Using Westwood's Boats and Facilities

How do I take out a boat?

The club ranks its members into three categories:

  • Crew (novice)
  • Helm (intermediate)
  • and Skipper (advanced).

Members are ranked separately on each of the three classes of boatm which the Club owns: Albacores (including Hobie Wave), Hobie 16s & Nacra 500, and Lasers.

In order to be entitled to take a boat out in controlled conditions, members must reach the Helms level. The Helms level is reached by successfully completing the CANSail 1 &2 (formerly White Sail 3) course at the 2 level (Albacores, Lasers and Wave only), or by gaining equivalent experience and passing a Club practical exam. The Club limits Helms-level sailors to sailing in the protected area of the Outer Harbour, and only in moderate wind conditions.

In order to be entitled to take a boat out further afield and in higher winds, a member must be ranked as a Skipper. This level is reached by successfully completing the CANSail 3 (formerly Bronze Sail 4) course (Albacores, Hobie Wave, Lasers only), or by gaining equivalent experience and passing a Club practical exam. Skippers are expected to possess and use good judgment in all aspects of sailing.


What kind of sailboats does Westwood have?

Westwood has four types of sailing dinghies in its fleet:


The largest fleet of boats at Westwood and the primary training boat. A 15' double handed sloop rigged dinghy.


A small single sail single handed dinghy

16' Catamarans

High performance double handed dinghy with trapeze (and spinnaker Nacra 500 only).


A smaller lower performance catamaran for single or double handed sailing


Can I learn to sail without taking a course?

Yes, but it is slower and not our recommended route. Plus, you will meet more club mates and future sailing partners if you take a course. If you do prefer the informal route, you can practice by getting out sailing with more experienced members. Our organized Social Sailing on Thursday nights is an ideal way to gain experience. Of course, you can come down whenever you like, and more often than not, you can find someone to sail with.


I've sailed before, can I get my helm/skipper status without taking a course?

Yes. If you are coming to the Club with prior experience, or if you are a Club member who would like to get ranked, you can ask the Executive to put you in touch with a Club Examiner. The Examiner will put you through a series of sailing drills to ensure that you're ready.


Who runs the Club?

Westwood Sailing Club is a legally registered non-profit Corporation. We are managed by an elected 12-member volunteer Executive, whose roles and responsibilities are defined in our Club bylaws.


Who should I see if I have a complaint or comment?

If you have any questions regarding your sailing course, you should speak to your sailing instructor. If you are unsatisfied or need further information, you should contact our Vice Commodore (Safety & Training).

For any other problems or questions, you should contact the Executive Director whose role most closely relates to your concern.

If you are unsure who to speak to, or if you require further clarification, you should contact our Commodore.

Your feedback is very important to us. If you have any questions or concerns, please let us know. To contact any member of the Club Executive, you may use our Web Contact Form, selecting General Inquiry/Contact the Club.


When is the club open, can I sail during weekdays?

With some restrictions, the Club is always available to members. Once you have been through a sailing course and informal orientation, you gain access to the Club, its property, and its fleet of boats. By club bylaws: sailing is only allowed during daylight hours. Plus any boat out sailing must have at least 1 Helm status person on board.

If you have your weekdays off, you're welcome to come down to the Club and sail. Of course, it may be more difficult to find a sailing partner during the day. Fortunately, each summer, the Club seems to develop a network of "daytime people" who are available during the day and sail together regularly.


Are boats always available?

On Monday and Wednesday nights, most of our boats are dedicated to the CANSail 1 & 2 class. On Friday nights, most boats are reserved for racing. For occasional special events such as regattas, many of the boats may be unavailable. That being said, our experience of the past couple of years has been that aside from Friday nights, boats are almost always available. Furthermore, because we offer several different types of boat in our fleet, if the boat you want is not available, you can often crew on a different type of boat.

What are the requirements for using the club boats?

Any member sailing a Club boat must be qualified and ranked by the Club, as follows:

Albacore - Helm

At this restricted level, sailors must have passed CANSail 1 & 2/White Sail Level 3, or seek equivalent status from a Club Examiner. Helms level sailors are restricted to sailing in 10 knots of wind in the Cherry Beach/Outer Harbour area only, and are not permitted to sail on the open Lake, or in Toronto's Inner Harbour.


Albacore - Skipper

These sailors must have passed CANSail 3/Bronze Sail Level 4, or seek equivalent status from a Club Examiner. Skippers are not restricted, but are expected to use good judgement at all times.


Catamarans (Hobie 16 and Nacra 500)

Sailors are ranked separately on our higher performance catamarans, by Club Examiners. Albacore rankings are not transferable. Catamaran Helms have the same geographic and wind-speed restrictions as Albacore Helms.


Lasers / Hobie Wave

Albacore rankings are applicable. Helms-level sailors have the same geographic and wind-speed restrictions as on the Albacore.

Following successful completion of CANSail 1 & 2 members will be offered a rigging clinic for those unfamiliar with the rigging procedures, or at anytime any member familiar with the rigging.


All non-ranked members

are considered "crew" and must sail with a Helm or Skipper, as required by the current weather conditions.


New members with previous experience

New (or first-year) members wishing to sail the Club's boats without following a course must be certified by a Club Examiner as Helm or Skipper. This may involve a simple review of past experience, or taking a sail with an experienced Club member. Experience gained elsewhere, while valuable, does not necessarily apply to Westwood's ranking procedures. New members are asked to adapt-to and understand the Club's policies and guidelines.


All members

are expected to check weather conditions before sailing. New and less-experienced members should be receptive to guidance from more-experienced members, especially where there is any question about whether a member's skill level is suitable for sailing in the current wind and weather conditions. Any member using a Club boat is responsible for the safety of the boat and its crew.



Full Members at the Helms or Skipper levels are entitled to bring a guest sailing three times. Members are expected to use good judgement in deciding whom to bring sailing. Dinghy sailing can be demanding - sailing guests should be physically fit, competent swimmers, and able to take instruction. Members are discouraged from taking guests sailing in extreme conditions, or outside the Cherry Beach/Outer Harbour area.