Learning the Science of Sailing

learning the science of sailing opti sailor


Many of us in the sailing community were lucky enough to foster a love of the water and boating from a young age, while plenty of others have picked up the sport in adulthood. No matter the age of the sailor, there is a wealth of knowledge that comes from learning how to sail. US Sailing has found a way to not only grow the sport and make sailing more accessible, but to help teach core subjects using sailing as a platform. Launched in 2012, the Reach initiative uses sailing as an extension of classroom lessons to educate children as well as foster a passion for the ocean and an appreciation for a variety of maritime disciplines.

Reach is a STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) program that creates a baseline for education using sailing as a cornerstone to teach students more about the physical and marine world that surrounds us.  The STEM program offers educators a library of modules that can be used in connection with existing classroom lessons to further enhance students’ understanding of concepts. US Sailing also offers training for professional development for both professionals and volunteers to make their summer sailing programs more immersive in the sciences.   Reach programs for students can be found nationwide using the map below:

For educators looking to incorporate their local sailing center into their education plan, the Reach Program is a fantastic way to get your students excited about science and technology in a tangible way.   The principals of sailboat physics are an extension of flight, while other core mechanics such as buoyancy and meteorology teach important STEM concepts.  Many communities have facilities and locations that are available to tour and offer both exposure to trades (sail making, boat building) as well as facilities such as Marina’s and Yacht Clubs that will allow students to appreciate some of the economy that surrounds one of the earliest forms of transportation.

One of the most important parts of the Reach program is the opportunity that it brings to children who would have otherwise never learned about sailing. By making boats and information accessible to youth, Reach has the ability to foster a love and understanding of the sport. 90% of all children who participate in the program are first time sailors, making this an exciting threshold into the boating community.

US Sailing’s Reach Initiative participated in the Louis Vuitton America’s Cup World Series event last month in New York City. By collaborating with the AC Endeavour Program, Harken, and 11th Hour Racing, US Sailing was able to provide three days of engaging and educational activities to children and their families at the event. Displays of simple machines, pulleys, and environmental impact activities brought a well-rounded STEM experience to the young sailors.

If you’re a parent looking to keep your child stimulated this summer, programs utilizing STEM under the Reach initiative are available nationwide (it’s worth looking up your local center as it may be offering the STEM program but might not be registered on the US Sailing website).  What better way to harbor a child’s passion for the sea than to experience the science of sailing firsthand.


  • Share

Leave a reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *