What age limits exist on RYA Yachting Courses?

04 October 2016

We encourage families to attend sailing courses and jointly explore the fun of sailing in a relatively controlled environment. As in most walks of life, age in itself is no barrier to competence. We ask that children accompanying parents are at least 12 years old or over. Any candidate under 18 must be accompanied by an adult.

There are very many excellent sailors under the age of 16. Unfortunately for them, until they have reached their 16th birthday, the highest RYA yachting qualification they can hold is the RYA Competent Crew Certificate or the RYA Introduction to Yachting Certificate. This apparently arbitrary discrimination may seem unfair to the budding Olympic Champion as he watches much less gifted yachtsmen make obvious sailing blunders he might find laughable. But of course, skippering a sailing vessel has as much to do with managing people and evaluating risk as it has to do with sailing skill. 

For much the same reason that Lewis Hamilton was not deemed old enough to hold a licence to drive a car on the road at 16, even the most competent 16 year old yachtman may not hold an RYA Day Skipper Certificate until their 16th birthday.

Of course, this does not mean that a budding Ben Ainslie cannot compete in dinghy or yacht racing in the UK before their 16th birthday, nor study for and pass the RYA Day Skipper and Yachtmaster Theory Courses, as well as courses leading to the RYA VHF and First Aid Certificates. However, if under 18, we do ask that all candidates are accompanied by an adult.

At 16, upon successful completion of the RYA Day Skipper Practical Course, a 16 year old may be issued with the appropriate certificate. At 17, the RYA Yachtmaster tickets become a possibility and at 18 so does commercial endorsement.

Whilst there is no maximum age for obtaining an RYA sailing certificate, mobility and the ability to properly command a vessel is part of the syllabi and examination process and someone suffering poor health or physical impairment is unlikely to be deemed able to take command of a sailing vessel.

For more information or to speak to an RYA course adviser contact us on 07925 784407