COVID-19: Guidance for restarting RYA Training activity

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    This guidance was last updated on 14 May 2020.


    As COVID-19 lockdown restrictions begin to be lifted in various locations around the world, we have put together the following guidance to assist RYA recognised training centres (RTCs) when considering if, when and how RYA Training activity should take place.

    The intention of this document is to support RYA RTCs with managing the risks of infection from COVID-19, however centres should always ensure they are aware of, and comply with, the latest guidance from the government in the country in which they are operating, as well as completing their own risk assessments.

    To assist, we have put together the guidance that follows which considers:

    • Temporary variations to the RYA conditions of recognition
    • Additional considerations, both general and scheme by scheme

    We would encourage all centres to take their time and use all the information available to carefully plan and develop policies which will best suit their operations. Centres should only consider reopening if and when they are ready and able to facilitate safe activity, with appropriate social distancing measures, hygiene procedures and risk management practices.

    We will continue to update this guidance as we receive additional information from Government and feedback from centres. Please make sure to refer back regularly for further updates. 

    If you have any questions, or want to discuss any of the guidance below in further detail, please contact the RYA Training team by emailing or calling +44 (0) 23 8060 4181.


    Return to boating in the UK

    As of Wednesday 13 May, people in England are able to leave their homes to exercise and spend time outdoors for recreation. All forms of watersports practiced on open waterways are now permitted, including but not limited to: sailing, windsurfing and the use of privately-owned motorised craft (in line with guidance issued by the relevant navigation authority).

    People are also permitted to travel to other destinations in order to exercise, but cannot stay overnight at a holiday home or second home which means that staying overnight on a boat is not permitted. In addition, any activity will still need to be alone, with members of your own household or with one other person as long as you stay two metres apart. Social distancing must be followed at all times.

    Please note, that whilst the UK Government has clearly indicated that boating is permissible in England subject to the guidelines outlined above, there may be some authorities with responsibility for harbours, rivers or other waterways which choose to maintain their own restrictions. Please ensure you check for any local restrictions that may be in place in the area in which you intend to go boating. 

    In Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, the return to boating has not yet been confirmed and centres must continue to follow local Government guidance.

    The nature of the RYA’s training schemes means that each training activity needs to be assessed by the individual RTC, in the context of its own operations, in order to determine whether it can recommence whilst still complying with Government restrictions. 

    An individual sailing in their own dinghy, or members of the same household enjoying a day afloat in their powerboat are deemed acceptable activities in England. However, at present a group of strangers gathering to undertake a training course in dinghies, a powerboat, a yacht, or even a classroom are not scenarios that comply with current UK Government restrictions - unless the training is deemed to be essential keyworker training.

    Other scenarios that may be feasible would include where an instructor is a member of the same household as the students they are teaching, or where one-to-one practical tuition is occurring with appropriate social distancing. Indoor tuition, even one-to-one currently sits outside existing UK Government guidelines. 

    The gathering of those from different households, and the inclusion of one or more instructors into the equation unfortunately means that in the vast majority of cases, RYA Training activity within the UK will still fall outside of the activities permitted by Government at this time.

    The Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport (DCMS) has issued the following guidance on the phased return of sport and recreation:


    RYA guiding principles

    The RYA has developed a range of resources to help members and the wider boating community prepare for a return to the water as quickly and safely as possible. Throughout all of our guidance, the ‘guiding principles’ laid out below will be followed:

    1. We will always follow Government guidance
    2. We will, as a boating community, take a considerate and conservative approach:
      •  Considerate: be mindful of the potential impact that you could have on other water users and do not place unnecessary extra strain on the RNLI or emergency services.
      •  Conservative: help to minimise risk by taking an extra conservative approach to your boating.

    Further information regarding the RYA’s return to boating strategy and additional guidance for clubs and RYA Sailability venues can be found via the links below:

    • RYA welcomes Government guidance on outdoor recreation – read more.
    • RYA welcomes return to boating – read more.
    • RYA affirms the guiding principles support its return to boating strategy – read more.
    • Club guidance on restarting boating activity and managing COVID-19 – read more.

