All CSSA clubs offer coaching to members, and some also offer Royal Yachting Association (RYA) training courses in dinghies or yachts. The RYA is a national organisation that sets standards for the delivery of training through Recognised Training Centres (RTCs) in the UK and overseas. RYA qualifications are recognised around the world and can lead to diverse sailing opportunities from skippering CSSA yachts, ocean racing, crewing luxury yachts, to earning a living as a dinghy or Yachtmaster Instructor.

RYA Dinghy Courses

CSSA Recognised Training Centres offering RYA Dinghy courses to Club Members

Jumbles Sailing Club – Bolton, Greater Manchester – RYA level 1, 2 and 3, Seamanship skills and spinnakers; Juniors Start Sailing, level 1 and 2; Power Boat level 1 and 2 and safety boat, and RYA First Aid. The club has a Sailability program for the disabled.

Littleton Sailing Club – Shepperton,  West London – Adult and Youth Dinghy schemes, beginners to advanced levels, RYA First Aid,  and Power Boat Level 2 and Safety Boat (for those members supporting the club in these roles).
Contact the training section via the Littleton website contact form.

RYA Yacht Courses

CSSA Recognised Training Centres offering RYA Sail Cruising courses to CSSA Members

5 Kingdoms Sailing Club – based in Liverpool and offering practical courses on the Clyde.

CSSA Yacht Clubs offering coaching:
Channel Sailing Division – based on the River Hamble near Southampton, currently offers coaching by experienced Yachtmasters during day sails, sea time and private cruises, also  boat handling sessions and exam preparation weeks. See contact

East Coast Yacht Division – based on the east coast at Ipswich Haven Marina, Ipswich, the club is hoping to regain its RTC status but currently offers non-certified training, including revision on many parts of the syllabus both practical and classroom including sail handling, boat handling, passage planning etc. See contact

The Detail:

RYA Dinghy Training

The RYA scheme is taught as two-day courses, to take those completely new to sailing at Level 1, through to basic sailing skills, sufficient to sail independently in light winds (Level 2). This is mirrored in the scheme for young people from age 8 years upwards. Intermediate skills (Level 3) consolidates and develops these skills for a wider range of dinghy types and conditions.

The advanced level skills courses cover: Sailing with Spinnakers, Racing, Advanced boat handling (Seamanship skills) and performance sailing with trapeze and high performance dinghies.

You should check with each RTC for the courses they are authorised to deliver by the RYA. There is no guarantee that you will achieve the RYA qualification standard on any one course, you will be better prepared if you have had some practical pre course experience. Sometimes the weather conditions are against you, sometimes you need more opportunities to learn or need additional practice. The friendly volunteers, Instructors and coaches will help you get the most out of courses and inform you about areas for your further practice and development.

RYA Sail Cruising Courses

Sailors can enter the official RYA sail cruising programme at any stage according to their experience of yachting (see

For the complete novice there is RYA Start Sailing which is a 2-day practical course. There is another 16 hour course called Basic Skills and a 2 day Start Yachting. Similar experience could be gained on a CSSA taster day or on a short cruise as crew. The more usual move is to join a 5 day RYA Competent Crew course which is practical training on board a yacht, often joining others doing a more advanced qualification. This would be the time to get a log book to record your experience (previous and ongoing), this gives detailed information on the structure of RYA courses. The current version is G158 and costs about £8, the logbooks are sometimes updated but you can carry on using an older version. See ).

The recommended next step is to take a shore-based navigation course.  At a very basic level there is Essential Navigation and Seamanship but most people can go directly to Day Skipper. This may be taught face to face at a local college or sailing club, you can check for information on centres local to you on the RYA website

(see, enter your post code and tick training centres. On line courses have become more popular, your choice of provider will depend on your preferred method of learning but the tales told and tips learned during the tea break are a useful part of the face to face course! The teaching uses paper and electronic charts and ends with two exam papers. 5KSC has linked up with Kipper Sailing (aka Skippers Online) who provide highly recommended online courses. If you sign up with them via the 5KSC website (at ) you will earn a discount if you then take a practical course with the club.

