Sailing Cards

Sailing cards: Helmsman, Skipper, and Racing Skipper

Holding a sailing card entitles a member to use the DYC Flying Scots. The level of sailing privileges depends on what type of card one holds. Each rating implies a different level of boat-handling ability and, consequently, carries a different level of sailing privileges.

Enrollment in one of our classes is helpful but NOT required to obtain a card. Members who can demonstrate the required level of competence by taking a sailing test may be awarded a sailing card without taking the class.

An annual sailing fee will be charged to your DYC account when a sailing card is awarded. See the section on fees in this Handbook for the relevant amounts.

To arrange for a test, please contact the Instruction Chairs or Program Chairs. Tests may be taken during class or at another time by arrangement with an instructor. The decision to award a sailing card rests with the individual instructor’s judgment.

The Helmsman card

Think of a Helmsman card as your learner’s permit. Helmsman card holders are deemed to have moderate sailing skills.

Restrictions on the use of boats:

  1. A Helmsman may sail only in the Novice class with an instructor, or on practice sails outside class if everyone else in the boat holds at least a Helmsman card
  2. Helmsman card holders are not permitted to sail in winds greater than 15 mph, or anytime white caps are showing on the water
  3. Helmsman card holders may sail only in the Detroit River from the DYC to Windmill Point and on the U.S. side of Belle Isle and Peche Island. They are NOT permitted to sail into the shipping channel between Belle Isle and Canada or out into Lake St. Clair with only a Helmsman card. You are never permitted to sail on the Canadian side of Belle Isle. No single-handed sailing permitted

To obtain this card you must:

  1. Demonstrate to an instructor that you possess a basic ability to leave and return to the dock safely
  2. Know basic sailing terminology
  3. Rig the boat properly
  4. Be able to tack and jibe with reasonable proficiency
  5. Demonstrate a basic understanding of the man-overboard procedure
  6. Understand the points of sail: Beating, reaching, running
  7. Be able to tie a bowline, figure 8, and square knot
  8. Rig for towing and anchoring
  9. De-rig the boat properly

Note: A Helmsman card awarded in one season is good through that season. In the next season, a Helmsman must requalify as a Helmsman (usually by taking the sailing class) or qualify for a Skipper card during that season or lose sailing privileges.

The Skipper card

A Skipper card indicates that a student is capable of taking charge as if he or she were the only person aboard who knew how to sail. He or she must be able to direct a completely inexperienced crew. Skipper tests must be taken in moderate to heavy air, 12 mph minimum. You may sail in the River or Lake St. Clair, and may invite guests, subject to the rules contained elsewhere in this Handbook and to the following restrictions:

  1. Winds no greater than 20 mph
  2. Spinnaker flying not permitted except during authorized training sessions or with a holder of a Racing Skipper card aboard
  3. Single-handed sailing is not permitted
  4. Any Scot sailed into Lake St. Clair or across the shipping channel must have two paddles aboard for fast rowing across the channel in case of emergency

Skipper Test items include:

  1. Perform all the Helmsman test items with consistent proficiency. A higher level of boat-handling skill is required than for the Helmsman card
  2. Be able to read telltales and use them to get the most out of each point of sail
  3. Hold a beat efficiently
  4. Tack from a beat to the opposite beat without stalling
  5. Jibe from a run to the opposite run without broaching
  6. Demonstrate your knowledge of sailing vocabulary and be able to verbalize what is happening on the boat
  7. Sail a course efficiently
  8. Sail backwards (hold the boat in irons for 60 seconds)
  9. Succeed at a man-overboard drill on the first try
  10. Be familiar with emergency procedures for capsize, grounding, breakdowns

The Racing Skipper card

This card implies a greater level of refinement in your boat handling than required of a Skipper. It also implies an ability to handle a boat in heavier air, and to fly a spinnaker with proficiency. You may sail or race in winds up to 25 mph, single-hand sail, and may fly a spinnaker. Test items:

  1. On shore, demonstrate how to rig boat for spinnaker and pack spinnaker. While underway as crew set pole, rig, raise spinnaker, fly, jibe, drop, and repack spinnaker
  2. Satisfy the testing instructor that you can exercise good judgment about when and when not to fly a spinnaker. Must also demonstrate ability to sail in heavier air and to handle all basic skills with precision, particularly safety-related skills

Fees for 2014

Annual Renewal of Sailing Card $125

Skipper Card Awarded Outside Class $150 ($125 + $25)

Novice Class fee (Newcomer) $250 for both sessions or $150/session

Novice Class fee (Repeater) $125

Skipper Class fee (previous Helmsman and Skipper refresher) $125

Non-member Novice Class fee $750 for full summer

Advanced Class $125

Promotion during season from Helmsman to Skipper or Racing Skipper $125

* A portion of non-member fee may be applied to membership incentives within the same season.

Renewal Sailing Cards

Annual sailing cards are renewed automatically in February to holders of sailing cards from the previous season. Your DYC account is charged at that time. If you do not wish sailing privileges the year, please let the Flying Scot chairperson know when you get your renewal notice.