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Sailing Manager

What does a Sailing Manager do?

Sailing managers are responsible for the day-to-day running of a sailing training institution. They also teach people to sail yachts and boats, both at sea and on inland waterways like reservoirs, canals and lakes. They focus on one or more crafts, such as dinghy sailing (small crafts including keelboats and catamarans), powerboat driving, windsurfing, yachting, or cruising (large yachts and sailing vessels with crews).

A sailing manager’s tasks may include:

  • instructing students individually and in groups, using various teaching methods such as lectures, discussions and demonstrations
  • establishing clear objectives for all lessons and projects; adapting teaching methods and instructional materials to meet students’ varying needs and interests
  • monitoring students’ performance to make suggestions for improvement and to ensure that they satisfy course standards, training requirements and objectives
  • making sure that all upcoming training events are planned for and that current training runs smoothly
  • cleaning boats
  • checking that equipment is safe to use and in good working order.

What qualifications do I need?

To become a sailing manager, it is advisable to get a STCW 95 Safety Certificate. This is a compulsory license that permits you to work on any vessel at sea. Recognised and accredited institutions offer training at all levels for those with no experience in sailing. Once the appropriate boating certificates involving theoretical training and practical experience are gained, students can start working under the supervision of a qualified sailing instructor. They can then go on to doing a yacht master’s course.

What subjects do I need?

Contact each institution for their specific requirements, but these subjects are recommended: 
• Geography
• Mathematics


Where can I study?

Yachtmaster Ocean Sailing School
RYA and Other Courses

Tel: +27 82 088 7186

Certified Superyacht Academy
Boating Certifications

Cape Town Sailing Academy
Skipper Certification Courses

Anchors Away Sea School
Skipper Certification Courses

Aqua Academy
Skipper Courses

South African Maritime School and Transport College
Yacht Hand Course

2 Oceans Maritime Academy
Yachtmaster Ocean Graduate Programme

Where can I get more info?

Maritime Law Association of South Africa – www.mlasa.co.za
South African Maritime Safety Authority – www.samsa.org.za
The International Maritime Organisation – www.imo.org


Interview with a Sailing Manager

Luke Wagner | MANAGER | Sail Africa Durban

Luke Wagner | MANAGER | Sail Africa Durban


Why did you choose this profession?
I loved sailing from a young age – it just felt like the right thing to do. I’m always out in the sun and clean air, and I get paid for it!

What training did you undergo?
After matric I did a 30-day careers course, which is aimed at getting youngsters into the mega-yacht industry, at a sailing school in Durban. Then I sailed from Cape Town to the Seychelles on a new catamaran to gain experience and loved the sea, so on my return I did a three-month yacht master’s course that entitles me to skipper a vessel of up to 200 tons.

Are there certain characteristics that a sailor should possess?
A candidate needs to be patient, have a very good work ethic and have good people skills – as most of your work involves dealing with clients nearly all the time.

Is experience as important as formal training?
If anything, experience is more important than formal training when it comes to the sailing industry. Some qualifications are an absolute must though, such as first aid, navigation, etc.

Describe a typical day on the job
I work as the manager of Sail Africa in Durban; it is a youth development foundation that focuses on exposing people from many different backgrounds to sailing. In a typical day, I’ll make sure that all projects are up to speed, that all upcoming training and events are planned for and that current training runs smoothly. I work a 45-hour week but my hours are very flexible, depending on the day’s requirements. On average, I spend about two hours a day in the office and the remainder out on the water, or near it. I tend to do my indoors work before seven in the morning, as the wind is best in the afternoon and that’s when I love to sail.

What do you like the most about your job?
I like the fact that I’m helping others to see how great sailing and boating really is. I like giving back to a sport I love, and watching others learn to love it and begin really enjoying themselves. Sailing can be a sport, hobby or very successful profession, whether you are based here in South Africa, or in the Caribbean or Mediterranean.

Any aspects you aren’t keen on?
A fair portion of sailing involves cleaning the boat. I have never been a very enthusiastic cleaner, however, all good stuff comes with a little hard work.

Share some career highlights
I worked as a sailing instructor for two years, and that was great as I helped expose thousands of people to this wonderful world.

Mention some of your future goals
I would really love to go to the Olympics and take part in yacht racing. Then, when that is all over, grow old on a yacht in the Mediterranean, cruising around and not knowing what day of the week it is or where I need to be next.

Any advice for youngsters starting out?
If you are thinking about it then do it. There’s no time like present and it’s a decision you’ll never regret. It’s a fun working environment with loads of room to learn and you can earn really good money! If you want to see what sailing is all about, call a commercial sailing school or a development foundation like Sail Africa, or find the closest yacht club to you, cruise down and check it out. Someone at the club will be able to help you. Be prepared to work hard and retire early.