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Learn to sail

Learn to sail with Rubicon 3 RYA, ASA and bespoke R3 courses

The Rubicon 3 sailing school delivers RYA and non-RYA training courses

When you’re looking to learn to sail, it’s essential you get high-quality tuition from the start. Rubicon 3 is one of Europe’s top training centres and has the pedigree that few other sailing schools can match, with our skills and techniques honed on our expeditions to places such as Svalbard and across the Atlantic.

This is real-world training, with your sailing course delivered by exceptional instructors with a truly professional approach – and we make sure it’s great fun! We run a full range of RYA courses and where we feel there are gaps in the RYA offering, we also offer a full range of our own bespoke courses, both theory and practical.


Ready to start yachting? This is the introductory RYA course for those new to yacht sailing. It all starts here! You don’t need any prior sailing knowledge. You’ll learn the basic skills such as handling sails and the safety tips needed to sail and become a useful crew member on a sailing yacht.

The RYA day skipper course is for new or inexperienced skippers, with much more emphasis on boat handling. Once you’re RYA qualified, you’ll have the sailing skills, confidence and certificate you need to charter a cruising yacht for future sailing holidays. This is the perfect course for aspiring skippers.

Coastal skipper means a definite step up in seamanship skills and the ability to undertake coastal passages. On this RYA course you’ll be really building your yachting experience and sailing knowledge, along with your miles and experience. After this course, you will have considerable knowledge and skills in sailing.

The most highly respected qualification worldwide, RYA Yachtmaster is the final stepping stone in your sailing qualifications. You’re on your way to becoming an expert sailor and will have the skills to move to larger boats.


A comprehensive introductory course to chartwork navigation meteorology and the basics of seamanship. Invaluable for learning how to start making decisions on board and if you are considering taking the Day Skipper practical course.

Ideal for candidates for the Coastal Skipper practical course & Yachmaster Offshore exam. Some revision of the Day Skipper shorebased course plus more advanced skills in offshore & coastal navigation by day & night, pilotage & meteorology.


Learn how to maintain and conduct essential repairs on your outboard engine. This is a bespoke Rubicon 3 course designed to give you the skills you need for this essential piece of equipment.

A bespoke Rubicon 3 course. Learn to navigate by the Sun and stars on this plain English celestial navigation course. Suitable for beginners and taught by experts in the field who will guide you every step of the way.

An RYA course, but with an extra day of bespoke Rubicon 3 tuition, as we simply do not believe you can learn the necessary skills in 8 hours. Learn the essential skills for maintenance and repair. Taught by an expert Royal Navy engineer. If you own your own yacht or are thinking of boat ownership this course will be key.

A bespoke Rubicon 3 course. Learn the essential marine electrical skills, focusing on 12 and 24v DC circuits. When your lights don’t come on or a piece of equipment doesn’t work, make sure you know what to do. If you own your own yacht or are thinking of boat ownership this course will be key.


The Solent & the English Channel

If you’re going to learn to sail, you need to learn in a place that has all the challenges you will need to learn about. Beautiful and iconic coastline, with strong tides, some of the world’s busiest shipping lanes and endless harbours, ports and anchorages. The Solent and the English Channel is without any doubt THE best place to learn. Don’t go anywhere else.



Cowes is the undisputed home of yachting, but that doesn’t necessarily mean it is easy to navigate! It has a fast Redjet service, car ferries and a chain ferry with limited clearance, all of which have priority over yachts in the narrow channel.

Add in strong tides, a secondary approach route through mud banks, a constant stream of yachts and local laws, meaning you have all the ingredients for the perfect place to learn to sail.

rya course cowes

River Hamble

A contender to Cowes’ title of Home of Yachting, the River Hamble is one of the biggest yacht bases in Europe. Strong tides and numerous marinas mean this is the perfect place to come for a spot of parking practice on your course.

Hamble itself is a picture-postcard village with cobbled streets, four pubs and sailors in every corner.

