Sail Away with Westwind Sailing School

DANA POINT— Southern California loves sailing. Maybe it’s the perfect weather, or perhaps it’s the various desirable destinations. Whichever it is, Californians love sailing.

Located in the Dana Point harbor is Westwind Sailing school. Westwind Sailing was opened in 1987 by Diane Wenzel to provide public access to boating and safety instructions in South Orange County.

“Initially, it was just a few adult courses at the county park (OC Sailing and Events Center),” said Wenzel in an email from Sept. 21. “Today, Westwind is a highly acclaimed and award-winning sailing school.”

The Center is built on California Tidelands and is specifically dedicated to public access to community sailing, boating, and recreation. Westwind is a certified US Sailing Community Boating Center with instructors who hold US Sailing Level 1 certification.

Today, Westwind Sailing offers courses in adult sailing, family sailing, kids sailing camps, adaptive sailing, one-day introductory sailing courses, private lessons, special group programs, after-school sailing, sail and science courses, exploratory boating courses, paddleboarding classes, kayak lessons, and day camps.

The courses run throughout the entire year. In addition, after-school sailing and boating classes are offered in the fall and spring to match school schedules, adults sailing is every weekend, adult, and junior sailing clubs, and paddleboarding rentals are available daily. Courses are done both one-on-one and in groups.

“Beginner courses are typically 14 hours, four days [a week], three and a half hours per day,” said Wenzel. “Typical day: Land time with theory presentations. Then land drills on the dock—demos on the water. And then practice with students in sailboats and instructors in motorized safety boats.”

For someone who has never sailed a day in their life, Westwind Sailing’s introductory sailing course is a one-day course that is two and a half hours long. Students learn basic sailing skills on land and then practice on the water. The course is inexpensive and doesn’t require a long-term commitment.

“We also offer interactive sail rides, which can be booked by appointment for an hour,” said Wenzel. “Rides are instructor-led. Passengers may work the tiller and sheet as conditions allow.”

Westwind Sailing does more than teach; they also get involved with the community. Each year they host The Cardboard Class/ Dinghy Dash during the Festival of Whales, where competitors construct a vessel made only of cardboard and duct tape and race around Baby Beach. In addition, they host the annual Aquafest along with the Dana Point Aquatic Foundation to usher in National Safe Boating Week, a free festival in the Dana Point Harbor. Lastly, they are heavily involved with Stand-Up To Trash and host California Coastal Cleanup Days, where they gather the community to clean up the beaches.



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