The programme included updates from the RYA and RYA Scotland, with short carousel sessions and longer workshops alongside some great networking opportunities for instructors from across the clubs and centres in Scotland.

Nikki Stewart, Coach Education Development Manager of RYA Scotland said. “It was fantastic to see so many people at our Instructor Gathering on Saturday. We had a great fun day with lots of thought provoking and interesting sessions. Thank you to all our amazing presenters and facilitators and a huge thank you to everyone braving the weather to help us make the biggest Instructor Gathering yet!”

Rachel Andrews Chief Instructor for the Power Schemes, “It’s a great opportunity to meet lots of our instructors and thank them for the work which they do and also to give some updates from the RYA training department. The thing I really like is to hear the ideas from the instructors who are delivering our courses and learn some of the problems they face and try and find solutions.”

Jordon McNeilage, RYA Scotland’s youngest and latest board member, who is also a part-time Chief Instructor and Senior Instructor at Loch Insh, commented. “The instructor gathering is a great event with lots of friendly faces and some really positive discussions around issues and topics which instructors face across the clubs and centres in Scotland.”

The day started with a plenary session based around a Dragon’s Den pitch across the instructor base where cost was not an issue, with many teams aiming to improve the climate from the one outside to innovative changes in kit to suit our climate.

The three 20 minute carousel sessions provided opportunities for delegates to catch up on a wide range of topics from the performance sailing to teaching tides; or from Social Media tips to lead instructor training, with some great feedback from the attendees.

Phil Horton, Environment and Sustainability Manager from the RYA ran a popular session on The Green Blue and was impressed by how engaged overall the instructors were with the environment. RYA Scotland Instructor of the Year, Robyn Phillips ran a carousel on the Pioneer Project, where the feedback from the participants aligned with project aims of engaging more women and girls into the sport.

The more in depth workshops enabled participants to gain deeper insights into topics highlighted below:


Radio Detection and Ranging known to most of us as RADAR is now being highlighted more during Yachtmaster examinations, putting more pressure on Instructors at all levels of the cruising scheme to get the principles and use of radar across to their students. Whether its collision avoidance or as a navigation aid, Cumbrae Instructors Angus Fergusson and Rod Smith guided the audience through what Instructors should be doing and what the students need to know.

Calum McNicol, ran an informative session on Optimising the Learning Environment designed to explore ways in which we can structure practice designed to empower students and engage them further in their learning. In developing our knowledge of feedback the group learnt how this can help students develop their own judgment and decision making skills, passing ownership over to the student.

Delivering RYA Safety Boat training is not easy for Instructors who often have a limited experience and minimal training on how to deliver the RYA Safety Boat course. David Frame and David Kent explored the range of significant challenges and issues that make running the safety boat course fundamentally different from teaching the powerboat level 2 syllabus. The workshop offered guidance for Instructors on the delivery of this course, dealing with the issues, as well as covering some guidance and discussion on dealing entrapments, inversions Cats, Kites and Foils, all which require specific skills.

There has been a lot of work done with the Onboard programme in recent years to update the instructor resources. Sami Poole of Port Edgar Watersports Centre, achieved the Onboard status last year and joined Robin Nicol to share some of the new resources available to Onboard centres. Professor Bill Lucas has worked directly with the RYA to create the Onboard character attributes to demonstrate what other skills sailing brings to participants.


Clubs and centres struggle to maintain instructor numbers with a drop in numbers attending Senior Instructor courses. The performance team of Matt Toynbee and Kate Pounder delivered a very practical workshop to Support our Instructors by exploring different ways we can support to other instructors within our club or centre as well as looking at building a positive environment for instructors to flourish.

High Speed Navigation at night in an open boat can be particularly challenging but there are a range of techniques that can be applied and combined making position finding easier. Of use to all instructors looking to improve their own navigation, David Frame and Rod Smith ran a very useful session ahead of their practical course in March at Cumbrae, which was beneficial for those considering taking their Yachtmaster or powerboat exams and providing essential information for all Instructors who teach navigation on the water.

Yachtmaster Instructor Peter Braidwood ran a enlightening session entitled, “Ask not what your yacht engine can do for you, but what you can do for your engine”, which encouraged Cruising and Yachtmaster instructors to deliver a more in-depth learning for their students with the aim of developing a better understanding of the key stages of engine maintenance particularly around fuel and water cooling systems.

The Sailability workshop looked at ways instructors can support people with disabilities within RYA training and provided some of the practical ways we can adapt our sessions or equipment to meet the needs of our students.


Joff McGill RYA Sailability Manager “Delighted to be up in Scotland at the Instructor Gathering and talking all things Sailability. It is so important we get disabled people out on the water because there are so many benefits. It’s great to see so many instructors from clubs and centres here who are interested in broadening their activity and welcoming all of the community.”

Neil McLaren from Benmore Centre near Dunoon said. “The workshops were of great help to get more people sailing and our instructors more comfortable and supportive with some useful feedback and coaching models. Other sessions I took a lot from included the session on optimising the learning environment.”

Robbie Baird from Plockton who also instructs at Chanonary said. “It’s been absolutely amazing and full of great facts, just having come out of a useful session on radar or even some of work around the Green Blue which will be of real value.”


The initial survey asking for three words to describe an instructor are illustrated below and a full survey will be sent round the instructor group shortly.