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Showing posts from tagged with: RYA

Have fun but kept safe

Article by ONBOARD Magazine


Richard Falk RYA

How much legislation is too much legislation? Richard Falk, RYA Director of Training and Qualifications, looks at safety in the yachting industry surrounding the use of Personal Water Crafts

If you are working on the water the chances are that you are not there due to your love for bureaucracy, red tape and government imposed regulation. Most of us accept that some level of regulation is necessary to ensure safety is maintained for both guests and crew. However, it is fair to say that our hope is that regulation is limited to that which is needed, rather than legislation merely for the sake of it.

Very few industries these days work without some form of legislative controls in place. Those that do, have generally managed to achieve a significant level of ‘self¬regulation’. Put simply, where an industry can demonstrate that it is able to safely manage itself and its operation, government is far less likely to feel the need to step in, create a raft of draconian and unhelpful laws and then set about enforcing them. Step back to the early 2000s. Whilst vessels and crew within the yachting industry were already subject to various port and flag state maritime regulations, there was one aspect of the sector that was not. Personal Watercraft (PWCs) had continued to grow in popularity within yachting and by some fluke had, to date, managed to avoid becoming bound in red tape by the maritime world.

As with most things in life that are neither regulated nor able to follow established guidelines or examples of good practice, it was only a matter of time until the train was likely to come off the rails.

It is no great surprise that when you mixed high speed equipment and inexperience together, the outcome was a reasonably steady stream of serious incidents resulting in near misses, injuries and in some cases fatalities. The yachting industry, led by the PYA (now known as the Professional Yachting Association) approached the RYA to seek its help.

The industry was looking for a solution to a problem. It needed something that would allow safe and consistent PWC training on board yachts, whilst at the same time providing evidence that the training had taken place. The training and the associated evidence needed to be credible enough that it would be accepted by a range of port authorities all over the world. Most importantly, the training needed to result in a safe operating environment that greatly reduced the likelihood of accidents and unsafe or anti-social use of PWC’s associated with the yachting industry.

The RYA already had a long history of training people in practical on-the-water activities for many different forms of craft. Some years earlier the RYA had created its own PWC proficiency scheme which had been well received, both in the UK and Europe. Discussions ensued, consultation across the industry was undertaken and in around 2007 the RYA PWC Safety Scheme was launched to the superyacht industry.

Since 2007 the number of superyachts that hold RYA recognition for the delivery of RYA PWC courses has grown to more than 400. That number continues to grow as awareness of the scheme expands and the requirement for some form of evidence of PWC proficiency is enforced more rigorously around the world.

RYA PWC Safety
RYA PWC Safety

What is the RYA PWC Safety Scheme and why is it so popular?
The concept is simple. RYA-trained instructors, a structured training course for students, personal watercraft and supporting safety boat, established safety management systems, carefully controlled certification processes and an annual inspection regime by an RYA inspector. Hey presto! There you have a scheme that has simultaneously had a massive impact on the reduction of the number of PWC accidents, whilst at the same time providing port authorities the world over with confidence that the holder of an RYA PWC Safety Certificate is sufficiently competent to operate the craft within their jurisdiction.

The RYA Training Recognition process is all about quality. The most important aspect of any of the RYA Training schemes is the training that each and every RYA instructor must undergo before they are qualified to teach. Potential PWC instructors are no different. They should ensure they have adequate experience on PWCs themselves before putting themselves forward for training as an instructor. Once trained, the instructor can take charge of responsibility for the delivery of RYA PWC training on board the yacht.

Prior to RYA Training Recognition status being granted to the yacht, the crew member on board who has been designated to take responsibility for the RYA Training activities will need to have carefully prepared risk assessments, operating procedures and various other documents to support the proposed training. Once all of this is done an application for RYA recognition can be submitted and an inspection arranged.

The inspection process is of course intended to ensure compliance with the necessary high standards of RYA Training. However, it is also intended to provide the opportunity for the on board instructors and any other relevant crew to seek input from and ask questions of the inspector, all of whom are RYA Instructor Trainers and have a wealth of knowledge to share.

Following an inspection there may well be some further actions required to iron out details, but generally speaking RYA Recognition can usually be granted very soon after an inspection has taken place. From then on, training materials and certificates can be ordered and delivery of training for guests can commence. In order to maintain RYA Training Recognition status the yacht will need to undergo an annual inspection of its RYA PWC operation, during which time compliance is again assessed and the instructors provided with further opportunity to gain valuable knowledge from the inspector and, access updated materials on an ongoing basis.

