Once again, this popular program helping women learn to sail (and sometimes race) in a relaxed environment is on our QYC calendar for 2023. Classes are scheduled for six Friday mornings from 9:15 to 11:30, from June 30 to August 4. (Because of scheduling complications and the availability of instructors and boats, classes cancelled because of weather will not be made up. Waterlilies participants, however, tend to be an enthusiastic bunch and are seldom deterred by a little Quissett mist.) We meet on the Sailing Class deck at the Harbor House. 


We welcome as many sailors to join the fun as space allows. We have a two step process for registration. Yacht club members have priority in registering for class. Once members have signed up, non-members are welcome to apply for the remaining spots. Emails announcing registration for the upcoming summer’s program are sent first to QYC members in the spring. Thereafter, if we have space to accommodate non-QYC members, notice will be sent to prior students and other women who have requested to be on the mailing list. In considering non-member applicants, we will give priority to non-members who are new to the program or have participated for no more than two years. 

We request a donation from each participating Waterlilies student to support the QYC Junior Sailing Program: QYC Members, $250, Non-Members, $400.

Questions may be directed to

Registration for Waterlilies is now open to Quissett Yacht Club members.

Waterlilies history

QYC’s Waterlilies program was originally conceived in 1959. Three accomplished QYC sailors -- Cynthia Coffin, Isabel Haigh and Joan Wheeler -- recognized the need for a program to teach women QYC members to sail so that they would be prepared to take the helm in an emergency aboard a cruising boat and, less critically, have a better understanding of their kids’ racing exploits. At first the program was revived only once a generation, but it has now been running annually since 2001. Waterlilies has developed over the decades into a successful and popular program.  It is designed to teach women to sail in a low stress, social environment, and to increase their confidence on the water.  It is a great place to make friends too. 


All instruction takes place in Herreshoff 12 1/2s, the racing fleet in Quissett. While most of the Waterlilies instructors are women, male instructors are also essential to accommodate our many students. The instructors volunteer their time, and many use their own boats, or boats belonging to the students.

Sample Syllabus

Rigging a Herreshoff 12 1/2

Determining wind direction
Points of sailing
Leaving and returning to the mooring
Sailing to windward
Tacking, gybing
Rules of the road
Essential knots
Person overboard procedure


Learning resources

Class Handouts

Handy references

Sailing for Dummies

Photo credits: 


Secondary address