RYA/MCA Yachtmaster™ Fast Track Syllabus & Programme

The Commodore Yachting “Zero to Hero” course, or more commonly known as the RYA Yachtmaster™ Fast Track 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 worldwide 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 don’t cut corners. We include all the usual courses everyone else does, but we add-in a lot of 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 on you to practice, practice, practice, and show that knowledge and ability in the Yachtmaster exam.

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

We run the RYA Yachtmaster™ Fast Track programme over 18 weeks, which we feel is the perfect timescale in order to give you the right level of immersion, and that what 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 logical transition from step to step.

We offer a comprehensive package for our RYA Yachtmaster™ Fast Track programme, unlike a lot of our competition. We include all the instructor fees, yacht charter costs, RYA and Governing body certification costs (Yachtmaster Exam fees are not included), course materials, wet weather kit (Not including footwear), and also for things like when you take out a yacht for some self-sail mile building, acting as the skipper, we will give you a food budget and it’ll be up to you how you spend it. We also include accommodation aboard one of our fleet yachts during theory courses (Food not included during theory courses), so the course is truly residential.

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.

What we don’t include:

Module 1:

Week No.DaysDaysCourse/Event NameSea MilesNotes
Week 1Monday - Friday5RYA Competent Crew130
Week 2Saturday - Wednesday5RYA Competent Crew130
Thursday - Friday2Consolidate notes from RYA Competent CrewN/A
Week 3Saturday - Sunday9RYA Day Skipper Theory & Practical 100
Week 4Monday - Friday5RYA Day Skipper practical 100
Saturday - Sunday2Consolidate notes from Day Skipper practicalN/A
Week 5Monday - Friday5Skippered Mile builder200
Saturday - Sunday2RYA Day Skipper Skills 50
Week 6Monday1RYA Diesel Engine MaintenanceN/A
Tuesday1Servicing yacht diesel enginesN/A
Wednesday1Consolidate notes on Diesel enginesN/A
Thursday - Friday2RYA Powerboat Level 2N/A
Saturday1RYA SRC/VHF & ExamN/A
Sunday1RYA First Aid at SeaN/A

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 exciting!

Module 2:

Week No.DaysDaysCourse/Event NameSea MilesNotes
Week 7Saturday - Friday 7RYA Yachtmaster theoryN/A
Week 8Monday - Tuesday 2Time offN/AConsolidate notes and learning
Wednesday - Sunday5RYA Coastal Skipper200High-end sailing & navigation skills
Week 9Monday - Sunday7Self-Sail Time (Charter)300Pure sailing & passages
Week 10Monday - Tuesday 2Time offN/A
Wednesday - Sunday 5RYA Coastal Skipper300Repeated, for polishing & further experience
Week 11Monday - Sunday 7Self-Sail Time (Charter)400Practicing skills & exploring south coast

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 perfectly.

Module 3:

Week No.DaysDaysCourse/Event NameSea MilesNotes
Week 12Weds - Tuesday760 Mile passage week450Assisted Skippered 60nm passages
Week 13Wednesday1Time off0
Thursday 1Diesel engine servicing 0Engine servicing
Friday 112 Volt introduction0Introduction to 12V electrics
Week 14Saturday - Friday7Self-Sail Time (Charter)500Offshore sailing
Week 15Saturday 1RYA Sea Survival 0Liferaft safety and use
Sunday - Monday 2RYA Coastal Skipper Skills 50Review skills
Tuesday - Friday 4Solent Pilotage 120Explore Solent ports via day & night
Week 16Monday - Friday5RYA Yachtmaster Prep100Mock exam
Saturday - Sunday2Skills and drills20
Week 17Monday - Friday5Sailing Time & perfecting skills 100Skills polishing
Saturday - Sunday 2Time off or sailing time N/A
Week 18Monday - Sunday7RYA Yachtmaster Prep and examFinal prep week & exam

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 for some self-sail time (charter). 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. This programme is demanding, both physically and mentally. It’ll push and drive you, but all in the right ways, making you a better sailor for it. 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, 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.

Mentally, you need to prepare yourself for an intensive learning experience, be open minded to learning new skills and gaining knowledge. You need to prepare for the fact that once you’ve gained your RYA Day Skipper practical qualification, you will be self-sailing yachts to build miles, with YOU acting as skipper. A lot of responsibility, but one you’ll be amply qualified for.

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 might not pass it. They aren’t looking for superhuman athletes, but you need to be in reasonable shape. 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 or lots of questions, we are all human and a chat with us over a coffee is always a good thing. 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 a little, 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 at Commodore Yaching 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 self-sail 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™ Fast Track 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 and dedication 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 passionate about sailing we still answer the phones up to 8pm 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!