Skipper Certification

In order to protect our equipment and our members, we have developed a strict skipper certification process. Each fleet has a unique and specific process, all of which are documented on this page. Each process is intended to ensure that only members who have demonstrated mastery of fleet-specific boat handling may take out crew or equipment. For a flowchart of all fleet certification processes, click here.

The Vice Commodore maintains test administration, test results, and certification status. Contact the Vice Commodore for more information or to schedule a time to take a test.

420 Certification

420 Certification is designed to be the first step for qualification in other fleets. There are two steps involved in becoming 420 qualified: a written test and an on-the-water test.

The written test focuses on parts of the boat, right of way rules, and points of sail. After taking the written test, you may attempt the on-the-water test with a GTSC 420 instructor. The on-the-water test involves demonstrating the following skills:

  • Most important: Must be able to assess the conditions (wind, current, launch position, hazards) to determine whether you should go out based on your and your crew's skills and limitations
  • Proper rigging (including knowledge of GTSC 420 equipment storage)
  • Proper docking procedures
  • Ability to skipper comfortably in moderate breeze (> 12 knots)
  • Ability to confidently direct crew in their responsibilities
  • Proper tacking and jibing
  • Sailing at all points of sail
  • Man overboard procedures
  • Capsize recovery
  • Proper de-rigging

After you pass the on-the-water test, your instructor will send a formal recommendation to the executive board. If exec approves, they will add 420 qualification to your GTSC Skipper card.

As a 420 certified skipper, you may take up to 2 people out on the 420s and may attempt to become certified in other fleets.

Keelboat Certification

Keelboat Certification requires a much higher level of qualification to become a skipper. Like 420 certification, there is a written exam and a on-the-water test. The "Advanced Sailing" written exam covers the topics listed in the Keel Certification Requirements document; the on-the-water test covers the topics listed in the On the Water Test Checklist document. The Vice Commodore may only administer the written exam once per semester—so don't mess up! The on-the-water test must be taken with a keelboat instructor in a J-24 with a spinnaker.

Because the J-24 exams are so rigorous, there are two types of keelboat certification: intermediate and full.

Intermediate skippers are those who have passed the "Advanced Sailing" exam, have participated in at least one instruction day with a keelboat skipper or instructor, and have received approval from a majority of exec. They need not have passed the on-the-water test. There are many restrictions on intermediate skippers compared to full skippers:

  • there must be at least 2 intermediate or full skippers on the boat to use it
  • intermediate skippers must submit a "float plan" to exec prior to checking a boat out

To become fully keelboat certified, you must complete the same requirements as becoming intermediate certified in addition to passing the on-the-water test. As a fully certified keelboat skipper, you must:

  • notify exec when planning to use a keelboat. This notification should include who is expected to be present.
  • promote the keelboat program by offering an open invitation sailing day
  • help maintain the keelboats
Failure to meet any of these requirements is grounds for an executive vote to remove full skipper status.

Both full and intermediate skippers must submit an updated Keelboat Skipper Application Form to the Vice Commodore once per year to be reviewed by exec.

Laser Certification

Any 420-certified skipper may become Laser-certified if they pass an on-the-water test given by a Laser instructor. The on-the-water test is very similar to the 420 on-the-water test, except you will be sailing a Laser (duh). Upon passing the on-the-water test, your instructor will send a formal recommendation to the executive board. If exec approves, they will add Laser qualification to your skipper card.

As a Laser certified skipper, you may:

  • use GTSC Lasers and related equipment without instructor supervision
  • borrow GTSC Laser equipment and trailer for use at locations other than LLSC following notification and approval of the executive board

Hobie Certification

Any 420-certified skipper may become Hobie-certified if they pass an on-the-water test given by a Hobie instructor. Upon passing the Hobie on-the-water test, your instructor will send a formal recommendation to the executive board. If exec approves, they will add Hobie qualification to your skipper card.

As a Hobie-certified skipper, you may:

  • use GTSC Hobies and related equipment without instructor supervision
  • borrow GTSC Hobie equipment and trailers for use at locations other than LLSC following notification and approval of the executive board

Windsurf Certification

There are three steps involved in becoming windsurf certified: a written test, an on-the-water test, and a swim test. After passing these three tests, your instructor will send a formal recommendation to the executive board. If exec approves, they will add windsurf qualification to your skipper card.

For the swim test, you must:

  • Swim 25 yards unassisted (without a lifejacket)
  • Tread water for 5 minutes unassisted (without a lifejacket)
  • Put a lifejacket on over your head while in the water

As a windsurf certified skipper, you may:

  • use GTSC windsurf equipment without instructor supervision
  • borrow GTSC windsurf equipment for use at locations other than LLSC following notification and approval of the executive board