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Student Sailing GEar

i) Clothing and equipment

Following are the items students will need before beginning a course.


Here is the typical style of PFD worn while sailing. The club has a selection of PFDs that you can borrow when on the water. You don’t need to purchase one, although you can if you choose. 


If you’re going to be sailing in April or May you need a wetsuit. The water is still quite cold and you will end up in the lake at some point.

Either a shorty or full-length is fine, and you can opt for sleeves or a Farmer Jane. Some sailors prefer one-piece suits, and others prefer separates because they offer some versatility throughout the summer. A 3/2mm-weight wetsuit is likely thick enough for spring sailing, but that can vary by personal preference: staff at a local watersports store can usually discuss options. 

The choices are up to you, as long as the wetsuit covers your torso — that’s important for warmth. You will wear a top and pants over your wetsuit. 

Wetsuits are available at retailers including MEC, Surf the Greats, Canadian Tire, Fogh Marine, NorthLine Sports, Silent Sports and more. You can also find second-hand pieces on sites such as Kijiji and eBay, but before buying, it’s good to confirm that the items don’t have rips or tears. 

Sailing gloves

While sailing gloves aren’t essential, they do help protect your hands, especially in windy conditions. They also offer grip and a bit of warmth. You can find options with full or half-fingers, which have some reinforcement on palms for handling lines. There are also neoprene gloves of the kind paddleboarders might use in cold weather — these don’t offer reinforcement but they will have some warmth.  

But you can also purchase garden gloves with a rubber coating on the palms, which would be sufficient while learning to sail.


Water shoes will work well and can be purchased easily. The non-slip soles will help with your footing. Some sailors wear wool, waterproof or neoprene socks under their shoes or boots — if you are taking one of our spring courses, you might want to wear wool socks for warmth. 

Here is an example of neoprene water shoes; fast-drying rubber shoes can work too. You can also find similar shoes at Canadian Tire, Fogh Marine, Amazon and other stores. 

It’s not unusual for sailors’ feet to get wet while launching boats, or even while sailing if there is temporarily water in the bottom of the boat. Some folks find that taller boots, or neoprene socks worn under shoes or boots, can help with this.

It is not recommended to sail barefoot, especially in windy conditions, as you might hurt your feet.

There’s no need to invest in dedicated sailing boots in order to take our courses. But here are some examples if you want to know what they look like. If you end up sailing a lot, boots that go above the ankle can help protect against chafing from hiking straps. 


Splash pants and a jacket should go over your wetsuit to protect against spray, rain and wind. Rain coats and pants are fine for our courses — there’s no need to buy dedicated sailing pants or jackets. It’s important to wear layers between the wetsuit and jacket in order to stay warm, especially in spring. Layers can always be removed if it’s too hot. Choose quick-dry clothing.


  • Hat, sunglasses and sunscreen: You may want to purchase a head strap to secure your glasses.  

  • Reusable water bottle: You can use a carabiner to attach your water bottle to the boat so it doesn’t float off if you capsize. The club has a water dispenser.

  • Towel: After class, you can dry off and put your dry street clothes back on.

  • Dry bags: These aren’t a priority, but they can help keep your belongings dry and secure while in the boat.  

  • Watch: A water-resistant watch with stopwatch capabilities can be handy for CANSail 3 and CANSail 4 if you have one, but it is not a requirement for classes. You’ll see people around the club wearing sailing race watches, which have countdown timers for racing starts, but you don’t need those for our courses — if you end up doing a lot of racing down the road you might want to consider one.


Buying sailing gear can be costly, especially in specialized stores. While we would love to see you get hooked to sailing, you may want to minimize your expenses the first season, until you find out whether sailing is for you or not. So unless you have other uses for this gear, we recommend that you start by only purchasing a simple wetsuit, a cheap pair of gloves (gym gloves would do just fine) and wet shoes.

ii) Storage, cleaning and maintenance

Students who drive to the club tend to take gear home with them after each class. The club does have lockers, and we do our best to eventually accommodate every member who wants one, but there can be a long waitlist for the lockers. Please email membership@sailtoronto.com if you want to be put on the waitlist. If you bike or take transit, you can leave wetsuits neatly on hangers in the changing rooms in between classes, although our changing rooms are not locked. 

There are a few other tips for using and maintaining wetsuit gear. Sometimes new wetsuits can chafe — if you find this happens, an anti-chafing product that’s safe for wetsuits such as this one can help. If you want gear shortened or altered, a specialty tailor such as Sport Sewing on the Danforth can help. If you accidentally get a hole or tear in your wetsuit, you can buy a patch kit from many of the same retailers that sell wetsuits.

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