Q&A with Phil Martin


RYA qualifications can take you down many career paths. RYA bosun Phil Martin is one of the industry’s most highly regarded boat technicians.

Phil has been the RYA Bosun for 17 years. He is one of a team of just two working at the RYA Boat Store. His RYA qualifications include Powerboat Level 2, a commercially endorsed Advanced Powerboat and Yachtmaster Theory. He’s also a qualified RYA Powerboat Instructor and volunteers as a mark layer and committee boat driver.

What does your role involve?

Together with manager Brad Bradbury, I maintain and manage the RYA’s fleet of 50 support RIBs, which are used all over the world by the British Sailing Team as coach boats and safety boats. The boats also support the Youth and Junior Pathways, team racing and keelboat racing within the UK, as well as major UK events run by the RYA, such as the Youth Nationals and Eric Twiname.

How did you find boating?

I started sailing when I was ten years-old on a family holiday in Sweden. I later got involved with a local sailing club in Staines and helped out at various sailing regattas. By the time I was 18 I was taking part in committees and helping out on a bigger scale.

When did the mechanical interest come in?

I’ve always had an interest in anything mechanical or electrical. I was probably a nightmare child, wanting to take things apart as soon as I could get my hands on them. My interest in sailing progressed into wanting to do something mechanical with boats.

How did you find this role?

Training to be a dinghy instructor and then powerboat instructor gave me the experience and brought me into contact with the RYA. I was looking after safety boats and club boats for Queen Mary Sailing Club and freelanced in my spare time. The previous RYA bosun saw I was handy and asked if I could help him out. It led from there.

What skills do you need?

An understanding of all things mechanical is helpful but not essential – the RYA’s courses are good foundations on which to build your knowledge. You need to have the ability to tow and manoeuvre trailers, some powerboat driving experience is useful and we’re both factory-trained Yamaha technicians, so we can maintain the engines whilst they are still under warranty. A sense of humour is a normally a good back-up!

What does your working week look like?

With two or three RIBs in every week for servicing, plus boats coming in and out for repairs, and prepping any equipment that is going out to larger events, it can be busy. Sometimes there can be numerous boats going to different locations all over the country or abroad.

What’s it like when there’s a big event coming up?

We’ll bring the boats in for cleaning and pre-checks and ensure the trailers are all in good condition. In Olympic sailing the buzz word is ‘world class’, so we’re always striving to give the team the best support possible.

How does it feel to be responsible for that?

We’ve been here a while now so you get a bit blasé and just get on with the job. But when you watch it on the TV, you feel proud knowing you’ve been a part of it and helped make it happen!

Find out more about RYA qualifications and other interesting job roles in the marine industry, head to www.rya.org.uk/go/careers