RYA/MCA Yachtmaster™ Fastrack Syllabus & Programme

The Commodore Yachting “Zero to Hero” course, or more commonly known as the RYA Yachtmaster™ Fastrack programme is a major investment in yourself as a sailor, with the end-goal that you’ll be awarded a professional qualification which will enable you to work anywhere in the world in the sailing industry.

Our programme may not be the cheapest, but it’s by far the most comprehensive and detailed in the industry. We want you to feel you’ve not only gained a wealth of knowlege, but have the confidence, experience and ability to back it up all the way, when and where it matters. For this, we can’t cut corners. We include all the usual courses everyone else does, but we add-in self-sail time, including a more involved look at yachts and how they are constructed, maintained and repaired. We give you all the tools you need to succeed, the rest is all on you to put the pieces together.

So, lets talk about our programme and what we offer that others don’t.

We run the RYA Yachtmaster™ Fastrack programme over 16 weeks, which we feel is the perfect timescale in order to give you the right level of immersion, and that anything you’ve learnt has time to soak-in and become second nature. We’ve structured the programme so every course or event compliments the previous one you completed. We want you to feel it’s one smooth transition from step to step.

We offer a comprehensive “all-included” package for our RYA Yachtmaster™ Fastrack programme, unlike a lot of our competition. We include all the instructor fees, yacht charter costs, RYA and Governing body certification costs, course materials, wet weather kit, and also for things like when you take out a yacht for some mile building as the skipper, we will give you a food budget and it’ll be up to you how you spend it. We don’t like any nasty financial surprises and neither do you, so why should you have any?

We split-up the programme into three modules, all of which are detailed below, with the sea miles and days duration so you can see what you’ll be doing.

Module 1:

Week No.DaysDaysCourse/Event NameSea MilesNotes
Week 1Monday - Friday5RYA Competent Crew200
Saturday1RYA SRC/VHF CourseN/A
Sunday1RYA Sea SurvivalN/A
Week 2Monday - Friday5RYA Day Skipper TheoryN/A
Saturday1DAY OFFN/A
Sunday1/2HALF DAY OFF / Yacht PreparationN/ABoat preparation & victualling for 1800 departure
Week 3Monday - Friday5RYA Day Skipper Practical150
Saturday - Sunday2DAYS OFFN/A
Week 4Monday1RYA Diesel Engine MaintenanceN/ALearn about maintaining and repairing diesel engines
Tuesday1Servicing yacht diesel enginesN/AServicing fleet yacht diesel engines
Weds - Thursday2RYA Powerboat Level 2N/A
Friday1Yacht electrical systemsN/ALearn about yacht electrical systems & repairs
Saturday1Yacht plumbing & heating systemsN/ALearn about yacht plumbing & Webasto heating systems
Sunday1HALF DAY OFF / Yacht PreparationN/ABoat preparation & victualling for 1800 departure
Week 5Monday - Sunday7Mile Building Week400Mile building week for experience

Module 1 brings yourself up to RYA Day Skipper level, with all the essential courses included to give you confidence and knowledge to handle the yacht and her crew, plus deal with issues should they arise.

You’ll now be able to successfully plan, organise and execute passages, acting as the Skipper of the yacht. From here your confidence will build and you’ll grow as a sailor. At this point it’s now time to look at Module 2 and everything that contains, as now it starts to get more complicated and equally, more exciting!

Module 2:

Week No.DaysDaysCourse/Event NameSea MilesNotes
Week 6Monday - Saturday6RYA Yachtmaster theoryN/A
Saturday1RYA First Aid at SeaN/A
Week 7Monday1Marina Skills DayN/AMarina skills & power handling day
Tuesday1Sailing Skills Day20General sailing skills refresh
Wednesday - Friday3Self-Sailing Time100Self-sailing on one of the fleet yachts
Saturday1DAY OFFN/A
Sunday1HALF DAY OFFN/ABoat preparation & victualling for 1800 departure
Week 8Monday - Sunday7RYA Coastal Skipper300
Week 9Monday - Sunday7RYA Coastal Skipper300Repeated, for polishing and further experience
Week 10Monday - Tuesday2MeterologyN/AWeather and conditions
Wednesday - Sunday5Self-Sailing Time200Self-sailing on one of the fleet yachts

Module 2 takes you from your successful completion of the RYA Day Skipper course and moves you up to the next level. This is where we give you plenty of time to build confidence and get out onto the waves, planning and executing your own passages of around 20-30 miles using navigational techniques during the day as well as at night. Now it’s time to go coastal! We then put you through your RYA Coastal Skipper course not just once, but twice. Twice you say? Yes! We think that this course has so much intrinsic value that it’s well worth not rushing it, but repeating it to really bring home the value of the course, and improve your abilities as a Coastal Skipper. Trust me, it’s worth it when we say it’s worth doing twice. This course brings home skills which aren’t often used, but when you need them, they’ll be second nature. Skills like sailing in confined spaces, sailing onto and off moorings and onto mooring buoys, it’s all good stuff and also great fun. This module will help advance your skills nicely, ready for when things get serious!

Module 3:

Week No.DaysDaysCourse/Event NameSea MilesNotes
Week 11Monday - Sunday7Skippered Sail450Series of 60+ mile passages & drills
Week 12Monday - Sunday7Self-Sailing Time300Passages heading east
Week 13Monday - Sunday7Europe Exploration450Exploration week in northern Europe
Week 14Monday - Tuesday2Recap & MaintenanceN/AGeneral review & yacht maintenance
Wednesday - Sunday5RYA Yachtmaster Prep100
Week 15Monday - Friday5Self-Sailing Time200Self-sailing on one of the fleet yachts
Saturday - Sunday2Skills & DrillsN/APop quiz and pressure test
Week 16Monday - Friday55RYA Yachtmaster Prep100Second RYA Yachtmaster Prep week
Saturday - Sunday2RYA Yachtmaster ExamN/AThe pinnacle of all your hard work!

