RYA Competent Crew

Practical course

RYA Competent Crew course


Sunsail’s RYA Competent Crew course aims to introduce the complete beginner to cruising under sail, equipping novice sailors with the skills required to be an active and useful crew member.

The course is completed over the course of five days, with 100 miles at sea and four hours of night sailing. In the UK this course can also be taken over consecutive weekends (one two-day and one three-day).

The course gives students a sound knowledge and understanding of the yacht and all the basic sailing techniques including rope work, mooring up and casting off.

Where to take this course with Sunsail

Tortola, BVI

Portsmouth, UK

Agana, Croatia

Lefkas, Greece

Whitsundays, Australia

Why take this course with Sunsail?

The Sunsail RYA Competent Crew course introduces complete beginners to cruising under sail, and gives them the basic skills they need to help crew the yacht.

Although you have the option to familiarise yourself with the basics of yacht sailing prior to the RYA Competent Crew course, it is not a requirement to have any previous sailing experience.

Upon completion, you will have sound knowledge and understanding of the yacht, including basic rope work, mooring up and casting off as well as confidence under sail and under power.

Course syllabus

Knowledge of sea terms and parts of a boat, her rigging and sails

  • Understand orders given concerning the sailing and day-to-day running of the boat

Sail handling

  • Bending on, setting, reefing and handling of sails. Use of sheets and halyards and their associated winches.

Rope work

  • Understands:
  • How to tie a rolling hitch, single and double sheet bend, and knows their correct use
  • Can:
  • Use sheets and halyards and their associate winches
  • Handle ropes, including coiling, stowing, securing to cleats and single and double bollards
  • Handle warps
  • Tie the following knots and knows their correct use: figure-of-eight, clove hitch, bowline, round turn and two half hitches, and reef knot

Fire precautions and fighting

  • Awareness of the hazards of fire and the precautions necessary to prevent fire.
  • Knowledge of the action to be taken in the event of a fire.

Personal safety equipment

  • Understands and complies with rules for the wearing of safety harnesses, life jackets and personal buoyancy aids.

Man overboard

  • Understands the actions to be taken to recover a man overboard and how cold water shock can affect a casualty in the water 

Emergency equipment

  • Can operate distress flares and knows when they should be used.
  • Understands how to launch and board a life raft.

Manners and customs

Understands accepted practice with regard to

  • Use of burgees and ensigns, prevention of unnecessary noise or disturbances to the harbour including courtesies to other craft berthed alongside.

Rules of the road

  • Is able to keep an efficient lookout at sea.



  • The loading rules and complies with them
  • The use and importance of a kill cord
  • Safety equipment for tenders


  • Awareness of forecasting services and where to obtain a forecast and knowledge of the Beaufort scale.

Helmsmanship and sailing

  • Understands the basic principles of sailing and can steer and trim sails on all points of sailing. Can steer a compass course, under sail and power.

General duties

  • Has carried out general duties satisfactorily on deck and below decks in connection with the daily routine of the vessel.

Choose Sunsail

Stunning Sailing Destinations 
Flotilla routes
Types of yachts
44 yrs
Creating holidays
4 hr
Service commitment