The Lake Calhoun Sailing School


Have you ever looked out on Lake Calhoun and seen little tykes bobbing along in little 8-foot sailboats? What a delightful sight! That’s the Lake Calhoun Sailing School.

Perhaps you have also seen clusters of slightly larger 14-footers sailing in circles around buoys, directed by a coach in a motorboat with a bullhorn. That’s probably the junior or senior high racing team practicing for competition with boats from other lakes in the area. They are really good! That’s also the Lake Calhoun Sailing School.

At other times you may also see those two-sail boats with brand new boaters of all ages who are learning the delights of sailing for the first time. That is also the Lake Calhoun Sailing School.

Sailing by the wind teaches lessons about life itself. You must become sensitive to which way the wind is blowing and direct your course accordingly. If you know how to sail, you are not at the mercy of the winds blowing you wherever they will, but you put your hand to the tiller, pay attention to the wind, and use the wind to get you to where you want to go—good practice for navigating the challenges we all face in life.

The Lake Calhoun Sailing School was founded in 1989 and began operations that year. They share space in the little boathouse right across the traffic circle from the Tin Fish with the Calhoun Yacht Club whose members also do volunteer work for the School. The Sailing School is an independent, non-profit organization.

The mission of the Sailing School is not only to teach sailing skills, but also to nurture the development of self-reliance, confidence, and cooperation in its students. It strives to create a life-long love of sailing in a safe and fun environment, and keep the fees as low as possible, providing scholarship assistance to make classes available to all.

The Sailing School operates from early May until October, offering an array of sailing classes from beginning to advanced that serve children (as young as four) as well as adults. It serves the entire metropolitan area, but the largest representation, approximately 50%, comes from Minneapolis, many from within walking distance of the Lake.

Last year over 1,000 students were enrolled in its classes, making it one of the largest sailing schools in the Midwest. On any given weekday the School may have close to 50 boats on the water, ranging from the 8’ Optimist dinghy to the 14’ Vanguard 420. The Sailing School also stages annual youth regattas that typically draw over a hundred sailors and crews from other lakes in the area.

An additional benefit is the water safety service that the School provides to the general public. An example was the rescue of a legless man who had capsized his rental kayak on a frigid and windy early spring day. The man was traumatized and near hypothermia when he was rescued by the School’s safety boat.

So when you are at Lake Calhoun and see the activities of the Lake Calhoun Sailing School, enjoy it to the fullest and take pride in another of the wonderful assets of the Uptown Community.

For more information about the Lake Calhoun Sailing School go to their website:

Bill Morton is a Lake Calhoun sailor and retired minister of Joyce United Methodist Church who lives in CARAG. Larry Salzman is director of the Lake Calhoun Sailing School and lives in the Cedar–Isles–Dean Neighborhood.