Learning to Sail with Whitsundays School of Sailing

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Learning to Sail with The Whitsundays School of Sailing

Join us at one of our three sailing courses and learn from a qualified Royal Yachting Association instructor at the best sailing training ground in the world, The Whitsundays.

If you’re interested in learning to sail, our Whitsundays School of Sailing offers world-renowned Royal Yachting Association sail training courses.

The RYA provides globally recognised sailing certificates at various levels, starting from Competent Crew, Day Skipper to Coastal Skipper. These courses are run and recognised all over the world, including in the Whitsundays.

We’re not just offering a sailing course, we’re offering an experience. You will spend five days on a yacht learning how to sail or increase your sailing skills in the world-class beauty of the Whitsunday Islands.

Shute Harbour at Sunrise

RYA courses offered by our Whitsundays School of Sailing

Level 1: Competent Crew, learn to sail basics

Aimed at novice sailors, this course will introduce you to cruising under sail and equip you with the skills to become an active and competent crew member. 

You will acquire a sound knowledge of the yacht and basic sailing techniques including rope work, mooring, and how to help handle a vessel when underway.

All students are taught a range of safety skills, such as the correct procedure for a man-overboard, how to correctly tie knots, how to check the engine, and use the safety equipment and the tender. You’ll also learn how to read charts and plot courses, and how to operate the VHF radio.


  • Minimum 12 years of age (must be accompanied by an adult if under 18).
  • No previous experience

Level 2: Day Skipper Practical

As quoted by the RYA, “An RYA Day Skipper is somebody capable of safely skippering a small cruising yacht, or motorboat, by day in waters with which they are familiar”

This is a practical course designed for sailors with previous sailing experience who wish to take their certification to the next competency level. 

An internationally recognised qualification, the Day Skipper Practical course is highly recommended if you are planning to sail overseas to a destination that requires compulsory certification. You will learn deck work, navigation, and passage planning and finish the course with the confidence to handle a vessel under power or sail.


  • Must be at least 16 years of age
  • 5 days logged sea time
  • 100 miles logged sea time (including 4 night hours)
  • Navigation ability
  • Sailing ability
  • Day Skipper theory course or equivalent knowledge and understanding

Level 3: Coastal Skipper Practical

The Coastal Skipper course is for experienced sailors seeking to increase their theoretical and practical sailing and navigation skills to an advanced level.  This practical course covers all the basics required to skipper a yacht further afield.  On completion, you will be confident in offshore sailing and night sailing.


  • Must be at least 17 years of age
  • 15 days' sea time (minimum 2 days as skipper),
  • 300 miles logged sea time (including 8 night hours)
  • Navigation knowledge to yacht master theory standard
  • Sailing ability exceeding day skipper practical standard.

To find out more practical information on what to bring to the courses please visit our Course Information page.

What’s included with a course through the Whitsundays Sailing School?

RYA courses are five-day, live-aboard courses. They run from Monday – Friday with an option to sleep aboard on the Sunday night before the course and the Friday after the course.

Not only do you end up with a certification at the end, but you'll also have spent a week in paradise with fellow sailing enthusiasts. Heaven!


  • Cabin/Shared berth accommodation for six nights
  • Full provisioning included for the duration of the course (Sunday- Friday)
  • All linen provided
  • Overnight berth at Shute Harbour (start and finish location of the course)
  • Five-day practical course onboard a Jeanneau 44i in the stunning Whitsunday Islands
  • Upon successful completion of pre-requisites and practical assessment, students shall receive their RYA certificate for the level achieved at the end of the course

To learn more about the theory components and the itineraries please visit our detailed sailing school page.

Sunsail sailing school

Costs involved

All courses run for five days and they cost AUD 1,980.00 per person. This includes accommodation on the yacht and catering.

Participants will also need to purchase a coursebook. Prices range from AUD 25.00 - AUD 35.00 and can be purchased through Boat Books Australia or on check-in at the base.

Books needed:
Competent Crew Course: RYA Competent Crew Skills book
Day Skipper Course: RYA Day Skipper Practical Course Notes
All Courses: Yacht-Master Scheme Syllabus & Logbook

Sailing school location

The Whitsundays School of Sailing is located at the stunning Shute Harbour, just 10 minutes from Airlie Beach. Shute Harbour is the perfect location to learn to sail from because of its close proximity to the Whitsunday Islands. 

Learn from a qualified RYA instructor and experienced sailor

Wayne Reed has been an official RYA instructor for 5 years and recently became the Whitsunday School of Sailing's principal. Wayne oversees all of our student's experience and ensures that everything is running ship-shape.

Wayne has completed 5 Sydney to Hobart races and is racing this year (2019) as the navigator of the vessel Eve. Perhaps one of Wayne's most impressive achievements was racing and winning 12 out of the 15 round the world Clipper Races in 2012. Since then, he has remained heavily involved in the worldwide Clipper Race as a paid crew member for all or part of the event.

All of the instructors in our sailing school are highly qualified and experienced RYA instructors. In our opinion, they are the ultimate people to learn sailing from. The style of teaching is completely hands on. You won’t just be watching your instructor; you’ll be at the helm calling the shots. What a great classroom!

Whitsundays sailing school

Tips for sailing school students

For anyone new to sailing who would like to join a Whitsundays School of Sailing course:

  • Read and study your relevant course books and course book information
  • Whilst reading your course books, picture yourself in the situation (even if you have no idea)
  • Practice your knots (these can be practiced anywhere)

Keep up with your practice or sailing miles. You can never get enough experience.

Between your practical courses, it is surprisingly easy to keep practicing even if you don't have a boat.  There are plenty of things you can do while on land to help progress and sharpen up on your skills.

  • Understanding tides
  • Winds and navigation
  • Practice your knots
  • Join your local sailing club


The Whitsundays offer the perfect conditions for learning to sail or upskilling your sailing abilities. Join us at our world-class sailing school in Shute Harbour and learn from our accomplished teachers.



Join us to sail in the Whitsundays. learn to sail and enjoy the freedom to explore

  Contact us 1800 075 000 or sales@rentayacht.com.au