What does the guest see?
The training is all about the guest and how to teach them practically what they need to know to safely use and enjoy a PWC in the context of the yacht from which they are operating.

Training will begin with a good explanation of the equipment whilst on board the yacht and a safety briefing outlining the key DOs and DON’Ts. From there it is time to go afloat with the instructor and a small number of guests to first demonstrate and then allow practice under supervision of the various key aspects of PWC operation.

The instructor is able to use his or her discretion as to how long the session or sessions need to be, which will usually be determined by the number of guests involved and the speed with which they pick up the necessary information and skills. As a guide however, courses are a minimum of 1 hour but may take a little longer depending on a variety of factors. The emphasis is on safety whilst at the same time keeping it fun. Once completed, the guest will be issued with a plasticised photo certificate that can be carried whilst afloat for presentation to authorities. The certificate is valid for the duration of the guests time aboard the yacht.

Thinking of adopting the RYA PWC Safety Scheme? If you would like to know more about gaining RYA Training Recognition for this incredibly popular and useful scheme.

For more details: email recognition@rya.org.uk
or visit www.rya.org.uk/training


Article by Claire Griffiths



As crew hunker down during the coming months, waiting for spring, some will grab the down time quiet and invest well-earned summer cash in training to boost the chances of a climb up the next rung in their careers. With this in mind, ONBOARD scurried off and tracked down members of the teaching wing of the yachting industry: to get a proper overview of what kind of training is available, for any crew, at any level in their career path: anywhere, anytime. It turns out the training landscape is rich, extensive with a variety of learning options to pick.

Warsash School at Solent University

Lars Lippuner is Head of Commercial Operations at Warsash School of Maritime Science and Engineering, based at Solent University, Southampton. This is the home of the Warsash Superyacht Academy. Warsash School has a history of maritime teaching dating back 70 years and it was Warsash that, right at the beginning, led the development of the MCA Yacht Certificate of Competency syllabus and assisted other training bodies in the early days. The Academy offers higher education, MCA-approved certification and training for superyacht crew, officers, captains and shore-side professionals. Explains Lippuner who formerly

headed up the Superyacht Academy but now plays a more commercial role within the university, “We have over 200 courses including entry level, STCW safety courses, Certificate of Competency for Yachts or Small Vessel and Unlimited certification, bridge and engine simulation courses, yacht handling on scaled models, yacht and powercraft design, maritime business and international management degrees. Over the years we’ve have developed a number of courses for every possible crew level. This is still a growing industry and the level of on board competance has increase massively over the past 10 years, driven by the governing bodies and other regulatory authorities.”

Solent University is in fact the only maritime university in the UK to offer courses all the way from entry level to PhD. Warsash has up to 10,000 professional short course enrolments each year. Says Lippuner, “We are currently in the middle of an unprecedented £43 million investment in new maritime training facilities to ensure that we continue to deliver to the very highest standards.”

Learning technology in the class room is state of the art and includes Virtual Learning Environments (e-learning) plus a wide range of specialist facilities and equipment including: a maritime simulation centre, the UK’s largest and most comprehensive simulation suite with bridge, engine room, liquid cargo operations simulators, vessel traffic management, dynamic positioning, radio communications, and crane simulators; a manned model ship handling centre (the only one in the UK and one of five in the world, comprising a 20-acre site with a purpose-built lake and a variety of scaled ship models to hone the crucial skill of slow-speed ship handling; an extensive fire school and maritime survival centre (for merchant navy training and safety training for the offshore oil and gas sector). Other specialist facilities include; a towing tank, a composites lab, marine engineering workshops and marine electro-technical labs.

All the required training and sea-time to become an officer of the watch is provided during the three year course. “We see more sixth form colleges and schools offering STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) engineering focussed subjects which benefit those who may want to start working straight away on superyachts and gain their sea-time whilst learning the skills required as an engineer or on deck to follow the Officer of the Watch limited certification. Says Lippuner, “Training purely to pass an examination is a very dangerous thing. Learning can be defined as an alteration in long-term memory. If nothing has altered in long-term memory, nothing has been learned. However, simply coaching students to pass exams will not lead to very little long-term learning and is thus dangerous to the students and the wider industry alike. All schools should thus be driven by a desire to provide effective learning and teaching.”


