Whether your aim is to day sail in enclosed waters or navigate the globe, attending a sailing school may be a wise decision. Sailing instruction schools have courses across all knowledge levels. They provide instruction across many sailing topics including crewing, helming, handling the sails, seamanship, inshore navigation, coastal navigation and open-ocean (both electronic and celestial).
Many schools in Australia are affiliated with the Royal Yachting Association (RYA) based in England. Key trainers are RYA qualified as instructors or examiners. The RYA course is thought by many to be the best, most comprehensive instruction program for recreational yacht sailors in the world. The accreditation of an Australian sail school provides its students with a qualification that, once completed, has world recognition. Some schools are also approved by the coast guard.
A Yachting Australia-RYA National Yacht Training Scheme was established during 2008. The Scheme provides for harmonisation of course content and delivery as well as global recognition of qualifications gained in Australia. Training schools were allowed three years to upgrade their qualifications and fleet. Full integration period extends to 31 December 2010. Schools seeking RYA affiliation must be fully compliant by that date.
A typical sail school instruction program starts with a Competent Crew unit (5 days). Next comes the Day Skipper, Coastal Skipper and, finally, the challenging RYA Yachtmaster units. Each course provides critical competencies. Competent Crew training is of benefit even to most long time dinghy sailors. Students are not required to complete all preceding three course units to gain full RYA Yachtmaster standing. They may start the program at any stage, so long as they have acquired all the knowledge of prior units.
Schools conduct their practical on-board sessions on yachts provided by the school. Those sessions proceed even in wet and windy weather. Students learn how to maneuver a yacht in heavy winds, up to gale force.
RYA-accredited schools we will train individuals on their own boat and provide private lessons on request. However they will not alter the fundamental format of the course since they must meet the criteria set by the RYA.
Sailing schools do not provide training for the STCW 95 endorsement. It is a commercial qualification and details for it are best obtained from the Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA) website. In brief, it requires at least four basic requirements. First, the lowest formal certification the applicant must hold is the Master V Unrestricted. Second, the sea time completed by the applicant must be approved by AMSA. Third, the applicant must be at least twenty years of age. Fourth, the applicant must complete the Master III theory course which requires about eight months full time study.