RYA Course Structure                                Home Page

COURSE Purpose Duration Outcome

Competent Crew Practical Course

This is for beginners and those who would like to become active crew members rather than just passengers. By the end of the course you should be able to steer, handle sails, keep a lookout, row a dinghy and assist in all the day to day routines.

Minimum 5 days

A useful crew member

Day Skipper Shorebased Course

Beginners and Crew who would like to become actively involved in navigation should attend. The syllabus equips would be skippers with enough theory knowledge to navigate around familiar waters by day.

40 hours

Understands the principles of navigating a yacht on inshore passages

Day Skipper Practical Sailing Course (Tidal) / (Non-Tidal)

The practical course gives you a chance to take charge on short passages under instruction with plenty of advice and help from the instructor

5 days or 3 weekends

Able to navigate around familiar waters by day

Watchleader Practical Course

Duties and responsibilities of a watchleader, including safety, seamanship, navigation and collision avoidance.

Minimum 5 days

Able to lead a watch in a Sail Training vessel

Coastal Skipper/Yachtmaster

Offshore Shorebased Course

A course for more experienced skippers which takes them up to the theory knowledge required for Coastal Skipper and Yachtmaster Practical Examination.

40 hours and 3 exam papers

Understands the principles of navigating a yacht on coastal and offshore passages

Coastal Skipper Practical Sailing Course (Tidal)/ (Non-Tidal)

This is an advanced skippering course for yachtsmen and women who have considerable knowledge of sailing and navigation and are usually aspiring towards a Certificate of Competence.

5 days

Skipper a yacht on coastal passages by day and night

Coastal Skipper Sailing Practical Examination

A practical examination leading to a RYA Coastal Skipper Certificate of Competence.

6 - 10 hours for one person and 8 - 14 hours for two people

Able to skipper a sailing yacht on coastal passages by day and night. To skipper commercial vessels under 24 metres up to 20 miles from a safe haven.

Yachtmaster Offshore Sailing Practical Examination

Practical Examination.
Same syllabus as Coastal Skipper; candidates are expected to demonstrate competence under pressure.

8-12 hours for one candidate, 10-18 for two.

Can skipper an offshore sailing yacht by day or night.

Yachtmaster Ocean Shorebased Course

For long distance sailors, this course covers astro navigation and ocean passage making - it also elucidates the mysteries of the sextant

40 hours

+ exam

Understands how to plan and navigate on an ocean passage.

Yachtmaster Ocean Sailing Oral Examination

Oral examination on passage details and sun sight information - can only be taken if the applicant has successfully completed the Yachtmaster Offshore practical exam.

Minimum 1 1/2 hours.

Can skipper a sailing yacht on an ocean passage.

RYA Practical Course prequisites

Competent Crew

Day Skipper
5 days, 100 miles, 4 night hours on board a sailing yacht
Basic (Day Skipper theory) navigation and sailing ability.

Coastal Skipper
30 days on board, 2 days as skipper, 800 miles, 12 night hours.  VHF and First Aid certificates.
Navigational knowledge to Coastal Skipper standard. Sailing to Day Skipper Practical standard.

If you complete the practical course this reduces to

20 days on board, 2 days as skipper, 400 sea miles, 12 night hours.  Half the sea time must be in tidal waters. VHF and First Aid certificates (one day).

Becoming RYA Yachtmaster
RYA Yachtmaster Certificates are only obtained by independent practical examinations by a RYA Examiner. 
To take the RYA Yachtmaster exam you need a Marine Radio Operator's Certificate (SRC or VHF), a current First Aid Certificate and a minimum sea time of 50 days, 5 days as skipper, 2500 sea miles, 5 passages over 60 miles, including 2 overnight and 2 as skipper.
Remember, the examination is essentially a test of ability to take charge of a yacht, so your experience as skipper is most important. At least half the mileage and skippered passages must be in tidal waters. The mileage requirement is quite high and encourages candidates to sail in a variety of weather conditions to a variety of harbours and anchorages. 
A Yachtmaster should be able to enter any well-charted harbour with sufficient depth by day or night for the first time.

Posted 5th November 2009