Capt. Marc Hughston
Chief Instructor of Santana Sailing
Sailing instructors are often the most highly experienced sailors in the industry, but they all start somewhere! Gain insight into sailing from those who do it most…
Captain Marc Hughston is the Director and Chief Sailing Instructor at Santana Sailing, located in Long Beach (Los Angeles) California – as well as – one of the best instructors in sailing! Read Marc’s student reviews ›
Santana Sailing offers a full range of courses from just learning to sail -to- advanced sailing and certification -to- sail training and vacations in Catalina, Channel Islands and the Sea of Cortez. Sign-up for training with Marc and Santana Sailing, or join his 2023 Sea of Cortez Flotilla!!
I grew up in a waterskiing family, and I learned how to teach waterskiing to beginners from my dad in my early teens. I had my first sailing lesson on the island of Moorea when I was 14 and got my first professional sailing instruction while in college at San Diego State University (BA, Business Management). There at the Mission Bay Aquatic Center, I sailed Hobie Cats, Lasers, Capris, Windsurfers, and J24s. And though I was a serious rock climber for a decade, and have had several different business careers, I’ve always been a sailor.
My folks were teachers, and looking back over my business life, I’ve always been learning, teaching, and improving performance for individuals and companies. I’ve discovered that doing that very same thing in the world of sailing is the best and most satisfying activity I’ve ever been involved in.
The answer depends on what I’m doing. For sail training, small to mid-sized keelboats are the best way to learn – they reward and punish you quickly without getting you wet (no capsizing). For a long upwind voyage, I’d want a J/160 – 53’ keelboat with 9’ draft. For warm water cruising with palm trees and trade winds, I’d want a performance Cat – Outremer, Catana, something with big daggerboards. Cats are just easier to live on. But it’s hard to really learn to sail for the first time on a big Cat. I’d choose a big monohull for around the world cruising.
I do it all, but my favorite sailing is exploring new areas without a particular schedule and having the freedom to stay in one cove for a few days and getting into the rhythm of the wind and weather.
I’ve always been interested in the how’s and why’s of boating and sailing. What got me into high gear so may years ago was looking out from a hotel balcony in Cabo, seeing the boats anchored in the bay, and deciding I wanted to do that same thing.
Sailing 250 or so days each year keeps me in great shape, engages my mind, and gives me opportunities to learn more and share what I know with others who are interested.
My first gale in the Northern Channel Islands, with winds in the forty’s gusting to forty-five, made me rely on my foundation skills to improvise and figure out how we were going to stay safe and keep sailing to not only reach our next anchorage, but to make it back home.
My favorite places are California’s Northern Channel Islands, particularly San Miguel and Santa Cruz, the Sea of Cortez, and the Spanish Virgin Islands.
Having learned how to give students the room to discover what they can do in sailing, seeing their competency grow, and then having them tell me what a change it’s made for them, is just the best thing ever.
For new sailors, give yourself time and keep at it – these are perishable skills. For the experienced sailor, get with people who know what you want to know, who’ve been where you want to go, and who can show you things and answer questions you didn’t know enough to ask.
There was a time when I thought driving an off-road race car would be the greatest thing I could imagine.
Cruising the Azores!