This is a course for aspiring skippers with some yachting experience and basic navigation and sailing skills. The RYA Day Skipper Practical qualification is the sailing qualification that most charter companies, in places like the Mediterranean, require you to have before chartering a yacht.
You need to have already done a Competent Crew Course or be at Competent Crew level and you need to have completed the Shorebased Day Skipper course or have navigational knowledge to that level before taking this course.
With the helpful instruction and guidance of our instructor you will learn how to skipper a yacht and all that that entails.
Accommodation and food are on board and we will aim to visit a different marina, harbour or anchorage each evening.
We have options to book courses with either 2, 3 or 4 students on board or you can take the whole boat with up to 4 friends plus yourself. We typically welcome a mix of people attending both alone and with friends or a partner.
If your friends/partner wants to do another course, such as the Competent Crew Course they can do it on the same boat at the same time.
Looking for the Theory course? View Day Skipper Theory Course.
Experience being in charge on a yacht, taking credit when all goes well and being responsible when it doesn't. Learn to skipper a short passage with the instructor on hand to give advice and encouragement and ensure your safety.
The RYA Practical Day Skipper Course lasts for five days and like the Competent Crew Course it can be carried out over two weekends (a short and a long) or five consecutive days.
You sleep and eat on board.
Having already done some sailing you will know how good sailing can be for having a break from things. It is a holiday. Expect to finish this course having had lungfuls of freshair, pleasantly tired but at the same time reinvigorated!
Minimum Pre Course Experience: 5 days, 100 miles, 4 night hours.
Recommended Knowledge: There is not time on the Day Skipper Practical Course to cover all the navigation skills required to skipper a yacht, so you need to know these or have done the Shorebased Day Skipper Course in advance.
You also need to have a good basic sailing ability. It will be assumed that you know how to sail to the level of Competent Crew standard.
Course Content: Basic Pilotage, boat handling, seamanship and navigation
Ability after the Course: You will be able to Skipper a yacht in familiar waters by day. Or charter a boat in somewhere like the Med.
The Day Skipper Practical qualification can be used to obtain an International Certificate of Competence (ICC) by sending the certificate to the RYA with an application form.
When you learn with First Class Sailing you’ll have a friendly instructor who’s keen to teach you everything you want to know. You can expect like-minded people and tasty fresh food, and students always learn lots and go home at the end of the course feeling happy and pleasantly tired.
During the course you can expect to be maneuvering the boat under engine on and off pontoons. You can also expect to have a go at planning and conducting a short passage, and you’ll be the one calling the shots before you know it.
Each day of the Day Skipper Practical course is packed with activity. Breakfast is usually at 8am or earlier, depending on the wind and tide. At the end of the day, you will normally be in a marina ready for a hot shower, supper on board, and maybe a quick pint/glass of wine. Sometimes you may drop anchor for the night, other times you may tie onto a buoy. On one evening of the course we typically go sailing in the dark, which is great fun.
You will sail mainly in the Solent. Here is a map of the Solent. There are plenty of places to visit within the Solent without going to the same place twice in a week.
The Solent is a great place to learn to sail and get qualified. There are numerous harbours, bays, creeks, rivers, marinas and anchorages making it ideal to practice a whole range of yachting skills. Because of the large volume of other boats and busy shipping activity, the Solent is always fun and interesting.
The Isle of Wight provides some protection from the worst of the Channel weather, meaning the sea within the Solent can stay relatively flat compared with conditions in the open sea. But at the same time the tides in the Solent provide Day Skipper students with an excellent challenge to their seamanship and navigational skills.
During your sailing course you’ll sleep on board the yacht. There’s typically three double cabins and two single berths which provide accommodation for eight people.
However, there’s only ever a maximum of 2, 3, 4 or 5 students on board plus the instructor depending on the course ratio option that you book.
You will get your own sleeping space be this a cabin or the saloon. You will not have to share a sleeping space with anyone else unless you have booked as a group of friends/family.
Whilst we do have showers on board the yacht, most nights you can use the hot showers and facilities in a marina.
