Blue Element Yachting provides sailing and yachting instruction to all levels.  With a 30 year history in providing exceptional educational programs and a top-tier staff of coaches, we conduct both group courses and individual or private instruction.   The training may be conducted aboard our boats or your boat. We are a US Sailing Certified School with US Coast Guard licensed captains.

Wholly owned subsidiary J World Performance Sailing School, with locations in San Francisco, San Diego, and Puerto Vallarta, has been the gold standard in hands-on training since its introduction in 1981.  We have sent tens of thousands of students through our programs and are recognized worldwide as the industry leader.   For more information on our training opportunities, contact us or visit here for info on J World, brought to you by Blue Element Yachting.




Course Descriptions

Blue Element offers a full range of sailing instruction, from first time beginning courses to advanced racing and offshore cruising. For course descriptions/summaries, please click below.

Private Instruction

One-on-one instruction will give you fully personalized attention from one of the best sailing instructors in the country.  We can arrange custom sailing and/or cruising instruction for individuals or groups at prices which compare favorably to standard courses.  We will custom tailor the curriculum to meet your specific goals, and maintain flexible schedules which will accommodate your needs.  Classes can be held aboard our boats or yours.

Learn to Sail

The Learn to Sail Class from is designed to provide the essential foundation of sailing skills. This class is conducted at our sailing centers in San Francisco Bay, San Diego, and Puerto Vallarta.

Offered as a four day (Monday-Thursday) sailing course, or as a two weekend class, this course gets the complete beginner started out right, or builds upon previous experience. Using the modern J/80 as our teaching platform, we begin on Monday with basic boat-handling and terminology, and progress rapidly through an extensive curriculum.

This course is extremely comprehensive.  We spend more time on the water in one day than many schools do in an entire class...  we believe strongly that the best way to learn how to sail is by actually sailing!  And with a maximum of four sailors per boat (and the courses often run with fewer), all attendees are certain to receive plenty of personal attention.  Participants gain extensive hand-on experience, building the sailing skills and knowledge to pursue sailing endeavors on their own, with confidence.

Really Learn to Sail: Confidence through Competence

Without question, this is the ultimate course for learning how to sail.  If you are going to invest the time and the money, make sure you get the most of both, so that you can get the most out of sailing.  Our J World curriculum, continually refined over 30 years of teaching sailors, far exceeds any other schools' or organizations' criteria for 'basic' level sailing courses.  We'll readily admit that there are sailing programs which profess to offer effective learn to sail courses and take less time, and cost less money.  But you get what you pay for, and we will put our sailing instructors, boats, and curriculum up against any in the world.

 Topics in the Learn to Sail class include:

  • Terminology
  • Points of sail
  • Tacking and gybing
  • Sail shape & trim
  • Seamanship skills, including:
    - Reefing
    - Heaving-To
    - Crew-Overboard Recovery
    - Docking Under Sail
    - Anchoring
    - Mooring
  • Sailing dynamics
  • Yacht design essentials
  • Nomenclature
  • Knots
  • Reading the wind
  • Safety practices and equipment
  • Tides and currents
  • Basic navigation
  • Rules of the road
  • Spinnaker fundamentals

Our ultimate goal in the Learn to Sail class is that by the final day of class, each student feels competent skippering a small keelboat without instructor input.

Course Requirements


Certifications Available

US Sailing Basic Keelboat


Performance Cruising

For sailors who have experience in smaller boats and have the basics of sail trim and boathandling wired, Blue Elelment  offers our Performance Cruising course.  This course is offered in a two weekend format, or over four day (Mon-Thurs) and builds the skills necessary for handling a boat in a wider range of conditions and with a higher degree of control and efficiency.

In this hands-on sailing course, we use the J/80 to brush up on our boathandling and sail trim skills.  A responsive boat gives us prompt feedback, rapidly indicating which adjustments were beneficial and which were detrimental.  We are very much able tofeel when the boat is sailing well and when we need to be more attentive.

At our San Francisco and San Diego locations, we will also introduce students to a larger boat, the J/105, for the second half of the course (in Puerto Vallarta, the full course is conducted aboard the J/80).  This sailboat cruising and daysailing course concentrates on many aspects of sailing and introduces skills that bareboat charter companies are looking for before accepting you as a potential sailboat charter client.  Successful completion of this course qualifies you to charter boats without a skipper in at our Blue Element locations.

Topics in this sailing course include:

  • Advanced Sail Trim
  • Navigation
  • Weather analysis
  • Safety gear
  • Seamanship skills
  • Motoring skills
  • Electrical systems
  • Diesel basics
  • Onboard sanitation systems
  • Plumbing and water systems
  • Sail selection
  • Spinnaker work

Course Requirements

The ability to comfortably sail a small boat on your own with an understanding of fundamental sailing skills such as those covered in our Learn To Sail course.

Certifications Available

US Sailing Basic Keelboat
US Sailing Basic Cruising

We include one certification with each class. Sailors with sufficient previous experience may achieve both certifications in this course for an additional $60.00.  Please contact us directly to discuss this option.


Coastal Cruising

This sailing course is for the more advanced sailor.  If you are moving up to a larger boat, interested in the shipboard life of passage-making and adventure sailing, or if you are wanting to bareboat charter, this course is for you.  For this one, we take the classroom underway!  This course is taught aboard a 40-50 foot sailboat.