    For more information about the legal, financial and insurance support available to centres and instructors at this challenging time, please visit the RYA COVID-19 Hub page and FAQs for Affiliated Clubs, Classes and Recognised Training Centres


    Temporary adjustments to the RYA Conditions of Recognition

    Please note these adjustments are temporary measures to encourage the return to training with the minimum restriction.

    RYA Instructor qualifications

    Instructor qualifications which expired after 01 January 2020 will be accepted as valid, up to and including, 30 June 2020. This validity is conditional upon meeting the usual requirements for validity, as adjusted by this document. 

    Commercial endorsements and medical fitness certificates

    The MCA has agreed to extend:

    • ENG1 and ML5 medical fitness certificates up to a maximum of 6 months
    • RYA certificates with commercial endorsements which expire after 01 March 2020 extend up to 30 September 2020

    Details of the specific extension that may apply to your certificate can be found in the following Letter of Extension document: Documents/RYA Training/Professional qualifications/Letter_of_Extension.pdf

    RYA First Aid certificates

    RYA First Aid certificates which expire after 01 March 2020 are deemed to be valid until 30 September 2020 as detailed in the Letter of Extension above. RYA First Aid certificates may be extended by one year from their expiry date following a short update delivered by an RYA recognised First Aid training centre. This update may be delivered by video conference.

    The First Aid training centre will issue a statement to the candidate confirming the update and the extension of one year from the stated expiry date. This statement must be dated and include:

    • Name of First Aid centre 
    • Principal’s name
    • First Aid instructor’s name
    • Candidate's name

    For a list of centres that are able to offer the First Aid update, please click here.

    RYA Instructors requiring an in-date First Aid certificate

    Where an RYA Instructor certificate requires an in-date First Aid certificate in order to remain valid, the RYA will accept a one-year extension on any suitable First Aid certificate, provided a short update is delivered by an RYA First Aid Centre, or the original issuing centre. This update may be delivered via video conferencing. Instructors should make every effort to fully update their First Aid qualification at the earliest opportunity to maintain a sufficient level of duty of care to students and to alleviate pressure on those who are being relied upon as full first aiders.

    First Aid cover at RYA Recognised Training Centres

    Where RTCs are relying upon extensions to First Aid certificates for their instructors they must have, as a minimum, one in date first aider on site during training. This first aider must have completed the full syllabus of their First Aid award, and it should not rely upon an extension.

    Where suitable first aiders are available from neighbouring centres or businesses it may be possible to share a first aider for this purpose. Centres should conduct a risk assessment to determine whether additional fully qualified first aiders are required. This risk assessment should consider whether reducing the size of the sailing area, and possibly the number of students afloat may be necessary if full First Aid cover is limited.

    Communicating with the public

    These are unprecedented times for everybody, and it is likely that many potential students will be concerned about COVID-19 for quite some time to come. Managing your adjustments due to COVID-19 is just as important as any other areas where managing a student’s expectations is necessary. Outlining the extra steps you are taking to reassure students and also to encourage them to follow these measures from the start may be the difference between a booking or not.

    RYA centre inspections

    We have taken the decision to postpone all RYA Training Centre inspections, both in the UK and overseas, until such a time it is safe and advisable to resume. At present we are not able to provide any clear timeline as to when and how centre inspections will be able to be conducted. We will keep RTCs updated as we receive more information.

    Rest assured that lack of inspection due to COVID-19 will not result in any negative impact on your RYA training centre recognition status. Should you have any queries, please contact

    Residential courses

    Centres that are able to safely deliver sail and motor cruising courses may day-sail from their home port and these courses no longer have to be residential until further notice.

    Digital course materials

    Due to the unprecedented circumstances presented by COVID-19, there may be delays in orders being fulfilled and printed course packs being delivered. As a result, we have implemented a temporary ePack process to give centres that are still able to deliver remote shorebased courses access to the key training materials needed to support their students.

    When placing an order through the RYA Online Trade Shop (, please confirm whether you also require digital access in the Comments section. You will then receive an eBook voucher redemption code by email for every pack ordered, along with full redemption instructions. Each code provides access to the eBook versions of the particular course pack material, excluding course completion certificates or assessment papers, through the RYA Books app.


