RYA National Sailing Scheme Better Sailing – Level 3

Plymouth & Devon Schools Sailing Association RYA National Sailing Scheme Syllabus & Logbook G4 Book Cover Photo

On successful completion of this course you will now be more safety conscious and capable of sailing without an instructor on board in light to moderate conditions. This improver course aims to bridge the gap between Basic skills and the RYA Advanced sailing modules. The course gives an introduction to each of the five advanced modules so that you can decide which avenue of sailing you’d prefer to progress as well as consolidate your earlier learning.

At PDSSA we take this course in a variety of small dinghies. You may be sailing single handed, in a two man boat with another sailor and an instructor close to you in a safety boat or possibly in a crewed boat with an instructor on board.

It is recommended that all participants consolidate their basic skills with the better sailing level 3 course as well as practice between courses.


  • 16 Hours split over two consecutive days

Pre – requisites

Course Detail


  • Understands how to use rig and sail controls to prepare the boat according to different weather conditions and sea states
  • Can check a spinnaker is rigged correctly

Core Skills

  • Can leave and return to a shore, jetty, mooring or slipway in light windward and leeward shore conditions
  • Can recover a man overboard effectively
  • Can use the sail tell-tales effectively
  • Can reef a sail when required
  • Can demonstrate a ‘dry capsize’
  • Understands how to avoid inversion
  • Can sail using efficient and skillful application of The Five Essentials
  • Can tack maintaining boat speed and balance upwind
  • Can gybe maintaining boat speed and balance
  • Can show good use of crew and to best effect
  • Understands when to and the importance of manoeuvre timing

Has theoretical understanding of

  • The IRPCS and can apply them to:
  • Other sailing vessels
  • Power driven vessels
  • Following or crossing narrow channels
  • Action by stand-on vessel
  • Has basic sail-control knowledge to change the sail shape and power


  • The points of sailing
  • The Five Essentials
  • Basic meteorology terminology including the Beaufort Scale
  • Can obtain a weather forecast
  • Can interpret a basic synoptic chart
  • Has awareness of changing weather conditions

Has both practical and theoretical understanding of the following

  • Seamanship Skills
  • Can demonstrate anchoring in various conditions
  • Introduction to sailing in adverse conditions
  • Centreboardless sailing
  • Rudderless sailing


  • Race Skills
  • Has knowledge of the simplified World Sailing (ISAF) Racing Rules of Sailing
  • Can start and finish a simple race
  • Can choose the best route to sail around a course, depending on conditions using The Five Essentials


  • Day Sailing Skills
  • Has basic chart orientation including cardinal and lateral buoyage systems
  • Can take bearings and measure distances on a chart
  • Understands the effect of tide and wind direction on sailing conditions
  • Can use a local tide table
  • Can follow a pre-planned route


  • Spinnaker Sailing Skills
  • Basic introduction to spinnaker handling as crew or helm including rig, hoist and rop


  • Performance Sailing Skills
  • Basic introduction to trapezing with instructor on the helm
  • Introduction to better hiking technique


There’s not much that you’ll need to begin with.

We can provide you with a wetsuit, spray top and buoyancy aid. Our sizes range from Junior Extra Small to Adult Extra Large.

We will expect you to bring the following items:

  • Swimsuit to wear under a wetsuit
  • Rash vest or thin T-shirt to wear under a wetsuit if your swimsuit doesn’t cover the top half
  • Wet shoes such as wet suit boots, dinghy boots, old trainers which give rugged foot protection. We have found that open toe footwear and crocs are not suitable as they either fall off too easily, have no grip when wet or could lead to serious foot injury. Garden wellies are not suitable for sailing courses either
  • Towel and wash gear to shower and dry afterward if required.
  • Food and drink. Most of our courses run over two full days so bring enough to eat and drink each day. It’s a good idea to take a drink bottle afloat. These can be carried in an accompanying safety boat for you.
  • Sun glasses if it’s bright…make sure you have a retaining strap too.
  • Hat, beanie or cap especially on very sunny or cooler days.
  • Sun protection lotion. We recommend a water resistant lotion with a SPF50 rating.
  • Enthusiasm to learn!!

Optionally a pair of sailing gloves to protect your hands and fingers would be useful and helps protect your hand and fingers from blistering when wet and working with dinghy sheets, lines and other ropework. These are relatively cheap and can be purchased on-line or locally at one of the boat chandleries.

Sailing is a physical sport but has many facets.

If you’re getting in it to win it the fitter you are the better. You’ll be able to sail some very extreme sailing boats with adequate training and experience.

However if you’d prefer a more sedentary pace your fitness level will be fine as long as you can safely move from one side of a small, moving boat to the other.

Yes we run regular RYA Sailability sessions where you can learn to sail in our adapted boats. We have a crew-lift hydraulic electric hoist to help you in and out of the boats.

Of course if your ability means you are able to move around and you can get from one side of the boat to the other safely then our larger regular boats are there for any of our standard sailing courses.

We’d obviously love to have a chat with you first to gauge the best options but are sure we can get you afloat.

We prefer Cash, Cheque or bank transfers in payment for courses. We currently do not have the ability to take payment by card.

Payment by Paypal is also possible by special arrangement with the centre manager. An additional fee is payable to cover the additional transaction costs we incur from Paypal.

Our Address is

Plymouth & Devon Schools Sailing Association
Boathouse 17
Madeira Road
The Hoe

Plymouth & Devon School's Sailing Association don't use sat nav post code to find us iconWARNING: Don’t use the postcode on a sat nav to find us….you won’t !!

You’ll find us at the southern end of the Barbican Wharves between the Barbican Landing stage, The Old White House on the end of Pheonix Wharf and Elphinstone car park. All of this below the south eastern quarter of the Royal Citadel. Check us out on the map here and on our contact page.

Course Dates

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