The Shark Program

(How to sail without owning a boat)


Who is BSBC?

In 1974 the Burlington Sailing & Boating Club was formed to promote Seamanship, Sportsmanship and Friendship.  Located on the north shore of Burlington Bay at the LaSalle Pier, BSBC is a self-help club open to everyone and founded on the premise that boating should be the prime reason for the club’s existence.

Early on, the club developed a Sailing School to introduce and teach sailing skills to youth and adults.  The Sailing School uses Sail Canada certified instructors to teach the Sail Canada Dinghy sailing standards to youth and the Sail Canada Cruising standards to adults.

Adult Learn to Sail.  

The club recognized it can be expensive for families to get involved in the sport of sailing and so developed an adult learn to sail program using BSBC keelboats to introduce sailing to those with no prior experience.  We refer to the program as the Shark Program in recognition of the boat design first used.  The program is a hands-on sailing course using a defined syllabus and is taught by experienced Club Sailing Mentors with a total of more than 50 years’ experience cruising and racing keelboats.

Whether you are new to sailing or have been sailing for years, the Shark Program lets you develop and hone your sailing skills at your own pace.  Club Sailing Mentors also provide you with ongoing coaching in the sport.

The program includes

  • Sailing safety
  • Basic sail and boat parts
  • Manoeuvering under power and sail
  • Sail Trim
  • Docking
  • Anchoring
  • Aids to Navigation
  • Rules of the road


Meet other sailors and join in club activities

When you join the BSBC Shark Program you become an Intermediate Member of BSBC.  As a member of the BSBC sailing community, you enjoy the facilities and social gatherings offered by BSBC throughout the year such as regattas, cruising and racing seminars, the Commodore's Dinner, and "Sailpast".  Membership enables you to make new friends and introduce your family to the lifelong sport of sailing.

Learn boat care and maintenance

A key part of the program is instruction in boat care and annual maintenance which provides program members with a solid understanding of the commitment involved in boat ownership.  Under the guidance and direction of Club Maintenance Mentors, program members learn how to properly maintain and care for a sailboat.   Members are responsible for commissioning the boat at the beginning of the season and decommissioning the boat at the end of the season.  This can be a valuable experience if you are considering boat ownership in the future.  All program members are required to complete a minimum of 10 hours of maintenance work a year including work during the Club’s launch and haul-out weekends.

Enjoy sailing without owning a boat – The Shark Program

A key benefit of joining the BSBC Shark Program is that once you have mastered the syllabus and earned your BSBC Skipper certificate you will be able to reserve one of the boats and take your family out for an enjoyable day cruise on Burlington Bay or enter BSBC’s racing program. 

The Boats

The program uses two keelboats.

Ocracoke is an example of the very popular (more than 2500 were built) 24 foot Shark.  Designed by George Hinterhoeller and built in Ontario, Sharks are responsive and easy to handle, even in heavy winds.  There is an active racing class association and a large fleet of Sharks in this area.


Shamrock, a Tanzer 26, is another popular pocket cruising sailboat.  Designed by Johann Tanzer and built in Quebec, they are known for their comfort and good performance with enough weight to make them feel reassuringly stable to the moderately experienced sailor. 

How does the program work?

When you join the program you become an Intermediate Member of BSBC and can participate in club events.  We start with the assumption program members do not know how to sail and our objective is to teach sailing and seamanship to a level that members will be able to take the boats out themselves.

The program runs at defined times so mentors and members can plan their participation.  There are several sessions scheduled each week but members typically chose a single time slot so as to develop a better coaching relationship with their Sailing Mentors.

Members enter the program as Crew and progress to Skipper when they show proficiency with the defined skills and seamanship.  Skippers will be evaluated by the Program Co-ordinator and once they have proved their sailing competency will be able to take boats out without a Sailing Mentor.

After 2 years in the program it is expected members will join BSBC as Senior Members to continue in the program.

Members are required to spend at least 10 hours working on boat care and maintenance.  You will be assigned to one of the boats along with a Maintenance Mentor and will work with that mentor and his team on various boat projects including spring commissioning and fall decommissioning.

What does it cost?

In 2018, the annual cost to join the program is $339.  Spouses can join for an additional $63.28.  Senior members of BSBC pay $113 to join the program. HST is included in all prices.  In addition, members must spend at least 10 hours working on the boats.

What are the program dates?

The 2018 Shark Program runs from Sunday, June 3rd to Sunday, September 16, 2018.

How do I join?

You join the program by going to the club website  and completing the membership application.   Send the completed form to the BSBC Membership Director at



If you require more information regarding the program you can contact either