RYA National Sailing Scheme Start Sailing – Level 1

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

This course provides a short introduction to sailing for novices. By the end of the course you will have the basic understanding of dinghy-handling techniques and background knowledge.

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 beginner and an instructor close to you in a safety boat or more likely in a crewed boat with an instructor on board.

It is recommended that all participants consolidate this short introduction with the level 2 basic skills and level 3 better sailing courses as well as practice between courses.


  • 16 Hours split over two consecutive days or a series of shorter sessions

Pre – requisites

  • Experience – None
  • Knowledge – None
  • Specialist Equipment & Clothing – None
  • Age – Generally 18+. We will assess younger individuals based on confidence, attention and accepting instruction, ability on/around water and previous experience prior to accepting them onto a course.

Course Detail


  • Spars and rigging, parts of the sail, sail controls and foils
  • Has wind awarenes ashore
  • Can secure a boat to a trolley

Understands the principles of

  • Wheeling a trolley clear of other boats and overhead cables
  • Launching and leaving the shore
  • Coming ashore and recovery of a boat
  • Can tie a figure of eight knot
  • Can tie a round turn and two half hitches
  • Can secure a rope to a cleat
  • Wind awareness afloat
  • Reaching – sailing across the wind
  • Stopping – lying-to
  • Controlling speed
  • Getting out of irons
  • Tacking – turning the front of the boat through the wind
  • Sailing upwind
  • The Five Essentials
  • Sailing downwind
  • Gybing – turning the back of the boat through the wind from a training run
  • Importance of good communication when manouevring double handers
  • Can perform a basic capsize recovery. Understands the importance of staying with the boat

  • Knows the importance of personal safety, clothing and buoyancy
  • Understands the importance of staying with the boat
  • An awareness of other water users
  • Basic rules of the road – Avoid a collision at all costs, Power/Sail, Port/starboard, overtaking boat, windward boat
  • Visual methods of attracting attention
  • Has an awareness of onshore and offshore winds
  • Sources of weather information and their relevance
    • Effects on sailing location
    • Beaufort Scale
    • Conditions appropriate to ability and sailing location


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

Date/Time Event Book
17/04/2018 - 18/04/2018
9:30 am - 4:00 pm
RYA Adult Level 1 sailing course
Plymouth & Devon Schools Sailing Association, Plymouth Devon

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