The liveaboard cruising course will give you the confidence you need for offshore cruising and/or coastal cruising.  We offer seven, five, and three day options at our San Francisco, San Diego, and Puerto Vallarta locations. Blue Element also offers special adventure sailing Liveaboard Cruising courses in the Channel Islands, Mexico, Hawaii, and other outstanding destinations.  Please contact us for details and information.

For all these sailing courses, we create our float-plan as a group on the first day, taking into consideration our goals and current weather conditions.  We have a maximum of four sailors per class, so you are guaranteed plenty of personal attention.   

The Seven Day Liveaboard Cruising Courses are usually special events, and often have separate starting and ending ports.  Trips such as San Francisco to Santa Barbara and Puerto Vallarta to Cabo San Lucas happen regularly throughout the year. 

The Five Day Liveaboard Cruising Course (Monday - Friday) is our most popular cruising course.  Possible destinations from our San Francisco Bay base include sailing to Monterrey Bay, Santa Cruz, Half Moon Bay, Bolinas Bay, San Pablo Bay, and the Sacramento River Delta.  In Puerto Vallarta, we explore the further reaches of Banderas Bay, and venture along the Mexican coastline to some beautiful areas which can be found along less-traveled paths. Our San Diego itenerary regularly includes Catalina Island.

The Three Day Liveaboard Cruising Course runs Friday to Sunday at all our locations.

The course covers many topics in great detail, including:

  • Advanced Sail Trim
  • Advanced and electronic navigation
  • Passage planning
  • Provisioning
  • Weather analysis
  • Night sailing
  • Offshore safety gear
  • Heavy weather tactics
  • Seamanship skills

Live-Aboard Cruising Course - Requirements

The ability to comfortably sail an auxiliary powered sailboat. Knowledge of sailing, seamanship, basic navigation, and boat handling.

Live-Aboard Cruising Course Certifications Available

US Sailing Basic Cruising
US Sailing Bareboat Cruising

In order to obtain certifications you must already have the US Sailing Basic Keelboat Certification and a current US Sailing membership. We include one certification with each course. Sailors with sufficient previous experience may complete the course work for both certifications in the five-day Live-Aboard Offshore Cruising. The cost for additional certification is $60.00.  Please contact us directly to discuss this option.

Offshore Cruising

Blue Element offers Coastal Passagemaking and Offshore Passagemaking opportunities throughout the year on special trips between California, Hawaii, and Mexico. Please contact us with details regarding your sailing background and goals and we will be happy to discuss options.


At Blue Element, we have been teaching yacht racing skills since 1981.  Thousands of sailors have come through the programs of J World (our wholly owned subsidiary), either learning the basics or polishing advanced sailing skills.  Our coaches are national and world champions, America's Cup team members, and offshore racing veterans.  Our alumni are competing in fleets around the world, and have gone on to win some of the most prestigious events that yacht racing has to offer.

The Blue Element racing curriculum has been finely polished, yet we never cease in constantly updating the course contents.  In the classroom, we use a truly multimedia approach, using our own course books, videos, power-points, and lectures.

But you can talk theory until you are blue in the face; it doesn't mean a thing until you put it into practice.  This is why we spend six hours on the water everyday, conducting drills and practice sessions which reflect the experience of many thousands of hours of making sailors faster!  We sail our fleet of evenly matched high performance boats, our J/80s, which are nimble, responsive, and perfect learning platforms.  And with a maximum crew of four per boat, you are sure to keep busy and get lots of personal attention.

In our racing classes, you  will take your racing skills further in one week than a whole season of trial-and-error racing. You will hone your boat handling skills, learn starting, upwind and downwind tactics and strategy and much more. Choose from Introduction to Racing or Advanced Yacht Racing classes, or if you can't make the full week long courses, we offer weekend options.







imgSan Francisco Bay is one of the great sailing venues in the world.  The Bay hosts fantastic and varied cruising grounds, and the wide range of conditions created by the numerous 'micro-climates' insure that whatever sort of experience you are looking for, you will likely be able to find it. The warm, pacific waters of the estuary and the moderate South Bay zones present extremely accommodating environments. For the more advanced sailors, the Central Basin of San Francisco Bay is just a short sail away. 

Our office is less than a one minute walk from the Oakland-San Francisco Ferry terminal, acessible by BART, and right on Water Street in the beautiful Jack London Square.  A partnership with the Joie de Vivre's Waterfront Hotel provides our clients a great value on accommodations right in the heart of a vibrant scene. 

imgSan Diego, soaked in sunshine and blessed with extremely user friendly sailing conditions, is a true gem of a sailing city. The beautiful natural harbor and world famous year-round sailing climate provide exceptional conditions for all types of sailing  The close proximity to wonderful cruising grounds in both the Channel Islands and Baja California provides sailors opportunities to broaden their horizons.

Our office is on Shelter Island, the boating capital of San Diego. Close proximity to marine services, boatyards, and shops make this the ideal location.

imgBased on the West coast of mainland Mexico between Mazatlan and Acapulco, Puerto Vallarta has long been a favorite destination for sailors.  The beautiful Banderas Bay (the second largest bay in the Americas) is blessed with fantastic sailing conditions, wonderful scenery, and an astounding amount of wildlife. 

Our Puerto Vallarta Sailing Center is at the wonderful Paradise Village Resort, and boasts the best winter sailing conditions you can find anywhere.