    Trigger list to assist RTCs in modifying operational behaviour during the COVID-19 pandemic

    This list is not exhaustive, but is designed to stimulate ideas and to help RTCs consider all areas of their operation when looking for ways to mitigate the risks associated with COVID-19. Due to the provision of RYA training in many different countries, each with their own response to the global pandemic, centres must make their best judgement after taking all advice into account and assessing the risks presented by COVID-19.

    Please note the points below are for consideration and planning for the future as government restrictions are lifted. At the time of writing, UK Government restrictions and guidelines preclude the vast majority of RYA Practical and Shorebased Training activity other than those very few examples previously listed.


    General considerations

    • RTCs must follow their own national and local government advice regarding COVID-19, particularly:
      • social distancing
      • self-isolation
      • protective equipment
      • disinfecting work areas
      • personal hygiene
    • Do any emergency procedures or action plans need modifying temporarily due to COVID-19 restrictions? How do you communicate any changes?
    • Consider reducing student-to-instructor ratios for both practical and shorebased training to enable social distancing if it is not possible at usual capacity.
    • Keep up-to-date with the latest advice and guidance as it continues to change.
    • No-one with any symptoms of COVID-19 should attend the training centre, therefore consider including this within the medical declaration forms.
    • Ensure all booking and course information clearly states short term changes due to COVID-19 situation and requirements.
    • Assess how to reduce numbers and/or rearrange teaching areas to facilitate social distancing during training.
    • Identify whether additional signposting within the centre or vessel will assist in social distancing, e.g. marking the suitable distances where queuing may be necessary, introducing separate entry and exit routes to permit one-way traffic, identifying passing points where pedestrian congestion may occur, marking out waiting areas during launching and recovery.
    • Liaise with other users of your site or facility to agree a common way of working to meet the government guidelines together.
    • Where possible use a paperless booking and payment process. Avoid handling cash.
    • For all practical training, apply a higher level of caution to reduce risk of incident, e.g. reef much earlier to reduce the risk of incident and consider reducing the upper limit of wind strength you would normally operate under.
    • Where young children are being taught, consider asking parents to assist their children changing into any activity clothing to prevent unnecessary instructor intervention and to manage the time efficiently.
    • Can changing facilities accommodate social distancing and hygiene requirements?
    • Is there a need for restrictions on toilet or shower facilities?
    • Consider staggering the start and end times for the day where multiple courses are being delivered to ensure limited numbers are congregating in reception or meeting areas, changing rooms, launch sites or simply outside at any one time.
    • Where possible utilise students’ own PFDs/wetsuits/waterproofs etc. Where this is not possible, always follow the manufacturers’ advice and the latest guidelines on disinfecting centre equipment after use. Reasonable steps should be taken to ensure any student owned equipment is serviceable and suitable. Generic advice about cleaning and storing PFDs and equipment is available here: COVID-19 Virus: Cleaning & Storing your Life Jackets.
    • All equipment used by students requires cleaning in line with the latest Government guidelines. This may be best carried out by the students who have used the specific equipment. General advice about cleaning is available here: COVID-19: cleaning in non-healthcare settings.
    • Consider issuing specific equipment to a student for the duration of the course, be it PPE or course equipment. Allow this to be locally stored at the centre. Equipment should be stored at a suitable social distancing distance to enable students to recover them the next day.
    • Consider students and staff bringing own cups, drinks and food.

    Courses requiring launching/recovery of boats

    • Waiting zones for boats and crew clearly outlined on the ground to assist social distancing.
    • Designated zone to be considered for students for rigging equipment or when returning to shore.

    Courses requiring safety cover/coaching boats

    • Give consideration to single manning of a safety boat, unless size or type of the craft requires otherwise.
    • Respect distance and carefully consider the requirement of on-water coaching and delivery to minimise contact.
    • Consideration when using coach boats to come alongside with respect to contact with the craft and respecting distance for communication.
    • Use of two-way voice communication technology, such as two-way UHF radio with headsets, as a provision of on-water tuition from a distance.
    • Methods of recovering students into a rescue boat avoiding/minimising instructor assistance; well-maintained grab handles, appropriate ladder system.
    • Face covering available to safety boat driver for use if physical contact required for casualty recovery.


