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Commodore Yachting Staff, RYA Instructors and Yachts.

Commodore Yachting is a RYA Sailing school based at Gosport Marina located in the historic Portsmouth Harbour. The company offers all RYA Sailing Courses and Solent Yacht Charter.

Commodore Yachting was started in 1999 by Stuart Cooper after leaving the Royal Navy. Drawing from a lifetime of experience on the water and a passion for sailing he built the company from one yacht to its present size with seven company owned Bavaria yachts and two yachts on management.

Stuart is meticulous about maintaining the highest possible standards both in the maintenance and preparation of the yachts and the experienced instructors employed to teach both theory courses and practical sailing courses.

“We cannot control the wind, tides and weather of course but our years on the water mean that we can take advantage of the conditions or at least minimize their effects ensuring that safety is always paramount whilst at the same time learning and fun are top of the agenda”

Commodore Yachting

All safety equipment and procedures are frequently updated, overhauled and inspected by the RYA.

Commodore Yachting has a team of full time staff as well as a small number of highly experienced freelance instructors. We are as committed to training our staff as well as RYA sailing school students. All employees have the opportunity to learn to sail or further their RYA training. Our freelance instructors are also experienced RYA Instructors, we tend to use a small number of instructors who have worked with us for several years.

What RYA Course Students have said about Commodore Yachting

Going from a complete beginner to very confident, would highly recommend Commodore to anyone! Stuart and Karen run the show very well, Simon the instructor shared his vast experience in a friendly, patient but thorough manner making sure we were confident when the tests came around! Gave me loads of great advice and ideas, I can now see sailing becoming a great passion of mine!

The Team

School Principal

Stuart Cooper YMI Instructor / Examiner (Sail and Power)

Stuart Cooper is Principal of Commodore Yachting and Senior instructor. As a YMI and RYA Examiner he is well placed to advise students and help them choose the right training. He teaches many of the more advanced RYA sailing courses but will often be seen out on the water on a Start Yachting course or teaching Day Skippers.

He has a wealth of knowledge about sailing and yachts. At the end of the season he applies this to his own yacht where he can often be found down in the bilges or at the top of the mast.

Principal - Stuart Cooper
Principal - Stuart Cooper

Karen Key – General Manager

Karen runs the office as well as everyone’s diaries and if you contact us the chances are that she will answer the phone or your e-mail. She loves sailing and describes herself as a enthusiastic and dedicated crew capable of knowing when things are not right!

Usually you will find her in the Commodore Yachting office but she has been know to escape to warmer climes in the winter with the company laptop.

Nick Hopwood

Nick Hopwood YMI – Chief Instructor

Nick is life long sailor, having first sailed in Portsmouth Harbour before fibreglass boats were invented. After moving to West Wales,  sailed with family, school, and Sea Scouts, (and gained a passion for Welsh rugby).     A few years passed, for career reasons, before Nick moved back to Hampshire and resumed sailing in the Solent area in the early 90’s, becoming an Instructor in 2009.
In his spare time, Nick enjoys sailing with his wife on their own boat, is actively involved with Lymington Town Sailing Club, and an RYA Race Official. He has a keen interest in expanding participation through schools, and provides voluntary support for Project Scaramouche, an inner London initiative which has attained major success.
Nick is also a Powerboat Instructor, and a commercially endorsed Yachtmaster (Motor Cruising).
Nick firmly believes that the reason for sailing is for fun and aims to make courses enjoyable.

What students have said about Nick:

I had a wonderful time, very nice crew and the instructor was extremely helpful and informative and found many ways of testing my capabilities and helping me to improve on the things I struggled with.

Luke – Day Skipper Theory and Practical course, June 2018

Nick was excellent – great balance between learning and enjoyment, loads of fab tips.

Dave – Day Skipper Practical course, May 2018

Nick was a very calm and patient instructor and took a great deal of effort to make sure that each member of the crew achieved their objectives. English was not the first language for two of the crew and this sometimes lead to a little confusion but Nick dealt with this carefully and patiently. I certainly came away with an increased understanding of the qualities needed to be a successful skipper.

Allan – Day Skipper practical, April 2018

Luke Steyn

Luke Steyn – Bosun

Freelance Instructors

Mark Cam

Mark Cam – Yachtmaster Instructor

‘Mark started dinghy racing on the Hamble over 40 years ago. Now a freelance Yachtmaster Instructor, he also teaches Powerboat Courses and is a RYA Keelboat Race Coach.
When not teaching he tries to find time to sail and race his fleet of boats (last count 5) ranging from a Nicholson 30 to a Foxer dinghy.
Whether teaching in the Solent, skippering a Fastnet Campaign or dinghy race there are never two days the same on the water!’

What students have said about Mark:

Mark was a great instructor, crew, boat & Commodore team were all brilliant, will definitely be back!

Oliver – Competent Crew, August 2016

We all had a great week and ended a real crew. Mark was an excellent instructor. My granddaughter Elisa 17 said it was her best week ever!

