RYA Start Sailing and Basic Skills combined

3 days

The course

A 3-day RYA course enabling you to sail a boat and understand how it works. It combines the first two courses of the RYA system (Start Sailing and Basic Skills) and follows a syllabus which covers safety, launching, returning and sailing upwind and downwind. A capsize and recovery is a key part of this course.

Teaching method

Starting in a small dinghy or catamaran, with one instructor per boat, we will get on the water as soon as is safely possible to familiarize you with sailing. Quickly we will give you a chance to steer and begin the progression to teaching you starting, stopping and turning the boat. We use the RYA method for two-handed dinghies for all students but can switch to single-handers or keelboats when skills permit.

Course and session timing

Course duration: 3 days in total (it can be run as 6 half-days) and combines the Start Sailing and Basic Skills syllabi, avoiding any overlaps. The usual lesson time is 3 to 4 hours mixed between sailing and theory to prepare you for the next exercise. Some of your time will be rigging (preparing the boat) and de-rigging) at the end of the lesson. To ensure maximum learning time, you should come prepared to sail and change before your course starts if possible.

Pre-course experience

This course begins with the Start Sailing syllabus (the first course in the RYA progression for adults or older juniors (usually 14+) who have not sailed before). Students must be confident in and around water and we can accommodate most people, regardless of your normal activity levels. Check with us if in any doubt. We recommend that aspiring keelboat and catamaran sailors complete a dinghy course first, followed by a short conversion course as they will understand better how wind drives a boat, when learning in a dinghy.

How to book

Courses can be booked by contacting the ESS office by email, phone or enquiry form on the website (a button on this page will pop-up a booking form, another button is a general info form)


  • Rigging according to weather conditions and can reefing ashore
  • 5 Essentials: Sail Setting, Balance, Trim, Course Made Good and correct use of the Centreboard
  • Sailing around a short course using all points of sailing and crewing skills
  • Leaving and returning to a beach, jetty or mooring
  • Coming alongside a moored boat
  • Understanding of the ‘rules of the road’
  • Aware of lee shore dangers and sailing in close company with others
  • Man overboard recovery
  • Capsize Recovery
  • Race courses and starting procedures
  • Sailing Theory and Background
  • The dangers of hypothermia and the importance of first aid training, particularly cardio pulmonary resuscitation
  • The Beaufort Wind Scale
  • Importance of personal safety, clothing and buoyancy, boat buoyancy and basic equipment
  • Emergency Equipment and Precautions

Course progression

What's provided

We will provide the boat, instructor and course materials such as an RYA logbook. RYA textbooks covering the activities (and more) can be purchased from the shop. You should bring your own sailing shoes or old trainers for use in the boat.

Other courses

See a course in progress

Please ensure that you read and understand our COVID-19 procedures and the terms and conditions of your course contract with us. Copies of these will be emailed with your course confirmation and are available, laminated, at the beach. You will be asked to sign to confirm that you have read and understood them.