Novice race crew training


Case Study:South Devon College

South Devon College (SDC) wanted to create opportunities to get local people involved in local racing. The South Devon College Marine Academy, based at Noss Marina on the River Dart, presently offers a range of full-time and part-time courses, recognised nationally by the outdoor and water sports industry including the RYA. One of the courses is a Foundation Degree in Yacht Operations.  SDC already operate two commercially coded yachts and were able to mostly fill one of the boats for local racing with the Royal Dart Yacht Club evening series. They were keen to utilise the other yacht, but to do that they needed to get more people trained to race. Whilst SDC are continually teaching people how to sail, they decided to simply teach people the skills required to crew on a racing yacht and specifically do the jobs required to race a boat. This would allow a fast progression to the buzz of competition and sailing, whilst actual sailing could be taught in slower time as time went on.

The course was advertised briefly on the college intranet and the response was impressive. They quickly filled a yacht of their staff and students. It was run by a College Yachtmaster Instructor and an experienced helm.

Eight candidates attended the two days at a cost of £60 each. This was heavily subsidised by the college and is unsustainable cheap in the commercial world. The course was non-residential, and food was not provided.

After a safety brief the entire course was practical. Training on day one and entering a race at Royal Torbay Yacht Club on day two.



  • Not enough time to teach everybody everything.
  • Crew learnt specific roles - foredeck, mast, pit/cockpit
  • The light winds allowed for much spinnaker work.
  • Windy conditions would affect the course nature.
  • Pre course work could include knot tying
  • This course needs two to deliver, an instructor and a competent yacht helm. This allows the instructor to work on the foredeck whilst the yacht was kept under control and is also a commercial manning requirement.
  • RTCs could offer this training in a run up to a race week by offering two days prep, then a day or two racing


Both boats are now competing in the RDYC evening series and all the candidates keen to crew.