What's in a Course

The Penny Whiting Sailing School is no longer taking bookings

After 52 years, Penny has decided to retire from the daily sailing school and is no longer taking bookings. 

Penny has had the pleasure of putting 33,000 people through the 15 hour course over the last 52 years.

This practical, hands-on sailing course makes learning to sail fun and easy to learn. Our classroom is Auckland’s beautiful Waitemata harbour. We meet for 15 hours (each course is made up of 5 three-hour sessions, afternoons or weekends) and we spend most of that time out on the water.

Your tutor, Penny Whiting, is known for her down-to-earth and fun approach. Her goal is to make sailing enjoyable and accessible to everyone. As Penny always says, “If it’s hard to do, you’re doing it wrong.”

Course length: 15 hours, over 2 weekends or 5 afternoons during the week.
Times: AFTERNOON courses run Monday to Friday, 12.00-3.00pm
WEEKEND courses run 1st weekend: Sat 3.30-6.30pm, Sun 3.30-6.30pm, then 2nd weekend: Sat 12.30-6.30pm, Sun 3.30-6.30pm
This 2nd Saturday is comprised of 2 back-to-back lessons made up of 3 hours sailing and 3 hours of practical chart work.
Courses run through the New Zealand summer months of November through to April. View available course dates here.
Class size: Usually between 6 and a maximum of 12 students, plus your instructor, Penny Whiting
Location: “Endless Summer”, Berth E10, Westhaven Marina, Auckland
Yacht: Learning on a larger yacht like this (she’s a 47 foot keeler) will give you the confidence to sail a variety of other types of yachts. Big boats are actually quite easy to sail as they’re not as flighty as the smaller ones. And being on a bigger yacht also allows you the time to see things happening aboard while they are explained to you.
Prerequisite: No experience necessary – just bring your sense of fun and adventure
Suitable for: Men and women of all ages; ideal for beginners
Class format: After each lesson you will receive notes to read containing what was covered in the lesson. We’ll review and discuss these at the next class. In lesson one we’re out on the yacht within the first hour; from lesson two on, we’re out within 15 minutes when you have rigged Endless Summer.
Upon completion: You will be able to crew a yacht knowing what to do, when to do it, how to do it and why. Many students complete the course competent to charter a yacht on their own. You will receive a Certificate of Sailing Competence from the Penny Whiting Sailing School which is usually accepted by charter operators worldwide.
Course cost: Total NZ$850.00 (includes GST and $100 deposit to reserve booking)
Included in course fee:
  • 15 hours of hands-on practical, learning, including a chart work class.
  • A group setting where everyone learns from each other’s questions, discussions and mistakes. It’s an easy way to learn practically while having fun.
  • A safe, controlled learning environment where it’s okay to make mistakes.
  • Course notes for you to keep. A step-by-step learning guide including terminology, technique, tips, diagrams and more.
  • Your free copy of either “The Penny Whiting Sailing Book” or “The Penny Whiting Sailing DVD”.
  • A chance of a lifetime to do something that challenges you – a safe push outside your comfort zone.
  • Introduction to a new group of sailing friends.
  • The opportunity to sail Auckland’s harbour with Penny Whiting, one of New Zealand's greatest sailors and boating personalities.
Course outline:
  • How to rig and sail a yacht – the terminology, fittings and knots used
  • A comprehensive introduction to the language of sailing while we are sailing along
  • You will steer the yacht, learn wind direction and how to change tacks when sailing
  • We do headsail changes, slab reefing, flaking sails and packing a spinnaker
  • We review the rules of the sea as well as the buoyage and collision rules
  • You will understand commands about sailing manoeuvres
  • You will learn the man overboard drill and understand about the safety equipment aboard

What to wear:

  • Warm clothes, including a jacket or sweatshirt
  • Clean shoes, not black soled
  • A hat with a strap
  • Plenty of sunscreen
  • Wet weather gear will be provided if required.

That is the best value for money I have ever spent. I had fun AND I learnt to sail!

Randy, Ohio