Take your next steps in sailing

So, you’ve had a go at sailing or windsurfing and loved it but what’s next?

Your first time on the water is a magical experience. The peace, the freedom, and the exhilaration of working with the elements… it’s something you won’t forget in a hurry. 

But now that you’ve found something you could invest time, energy, and passion into, what’s next? 

Whether you’ve got started at a #DiscoverSailing taster session, completed your first RYA course or had a go on holiday this summer, here’s a few ideas to help you take your next steps in sailing.

Join a club

Local sailing and boating clubs offer opportunities to get on the water with a range of sailing, cruising, racing, courses, and events for all abilities.

Joining as a family can be more affordable with many clubs having boats you can borrow or hire for free or very little cost. Clubs are also a great place to find people who may need crew.

They also have youth and family weeks, as well as opportunities to try other watersports like paddle boarding and kayaking.

Every club is different, so ask and compare to find what best suits your lifestyle and social expectations. Find out more about what to expect when joining a club or find a venue local to you. 

Take a course

Using the club’s boats or boards to practise is a brilliant way to build on your skills. But if you want more structure to your learning, you could try a course at an RYA recognised training centre. RYA instructors can teach you at any level and getting some training is a brilliant way to get your confidence up. This can make your transition into the boating world even more enjoyable.

With more than 2,400 training centres around the UK and overseas, and 100 courses to choose from, you're sure to find something to suit. Start sailing on a dinghy course, blast across the water on a windsurfer or learn to crew or skipper a yacht – it won’t be long before you’re afloat.

Here’s a lowdown of a few of our most popular courses for novice sailors and windsurfers and what to expect.

RYA Dinghy Sailing courses

Who’s it for: Anyone wanting an introduction to sailing small boats. There is a separate scheme of courses for youngsters

You will learn: How to sail in all directions, including an awareness of launching and recovering.  

Duration: Approximately 2 days, 16 hours, or the equivalent number of sessions. 

Courses: Dinghy Sailing courses.

What’s next: If you've already completed the Level 1 - Start Sailing course, move up through the Level 2 – Basic Skills and Level 3 – Better Sailing courses. This will help to build your confidence and improve your sailing. Once you’ve mastered the basics, improve your seamanship skills, learn how to sail with spinnakers or even how to foil or get into racing with our advanced courses.

RYA Windsurfing courses

Who’s it for: Complete beginners and those wanting to progress their windsurfing skills. 

You will learn: The basics of windsurfing and how to use the right equipment. There is a separate youth scheme

Duration: 8-10 hours over a number of sessions or full days.

Course: Windsurfing courses  

What’s next: Once you've completed the Start Windsurfing course, fine tune your skills with the Intermediate (non planing) course or advance to planing and dynamic transitions as you develop your skills and progress through the National Windsurfing scheme. Once you’re able to sail confidently in the harness and footstraps you can take flight with our Windfoiling courses.

RYA Yacht Sailing and Cruising courses

Who’s it for: Beginners, crew members looking to increase their knowledge, and aspiring skippers of any age.

You will learn: Some yacht steering, sail handling, ropework and basic safety on board.

Duration: 2-5 days depending on the course. Longer courses are often run over a few weekends. 

Course: Sail Cruising courses 

What’s next: Your Start Yachting Certificate means you can complete the Competent Crew course in a reduced time of three days or two weekends. Or if you’ve already built up your experience and are looking to make the transition from crew to skipper, find out more about the RYA Day Skipper course. 

Do I need a boat or board to get started?

No. The boats and boards should be provided by the centre. Choosing an RYA recognised training centre means you can be sure you are getting the highest standard of equipment. 

What about kit? 

Any reputable RYA training centre or school can provide everything you need: the boat, the salopettes and waterproof jackets, buoyancy aids, books, charts, and equipment. If your course includes it, you may even get a nice lunch.

How do I know which level is right for me? 

It is key to find the right course for you. You don’t have to start at the beginning and can enter the RYA’s training schemes at any step provided you have the correct level of experience.

For fresh air, exhilaration, and a different perspective on life, getting out on the water is hard to beat!