Our Philosophy

Grassroots Sailing Centre is a not-for-profit sailing school and sailing club, run by sailors, for sailors, who are passionate about sailing. 

We are continually seeking out and providing opportunities for likeminded people to enjoy the sport and improve their skills at a reasonable cost.

Grassroots Sailing has developed a number of opportunities for sailors to gain access to the sailing community and develop their knowledge and skill level. 

Whether you want to sail around your local lake or around the world, we can take you as far as you want to adventure out in this amazing place we call earth.

Take the leap off that wheel called "getting ahead", contact us and we will show you how.

Who is Grassroots Sailing?

Our instructors are experienced sailors. They have been trained and certified by Sail Canada (formerly the Canadian Yachting Association, CYA). 

All of our instructors will enjoy teaching you, whether you are the new student who is just about to embark on your first sailing adventure or an ‘Advanced’ student who is ready for the challenge of passage making. 

 They are fully committed to providing you with the skills and understanding to enjoy this awesome sport while at the same time ensuring that your learning experience is both fun and memorable. 

Many of our instructors have sailed far afield at many of the world’s best cruising destinations and they will be more than happy to share their experiences with you. 

Some have raced sailboats at the local, and national levels and can help sharpen your sailing/racing skills.

Our People


Rick Butler

Rick has been sailing for nearly 25 years. He is a certified Sail Canada Instructor Evaluator, an Advanced Cruising instructor as well as an experienced delivery skipper moving boats from 30 feet to 75 feet in both the Great Lakes, the Western Atlantic, Caribbean Sea and Gulf of Mexico. Before becoming involved with sailing Rick has been involved with many other practical aspects of instruction and coaching from his teenage years as swimming instructor to later years as a motorcycle safety instructor. Rick’s specialty now is custom training for new boat owners and teaching sailors the art of passage making.

Dave Johnston

Dave Johnston has been with Grassroots Sailing since 2006 and is a Sail Canada Certified Instructor for the Beginner and Intermediate Cruising and Advanced Cruising Standards. Dave also teaches the International Certificate of Competence Certificate that is now required in many Mediterranean countries. The many positive comments from his students are a testament to his teaching skills. He holds the Coastal Navigation, Basic, Intermediate and Advanced Cruising standards as well as his Restricted Operator Certificate (Maritime) & DSC. He has been a sailor for over 25 years and is an experienced Charter and Delivery Captain both in the Great Lakes and the Caribbean. Nicknamed MacGyver, Dave seems to have a knack with figuring out fixes for various technical difficulties around a boat. When not sailing he enjoys singing a few Karaoke songs and can play a solid game of Billiards. Dave is also Grassroots Sailing Centre’s commodore.


Dmitry (Jack) Usyatynsky

Dmitry grew up on the water beside one of the biggest rivers of Europe – the Dnepr. Back then his father introduced him to the boating lifestyle and the various challenges of big river navigation. But open ocean sailing was always another dream. Now Dmitry is an experienced charter captain and holds the Coastal Navigation, Basic, Intermediate and Advanced Cruising Standards as well as the Basic Cruising and Intermediate Cruising Instructor Certificate. He is the first Russian-English speaking sailing instructor in Canada. “Sailing is the 4th dimension in our lives. The lifestyle gives anyone a whole new world to explore and the opportunity to perfect ourselves”, he always tells his friends. Dmitry also speaks Ukrainian. Dmitry is a licensed Master of Yachts(commercial) and has been taking folks on charters to many wonderful sailing locations in the Mediterranean and the Caribbean. Dmitry is also one of Grassroots Sailing Centre’s directors.


Alain Aube

One of our Basic Keelboat instructors, he is passionate about racing and teaching sailing. He has a keen sense of safety and enjoys seeing his students and club members progressing and learning about sailing. He was introduced to Grassroots Sailing in 2002 when he obtained his basic cruising keelboat. He currently holds the Sail Canada Basic Cruising, Intermediate Keelboat, Adavnced Cruising plus Coastal Navigation and the Basic Keelboat instructor as credentials.

Alain is one of our directors in charge of sail training programs. Alain is also bilingual and as such is our French speaking instructor.


Gary Taylor

Gary started sailing in 2001 and was introduced to Grassroots in 2012 during the Heineken Regatta. He became a basic cruising instructor for Grassroots Sailing School in 2014.

Gary enjoys racing and cruising on the Great Lakes and Caribbean. He is an key team member on a high performance race boat on Lake Simcoe which races regularly with the Cook Bay yacht club and the Lake Simcoe Interclub Series.



Mark is one of our Basic Keelboat & Intermediate Cruising instructors and is passionate about racing and cruising with his friends and family as well as teaching sailing on Lake Simcoe and the Caribbean. He is an owner of a Niagara 26’ and an Olson 25 with over 1000 logged hours of racing and cruising based out the Barrie Yacht Club. He also owned a Hobie 16 for several years. Mark is an active member of BYC being elected vice Commodore for 2018 and was regatta chair for several years. From a credentials standpoint, he has completed the Sail Canada Basic Keelboat Standard (2010), Intermediate Keelboat (2011), Advanced Cruising Standard (2016), Coastal Navigation (2010), Basic Keelboat instructor certified (2014), Intermediate Cruising instructor certified (2017) Marine Weather systems (Basic and Advanced).

Our Fleet


Lake Simcoe

Catalina 22 Sport:

Primary vessel used for both our school and sailing club for Basic Cruising Std courses, mentoring and club races


Lake Simcoe

Northern 7.5: Waterbaby

C&C designed cruising boat and is used primarily as a sailing club platform for recreational sailing, mentoring and club races

Georgian Bay 

O'Day 35:

A 2 cabin keelboat located in Penetanguishene on Georgian Bay. Used for club instructing, mentoring and recreational sailing to approved members



Benneteau 43.4: Lady Natalie

Lady Nathalie, our 4 cabin 2 heads. Used for charters, Caribbean regattas, and teaching Basic, Intermediate & Advanced Cruising live aboard courses.

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