Concepts in teaching sailing

Occasionally I intend to add articles I have used for training courses, especially with regard to instructor training. Whilst all the ideas will be ones I use, most of them have either come from observing students or other instructors. I do not think I can claim credit for inventing any of them!

These articles will probably only be of interest to those people who are or would like to work in the industry.

If you have any thoughts of your own and would like to publish them here, please email them to me. I will be happy to post them on the site. If you include your details and background, they will be credited to you.

Becoming an instructor

If you are interested in becoming a yachting instructor, you will first need to pass the Yachtmaster exam, then get a commercial endorsement.

A commercial endorsement requires a current first aid certificate, a certificate of attendance at a sea survival course and to pass a medical. If you are thinking of working in the yachting industry and intend to work through the qualifications with the aim of finding a job at the end, I recommend that you take the medical first. If you are not going to pass because of some unknown issue there is no point in going any further. There have been a few cases of students who have spend a great deal of money on a "Fastrak" course, only to find at the end that they can not work in the industry.

Cruising Instructor's Certificate

The first qualification you will need to be able to teach RYA courses is a Cruising Instructor's Qualification. This is best taken at a school that runs the course over 5 days, the bulk of which should be time spent afloat.

To pass this you will need to be able to give convincing demonstrations to a Day Skipper level student of any part of the syllabus. Weak areas are often the knowledge of the collisions rules, navigation and meteorology.

There is no point in arriving for an instructor's course if you are not completely happy with you ability to teach tidal height calculations or working out the course to steer. Remember that your students may have just spent the last 5 days in the classroom perfecting their theory skills, some of them will be very good, even at Dayskipper level. Anyone who is serious will do the necessary work prior to the course.

Another area that requires work is close quarters sailing skills, sailing on and off of buoys and returning to a floating object under sail. I would expect a convincing demonstration of sailing man over board recovery from any instructor.

Candidates should arrive for the course with a copy of the latest version of the cruising logbook, a copy of the Instructor's Handbook is also useful.

To book a Cruising Instructor's course contact 023 80 45 77 33.

Yachtmaster Instructor's Certificate

The Yachtmaster Instructor course is a 5 day course, normally organised centrally by the RYA, however some schools may set up and market the course to the general public as well as their own staff.

With the introduction of intensive training courses that take people from being a relative novice to Yachtmaster in a short period, there is a tendency for potential instructors to believe that they just need to book on the Yachtmaster Instructor course and that they will then pass. This course and exam are very advanced and require considerable experience as a skipper and instructor on Competent Crew and Dayskipper courses prior to attending the course. If you try to take the Cruising Instructor course then the Yachtmaster Instructor course within a short period you are likely to be unsuccessful, unless you have considerable experience of teaching yachting through another training scheme.

When you have at least one seasons teaching experience after passing the Cruising Instructor exam, you may be ready to take the Yachtmaster Instructor course. This builds on the Cruising Instructor course and demands a high level of personal skill, knowledge and teaching ability.

When you run instructor training courses it is very easy to spot a candidate instructor's areas of strength and weakness, it is not unusual to give a student their weakest subject to teach. Candidates need to be thoroughly prepared prior to this course and I would recommend discussing your ability with a very experienced instructor or school principal prior to booking the course.

It is not unusual for the pass rate to be less than 50% of the candidates on this exam. This is mainly due to lack of preparation, but also because candidates do not have enough experience of running courses and solving the challenges real students and conditions present.

Other than lack of technical knowledge, it is also often obvious that an instructor cannot set up a teaching exercise efficiently. At this level you should be able to chose a good area for the exercise, give a good explanation and demonstration of what is expected and be effective in the feedback given after the students have made an attempt of their own, as well as keeping everyone safe!

Unless you have taught the various scenarios such as sailing on to a mooring buoy or man over board drills a considerable amount, and worked out how to put each lesson together, you will struggle to look professional at this point.

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Contact the British Offshore Sailing School for all your sailing courses and cruises.
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