Qualifying Awards

 Royal Yachting Association Coaching Scheme

RYA Assistant Instructor
This award allows a person to operate within a recognised sailing school assisting RYA instructors. It is site specific. The Assistant Instructor is qualified to teach ‘Start Sailing’ and other junior and adult courses. They will always work under the direct supervision of a senior instructor or centre principle.

RYA Instructor
This award qualifies a competent, experienced dinghy sailor to teach sailing from beginner sailing through to seamanship skills. This can be done in a boat such as a wayfarer where the students are in the same boat as the instructor or with a small fleet of single handed dinghies, such as laser picos.

RYA Senior Instructor
This is the person who is in charge of a fleet of teaching craft and who may be the sailing school
principal. They may also be managing and directing a team of instructors.

There are various other teaching levels within the dinghy scheme.
Advanced instructor- This enables you to deliver more advanced boat handling and sailing techniques.
Club Racing Coach This will enable you to deliver race training at a club level.

RYA Coach/Examiner
This is an appointment to train and assess the RYA coaching qualifications of instructional staff.
NB. Instructors and Senior Instructors teaching on coastal waters must have their qualification endorse endorsed. This Coach/examiner qualification is relevant for all disciplines.

For full details of these awards refer to the RYA website www.rya.org.uk


Guidance For Leaders

Careful planning and preparation contribute greatly to the safe and enjoyable outcome of any activity.

Refer to the generic risk assessment for this activity:
Dinghy Sailing risk assessment.pdf

Specifically the following should be considered:

  • Prior Knowledge of the location to be used should be first hand where possible Venues should be appropriate to the student’s level of skill and the aims of the session
  • Flexibility should be built into planned programmes to allow for last minute modification or curtailment, to take account of changing conditions and unforeseen circumstance
  • Know the group, in particular, their experience and physical capabilities, including any relevant medical problems.
  • Weather forecasts should be obtained and there should be a continuing awareness of changing conditions. .
  • Notify relevant bodies as to your plans e.g. Coastguard, Harbourmaster, colleagues at base.
  • Tidal Conditions - Seek local knowledge and exercise caution in tidal areas, particularly in relation to sea state and tidal flow. Where possible teaching should be done round the slack water periods.
  • Safety Boat - A powered safety boat must be in attendance for all sessions involving dinghies and windsurfers except when cruising in larger dinghies. The safety boat driver must hold as a minimum the RYA National Powerboat Certificate Level 2. In addition there should normally be a second competent adult aboard.
  • Other Constraints - Be aware of any other operational constraints such as available time, daylight hours, wind strength and direction, overhead power cables etc.

Operational Procedures

  • Students should normally be able to swim 50 metres. In the case of non-swimmers, the instructor should satisfy him/herself that the student has a reasonable level of water confidence whilst wearing a buoyancy aid.
  • A common cause of accidents is failure to exercise adequate control and it is implicit when assuming the role of person in charge that the responsibilities of the position are recognised and accepted.
  • The sailing area must be carefully defined and the fleet communication system must be clear to all relevant persons. This will normally require a pre-session briefing for all staff, helpers and rescue personnel.
  • All students should be comprehensively briefed regarding expected conditions, operational limits, emergency procedures and any other particular hazards.
  • Careful consideration should be given to the dangers associated with polluted or contaminated water. In particular instructors should be aware of the dangers of blue green algae and be aware of the causes and early symptoms of Weil’s disease and Lyme’s Disease. Students should be encouraged to washing hands in fresh water before handling food or consideration should be given to carrying antiseptic gels or hand wipes.

Group Size and Supervision

Instructors should recognise that fleet size has a direct bearing on the safety of the group. This will be the call of the Senior Instructor or Principle who will be fully conversant with RYA procedures on suitable ratios.


ALL craft should conform to the guidelines laid down by the RYA.

Specifically, all dinghies must:

  • be sea worthy with sufficient buoyancy to ensure flotation of a water-logged boat and crew.
  • be capable of being reefed afloat.
  • carry a paddle or another means of propulsion.
  • carry a bailer (except high performance dinghies capable of self bailing).
  • in tidal situations, an anchor and warp where reasonably possible.


Clothing and Personal Equipment

It is the responsibility of the instructor to ensure that their students are adequately and appropriately clothed for the type of activity and the prevailing conditions.

Specifically the following should be considered:

  • All students and should wear appropriately sized EN approved buoyancy aids.
  • Clothing including head and footwear should be warm and be of a multi layered system. If necessary a wind and waterproof outer shell should be worn.
  • Wet suits or steamers should be worn in circumstances where frequent capsizes are likely. If dry suits are worn suitable warm clothing e.g. thermal or fleece layers must be worn underneath.
  • All food and equipment should be stored in waterproof containers, securely fastened in, and be stowed in such a way so as not to adversely affect the craft’s sailing characteristics or to create an entrapment hazard for the crew.
  • It is recommended that watersports helmets be worn by young sailors.

Recommended Reading

G3 RYA Start Sailing Beginners Handbook
G11 RYA Youth Sailing Scheme
G12 Dinghy Sailing Advanced
G14 RYA Coaching Handbook
G32 RYA Go Sailing
G40 Tactics
G46 RYA Catamaran Handbook
YR1 RYA Racing Rules of sailing 2009-2012

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