All images courtesy of the Lake Champlain Sailing Center

Whether you are coming to Burlington for the first time or the hundredth time, as you crest over the hill at the top of Main Street with Lake Champlain’s dark blue water appearing in the distance, the lure to get out on the water is undeniable. It is as if Burlington’s waterfront is beckoning you to come down and play. Each year the Community Sailing Center helps over 8,000 people do just that. 

Located directly on the waterfront, their new Community Waterfront Center offers visitors and residents numerous ways to get out and enjoy the lake. In addition to stand-up paddleboard, kayak, and canoe rentals, certified instructors are available for private, family, or group lessons. Whether you have no experience or are a beginner without enough confidence to go out alone, lessons are a great way to build confidence in your abilities. 

Newcomers to the sport will find they offer some stellar programming that is good for anyone who has ever wanted just to try sailing or simply get out on the water for a few hours. For example, for adults, the First Sail Program combines sailing with one of Vermont’s favorite pastimes - sampling local craft brews.

After a two-hour sail covering some basics, you’ll head across the street to Foam Brewers to enjoy a cold pint. Proving you are never too young to learn to sail, kids as young as six can enroll in their summer sailing camps and continue until their late teens, perhaps even becoming a junior instructor one day.

While the Sailing Center provides access to the lake for enjoyment, they also understand that environmental education and stewardship are equally as important. Lake Champlain is Vermont’s greatest natural resource, and they know it is imperative to continue finding ways to keep the lake healthy for future generations to use.


The center’s WAVES (Water. Access. Vitality. Education. Stewardship) program is an initiative interwoven into all of their programs. Each element plays a vital role in the center’s mission. Education and sustainability are always top of mind. For instance, during their summer camps, kids participate in hands-on lessons that teach them about water quality.

They help to monitor the cyanobacteria (blue-green algae) that bloom in Burlington Harbor. Additionally, wanting to utilize best practices to reduce impacts from their on-the-water events, they partner with organizations like Sailors for the Seas to certify clean and sustainable regattas that eliminate single use items and practice responsible waste management.

And finally, their new Sailing Education Center is a net-zero facility with a solar array that has produced 190,580 kilowatt-hours (KWH) of electricity to date.

Access to the lake is equally important. Accordingly, one of the most exciting and notable achievements for the Sailing Center focuses on its commitment to access. Their Sailing Diversity Access Initiative Program, which is designed to foster inclusion within the sport of sailing for BIPOC children, was recently awarded the US Sailing Jim Kilroy Outstanding Outreach and Inclusion Award.

This multi-year, fully funded program intends to inspire a lifelong love for sailing by offering campers, aged 11-15, up to 4 weeks of camp each summer for four years that includes before- and after-care and transportation assistance.

Are you ready to get out on the lake?