Smith Mountain Lake Sailing School & Charters


SML Sailing School | 108 Hillcrest Heights | 540.719.0009

Smith Mountain Lake enjoys an incredible sailing community and hosts several excellent regattas through the Blackwater Yacht Racing Association (BYRA) and the Virginia Inland Sailing Association (VISA). If you are new to the sport, check out this family-run business, celebrating it’s 10th Anniversary in 2015, Smith Mountain Lake Sailing School.

Pete Phillip, director, began the school after moving to Union Hall from Connecticut where he headed up the junior sailing program at the Housatonic Yacht Club. Smith Mountain Lake was without a school since the local American Sailing Association (ASA) Academy closed in 2004. The goal was to offer US Sailing Certified instruction at a reasonable price to encourage participation in local sailing activities on the lake.

This goal has certainly been achieved as the school has trained over 400 students; attracting students from Maryland, Carolina, West Virginia, Pennsylvania, Ohio, and all over Virginia; bringing dozens of sailors into competitive sailing.

The program begins with non-sailors learning the basics on a J/24 sloop and advancing to sail solo on the International Laser Sailboat and the Tanzer 16. Students are usually sailing by themselves on the third lesson. The school has also helped experienced sailors to improve their skills through race coaching and spinnaker training on local race boats.

In 2012 the school began offering sailing charters with a licensed captain for visitors to Smith Mountain Lake and offering another way for newcomers to the sport to experience the excitement and the tranquility of sailing. The school has also hosted team building events for corporate teams by simulating the development of an America’s Cup racing crew.

Although the underlying theme is to encourage competition, the basic mission has never changed. “To take you from the shore, raise your sails, and send you across the water with the skill and confidence for a lifetime of voyages.”