RYA Sailing Course

An RYA Sailing Course is just what you need to improve your sailing and take it to the next level.

There are 4 Youth Stages and 8 Adult Stages.

On this page we will go through them all individually so you can see what stage you're at and where you are going to get to the next level of your sailing and racing.

RYA Level 1 - Start Sailing

This is the basics and for the absolute beginner and the starter RYA sailing course.

Most sailing centres will teach this for all people who have never even set foot in a dinghy.

The course assumes no pre-experience and you will learn how to sail in all directions (Points of Sail) and being able to launch and recover a sailing boat.

The course itself lasts only two days and by the end you should be able to sail in light winds under supervision.

This is a great starter course for those who have never been in a boat before.

But for those who have tried sailing before and can sail in all directions they should try out at the next level.

RYA Level 2 - Basic Skills

To do this RYA sailing course you should be able to sail in all directions and be able to do this in light winds or stronger.

This course covers far more in depth sailing knowledge that will enable you to sail without supervision and be a competent sailor in light winds.

After this course you will be able to set the boat up correctly, and be able to right a capsized boat and learn essential sailing safety information.

This course usually lasts 2 days, but can be combined with the Level 1 course to create a Sailing Basics Course that lasts 4-5 days.

Most sailing centres use the Level 2 qualification as a way of checking out their members.

By checking out I mean allowing them to take out club boats whenever they want without supervision.

This will usually be to stop members putting the boats away incorrectly and stopping breakages or crashes.

RYA Seamanship Skills

This RYA sailing course enables you to understand what to do when certain problems that occur whilst sailing.

This includes man over board and anchoring or making repairs to the rigging offshore.

This course is more of an extension to the Level 2 course so that you know what to do in most circumstances when something goes wrong.

The course lasts around 2 days and will provide you with information and help to be completely competent in the boat.

RYA Sailing with Spinnakers

This RYA sailing course has to be my favourite as I absolutely love spinnakers!

This is a great Level 2 extension course that allows you to handle the ferocious kite on the run, broad reach and beam reach using a conventional or asymmetric spinnaker.

This course will teach you how to rig a spinnaker and how to gybe with a spinnaker on and then change it over to the new side and sail the best course downwind.

After this two day course, you should be able to handle and use one type of spinnaker whether it be conventional or asymmetric.

Great course for those who are spinnaker virgins!

RYA Performance Sailing

The next big step after RYA Level 2 and you should have completed at least one season of sailing to be able to handle this RYA sailing course.

The course outlines how to improve your sailing in a two person boat with a spinnaker and to make the boat go faster and sail more efficiently.

It will improve your confidence and skills in a sailing dinghy as well as making you improve your boat handling.

This course lasts 2 days and is highly recommended for those entering intermediate sailing.


The RYA has 3 courses for racing that build on the basic sailing principles and start to increase your sailing knowledge from intermediate to advanced.

You should have a clear knowledge or the sailing basics and how to apply them in real situations.

It is recommended that you start racing after a season of sailing and getting to grips with more intermediate concepts.

Racing is the transition from passive to active and intermediate to advanced.

These racing courses are very strongly recommended for those wishing to gain a valuable insight into the theory and practice of racing tactics and concepts.

  • RYA Start Racing - Covers all the basic skills needed to enjor club racing, pass through the start line, rounding marks and to improving your boats speed as well as beating your opponents using tactics and lasts 2 days
  • RYA Intermediate Racing - You should have been racing at club level for at least a season and this course will teach you techniques and knowledge to improve your racing, which will enable you to be far more aware about issues like boat handling, speed, tactics and strategy of which you will learn in 5 days
  • RYA Advanced Racing - You should have a few years experience in sailing ta club level and want to start going to open meetings and will involve higher level racing training as well as boat class specific training and tips after which you will be able to compete at regional level depending on your own ability on a course that lasts 5 days

A lot to take in huh?

Yeah I agree, but racing is so enjoyable that it would be a sore miss to not even dabble into it especially if you are an experienced dinghy cruiser.

Youth Sailing

Next we have the kids and teenager sailing courses that are available to under sixteen's.

These courses are Level 1 and 2 divided into 4 bits, with the fourth bit incorporating more intermediate content than the Level 2 in the adult syllabus.

This is recommended to parents of teenagers and kids who wish their children to sail in a group of similar age ranges and at a more slow speed.

  • RYA Stage 1 - No assumed knowledge or pre-course experienced required, just start learning the basics from steering the boat and understanding basic principles like Sailing Terminology
  • RYA Stage 2 - Will enable you to be able to tack and control boat speed as well as learning basic sailing skills and rope work such as sailing knots
  • RYA Stage 3 - This is like RYA Level 2 and introduces more advanced concepts like rigging, capsizing, sailing techniques and Points of Sail
  • RYA Stage 4 - Introduces 2 person sailing and the responsibilities of both the crew and helm in the boat as well as manoeuvres in a 2 person boat

So there are all the courses that RYA provides. These are all really good courses that support you all the way through and can really help improve your sailing from beginner to advanced.

Try and find a sailing school that incorporates the RYA sailing course from beginner to advanced to be at a top club that should teach you well.

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