After that you will probably want to take the 5 day RYA Day Skipper practical course which requires basic sailing ability, experience of 5 days aboard, 100 miles sailed and 4 night hours. Most Instructors will require you to have passed the day skipper shore-based course as there is not enough time to cover the theory on the practical course, sometimes people will have equivalent experience if this is you please discuss with the club training lead . A completion certificate will be issued if your instructor thinks you have sufficient ability (there is no external examiner). The Instructor may be a Yachtmaster Instructor (YMI) or a Cruising Instructor. The certificate entitles you to apply for the ICC (International Certificate of Competence) which would allow you to hire a yacht for a flotilla holiday, the ICC is free for RYA members. With Day Skipper you can apply to be an Inshore Skipper with 5KSC which allows sailing within 20 miles of a safe haven in good conditions on the Clyde (see details of the scheme at )

The next step is to gain the Coastal Skipper which is for those wishing to skipper a yacht on a coastal passage by day or night. The RYA Coastal Skipper/Yachtmaster Offshore theory course builds on the Day Skipper theory and moves on to advanced navigation techniques and ends in three exam papers. The next step is the 5 day Coastal Skipper practical course. The pre-course requirements are 15 days aboard a sailing yacht, 2 days as skipper, 300 miles and 8 hours night sailed. Usually the candidate will have taken the theory course unless they have equivalent experience. The assessment is by your YM Instructor and not externally assessed.

To qualify as a CSSA approved skipper there is another step at the Coastal level- the MCA/RYA Yachtmaster Coastal certificate of competence. The pre exam requirements are 20 days aboard, 2 days as skipper, 400 miles, 12 night hours with half the times in tidal waters all within the 10 years preceding the exam. Before applying for the exam you need to have a current RYA First Aid Certificate (or equivalent) this is valid for 3 years, you also need VHF Radio training usually the RYA Marine Short Range Certificate. Often you will arrange a revision week with your sailing school and they will book an external examiner for the candidates. The examination will take 6-10 hours for one person and 8-14 for two people. The examiner can be booked independently via the RYA website if you have access to a crewed yacht and the above experience. Once achieved the CSSA allows the approved skipper to skipper a CSSA yacht up to 20 miles from a safe haven but not necessarily on longer passages.

The next level is the MCA/RYA Yachtmaster Offshore certificate of competence which allows CSSA approved skippers to sail up to 150 miles from harbour (although there is generally a limit for CSSA yachts of 60 miles from a safe haven). There are no additional theory or practical courses but the candidate is expected to show a superior application of the knowledge aquired. Pre exam requirements are 50 days aboard, 5 days as skipper, 2500 miles, five 60 mile passages (two as skipper, two overnight) with half the times in tidal waters all within the 10 years preceding the exam. The exam process is similar to the YM Coastal but the examiners expectations are higher.

Yachtmaster Ocean requires significant amounts of experience and expertise including astro navigation (see ) there is an oral and a written examination.

RYA Specialist Short Courses
These are required by some of the more advanced certificates (see above) but can be taken for interest, to build up experience and can lead to being appointed as Mate on board a CSSA yacht. They include First Aid, Marine VHF Short Range Certificate (SRC), Radar, Diesel engine and Sea survival. The courses are usually run over one day at an onshore RTC.

Coaching and building experience – Yachts and Dinghies

Building experience outside formal training is the key to establishing your skills and learning, and enjoying the sailing experience.  It is your chance to put into practice what you have learnt and even pass on tips to new crew members.   On a yacht, you can chat to the three main members of the crew (skipper, mate and navigator) about how they approach their tasks and ask if you can assist (under supervision).  Some exercises might be-

Navigator: pilotage to or from the berth considering the wind and tide, preparing a course to steer and three point fixes which are all good day skipper level work.

Mate: organising the crew for raising and dropping sails, anchoring, overseeing lines, maintaining on board equipment and preparing meals.

Skipper: organisation and planning (a lot of which is done ashore before the cruise), giving safety briefs and keeping a constant control over the yacht, the crew and the voyage!

Sea-time allows you to become familiar with the routines on board, and to evaluate and appreciate the skills of the other crew members.

If you have access to dinghy sailing, perhaps through one of our Dinghy clubs, this is often a more convenient and less costly way of learning sailing skills. In a dinghy you are likely to have more time helming, and a more direct learning experience. Dinghy sailing experience is a headstart for rapidly understanding boat controls, the wind and weather, points of sailing, Collision Regulations, knots and the five essentials which apply through the RYA curriculum (see ). You will be able to use this experience when you go offshore on a yacht, and then bring your ‘big boat’ knowledge back to sailing dinghies.

Essentially it is about finding your level and then making steady progress, it is not really complicated!