He adds that the industry and its practices constantly evolve and it is important that formal courses and assessment evolve alongside. “This can only be done,” continues Lippuner, “in close collaboration between the regulator, the MCA, and industry representative bodies, such as IAMI (International Association of Maritime Institutions) or others.”

In order to keep up with the changes Lippuner sees a two-pronged approach as an effective practice: One hand continues to work with the regulating bodies to ensure the right assessment is up¬to-date and in place. On the other hand work within the industry to define the self-imposed standards it wants to adhere to. The latter should extend beyond safety related issues advises Lippuner.
The Royal Yachting Association (RYA) is another source of traditional seagoing training. Its network has an international reach with around 2,400 training centres in 58 countries and 250,000 people take training with the RYA each year.

Training to suit the super yachties can include the RYA Powerboat Level 2 and RYA Tender Operators courses that equip crew members with the skills needed to safely operate tenders and to transfer guests to and from the yacht. Both of these courses were developed by the RYA in conjunction with the superyacht industry; great examples suggests Richard Falk RYA Director of Training and Qualifications, of the way the industry has set the standards for safe operations rather than waiting for the regulations to catch up. The shore-based courses cover everything from marine radio operation to navigation, providing the underpinning knowledge needed to operate small craft and progress through the ranks.

Crew can also qualify as RYA Personal Watercraft Instructors, which will then allow the yachts on which they work to become recognised for the delivery of the RYA Personal Watercraft Safety course – perfect for getting their guests safely afloat. Explains Richard Falk, “RYA Yachtmaster™ Certificates of Competence can be commercially endorsed and used in their own right for Deck Officer or Masters on smaller yachts, or as a starting point for those looking to progress through the MCA Large Yacht qualification framework.”

Falk would like to see a more proactive approach to onboard training and development for existing crew. For example, he thinks onboard opportunities and mentoring programmes led by experienced Skippers and Deck Officers are useful in helping to develop and retain crew, as well as ensuring they are better prepared for when they eventually put themselves forward for exams for certificates of competence. He adds, ‘Whether it’s involving them in passage planning, or tutoring them in the handling of large tenders, crew will always benefit greatly from assistance in developing their knowledge and skills.”

Ted Miley is the Principal at Ocean Training based out of Cheltenham in the UK but you don’t need to know that or go there because all of the courses on offer are provided by distance learning online. These include MCA approved courses such as: MCA OOW Navigation & Radar (Yachts under 3000gt), MCA General Ship Knowledge (GSK), MCA Master 200, RYA Yachtmaster and RYA Yachtmaster Ocean. Says Miley, “All our courses are done via Distance and Blended Learning and the courses include high quality course modules and over 370 animations which enhance the learning and allow our students to get high pass grades in the final MCA exams. The students also get 12 months to learn so that they can fit the courses around the rest of their lifestyle. All our online tutors are Master Mariners so the students work with the best!”

An obvious choice for anyone looking to avoid college fees or accommodations costs, Miley explains the main aim of Ocean Training is to get students qualified so that they can rise up the ladder in the superyacht industry and become Captains. He adds, ‘“Ocean Training Online provides very high quality training courses for both MCA and RYA theory courses. Our students are based worldwide and have the benefit of studying at home or at sea in their own time and at their own pace.”


Former Chief Stew Hazel Anderson set up the yacht interior training school, VIP Training School at Palma, Majorca in 1997. The school offers training for interior crew that range from introductory programmes for newbies as well as courses for those looking to advance their careers in food service with courses in food hygiene, wine, floristry, valet services, sewing, housekeeping and laundry. Explains School Director Anderson, “I personally worked on yachts for a total of 17 years therefore have first hand knowledge and understanding of the skills required of yacht stewardesses as well as the issues that they have to deal with.” The courses have specific learning outcomes, for example, how to arrange and care for flowers and plants, but Anderson is quick to point out that the courses also aim to teach crew how to function well as a team member and as a stewardess.

She adds, “Our courses follow the GUEST Program and as such are regulated by IAMI. This programme was designed by people working in the industry, at the request of those the industry serve. They are tailored to ensure students are equipped with the information necessary to perform their role at sea, as well as raise the standards for the yacht owners.

Training for an hour, a day or a week, every little bit of time taken to study and learn adds lead to a weighty and satisfying career path. Combining this with first-hand mentoring on the job will put crew in the driving seat of their next moves.