from many options, including enjoying a lifetime of recreational sailing. Sailors with this level of skill can also be more confident about their ability to go cruising away from their club, undertake the specialised disciplines of Teams and Match Racing, or progress to higher levels of fleet racing. It’s the level most people decide to buy a boat or crew
Step 6 Club Coaching and Interclub Racing Sailors wanting to progress to the front of their club fleet will normally participate in their club coaching program, run by qualified Club Coaches. They will enter class championships and large regattas away from their club. Coaching programs tailored to the needs of individual sailors are applicable to both dinghies and keelboats.
Beyond Level 6, and even Level 5, there are a variety of Pathways including International Competition, offshore racing in keelboats, Officiating as either an Instructor or Race Official, or vocational training and employment on one of these pathways. 
For Youth the Development Pathway beyond Level 6 is 
Step 7 State Development (or Emerging Talent) Squads. For youth sailors wanting to progress to the highest level of competition, in the international classes, State development programs coach them, and support their campaign to be selected in a state high performance squad.
Step 8 State High Performance Squad For youth sailors, who have made it to the level of the State Sports Institute programs.
Step 9 Australian Sailing Squad andThe Australian Youth Team for sailors identified with potential to attain the Australian Sailing Team.
Step 10 The Australian Sailing Team – Australian Institute of Sport and Olympic Team selection.
For Youth who just want to enjoy their club sailing they have the choice of either crewing or helming on many types of boat and many different classes within them. This is also illustrated below on the Youth Recreational Sailing Pathway.