The RYA Competent Crew course is an excellent introduction for beginners. It is the perfect starting point if you have done little or no sailing before, or have spent a week or two sailing with friends in the UK or abroad.
The Competent Crew course is 5 days long and can be taken over 5 consecutive days or over 2 consecutive weekends (a short and a long). Accommodation and food are on board.
For continuity of instruction we strongly recommend taking the course either over a Monday to Friday or over 2 consecutive weekends but we do recognise that this is not possible for everyone. If you click here you can view another option.
You can come and do the course by yourself or with friends. If your friends/partner wants to do the Day Skipper course or the Coastal Skipper course or Yachtmaster Coastal or Yachtmaster Offshore prep course they can do it at the same time you do your Competent Crew and on the same boat as yourself.
This course is ideal if you have done little or no sailing before. You will become a useful crew member and an asset to anyone you go sailing with. Sleeping and eating on board (apart from perhaps the odd evening meal out in a pub or restaurant if you choose!) you will learn lots about sailing, life on board and how fun it is. You will stay at a different marina or anchorage or harbour each night.
Minimum Pre Course Experience: None required.
Ability after the Course: You will be a useful crew member!
Course Content: Basic seamanship and helmsmanship.
The course can be taken over 5 consecutive days or over 2 weekends (a short and a long).
You can expect a friendly instructor keen to teach you everything you want to know. You can expect like minded people. You can expect tasty fresh food. You can expect lungfulls of fresh air! You will learn lots and go home at the end of a weekend or course feeling happy and pleasantly tired.
Each day of the 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 and a trip to the pub by 6pm. Sometimes you may drop anchor for the night, other times you may tie on to a buoy. On one evening of the course you will probably go sailing in the dark to see how fun that can be.
You will sail mainly in the Solent. Here is a map of the Solent. You may go out of the Solent as far as Poole to the West and Chichester to the East but there is 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. At the same time the tides in the Solent provide students with an excellent challenge to their seamanship and navigational skills.
Accommodation during a sailing course is on board the yacht. There are almost always three double cabins and two single berths which provide accommodation for eight people. However, there would only ever be a maximum of five students on board, plus the instructor.
It is very very rare that you will have to share a cabin with someone you don't know, even if you come by yourself. Sometimes two people have to 'share' the saloon. The saloon is a large airy space with the two single berths in, one of which converts to a double. They are on opposite sides of the yacht.
There are showers on board, but most nights you will be in a marina with good hot showers and shoreside facilities.
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, museli, cereal, yoghurt and good quality orange juice. 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, we can normally accommodate these. Just let us know when you fill out your booking form.
Our boats are based in Shamrock Quay, Southampton. Getting to Shamrock Quay is very easy. It's about an 8 minute taxi ride from Southampton Central Station, or 15 minutes from Southampton Airport if you are coming from abroad. If you arrive by car there is plenty of free parking and there is security 24/7.
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 Portsmouth. 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. If this is not possible then you need to be at the boat by 8.30am on the first day of the Sailing Course.
You can expect to get away by 5pm 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 aim of this course is to introduce the complete beginner to cruising and to teach personal safety, seamanship and helmsmanship to the level required to be a useful member of the crew of a cruising yacht.
Knowledge of sea terms and parts of a boat, her rigging and sails
Whilst the weather sailing off the east coast is actually fairly mild it is important to have the correct clothing. We provide state of the art Musto Oilskins that are brand new every year, 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.
What did you like most about about your course? Well-defined and beautifully balanced act between people, didactics and technology. Combo is rarely achieved successfully but it hits the bull's eye! How would you rate the support you received during your course on a scale of 1 to 5 with 1 being very poor and 5 being excellent? 5 no doubt. From the first feedback onwards it's guaranteed you are not alone! I like the way anecdotes and facts are sprinkled occasionally alongside the syllabus, like recent ship wrecks in the Channel, etc. This certainly makes reading more interesting as text books tend to be somewhat drier. Please use any occasion to exploit that approach. That enriches the reader immensely as it is first-hand knowledge in its purest form, and that is certainly difficult to obtain anywhere else. Well done. "LJ,
"The Instructor was an excellent coach and really took the time with our class to ensure we all understood all aspects of the course. He was patient and prepared to take the time to ensure we all had the best knowledge transferred to us. He was an excellent instructor and had a significant amount of detailed knowledge that was most helpful to me and the rest of the class. He is passionate and fully committed to his work and goes above and beyond to ensure you are capable and have a really enjoyable experience learning with him. First Class Sailing are well organised and the logistics, course material and facilities were all top notch "David, Director
"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 am no longer scared of the engine, touching bolts etc."Georgina, Office Manager
"Excellent instructor - gave freely of his experience - very dedicated and enormously helpful."Colin McKnight,
"Professional and effective. Good equipment, taught by knowledgable and enthusiastic professionals."Ron G.,
"The instructor was the perfect balance of show and tell mixed with letting you make your own mistakes safely. (The booking process) was all very professional and friendly. I felt the booking official actually cared about getting my booking right. Friendly, personalised, professional with out being officious. "Andy C.,
"Excellent and I highly recommend to take any of First Class Sailing's courses"Daniel O., Senior Manager
"Best Sailing School in the UK!"Stefano D, Director
"Don't choose courses on basis of price. All courses are not the same. Both First Class Sailing Theory and Practical courses are 'First Class'."Michael T,
"Great practical use of equipment. Good class size. Relaxed. "Hannah T.,
"Good clear explanations and pragmatic approach, was very easy to follow. Excellent instructor."Neil M.,
"Hands on, excellent instructor. Very professional, excellent course, 1st Class Service. "Julian N.,
"Clear and focused on practical needs. "Julein Q.,
"Concise, covered all relevant and necessary material without unneeded extra time. Instructor was friendly, informative and extremely competent. "Troy B.,
"Good level of detail and experience from instructor. "Robert A.,
"Good entertaining tuition. Lots of anecdotes to make it interesting, great practical experience."Nick S.,
"The booking was well handled and the confirmation emails received speedily. Very helpful to receive pre course notes. Professional, helpful, good value. "Sarah R.,
"Friendly informative courses delivered in a relaxed environment by knowledgeable instructors. "Allyson F., Head if UK Retail Marketing, Henderson Global Investors
On the water courses that teach the beginner how to be a useful crew member and the advanced how to cross oceans.
A VHF radio is an essential piece of safety equipment and it is vital to understand the correct procedures.
Shorebased navigation classes that prepare you to safely find your way once afloat.
One day courses that broaden your knowledge and compliment the RYA practical and navigation courses.