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Frequently Asked Questions: RYA Start Racing Course

How much will the course cost including exam fees?

The RYA Start Racing course will cost around £150-£200 (approx $225-$300, or 200-260 EUROS) depending on where you do it and whether your sailing club offers a members’ discount.

What will you get out of this course?

You will learn the basics of racing. Don’t expect to join Jimmy Spithill or Ben Ainslie on the podium, but this is a sensible first step in getting on the podium of your club’s racing series. This will teach you the essentials of sail trimming and devising a course on an upwind or downwind leg of a race around the buoys.

It will also teach the tactics involved in getting to the start line first without penalty and other tricks and tactics to win sea room and position in a race. Racing takes brains as well as brawn, which is why disabled and able bodied, men and women frequently race head to head in sailing – unlike 90% of other sports. A disabled woman with the right tactics can often leave an able bodied man behind in open competition…

What are your limits on passing the RYA Start Racing course?

As stated above, people don’t win national or international championships with this qualification alone. You are however on the first rung of the ladder to learning how to be among the best in your club fleet…

Is the course theory, practical or both?

The RYA Start Racing course is both a theory and a practical course. Though there is no theory exam to sit (unlike RYA Day Skipper or other courses) you will be expected to show your learning in a practical exam.

Where can you take the Start Racing course?

You can do the course in most sailing clubs across the UK, as well as at approved RYA sail training schools around the world.

Can you do it in another country?

Of course, just look for your nearest RYA school.

What level of experience do you need before you can take the course?

If you are under 16 you need to have the RYA small boat Level 3, though can do the RYA Start Racing course with an RYA Dinghy Level 2 if you are over 16. You should be able to demonstrate enough experience and skill to know the basics of dinghy sailing.

What's the duration of the course?

2 days.

What does the course involve?

You should know how to be in good physical condition prior to going out – to have enough food and water for the race. You will learn how to trim your sails during the race. You should know how to work closely as a team, both as a helm and as crew, and how to helm the boat effectively.

You will learn how to read the weather forecast and local water / weather conditions – how to spot a gust coming and how to exploit that to your advantage for example. You will also learn about race tactics, starting well and rounding the marks effectively.

How do I progress after completing the course?

You can consider doing the RYA Intermediate Racing course. Do get some racing experience first – this is not about ticking boxes on paper. The course is about teaching you how to be a better sailor, and you will find that people with lesser qualifications may be better than you, and people with better qualifications worse!

Does it give you international accreditation?

No, but the RYA is respected internationally and you should be able to charter or rent a dinghy in most places in Europe on presentation of this certificate.

Where can I learn more about the RYA Start Racing course?

Look up the RYA syllabus for this course.

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