George – Family Instructional Charter, July 2016

Peter Vogel - Cruising Instructor

Peter Vogel – Cruising Instructor

Peter began sailing Enterprise dinghies in Jersey in 1985 and has been involved in sailing ever since.
Since 2011 Peter has worked as a cruising instructor and shorebased instructor, he has sailed extensively in Greece as a flotilla skipper and a base manager; he’s also sailed in the UK, Baltic, New Zealand, Spain, Portugal, Italy, Croatia, Turkey and Biscay.
In a previous life he was in the Jersey police CID, and in a previous previous life toured the U.K. and Europe as a musician working with Shane Richie, Brian Connely, Stan Boardman, The Nolans, Ben E King, Bobby Davro…to name but a few!

What students have said about Peter:

 

Big thank you to Pete! He made the course what it was and we could not have asked for a better instructor. Ten out of ten for the super star skipper.

Annie – Competent Crew, November 2017

Everything was great!!!! It was one of the best experience in my life. All staff were very kind and helpful. Especially, our instructor Peter was so kind, responsible and dedicated teacher during the whole course. You are the best teacher, Peter. Hope to see you again soon.

DJ – Competent Crew, October 2016

John Hoplins - Cruising Instructor

John Hopkins – Cruising Instructor

John has over thirty years’ sailing experience. He owned and ran his own Yacht Charter Company and Sailing School for ten years, and has taught sailing with many Solent Sailing Schools as well as the Joint Services Sailing Centre. Prior to this he worked in IT, as a Project Manager for many years and has also owned and ran his own Hotel.  Since then, in conjunction with a disabled friend, he developed and built an innovative new mobility system for disabled people.  Alongside all of this, he served in the Territorial Army (Royal Signals) for nearly 30 Years.  He lives on the Isle of Wight, and comes over to us to pass on his sailing knowledge and experience, in his own calm and confident manner, and to spirit you away to the Island he loves.

What students have said about John:

I’m sure you hear this every time but John was great. He provided the right amount of support whilst letting us get on with sailing and passage planning etc. And he’s not too shabby at cooking either 🙂 Can’t recommend him enough… Thanks Nick

Nick – Milebuilding Cruise May 2018

Instructor very very very good, well pitched, excellent explanations, relaxed but safe, informative, great weather conditions (sure that was not anything to do with instructor though) Brilliant course

Christopher – Day Skipper May 2016

John was superb. Very calm, made us think for ourselves,…an excellent preparation for taking the responsibility of skipper on our own. Thank you very much.

Jonathan – Day Skipper May 2016

Chris Ryan

Christopher Ryan – Yachtmaster instructor, RYA Yachtmaster Examiner.

Chris teaches the complete RYA sail cruising syllabus from total novice to exam preparation He has many years experience sailing and instructing along the South Coast / English Channel.

As a one-time manager in the construction industry involved with large scale prestigious projects, Chris believes that sailing provides real opportunities to apply management skills, such as Risk Assessment, Team building and Problem solving  in the real world where nature and the elements rule!

Chris aims to apply instructing techniques to suit the individuals within the group in a relaxed fun way to suit different learning styles. There is a relaxed but important emphasis on the RYA syllabus and the principles leading to the prestigious RYA Yachtmaster qualification.

Richard Tarr

Richard Tarr – Yacht Master Instructor and Examiner

What students have said about Richard:

Jen –Day Skipper,  May 2017

“I was really impressed with our instructor and how he dealt with teaching people of different levels and integrated everyone in the process. The course was extremely enjoyable and we’re looking forward to planning the next once we gain more experience. Please pass on our heartfelt thanks to Rich for making it such an enjoyable week!”

James Vineer - RYA Cruising Instructor

James Vineer – Cruising Instructor 

What students have said about James:

Dave – Day Skipper –  May 2018

“James was excellent, very knowledgeable, calm and always reinforcing our learning. I work as a trainer / coach and his approach was exemplary”.

Paul Molyneaux

What students have said about Paul Molyneaux

Paul our instructor was fantastic and went the extra mile time and time again to help learn, bring sailing to life and encourage everyone on the boat. I would say Paul was a great asset to any sailing organisation, business and student learning the ropes.

Pete – May 2018

Barrie Hampson First Aid Instructor

Barrie Hampson – First Aid Instructor

Barrie went to sea as a Junior Seaman 2nd Class in the Royal Navy in 1965. He served in the Royal Navy and Royal Naval Reserve until 1992 leaving as a Chief Petty Officer Mine Warfare Specialist, his time was spent mainly on Mine Sweepers and Patrol Boats with a short period on Submarines .

On leaving the military, Stena Ferries, Southampton to Cherbourg was his next job where he eventually became a Bosun. He then moved to the cruise industry in 1997 and was for a short time a Security Officer until he qualified as a Sea Survival Trainer at RGIT Aberdeen whilst working for Airtours-My Travel.

Barrie is qualified as a trainer in both Maritime and Civilian subjects and has considerable experience with international crews.  In 2004 he joined Saga Cruises as their onboard Safety Training Officer conducting both STCW and In-House subjects.

Barrie’s hobbies are as a volunteer Trainer for the British Red Cross where he teaches First Aid to vulnerable groups and is a member of the British Red Cross Emergency Response team. Barrie also attends Rally’s and Charity Drives with his Series 1 Land Rover.

RYA Training Centre

The Yachts

Commodore Yachting own a fleet of 7 Bavaria yachts with 2 further yachts on management. All are available for charter and most are used for teaching RYA sailing courses. You can find out all about the yachts on our Solent Yacht Charter pages.