    Shorebased Scheme

    • Appropriate classroom or outside spacing, or consider alternative routes for delivering elements of the course such as online learning.

      We are looking into what additional material or structures we can put in place to facilitate training centres, although much of our training has a significant amount of practical content which is a limiting factor. If you have a concept you would like to explore as an alternative to face-to-face sessions, you should discuss the options with RYA Training.

    SRC courses and assessment

    • Classroom training and assessment should ensure all students have one radio each and be arranged to respect social distancing guidelines. Students should not share any training radios, procedure cards or course books for the duration of the course.
    • Cover microphone with plastic bags taped in place to prevent any moisture from a student from entering the mic grill while speaking.
    • Where possible, minimize the use of paper for the written assessment - consider laminated assessment papers which can be cleaned after the assessment, or projecting the question onto a screen.
    • Consider photographing/scanning each student's answers using a smart phone prior to marking to avoid contact with the paper - once scanned papers can be destroyed. Electronic storing of the assessment answers is acceptable. Ensure the student name date and assessment paper number and instructor name is included on the answer sheet.
    • SRC assessments cannot be conducted online or by monitoring with a webcam. The assessment must be face-to-face utilising training radios.

    Navigation courses

    • Navigation course final assessments may be taken remotely but the certificate would require the tick box indicating a non-invigilated exam (on the back of the certificate) to be completed. This will void the certificate for anybody wishing to use it for an MCA purpose. i.e.
      • Using Day Skipper Theory for a commercial endorsement on a Day Skipper practical certificate.
      • Using Coastal Skipper/Yachtmaster Offshore theory certificate as a prerequisite for the MCA Master (Code vessel up to 200t) or OOW (Yacht 3000t).
      • Using Yachtmaster Ocean theory certificate to be exempt from the written in a Yachtmaster Ocean oral exam or as evidence for the MCA Chief Mate (Yacht 3000t).
    • Do not provide shared Training Almanacs to students.

    First Aid

    • Follow the latest Resus UK guidelines, in particular:
      • Course numbers restricted to the number of manikins available - one per student plus one for the instructor. Students use the same manikin for all demonstrations. After each course each manikin should be thoroughly disinfected in line with the latest advice. Lungs/bladders should be safely discarded.
      • If certain hands-on activity cannot be demonstrated or observed due to social distancing or lack of alternative techniques in the classroom, initially establish their understanding whilst in the classroom. Following this consider witnessing the candidates carrying out these tasks with a household member via video conference. Typical topics would be the use of dressings, or the recovery position.
      • Ensure you offer advice concerning CPR during the COVID-19 pandemic. Make sure to consult the following: Resus UK statement and UK guidance.

    Online courses

    • SRC centres (or any other centres that offer face-to-face support for online students) to observe the guidelines for shorebased teaching/exams.
    • Emphasise to SRC students that there is a practical exam to complete in addition to the online course, which may be harder to arrange while restrictions remain in place.  Find out about extensions to SRC exam applications here.
    • Consider using the temporary digital student ePack solution (see above) so that RTCs and students don’t have to rely on the post to receive their materials.


