“I grew up about as far detached from sailing as you can get,” says former soldier, Paul Mason. “I’d never been on a sailing boat, didn’t know anyone that had and quite honestly I didn’t want to either."

When he left school, Paul joined the British Army and was given the opportunity to go sailing for the first time. He loved it and over the next ten years started sailing more and more regularly, before eventually deciding to pursue a career as a yacht skipper.

“I wanted adventure, travel and to do something a bit different,” he says. “Initially I worked for yacht charter companies and then started instructing full time a few years later.”

Paul has now worked all over the world, setting up RYA training centres in Europe and Asia, and now teaches military personnel how to sail as part of his current role with the Joint Services Adventurous Sail Training Centre (JSASTC).

“I’d never planned to become an instructor, but I’m so pleased I did,” he explains. “I like the challenge of finding different ways to teach different people, and love seeing their confidence grow when they learn new things and put them into practice.

“When I think about it, RYA training has played a massive part in shaping who I am and what my life looks like today. It gave me something to focus on and kept me out of trouble when I was younger. It’s given me a career, allowed me to sail all over the world and meet hundreds of amazing friends in the industry. It even introduced me to my girlfriend!” he continued.

“I’ve been really lucky, there are so many places and things that I would never have got to see or do had I not done that first course all those years ago.”

To find out more about the 50th Anniversary and the history of the RYA training schemes, visit www.rya.org.uk/go/50years. For more information about RYA courses go to www.rya.org.uk/training.