Did you know you can learn to sail whilst you holiday? And that doesn’t mean it has to be hard work. There are courses for everyone from the novice to the old hand looking to brush up.
The options fall in to two camps:
- Formal training, accredited by a recognised organisation, following a defined syllabus.
- Informal instruction, tailored to you or your groups needs.
These can be booked either direct with a sailing school, or through tour operators or agents (like me), who can also supply flights and transfers. They can also be combined with other types of sailing holiday, as a separate event before (or after), or in some case, to run alongside the rest of your trip.
Informal tuition is particularly useful if you’re returning to sailing after time out, are between course levels, want accelerated training, or want to go at your own pace. It is also easier to combine with another holiday type and some courses offered are only a few days, whereas most formal training is a week. The down side is you don’t get a recognised certificate, though the training you get make make it easier to get one, just because you will be part way there.
If you are going for a qualification, the three main bodies you’ll come across are the Royal Yachting Association (RYA), International Yacht Training (IYT) and the American sailing Association (ASA – not common in the Mediterranean). Each has their own scheme. I’m no expert on the respective quality of the different schemes and as an ex RYA instructor I’m probably biased anyway, but that aside, if I were to pick one as a Brit, I’d go for the RYA courses because our national organisation is internationally recognised and most importantly, if you want to continue your training back in the UK, there are more RYA schools.
Follow the links to read more about each scheme. Whichever one you go for, unless you’re starting at the lowest level, do make sure that you meet the entry requirements for your chosen course.
One other qualification is worthy of mention, the International Certificate of Competence (ICC). This is accepted by many Mediterranean yacht suppliers as an adequate skippers ticket for bareboat charter. It is not as comprehensive a test as say an RYA Day Skipper course but has the great advantage that if you can already sail and just need a certificate to prove it, the exam can be taken inside a day. As such it can sometimes be fitted in as part of your holiday week or taken in the UK, without you having to commit a whole week to a course.