Level 1

Our Level 1 learn to sail course gives you all the basics you need to get your sailing journey started.

Common Questions

Where do we meet?

Main foyer of the Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron, 181 Westhaven Drive.

What should I wear?

The dress code for the RNZYS is closed footwear and no hats, tidy clothes will be fine.

For on the water you can normally just wear active clothes (shorts and t shirt) but you should aslso bring:

  • Warm jumper wool is best in case of cold weather
  • Warm jacket, wind and water proof if possible
  • Thermal top and bottom if possible because of cold weather
  • Sun cream
  • Hat
  • Sunglasses
  • Drink bottle
  • Sailing gloves

Life Jackets are provided, but if you have your own you are welcome to use it. You will be sailing just outside the Yacht Squadron, for up to four hours at a time.

Will I get wet?

Most likely not, but it is possible. It’s always a good idea to bring a change of clothes for after sailing.

What if it's bad weather, will the course be cancelled?

If there is bad weather for one session there will be a theory session, if there is bad weather twice in a course another day will be rescheduled. You will be notified by phone if the course is rescheduled.

Can the boats capsize?

No. Our boats are keelboats and are impossible to capsize.


How much of the course is theory verse practical?

Approximately two thirds of the time is on the water/practical and one third is theory.

Should I do an Elliott 7 or Farr MRX course?

The MRX course is on a bigger and more stable boat, if you are nervous about sailing or around water, don’t want to get wet or are less mobile then this is the course for you. If you are looking at becoming a boat owner then the MRX course deals with more issues around boat ownership and systems on larger keelboats. The coach to student ratio is 1:7 with a qualified skipper as the coach.

The Elliott 7 course is on smaller more responsive boats; this can provide a steeper learning curve, the coach to student ratio is 1:4 with a younger Yachting NZ qualified keelboat coach on board, the course will be overseen our Learn to sail manager. If you are more agile and confident around water this course is for you.

Are the coaches qualified?

For the Elliott 7 course the coaches are senior sailors from the RNZYS Youth Training and Performance Programmes, often these are some of the best racing sailors in the country. They are all Yachting New Zealand Keelboat coach qualified, the course will be overseen by our Learn to Sail Manager who is an experienced coach. For the MRX course the coach is a fully qualified YNZ keelboat coach.

Does RNZYS offer RYA courses?

We run Yachting New Zealand courses YNZ Level 1 seamanship and YNZ Level 2 seamanship; RYA (Royal Yachting Association) is the British equivalent of YNZ. Both are endorsed and recognised internationally by the sailing governing body ‘World Sailing’.

Will I get a certificate after my course?

Provided you pass the course (most do) you will get a YNZ certificate which is Internationally recognised by World Sailing.

How much wind is too much to sail in?

Generally our wind limit is 20 knots, but this also depends also on sea state and other factors.

Should I do any preperation before the course?

You don’t need to but if you want to, checking the weather forecast and tides can help.

Will I be able to skipper a boat on my own after the course?

For a Level 1 course normally no if you had no prior experience. It is very different for different people though and depends a lot on your confidence. After a Level 2 course you will have all the information you need to skipper a boat safely yourself. Either way we do recommend you gain more experience and confidence as a crew before doing any long trips as a skipper.

How do I continue to sail after I finish the course?

We have a lots of frequent and cruising regattas at the club and we can help place you on a RNZYS member’s boat. We can also help you if you are looking to purchase your own yacht.

Should I become a member of RNZYS?

Yes! In fact if you sign up to a course you are already a member as the course includes three months membership to the RNZYS which allows you to use all the facilities at the club. After three months you can decide if you wish to carry on the membership, which we strongly encourage you to do. As well as sailing, the RNZYS offers great dining in the member’s bars and quarterdeck restaurant, rooms for meetings, fantastic social functions, family events, use of Lidgard house at Kawau island and it is an all round great club.