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Sailing instructor

Sailing instructors teach people to sail boats at sea as well as on rivers, lakes and reservoirs.
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What does a sailing instructor do?

Sailing instructors work with adults and children. Duties could include:

  • preparing and presenting lessons
  • teaching safety, including dry-land and on-water drills
  • demonstrating boat handling and sailing techniques
  • assessing students' abilities
  • teaching grading (or exams)
  • keeping records of student attendance
  • recording and reporting any accidents or boat damage
  • informing students of changes to lessons due to bad weather
  • the care and maintenance of boats

Instructors teach one or all of the following:

  • dinghy sailing (small craft, including keelboats and catamarans)
  • powerboat driving
  • windsurfing
  • yachting
  • cruising (large yachts and sailing vessels with crews)
  • racing

What do I need to do to become a sailing instructor?

To become a sailing instructor, you need to complete Royal Yachting Association (RYA) courses. The RYA is the National Governing Body (NGB) for sailing, and sets standards for training instructors.

The basic requirements for a RYA course are that you must be:

  • 16 years old (18 for some courses)
  • physically fit and able to swim
  • a competent, experienced sailor of small boats – it could help if you hold an RYA Certificate of Competence

Related skills

  • Communication
  • Interpersonal skills
  • Leadership
  • Organisation
  • Patience
  • Physical fitness

Essential qualifications

  • Royal Yachting Association (RYA) courses

Where to find out more


Where could I be working?

A lot of sailing instructors are self-employed and work freelance at sailing clubs, schools and local-authority centres. A lot of the work is seasonal, so you may only be busy during the summer and weekends.


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