River hamble sailing course

Newtown Creek

A National Trust bird reserve renowned for its peace and tranquillity, this is a much-loved yacht anchorage in the western Solent. But Newtown is also a favourite on Yachtmaster exams because of the narrow entrance.

Make sure you keep the yacht on transit as you approach between the gravel banks, and don’t roam too widely inside, it gets muddy quickly!

newtown creek learn to sail


No course where you are learning to sail is complete without a night entry up the river Beaulieu. The narrow sector light keeps you and the boat on track across the shallow bar – make sure you get those secondary port calculations right. Once inside the meandering river needs careful navigation because much of it isn’t lit at night.

sailing beaulieu river

The Needles

It’s always lovely to sail by this iconic landmark. The Needles mark the western end of the Isle of Wight and the fierce tidal stream causes dangerous overfalls in the wrong weather. It’s a great place to practise your tidal gate calculations and see the theory put into a real-life situation. If the weather allows, the spectacular anchorage beneath the coloured cliffs of Alum Bay is a gorgeous place to spend the night.

Solent sailing


Small but perfectly formed, Yarmouth is one of our favourite places to stop in the Solent. The busy ferry terminal and strong cross tides at the entrance and unpredictable flow inside the harbour mean you’ll need to be spot on with your boat handling bringing the yacht inside.

For the energetic amongst us, there is a beautiful running trail up the estuary surrounded by salt marshes and wading birds…and for the rest of us, there’s also an excellent pub for a pint after a long day’s sailing.

learn to sail yarmouth

Portsmouth Harbour

The vast natural harbour at Portsmouth has been home to the British navy for centuries and is a mecca for sailing schools. It only has one drawback: it is a small entrance for such a big harbour. Strong tides gush out on the ebb and yachts need to give way to the commercial and naval traffic.

Once inside, the complex network of channels gives us plenty of options on our sailing course: we can pilot up to Port Solent or Fareham, or enjoy the hustle and bustle of Gosport’s busy marinas near the mouth. Before approaching you’ll need to decide whether you can safely cross the swash-way or the inner swash way depending on the tidal height.

rya course portsmouth harbour


This tiny Isle of Wight harbour has a very shallow bar that can only be crossed close to high water by a sailing yacht so make sure you get those calculations right!

The approach is well buoyed but very tight so you’ll need good pilotage and boat handling skills to make it safely inside, but it is well worth it – Bembridge harbour is a world away from the big marinas of the mainland with lovely walks and good pubs nearby.

yacht sailing course bembridge


Technically this wonderful natural harbour is slightly east of the Solent, but we can’t leave it out because it has so much to offer. The shallow bar at the entrance means it can’t be accessed in all conditions b a sailing yacht and you’ll need to decide whether the wind and tide conditions allow for a safe passage.

Once inside there are three different branches to explore. The longest one winds through for many miles inland to Chichester where there is a marina with a lock. However, after practising locking in and out we usually prefer to anchor in one of the more remote locations and row ashore to a country pub.

sailing chichester

Across the Channel to France

As you learn to sail to an ever high level, there is the possibility to sail across the English Channel to France or even the Channel Islands.

This is a serious stretch of water with strong wind and tides, really busy commercial shipping lanes and plenty of other hazards to test the aspiring skipper

France learn to sail

Further information

We know it can be hard to plot your way through the myriad courses, certificates and routes from getting on board a yacht and sailing for the first time.

As one of the UK’s leading sailing schools, we’re here to help you pick the RYA course that’s right for you, right through from competent crew through to you heading off as skipper on your sailing holidays.

We’ll also help you pick the theory courses that are right for you. We’ll also help you with any passport and visa information, current travel health news and generally up to date advice.

We also have a youth sailing scheme for local schools which we will be happy to discuss with you.

Who we are

Blueco Holdings Ltd, t/a Rubicon 3 Adventure
20 – 22 Wenlock Road, London, N1 7GU

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