Hi Tom. We have a few questions for you about what the RYA Dinghy Instructor course is all about, so here goes

Why become an RYA Dinghy Instructor?

Becoming an RYA Dinghy Instructor can provide many opportunities in life, whether you want to travel and work around the world, need a fun job over the summer holidays or want to kickstart a career in watersports, the RYA Dinghy Instructor qualification ticks all the boxes. The main reason for me is that teaching sailing is great fun, you meet different people from many walks of life whilst living a great lifestyle within the watersports industry.

What sailing level do I need to be at before considering instructor training?

Firstly, you need to be able to sail! Before being allowed on to the Dinghy Instructor course you must pass the RYA pre-entry assessment. This sounds a bit formal, but it is not in practice. The RYA pre- entry assessment is designed to assess your general sailing ability and ensure that your seamanship skills and manoeuvres are up to scratch. These need to be of a good standard as students will expect their instructor to be able to do the things that they are teaching. The test is more of a stepping stone than an actual test. If all is well then you will pass, if there are elements that need work you will know exactly what you need to do to pass next time.

If you have never sailed or do not have much experience, there are courses that are designed to fast track you to Instructor level. These Professional Watersports Training Courses are intensive 6 to 12 week courses that will take you from no experience through to the Instructor Course. You will still need to pass the RYA Pre-Entry Assessment as part of the process, but these courses can be great fun as you are on a journey with other like-minded people setting out to achieve the same goal.

Are there pre-requisites I need to have in place before taking the RYA Dinghy Instructor course itself and if yes, what are they?

There are a few things you need in place before the course these are:

  • RYA Pre-Entry Assessment
  • You must be aged 16 or over.
  • RYA Powerboat Level 2 as driving powerboats, safely, is part and parcel of being an Instructor.
  • First Aid Certificate, this is important as you may need to care for students if they are hurt or unwell. It is important that you hold a First Aid Certificate that is accepted by the RYA (a full list is available on the RYA website). Most people opt for the RYA first Aid course as a starting point. The certificate is valid for 3 years and any Instructor Certificate is not valid without an in-date First Aid Certificate.
  • RYA Safe and Fun Certificate. This is an online course available from many RYA Training Centres that provides the safeguarding training when working with children and vulnerable adults. This is followed up on the course with a workshop to allow for further understanding and to ask any questions.
  • RYA Membership, all Instructors MUST be RYA members to allow their qualification to be processed after the course and revalidated (every 5 years).

Is there any pre-course reading required?

There are many good books to have a read through to give you a head start:

G4 Sailing Syllabus and Log Book: This book details what the student must achieve to pass each level, a must read for all Instructors.

G11 Youth Sailing Scheme and Logbook: The levels are broken down into smaller hops for our younger students, this book details what each “Stage” requires from the student and how they progress through their sailing development.

Start Sailing and Advanced Hand Books: These give you a great insight into how to do each element of the Sailing Schemes and may provide a bit of extra learning in your weaker areas of theory (we have all got them!!)

G14 Instructor Handbook: Simply put, this is our go to book as an RYA Dinghy Instructor. It details how to teach and gives us top tips for getting our students engaged and learning the sport we love. You will cover a lot of its content through the course but a bit of pre-course reading here is a must.

What will I learn on the RYA Dinghy Instructor course?

The course covers all things Instructor, in short, you will learn everything you will need to start you on your journey as an RYA Dinghy Instructor. You will cover teaching beginners and more advanced students both afloat and ashore, in double-handed and single-handed dinghies. You will also look at how to make this all happen and what you (the Instructor) will need to do, and think about to keep it all safe, whilst the students are having fun and learning how to sail.

We hope to set you up with a toolbox of ideas and methods to start you on your way, the learning however does not stop at the end of the course. Each student and day are different so you will learn continuously as you teach more and more.

Will I have to demonstrate my teaching skills during the course?

Yes, you will, although your first go at it will not be the best session you will ever run. It is however the starting point. As an Instructor this is what we do, but the first try often feels a bit strange. We will help you to grow as an Instructor throughout the course, hopefully by the end of the course standing up in front of a group will feel normal. We give you structures and help to do this and will always do what we can to allow you to learn in whatever way suits you best. Remember we have all been through the Dinghy Instructor course, so we have made the same mistakes and had a similar learning journey to the one you are on.

What are the potential outcomes of the course? Is it a Test?

The course has three possible outcomes for the student;

OUTCOME 1: “Pass”. This simply means that you have demonstrated everything that we need to see during the course to a level where we are happy for you to go and do it for real under the guidance of an RYA Senior Instructor.

OUTCOME 2: “Action Plan”.An action plan is used where we may need to extend the course for any reason. This could be to allow more learning in a certain area or if a candidate needs to gain some real-life experience. The action plan is a route to a pass, as once it is completed to a satisfactory level you will pass. Action plans are set up for the individual and no one is the same as another.

OUTCOME 3: Fail, this is highly unlikely as if you have made it onto the course you have shown that you have the base level of what is required. Fail is the result if people show a poor attitude on the course or simply do not engage with the course and do not improve through the process. If a candidate fails, this means that they must retake the course.

The course is not a test, it’s a course where we learn through having a go and making mistakes. It is important that we take onboard our learning both when we make mistakes and when we do something well. The assessment is done on a continuous basis throughout the course in an informal and open way. The course is moderated by another Coach, this is more for you to gain a different perspective on things and to ensure that the course Coach has covered everything they need to. For you it is just another day of the course.

As a qualified RYA Dinghy Instructor what opportunities might there be in the future?

The world is literally your oyster! The RYA Dinghy Instructor qualification is recognised in many countries and RYA Training Centres worldwide. Whether you volunteer at your local cub, are sunning yourself on a beach in the Med, build a career, or get involved with schools, charities or a host of other organisations, I guarantee that becoming an RYA Dinghy Instructor is a very rewarding and worthwhile venture.

You can build up your qualification by adding endorsements, each endorsement allows you to teach in various other types of craft or at higher levels within the National Sailing Scheme. Once you have gained experience as an RYA Dinghy Instructor you can also move up to become an RYA Senior Instructor, overseeing and managing instructors.

Whichever route you take from the Dinghy Instructor course I am sure you will have a lot of fun, personally I have been lucky to teach in various locations abroad and in the UK and have enjoyed every minute of my career.

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