Accessible Sailing

Here at Hoofers Sailing it is our mission to serve as much of our Madison community as possible. To hold true to this mission, we offer opportunities to sail no matter your physical or mental ability. Sailing alongside a navigator, anyone with a physical or cognitive disability can come and sail with us at Hoofers!

We offer a specialized boat with an array of attachments that can be added or removed to meet any needs you may have! With a group of friendly and knowledgeable instructors and staff, we want to help you get out on Lake Mendota!


Sailing is a potentially dangerous sport, and we want to be able to limit those dangers as much as possible. For this reason, we require that there must be an able-bodied, skilled sailor on-board each Accessible sailing trip. This can be a friend or some other member at Hoofers who you want to go sailing with!

To ensure the safety of all of our members, anyone who is interested in becoming a “Navigator”, as we call it here at Hoofers, needs to obtain a Navigator rating. This rating includes demonstrated ability in maneuvering an Sonar and the ability to efficiently operate a radio in case of emergencies. We offer Navigator specific classes to teach Navigator specific responsibilities and skills.

If you don’t have a Navigator, that’s ok! We offer lessons with skilled instructors who are well-versed in the responsibilities associated with teaching in this environment!


We offer two different ways to get out onto the water in Accessible Sailing!

  1. Appointments

Appointments are a way to reserve the boat to make sure you can go sailing at a time that works for you! These appointments can be free sails with you and a Navigator, or as a Lesson with a skilled instructor. Appointments must be made at least a week before the time of the appointment. This allows us to make sure that we can get you an instructor and that we can confirm that we can reserve the boat for you.

  1. Free Sailing

There are free sailing times available for accessible sailing. During these time blocks, feel free to come down to Hoofers with a navigator to come and sail! First come, first serve!

Every member that is a part of this program is required to do at least one orientation appointment. This allows us to get a good understanding of your needs and ability, as well as figure out what attachments on the boat work well for you and which ones don’t. Reserving this orientation appointment will be a part of your onboarding process.


How do I get to Hoofers?

There are 10 handicap parking spots in the Helen C. White garage, and other parking is available at the State Street parking garage. There are accessible routes (no stairs) available from Langdon St. down to Hoofers

If needed, the Union offers motorized wheelchairs that can be used for transport from car to club. In addition, we offer an usher service to help you travel to our club.

How do I get into the boat?

We have two ways to assist you into our boat, boxes or a hoyer lift. Depending on your comfort with each, we can use these methods to help you get into our boat.

How can I teach accessible sailing?

Teaching accessible sailing at Hoofers is a few steps away from just a traditional instructor. We offer specialty training that teaches you how to reframe your understanding of sailing to be useful to your student, along with learning how to use your radio and how to act in an emergency on the water. If you have interest in becoming an Accessible Sailing instructor, email

If you have any questions/comments/concerns, email!