What's What - The BlueDome guide to outdoor qualifications

Yachting and Sailing Qualifications

The Royal Yachting Association is the font of all knowledge when it comes to anything to do with sailing. From tiny dinghies to monster super yachts the RYA is the organisation for all training and qualifications.

The RYA cover all aspects of the provision of training for sail related activities including a wide range of technical skills such as safety boat training, radio skills, maintenance and repairs and of course sailing and navigation.

As we live on an island with a fair amount of inland stretches of water you will find sailing activities offered at a lot of outdoor centres as well as the dedicated sailing school. Sailing is great fun and you should try to experience it even if you do not intend to qualify as an instructor!

Dinghy Sailing
Almost all the jobs involved with dinghy sailing are concerned with instruction or supervision at sailing schools or local authority centres. Seasonal Instruction Dinghy sailing courses are run at sailing clubs, professional sailing schools and local authority centres. Dinghy sailing tends to be a seasonal activity, although some centres operate all year round.
Large numbers of seasonal staff are taken on each year in sailing schools, both in the UK and abroad. The majority appeal to people in the 16 – 25 age range and they provide an interesting way to spend a summer season, rather than the start of a career. Payment ranges from little more than accommodation and expenses to a reasonable salary.

The basic qualification required is that of RYA Dinghy Instructor, although some schools will take on unqualified help and provide instructor training. For full details of dinghy instructor courses and requirements, please contact the RYA Training Division. Yachts and Yachting, published fortnightly, is the best source of information about vacancies for instructors, both permanent, seasonal and short-term. Watersports Assistants Some of the country parks and sailing centres run by local authorities also employ staff to assist members of the public wishing to hire dinghies. The role of the assistant could include rigging and providing safety cover, but not instruction. Sports Leaders The Central Council of Physical Recreation administers the Community Sports Leader Award, a basic scheme for people wishing to become involved in encouraging local groups into a variety of sports.
The role of the Community Sports Leader in sailing and other ‘risk’ sports is that of courier and should not be confused with that of instructor. For more details, contact the CCPR at Francis House, Francis Street, London, SW1P 1DE, (Tel 0171 828 3163).

Permanent Instruction
The majority of permanent jobs in dinghy instruction are at a senior level, as Chief Instructors at professional sailing schools or as staff at local authority centres. Posts at centres run by local education authorities are likely to require formal teaching qualifications in addition to RYA and other governing body awards. The people who are in most demand for such centres are those with qualifications in a number of watersports and/or outdoor activities. Vacancies are advertised regularly in the BlueDome jobs section either in the Instructors section or under Watersports. Anyone considering a career in teaching dinghy sailing, canoeing, windsurfing, climbing and other outdoor activities would be well advised to consider formal training as a teacher, specialising in PE or possibly outdoor education.
Colleges offering courses in this field include: Bangor Normal College Bedford College of Higher Education Charlotte Mason College of Education , Ambleside, Cumbria Jordanhill College of Education, Edinburgh Moray House College of Education, Edinburgh Dunfermline College of Physical Education Crewe and Alsager College of Higher Education.

Charter and Private Yachts Crews
The main qualification is enthusiasm, though it helps to have a trade such as electrician, boat builder or engineer. Crews are not highly paid, but most potential skippers have worked as crew on larger vessels to gain experience. Engineers have to be qualified.
Details of courses for marine trade can be obtained from the BMF. Hostesses have to presentable and enthusiastic. Skippers and Mates Skippers and mates usually require qualifications.

A Yachtmaster Offshore with a Commercial Endorsement is the normal minimum, though a Yachtmaster Ocean Commercial is preferable. For commercial yachts larger than 24m you require a Class 4 or Class 5 qualification. Briefly this involves the RYA Yachtmaster Commercial qualification and other modules such as firefighting.
Skippers on large private yachts can earn good wages but the owners are looking for exceptional management skills, ability to run the yacht and crew efficiently and to sail it to any port on time. The job is part skipper and part hotel manager. An ability to speak several languages is an advantage. Details of RYA certificates and commercial endorsement are available from the RYA.

Flotilla sailing
Flotilla Staff Flotilla companies operate fleets of yachts, usually in the Mediterranean, which are used for the April – October season. They employ skippers, engineers and hostesses, usually on a seasonal basis. Flotilla staff have to ensure that the clients have a safe and pleasant yachting holiday. The flotilla skipper’s role is that of group courier, ensuring that the flotilla moves smoothly from port to port. The role of the engineer is to familiarise clients with their boats and then solve any immediate mechanical problems during the cruise. The hostess has to manage the social programme of the flotilla, including parties and barbecues. In addition, he or she provides liaison with the company’s administration staff to deal with any travel or domestic problems.

Delivery skippers and crew
Delivery Crew Yacht Delivery skippers often require additional crew, particularly during the college and university terms, when a large pool of potential crew are unavailable. Jobs are likely to be short term, paying little more than subsistence and expenses, although they provide an opportunity to gain a great deal of sea time and experience.

Sail Training Skippers or mates
The majority of large sail training vessels offering cruises to young people are run by independent, charitable organisations. Such vessels usually have a small permanent crew, the remainder of the afterguard being made up of suitably experienced and qualified volunteers. Vacancies for permanent positions tend to be circulated internally, although they are sometimes advertised in the yachting magazines.

Although cruising instructors enjoy a high quality of life, the financial rewards are modest. The majority of yacht cruising schools operate only one yacht, with the owner being the sole instructor. There are however, several larger schools operating several yachts which require skipper instructors on a seasonal or permanent basis. Vacancies are advertised in the yachting magazines. Anyone wanting to teach within an RYA recognised practical school must hold an RYA/DoT Yachtmaster Offshore Certificate with a Commercial Endorsement. The Yachtmaster Instructor qualification is required by anyone wanting to teach the higher grades of course and for Chief Instructors or Principals of cruising schools. Yachtmaster Instructor Qualifying courses are all run by the RYA and are open to Yachtmasters with about 7,000 – 10,000 miles experience.

Instruction As with dinghy sailing, the majority of opportunities for windsurfing instructors are seasonal. An RYA Windsurfing Instructor qualification is a definite advantage and someone who is qualified both as a dinghy and windsurfing instructor is likely to be in great demand. Full details of instructor training and courses may be obtained from RYA Windsurfing; job vacancies are advertised in the RYA Windsurfing Instructor Newsletter ‘Windsurfing Matters’, and also in the windsurfing magazines such as ‘Boards’ and ‘Windsurf’. Retail The majority of companies involved in the sale of windsurfing equipment are members of the Windsurfing Retailers Association (WRA)

For more information about Sailing and Watersport qualifications and courses please contact the Royal Yachting Association.

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