New England Sailing Center  (NESC). Sailing school in Newport, RI.

About NESC

  • Company Overview

New England Sailing Center (NESC) is an accredited ASA training facility offering beginner through advanced sailing certification courses. Our certified instructors and team members provide support and guidance to ensure you gain sailing knowledge, experience and confidence while also enjoying your time on the water. We offer introductory courses as well as accelerated curriculums. Group and private courses are available to align with your learning preferences.

Group courses are held weekly with a maximum of four students per course. We limit the size of our courses to ensure ample hands on training for each student. Group courses provide you with an opportunity for camaraderie and support as you train with students that have similar interests and abilities.

Private courses are also available for individuals, couples and families. Help us understand the sailing goals of your party and we will design a program that is tailored to you. Private courses for individuals provide the maximum one-on-one instruction and hands on experience. Private courses can also be tailored to meet the needs of couples and families wanting to learn sailing together while also enjoying a holiday. Each student can determine the level of instruction they want during their sailing experience including a ride along, becoming competent crew or certification.

Few sports provide the sense of pride, confidence and feeling of accomplishment like sailing. Learning and mastering sailing skills will provide a lifetime of fun and enjoyment that you can enjoy alone or share with others. Review our course outlines and Frequently Asked Questions below and then contact us so we can begin designing your personalized curriculum. We look forward to working with you on your sailing journey.

Contact us for additional information.


  • NESC Careers – Instructors and Crew Members

NESC is looking for qualified instructors who love to teach and promote sailing. We are rapidly growing and we are looking for talented, energetic and exceptional instructors to join our team. Ideal candidates will have previous instructional experience and a positive and supportive student engagement personality. We offer competitive hourly and daily rates and flexible scheduling. Instructors have the option through our referral program for temporary employment in the BVI during the winter season.

Contact us to apply and discuss our available openings.


Evan Swain
Evan was raised in the BVI. He spent his formative years sailing, surfing and wind surfing and wearing shoes as little as possible. He relocated to Rhode Island to complete his high school years and attend college. After completing his Associates degree at High Point University, Evan decided to change tacks and pursue his passion for sailing and his gift for teaching. Evan holds a degree in Marine Systems from the internationally recognized International Yacht Restoration School (IYRS).

Evan is an ASA instructor certified through Bareboat Cruising and a US Sailing instructor. He runs the Jamestown, RI school in the summer and heads Swain’s Basic Keelboat program in the BVI for the winter months.

Norman Martin
Norm is a lifelong sailor. When he was 10, his parents bought a cruising boat, sold the house and voyaged the US East Coast and Bahamas for two years. A few years later, his first job was as a sailing counselor on Cape Cod. Norm has been teaching sailing almost ever since. He has worked in NY, Annapolis, Boston, and all through the Caribbean as a cruising instructor. He understands living aboard. More importantly, he loves the work. Norm is very familiar with the US Atlantic Coast and Caribbean. In the early 1970s, Norm started crewing on the big yachts of the day. He was mate in New England and Caribbean waters eventually qualifying to skipper on ocean deliveries.

Norm is an ASA instructor through Offshore Passage Making as well an ASA instructor evaluator. He holds a USCG OUPV license including authorization to teach OUPV courses.

Mike Merritt
Mike is a career mariner with extensive sailing experience and over 30 years in the offshore industry. He’s worked in over 40 countries in all corners of the globe. Mike holds degrees from Massachusetts Maritime Academy and Cornell University with extensive training, managerial experience and certifications in all aspects of marine operations including navigation, offshore survival, radio operations, mooring analysis, anchor handling, stability and trim, bridge resource management, maritime security and QHSE (Quality, Health, Safety and Environment).

Mike is a USCG Master Mariner and an ASA Instructor through Advanced Coastal Cruising.

Tess Heilman
Tess’s passion for sailing began in Maine’s Casco Bay at the age of 5. Growing up, she summered in Rhode Island where she sailed dinghy boats out of the Newport Yacht Club on Narragansett Bay. In High School, Tess spent much of her time on the water as a coxswain for the varsity boys crew team and coaching the middle school team which further honed her skills reading the wind and maneuvering big vessels. She joined NESC as a basic keelboat instructor and office administrator in the summer of her junior year. Enjoying the work and people, Tess made the decision to take a gap year before attending college to join NESC for their winter season in the BVI.

Tess is an ASA Basic Keelboat instructor, and is enrolled to attend Eckerd College in the Fall of 2022 where she will study marine science and business administration. In her spare time, she can be found on Second Beach surfing with her friends.

Burton Robson
Burton voyaged thousands of miles as a singlehander, sailing from Toronto to South America while exploring anchorages and dive sites in over 35 Caribbean island nations. He has taught sailors and divers in the BVI for over 20 years and in New England for more than 15 years.

Burton’s qualifications and certifications include: ASA Sailing Instructor through Offshore Passage Making; PADI advanced dive instructor; a pilot and pilot trainer; marine mechanic; ABYC certified marine surveyor.

Scott Litster
Scott is an avid sailor who has a passion for teaching others how to sail with confidence. He creates a fun and relaxing on-board experience while keeping safety his first priority. Scott is an ASA certified instructor for Basic Keelboat through Advanced Cruising and Catamaran Cruising levels with 30 years of experience on the water inshore, near coastal and offshore with both monohulls and catamarans. He has also achieved his USCG Master Captains license with Sailing and Towing endorsements. From 2003 to 2013 Captain Scott owned and operated “Island
Bound Adventures Sailing Academy” in Grapevine Texas where he earned many Outstanding Instructor awards and a few Outstanding School awards. His sailing includes local lakes, The Channel Islands, Eastern US, Tahiti, most of The Bahamas, Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico along with most islands between Puerto Rico and Grenada. His most rewarding sailing experience has been instructing collage students on a 35 day Sailing and Leadership program from St. Maarten to Grenada and back. For several years Scott lived and cruised on his 43’ Jeanneau “Believe in the Sea”.

In addition to Scott’s passion for sailing and training sailors, he is also an Aircraft Maintenance Technician and a licensed pilot. He has raced motorcycles off road, crewed for the worlds fastest piston engine/propeller driven aircraft, rebuilt a 1968 Beechcraft single engine airplane.

Alex Rocca
While Alex Rocca learned to sail in 1980 as a teenager, he also enjoyed a diverse career before dedicating his time to teaching sailing. Alex owned two pizzerias for over 25 years and also enjoyed a long career as a Real Estate executive for a railroad.

In his 20s, Alex also had a boxing career during which time he attempted to qualify for the 1988 Seoul Olympics. Over the past three decades he has also coached Men’s and Women’s Rugby teams and Referees.

Alex has sailed over 15,000 NM with destinations from Martha’s Vineyard to Bermuda, to the Bahamas and to the Virgin Islands. He has made long deliveries to and from the Virgin Islands. His love for the sailing and teaching is apparent to all his students. He currently holds ASA instructor certifications through Catamaran Cruising and a USCG OUPV Captains license. He lives aboard his own sailboat and make trips south in the winter and north in the summer.

Ruby is the newest member of the NESC team. She is a rescue from the BVI where she was found abandoned under a trailer by the beach. After an unsuccessful search for her owner, Gina and Evan adopted her and brought her to Rhode Island. She is often found in the office playing with her favorite toys, and happily greeting anyone who walks through the door.