Club Ratings


WYC relies on a “Ratings” system which specifies under what conditions members may checkout certain sailboats. This system is implemented to ensure that members are qualified to sail, will not damage club equipment, and will remain safe out on the water.

Rating Tests

To obtain a rating, a WYC member must pass both a Written and a Practical (“On-the-Water”) test before receiving their rating. The order you complete these exams does not matter, and if you fail you may retake the tests. 

Please Note: The information detailed below covers the vast majority of WYC ratings, however a few other ratings (such as Keelboats and Sailboards — for windsurfers) have different Written Tests and Practical Tests which are more relevant to those particular boats. 

Practical Test

Written Test

For the Practical Test, students will have to demonstrate safe and competent handling of the boat while performing the following tasks/maneuvers:

There’s one Written Test that covers all Novice & Intermediate ratings, and another that covers Skipper ratings. The Written Test is based off of the WYC Sailing Guide and covers concepts including (but not limited to):

  • Demonstrate proper boat check out procedures.
  • Correctly rig and de-rig the boat from memory.
  • Complete 3 tacks and 3 jibes.
  • Complete a Man-Overboard drill — this involves recovering a life jacket using the proper technique. 
  • Complete a Wet Capsize Recovery — You must capsize the boat, get in the water, and then right the boat in the proper manner — you will get wet
  • Demonstrate proper docking of the boat.
  • Club policies
  • Sailing maneuvers (tacking/jibing, docking, man-overboard, etc.)
  • Sailing hazards & rights-of-way
  • Parts of a sailboat/sailing vocabulary
Some of WYC’s Written Tests are available in electronic format. You may study the content on your own time however to formally take the Written Tests proctored. 

Taking a Test

Typically, there are a few opportunities every week for members to test for their ratings. To take these tests you can: 

  • Sign up for a lesson and take the test with an Instructor. (Taking a lesson is not required for a rating)
  • Come to Supervised Sailing (if a Ratings Examiner or Chief is present you may test).
  • Attend WYC Office Hours with the Program Director (Written Test only)
  • Schedule an appointment with a Ratings Examiner or Chief. This can done be via email or through our Discord server.

Ratings Explained

One example of a WYC rating is the “Single-Handed Novice.” 

– The first half refers to what boat you can sail — with the most common categories being: 1) “Single-Handed (SH)” (one person boats), 2) “Double-Handed (DH)” (two person boats), 3) “Sailboard” (windsurfing), 4) “Catamaran” (boats with two hulls), and 5) “Keelboats” (the large, multi-person boats). 

– The second half refers to what wind speeds you can sail — and is broken down into 3 categories: 1) “Novice” (light winds; 1-6 knots), 2) “Intermediate” (moderate winds; 7-15 knots), and 3) “Skipper” (high winds; 16+ knots). Note: 1 knot is ~1.15 mph.

– Ratings also determine where you are allowed to sail with Novice/Intermediate ratings being restricted to Union Bay (near the WAC), and Skipper ratings able to sail the interconnected waters east of the Aurora Bridge.

All Novice ratings (except Keelboat Novice) expire within 6 months — so it is important to keep practicing and test for your intermediate after receiving your first rating.

– For Double-Handed ratings, your crew do not need to have a rating and/or attempt to receive one. However, they should have sufficient sailing skill (to remain safe). As the skipper, you will drive the boat, perform maneuvers, and ensure good communication by saying commands loud enough so both crew and the rating examiner can hear them.


Ratings Inventory

Provided below is a summary of WYC’s available ratings and associated permissions. For more in-depth information on the skills and requirements for each rating, please see the WYC Policies document. 

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