RYA Basic Skills and Better Sailing combined

3 days

The course

A 3-day RYA course leading you to sailing a boat independently and understanding the principles of better sailing and self-dependence. It combines RYA Basic Skills (Level 2) with RYA Better Sailing (Level 3) and so requires experience equivalent to RYA Start Sailing (Level 1) before beginning this course. The course covers safety, launching, returning and sailing upwind and downwind on all points of sailing, in light and strong winds as well as different methods of recovery from a capsize.

Teaching method

We will get on the water as soon as is safely possible to familiarize you with your boat and to review your knowledge gained from a Start Sailing course (or equivalent). We will pass the steering to you and begin the progression to better sailing. We use the RYA method for two-handed dinghies for all students but can switch to single-handers or keelboats as soon as you and we are confident of your skills.

Course and session timing

Course duration: 3 days in total (it can be run as 6 half-days) and combines the Basic Skills and Better Sailing syllabi, avoiding 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 Basic Skills (also know as Level 2) syllabus (the second course in the RYA progression for adults or older juniors (usually 14+). Students must be confident in and around water and have the skills from a Start Sailing (or Level 1) course. Check with us if in any doubt to your experience or comfort levels in a small dinghy (or catamaran / keelboat). Aspiring keelboat and catamaran sailors who have a certificate or skills equivalent to level 2 (dinghy) can take this course directly.

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)


all elements of a Basic Skills course plus:

  • Rig set up and sail controls to prepare the boat according to different weather conditions and sea states
  • Leave and return to a beach, jetty or mooring, including windward and leeward shore in simple conditions
  • Better Sailing Techniques and Manoeuvres – adjusting the centre board, sail trim, crew weight and route to sail depending on conditions
  • More efficient sailing developing a more skilful technique in different classes of boat and using tell-tales
  • Taster elements from the advanced modules such as: basic gennaker handling, trapezing or starting a race
  • Advanced sailing theory and background
  • Basic meteorology – Beaufort Wind Scale and awareness of changing weather conditions

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.