Learning in a dinghy is a great way to start sailing. Single-handers (boats sailed by one person) are a popular choice and can be the quickest way to learn due to being lightweight and easy to rig and launch. If you don’t fancy being in a boat alone, double-handers are larger boats designed to be sailed by two people, making it an enjoyable way to learn with others aboard. The choice is yours!

Once you’ve mastered the basics, there are plenty of opportunities to continue to develop your skills with our advanced, foiling and racing courses. Find out more about our dinghy courses below.

Find a course
Adult courses

The National Sailing Scheme is a series of short courses, each run over a number of sessions or two full days. Progress quickly from beginner to expert in a controlled, safe and enjoyable environment.


Level 1 - Start Sailing

A course for complete beginners. Learn how to sail in all directions and awareness of launching and recovery

Level 2 - Basic Skills

Build your confidence and gain the skills needed to sail and make decisions in good conditions

Level 3 - Better Sailing

Improve your sailing, consolidating skills and trying new ones in a variety of conditions.

Youth courses

The Youth Sailing scheme is usually completed in small dinghies suitable for the size of the sailor, but courses can also be completed in keelboats and multihulls. Our expert instructors offer a safe environment for children to have fun, learn and challenge themselves.

Stage 1

An introduction to the parts of the boat and the basic principles of how to get a boat sailing.

Stage 2

Develop the sailing skills needed to sail around a course tacking, gybing and controlling boat speed.

Stage 3

Build your confidence and develop the skills needed to sail in different directions in moderate conditions.

Stage 4

Learn how to sail a double-handed boat as crew or helm and solve a variety of problems afloat.

More for under 16s

Our Youth Sailing certificates are a huge achievement and, once completed, can be used for the Duke of Edinburgh Award scheme or for PE at school. Find out more...

Advanced courses

Following on from the early courses in both the National and Youth Sailing schemes, you can choose one of the advanced modules below to suit your sailing interests. All courses are available to both adults and young people.


Seamanship skills

Learn how to handle a boat in all circumstances and solve problems afloat.

Day sailing

Master passage planning and decision making for going on a day sail in a dinghy.

Sailing with spinnakers

Everything you need to know about sailing with conventional or asymmetric spinnakers.

Performance sailing

Improve your boat handling and confidence in performance dinghies.

Learn to foil

Our foiling courses will enable you to progress from your first foiling take off, to sustaining flights and entering the world of foiling transitions. To feel the amazing feeling of flight, you'll need to be a Level 2 sailor, able to sail a dinghy in a breeze.

First Flights

An introduction to the concept of foiling, the equipment and all the knowledge you need to 'take off' for the first time.

Sustained Flights

Gain the skills and confidence to sustain foiling and feel comfortable steering. All transitions will be non-foiling.

Performance Flights

Control the foil with confidence in a wider range of conditions and unlock the knowledge and skills needed to sustain flight into tacks and foiling gybes.

Dinghy Racing
Learn to race

Progressing through the RYA racing courses will take you from complete beginner to experienced competitor, developing your skills in the core areas of starting, boat-handling, speed, tactics and strategy. You'll need to be a Level 2 or Stage 3 sailor to start racing.

Start Racing

A course for new sailors, wishing to start racing. Build your confidence and general racing knowledge by learning the skills needed to enter and compete in a race.

Club Racing

Perfect for racing at club level. Build on your boat handling, speed and develop strategic plans based on the conditions.

Regional Racing

Develop the skills needed to adapt to racing at different venues and in more challenging conditions.

Championship Racing

This training is tailored to the needs of the sailors and is quite likely the end result of a full training programme.

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Start Sailing book cover

With more than 100 different titles to choose from, there’s an RYA book, eBook or audiobook for every age, interest and ability. Visit our webshop for course books and a range of supporting titles.