Within the 'fleet' we have a lovely old wooden boat, called Golden Vanity, that you can take your Day Skipper course on. She was built for a marine artist, Arthur Briscoe, in 1908. He used her to capture some of the last days of sail. His work can be seen here. British Museum. On deck she is pretty much as she was over a hundred years ago. Traditional techniques of 'sweating and tailing' are used to raise and lower the sails.
Below decks she has just about everything you would expect on a modern yacht. Hot water, heating, a good sized galley, heads and saloon. She can take 12 but there would only ever be a maximum of 5 students plus instructor and maybe a mate on a course. The accommodation is dormitory style with snug bunks in the forward area of the boat.
If you have never sailed on a traditional gaff rigged boat before it would be best to do one of our introduction to gaff sailing weekends first.
Except for supper on the evening you join the boat, we cater on board for all meals. We provide food that is healthy and nutritious, including salads, vegetables, white and wholemeal bread, chicken, lean minced beef, salmon, muesli and cereal. In fact, just the kind of food that you might buy yourself. For snacks there is plenty of fruit, but also a supply of chocolate and biscuits.
If you have any special dietary requirements, be it vegan, vegetarian, pescatarian, gluten free, or allergies, we can normally accommodate these. Just let us know when you fill out your booking form.
Shamrock Quay is easily accessible by train or car.
Getting to Shamrock Quay
Shamrock Quay is about an 8 minute taxi ride from Southampton Central Station, or 15 minutes from Southampton Airport if you’re flying. If you arrive by car there is plenty of free parking and 24/7 security.
Occasionally a course may start on one of our boats when it is not at Shamrock Quay. It may be very close to Shamrock Quay or in Hamble. We will give you plenty of notice when this is the case.
We find it is better if you arrive the evening before your course starts. This way you can start getting to know the yacht, the skipper and your crew mates before the course really gets under way. It also means that the safety briefing does not encroach on sailing time. If this is not possible then you need to be at the boat by 8.00am on the first day of the Sailing Course.
You can expect to get away by 5/5.30pm on the final day of your course. If you are catching a train we recommend you do not book a ticket in advance as we can’t guarantee you will get away at 5pm on the dot. It may be a bit earlier it may be a bit later.
The Day Skipper Course is conducted on board a cruising yacht (7 to 13m LOA), to teach pilotage, navigation, seamanship and boat handling up to the standard required to skipper a small cruising yacht safely by day in tidal waters with which the student is familiar. The Watch Leader Course is conducted on board a large yacht or sail training vessel, to teach navigation, seamanship and boat handling up to the standard required to take charge of a watch on deck, at sea or in harbour.
The Watch Leader syllabus can be conducted in tidal or non-tidal waters.
Whilst the weather sailing of the south coast is actually fairly mild it is important to have the correct clothing. We provide modern, branded waterproof trousers and jackets free of charge.
Space on a boat is always at a premium, so you should pack your clothes in a soft holdall that can be stowed away in a locker. Bags with wheels or metal buckles should be avoided, as these may damage the woodwork on boats. You will need:
We provide all safety equipment such as lifejackets and harnesses.
Best Sailing School in the UK!"Stefano D, Director
“A group of four of us booked our day skipper practical and theory through First Class Sailing. From the start to finish, they were friendly and professional, making the whole process a very enjoyable experience. Our instructor Graham, was excellent, he made us feel at ease from the moment we arrived at the boat for our first weekend and had a fantastic teaching style; we learnt so much whilst having great fun at the same time. The food supplied was good, boat was new, clean and in good condition. Would certainly use First Class again for any future courses and would recommend without hesitation.”Charlotte E
"First Class Sailing should be your only choice for embarking on any theoretical or practical learning experience you may require. Regardless of previous experience it is defiantly No1. Choice for getting the best start around your sailing experience requirements. "David, Director
"An excellent outfit, well equipped with good boats and brilliant instructors, that is small enough to give a warm personal service but big enough to cope with the full gamut of yachting experiences."Thomas H
“I have completed competent crew, theory/practice day skipper and VHF courses with First Class Sailing. All were conducted to the highest standard, with excellent very experienced instructors. Easy booking online, plus friendly and efficient office support when needed. Will use First Class Sailing again.”Alexander E