    Sail and Motor Cruising

    • Consider groups of people who are already able to be together:
      • Family groups and people who are already living in the same dwelling,
      • People who already work together,
      • Own boat courses.
    • No Sail and Motor Cruising courses have to be residential until further notice (see temporary variations above).
    • Avoid going below unless necessary:
      • Can they bring their own packed meals and drinks?
      • Encourage to use toilet before on board, but have easily accessible cleaning materials, disinfectant and hand wash/ alcohol gel.
      • Consider what theory can be done off the vessel, even on a pontoon mid-course (if off the boat take some markers to mark off safe areas to sit/stand).
      • Navigational aids to be accessible from on deck.
      • If they have their own iPad and you are using newer Raymarine equipment, could they log in to the Raymarine WIFI to see what you are doing?
      • Could you film you doing engine checks so they can watch it, then replicate it?
      • Identify areas on board such as foredeck where explanations can take place.
    • Review your teaching techniques that rely upon visual aids:
      • Can the aids be seen adequately from a social distance position?
      • Is there any pre-learning the students could undertake either using RYA Books, eBooks or other distance learning technique such as video?
    • Reduce transference risks at helm:
      • Fewer students on board with an area for each to sit and socially distance. If possible use marked seating areas.
      • Regular hand washing/use of alcohol gel by instructors and students.
      • Consider changing your teaching so each student gets more time on the helm in one go (less changeovers and need for cleaning / wiping down).
    • Consider when, or if, PPE is the best way to protect the students and/or the instructor.
    • Could some of your course be delivered in a different way? Discuss your ideas with RYA Training:
      • If you have a rib that you can socially distance on, could some of the course be taught on there?
      • Can some theory be taught in a classroom or open area rather than on the vessel?
      • Two-way radios may be useful to coach people, many don't need a mic close to the face to work. Consider if you need one per person to be viable?
    • Handling lines and fenders - consider hand sanitiser at bow and stern, or leave fenders rigged and enough lines for one per student (different colours).
    • Review and update all emergency procedures from your operating procedures/safety brief against social distancing guidelines and any reduction in numbers on board. It is especially important to highlight changes to anybody who has been on the vessel before.



    • Theory can be delivered ashore using social distancing, do try to incorporate as much theory into the practical session as possible.
    • Potential for remote theory sessions, e.g. chart intro could be covered by video conferencing. Students could borrow laminated charts from the centre (to be cleaned after use), returning when back for day 2 practical. Discuss your ideas with RYA Training.
    • Use training vessels which allow for social distancing - large RIBs, open-decked vessels, e.g. pneumatic commandos (Jaffas/O-boats) would be preferable over small RIBs as students do not need to sit so closely together.
    • Check training or visual aids are large enough to be seen from a distance.

    Personal Watercraft

    • Consider 1 student per PW and a maximum of 1 instructor to 3 PWs
    • Caution required around demos, if social distancing remains, would have to be taught from a PW.

    Inland Waterways

    • Regular hand-washing achievable encouraged using galley/heads on board
    • Caution at locks with approaches from the general public looking to engage with conversation, instructor/candidates to be vigilant.




    • Land tuition kept to a minimum:
      • Land drills: when simulators are necessary, a perimeter can be marked out to prescribe the social distancing required.
      • Markers (chairs, cones or buoys) used on the slipway to specify distancing between students and their instructor at all times, when coming ashore for tuition or demos etc.


    • Enhanced consideration for kit hire and ability of student to minimise rescue requirements – limited to those with sufficient previous foiling experience

    Rescue/safety cover

    • Wherever possible, the initial approach should ensure the student remains on their board whilst the safety boat approaches from the masthead, thereby observing good distance between student, instructor and prop. When safe to do so the student can climb aboard the safety boat.


    Dinghy/Keelboat and Multihull Sailing

    Use of Boats

    Consideration as to suitable craft in accordance with the current government social distancing requirement, for example only members of the same household to sail in craft together, and no instructors aboard.

    Land drills and equipment briefing

    • To limit the need for sharing equipment, such as during land drills, maximise students practising in/on their own equipment and adaptations such as shallow waters which can provide an alternative to land drills in a controlled environment.
    • Where there is a need for any student practice ashore, consider the use of PPE, such as disposable gloves and masks.

    Single-handed sailing

    • Activity limited to one person per boat, unless members of the same household can double-up, or government restrictions change to enable this consideration.

    Double-handed sailing

    • Consider restriction to families or household members until small gatherings are permitted.

    Capsize consideration

    • Consideration using masthead flotation on all feasible craft to reduce inversion and aid recovery, minimising the need for instructor intervention.
    • Instructor to remain at the bow of the boat to advise student from a safe distance.
    • If instructor intervention is required, consider:
      • Routes to ensure student can board the safety boat without instructor assistance,
      • Methods the instructor can recover boats without student assistance and whilst maintaining student safety in the water, prioritising methods which use the mast tip or centreboard to recover the boat, reducing contact of the student’s craft. For example:
        • For single handers the scoop method may still be a consideration with the instructor using leverage from the centreboard,
        • Recovery of the craft by the instructor from the centreboard or mast tip then returning to the bow to enable the student to climb in from the back of the boat.