Module 3 concentrates on building miles and experience, allowing you to hone your skills in conjunction with one of our RYA Yachtmaster Instructors™ who will be with you for the first five days. Following that, you’ll be out on your own (with a crew) for the next 14 days. You’ll have the whole of northern Europe at your disposal, so before you depart on your first big adventure you’ll need to plan the journey and show us the skills you’ve accumulated over the previous weeks. This experience is essential as it allows you to gain real offshore knowledge and those all-essential qualifying passages for the final examination. During this time don’t think you are all on your own, as we are still available on the phone 24/7 to offer help and guidance where we can. By this point you should be a fully-confindent sailor and the exam will be a mere formality to you.

A few helpful notes………..

Hopefully the above has whetted your appetite and you are now feverously emailing us to book your space! But lets just hold our horses for a second and consider a few things, as we want the experience to be a positive life-changing event you’ll smile about for the rest of your life.

So, health……. yours mainly.

Lets face it, we aren’t all superheroes and sometimes we don’t look after ourselves as much as we should. Make no bones about it, this programme is demanding, both physically and mentally. It’ll push you, pull you, twist and bend you until you feel you are at your limits and beyond. It’s tough. So, you need to make sure you are up for it, and up to it.

So why not take some time to check in at the gym for a few weeks beforehand, cut out the booze (yes, believe it or not Jonno our resident bar-fly is writing this!), and spend a few weeks (or months) on the good healthy home-cooked food, embracing the salad a bit more and cutting out the take-aways for a while? It’ll all be for the benefit of yourself and you’ll probably feel fitter and more agile at the end of it anyway, but it’s preferable to be in reasonable shape before you start bouncing around the Solent on one of our yachts.

At the end of the day this is a serious qualification and one thing you will need is a medical. The MCA medical requirements are very particular so if you are a physical wreck, you won’t pass it. With mental health as well being in the public eye now (about time too!), you may also need to ask yourself if you are mentally in the right frame of mind for it too. There is no shame in having doubts, we are all human and a chat with us over a coffee is always a good thing. It may make you more determined, or it may make you think another route is best. Either way, we are here to support you through all you sailing career. We want to see you succeed!

So……. give yourself a little love, it’ll pay dividends in the long-run.

Previous experience, and is this right for you?

Acceptance on this course doesn’t require any formal sailing qualifications at all. In fact the more “blank canvas” you are the easier we can mould you into a great sailor as you’ll have no bad habits! We do advise that you have sailed, and that you’ve experienced a few days on a yacht, ideally around 100 sea miles is a good yardstick. This is a serious commitment to make, and isn’t a “pay to pass” course. It’s also not a 9-5 course where you go home at the end of each day, it’s a full-on journey and you need to acknowledge this.

This is why we run an initial taster-weekend, following you paying your deposit for the course. If after that you’ve decided it’s not for you, then no hard feelings and we hope we can help you out with another path or route to get your goal. But, if you’ve decided it’s definitely for you, then lets get going! We operate this weekend as we want everyone to enter into this programme with their eyes fully open as to what it entails.

Books and course materials

This programme is intended to be the most comprehensive learning experience you’ll have in your sailing career. We know we sometimes refer back to our own RYA course books occasionally and so why shouldn’t you? So, with that in mind we include all RYA course books and materials in the programme cost. When you complete the course, those course materials are yours to take away. All you should have is a log-book of some variety with proof of sea mileage or experience. Note that because there are so many good books and reading material out there, we can’t include for everything that might be of use. So what we’ll do is give you a recommended reading list and then it’s your decision as to what (if any) you decide to purchase yourself.

So……where do i sail and where do i visit?

This is the fun part, technically the whole of northern Europe is now open to you, more or less! From our marina base at Premier Gosport Marina, you’ve got the whole of the Solent open to you, along with the stunning jurassic coastline west of Poole to explore, northern France and the Channel Islands. Initially you’ll be Solent-based and by the time you start to undertake longer passages you’ll be more than familiar with every Cardinal, buoy and lighting sequence within it.

The Solent truly is the best place to learn to sail, with all its hussle and bussle, the commercial traffic, the sheer volume of yachts and motorboats on a warm summers day, plus with Portsmouth being the home of the Royal Navy there is certainly plenty to see. Many people say “if you can sail the Solent, you can sail anywhere”, and we’d agree with them, more or less! With its complex wind and tide patterns you’ll enjoy getting to grips with how challenging it can be at times.

Once you’ve gained your RYA Day Skipper qualification and start doing some mile-building sailing, the choice of locations opens up to you.

Providing the perfect springboard for further adventures, the Solent is an excellent base for the distance sailing sections of the programme. With easy access to the Isle of Wight, France, the Channel Islands and north coast of Europe. It also benefits from opportunities provided along the south coast of the UK. The sailing programme is rarely constrained by weather or wind direction and this provides interesting, varied and challenging sailing pretty much all the time.

And finally………….

Hopefully the above has given you a flavour for what the RYA Yachtmaster™ Fastrack programme is all about. There is a lot to take in and it’s not a decision which should be taken lightly. It’s an investment in you, and that investment needs a lot of input, dedication and guts to achieve. So, ask around, speak to likeminded sailors, friends, family, even us! We love to chat about all kinds of sailing shenanigans, so don’t be afraid to pick up the phone anytime and give us a call. We are all sailors after all, and us lot at Commodore Yachting are so obsessed we still answer the phones up to 9pm each night and sometimes even later! Don’t be a stranger, give us a shout and lets have a chat with how we can help you achieve the pinnacle of professional sailing!