The First And Most Important Certification For Professional Sailors



Today, we start our “Job Tips” series with an essential article, the most important for a real beginner.

It addresses the most frequently asked question by my friends, students, and family members who are eager to pursue a career in sailing professionally, or simply sailors who want to improve their skills and safety. The question is: Which organization should I join to learn properly and earn the correct certifications accepted by most companies and boat owners?

The answer is straightforward. It is based on personal experience, not just because I am a proud member of this organization!

You can confirm its validity yourself by browsing job recruitment agencies and websites. You’ll notice that this 3-letter word always pops up in numerous job listings for positions such as captain, steward, deckhand, first mate, and more.

The answer is the RYA.

Undoubtedly, the RYA is not the preferred choice; it is the only choice!

The Royal Yachting Association is the national governing body for sailing in the United Kingdom, covering dinghy sailing, yacht and motor cruising, sail racing, RIBs and sports boats, windsurfing, personal watercraft, and inland waterways cruising.

Founded in November 1875, the RYA has a long history in the UK, a place known for its challenging sailing conditions due to strong tides, coldness, fog, and busy marine traffic.

Here are some highlights about the RYA:

It boasts 2,400 recognized centers across 58 countries worldwide.

Annually, more than 270,000 people participate in RYA training courses.

The association has 22,000 instructors, and yes, I am one of them.

The RYA offers comprehensive course materials that are easy to understand, complemented by beautifully illustrated books.

RYA certificates are highly regarded and respected globally, allowing you to work anywhere.

Training establishments are held to strict standards, undergoing annual inspections to ensure quality in boats, equipment, instructor qualifications, and operational procedures.

Boats used for RYA courses are required to be commercially licensed, insured, and equipped with comprehensive safety and navigation gear, surpassing common requirements in many countries, including those in Europe.

All RYA instructors are professionally trained and certified, ensuring they are not only expert sailors but also skilled educators with up-to-date qualifications in sailing instruction and first aid, prioritizing your safety.

For the most current and official information, I highly recommend visiting their website:

If you’re starting with no experience, consider joining a local sailing club near you. Whether it’s on a lake or the sea, starting with dinghy sailing is a great way to see if you enjoy the sport. Many clubs also offer experiences on larger boats, like yachts, where members can teach you the basics of sailing on a cruising monohull. Naturally, you can also begin with a dinghy course directly through the RYA.

To conclude this article, I’d like to share two golden tips from my experiences:

GOLDEN TIP 1: Purchase the “Yachtmaster Scheme Syllabus & Logbook” as soon as you can. This valuable resource includes a special page for logging all your sailing miles, past and future, and provides a detailed syllabus of what you should learn throughout your courses. Make sure to get your instructor’s signature on the relevant pages upon completing a course. The RYA logbook is esteemed across the industry by recruitment agencies and private boat owners alike.

GOLDEN TIP 2: “YACHTMASTER ZERO TO HERO” In today’s world of instant gratification, it’s crucial to remember that sailing requires a different approach, humility.

It’s all about respecting the sea, learning slowly, accepting failure, giving priority to the mindful observation of the patterns of wind, sky, and sea, and accumulating sea miles across various conditions, boats, and instructors. In my humble opinion, that cannot be done in 12-15 consecutive weeks with the same instructor, boat, and sailing area!

Instead, distribute your learning across different courses in diverse locations. This approach not only broadens your experience with different instructors and boats but also enhances skill absorption. While it’s not necessary to wait a year between courses, spreading them out over a year, or adjusting based on your schedule, is ideal. Take your time, accumulate miles, volunteer, and practice as much as possible. By the time you reach your Yachtmaster exam, you’ll likely feel more relaxed, confident, and less prone to errors. Furthermore, the sea may honor your respect for it by providing perfect conditions for your exam.

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