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Dinghy Instructor Training

DQSC are pleased to support the training of both adult and junior members to become RYA Dinghy Instructors (DI). The club believes that this provides significant value both to the individuals and to the club.

As a DI, you will be able to support sail training at DQSC under the leadership of the Chief Instructor and supervision of our Senior Instructors.

It is important that you gain as much sailing experience as you can, participating at the club, and demonstrating your sailing skills to the Senior and Chief Instructors. The Chief Instructor Sailing will need to recommend you for the pathway. Juniors will progress onto the pathway by completing their RYA stages, gaining experience on the water in different dinghies and gaining becoming an Assistant Instructor at DQSC.

There is an agreement in place that for a member to be funded by the club for their training, they will need to volunteer for the following:

  • 2 x Junior weeks
  • 3 x Sunday Fundays over 2 years, or the equivalent.
This applies to both adult and juniors going through their DI pathway, funded by DQSC. Each candidate is responsible for funding their own Pre-Assessment course.

The following courses are part of the DI training:

CourseNo of Days
Power Boat level 22 days (in the academic year you are 16)
First Aid1 day
Safe and Fun online course1 day
Pre-assessment course5 days (when you are 16)
Dinghy Instructor course 
Safety Boat course(in the academic year you are 17)

We will ensure that you practice your seamanship/pre-assessment skills during Junior week, and we will give you feedback then as to whether you are ready for the DI Pathway. If you are interested in becoming a dinghy instructor please contact our Chief Instructor Sailing, Sarah Eggleton.

Dinghy Instructor Role

An instructor is a competent, experienced sailor, capable of sailing a training boat in strong winds and handling small powerboats, you will be competent to teach adults and children, beginners and improvers, in small groups, under the supervision of an RYA Senior instructor.


Prior to the course candidates must fulfil the following requirements:

  • Minimum age 16
  • Valid first aid certificate/li>
  • RYA Powerboat Level 2 certificate
  • RYA Online Safe and Fun Course/li>
  • Pre-entry sailing assessment completed within 1 year prior to the instructor training course.

If you are not yet 16, but are interested in training Juniors, you can become an Assistant Instructor.

This is a recognised qualification which allows you to assist DIs with the training, provided that an SI is present.

Pre- Assessment

All potential RYA Dinghy Instructors need to demonstrate that they can sail a dinghy to a good standard and have thorough background knowledge before they start their instructor training course. This ensures that the Dinghy Instructor course provides a platform for learning how to teach sailing, rather than learning how to sail properly.


Most people are more likely to feel relaxed under the spotlight if they are well prepared. You can help yourself relax by spending time with an experienced RYA Instructor or Coach before the assessment to ensure you understand the level of sailing required. Reading previous Wavelength articles and RYA books such as the Advanced Handbook (G12) and RYA Instructor Handbook (G14) will also help you revise the key points. The Pre-entry Assessment is essentially a run through of manoeuvres within the RYA Seamanship Skills course and is valid for 12 months. Being well-prepared and having sailed recently is a great place to start and this will generally be apparent to the Coach/Assessor.

Your chance to shine!

Candidates must always show an awareness of the Five Essentials (sail setting, balance, trim, centreboard, course sailed good). The main exercises that are assessed include:

  • Sailing around a triangular course
  • Typically, this will be the first exercise which serves as both a good warm-up and an indicator that a candidate's sailing skills are in the right ballpark.
  • Sailing a tight circular course
  • This exercise involves making just one smooth tack and one controlled gybe around a free-floating object, such as a safety boat, and helps to demonstrate close-quarters boat handling.
  • Sailing a follow-the-leader course
  • Follow-the-leader covers all points of sail, and requires good speed and control, as well as the ability to maintain distance.
  • Picking up a man-overboard
  • This is an essential part of every instructor's repertoire as it not only displays a good level of control, but it proves that the candidate could safely and get to a student who has fallen from the boat.

Other skills that may be looked at are:

  • Rudderless sailing
  • Lee shore departure and landing
  • Picking up a mooring or anchoring
  • Coming alongside a moored boat
  • Capsize recovery.
Racing skills will not be assessed, and candidates with a predominantly racing background need to remember that a broad sweep of skills, as above, will form the assessment and type of sailing required of an RYA Dinghy Instructor.

Key insights

All exercises should follow the PAME sequence below to demonstrate a safe and structured approach to sailing.

  • Plan: think smart and in advance of the approach
  • Approach: the area to make the manoeuvre
  • Manoeuvre: draw the techniques together
  • Escape: a plan B in case the approach or manoeuvre goes wrong.
Another important consideration is the success rate of a manoeuvre. Like all measures of competence, it's not about doing something right just once where luck could possibly have played its part. It's about demonstrating that you can do it again and again. Achieving success first time every time would be ideal but first time most of the time might be a more realistic objective! The Coach/Assessor will be looking to confirm that the candidate can sail competently in a controlled manner and communicate clearly with any others in their boat. An overall assessment of ability will be made on the day, so poor performance in one area may well be balanced out by success in another.

Essentially the ability to demonstrate safe and competent sailing across a broad range of exercises will give the Coach/Assessor the confidence to recommend that a candidate is ready to take the RYA Dinghy Instructor course and then the journey really can begin!

Dinghy Instructor Training

Training in teaching techniques afloat and ashore is provided during the instructor training course.

The course will be based on a five-day week course.

Candidates will be required to demonstrate competence in course preparation, delivery and management, as well as customer liaison.

Instructor certificates are valid for five years from the date of issue, provided that a valid first aid certificate is maintained.

More details of becoming a Dinghy Instructor can be found in the RYA 'Dinghy Coaching Handbook' (G14).

Last updated 12:35 on 8 April 2024

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