Junior deckhands working on board the average superyacht are not expected to perform command duties; however, the Royal Yachting Association (RYA) Yachtmaster Offshore Certificate of Competency, which enables the holder to skipper a vessel of up to 200gt, is increasingly cited as a prerequisite for crew starting out in the industry. UKSA has recently reported a growing demand for its Professional Yachtmaster Offshore programme, believed to be in response to more captains and senior crew requesting entry-level candidates with the qualification.

“We hire [Yachtmasters] because we believe after a crewmember has invested the time and money into a Yachtmaster course, they are more serious about making a career in the industry,” an anonymous superyacht officer told UKSA. “Also, from experience, a Yachtmaster is far better on deck as they have a good base knowledge of line handling, weather, boat handling etc., compared to someone with just an STCW. For the reasons above I personally believe Yachtmaster is an entry-level programme to our industry now.”

While the UKSA’s Yachtmaster programme provides candidates with a thorough training process to ensure they have suitable experience going into the qualification, it is important to note that some entry-level crew may not be experienced enough to be considering the CoC. The RYA itself has raised concerns in the past about the number of unsuitable Yachtmaster candidates coming from the superyacht sector, who are prematurely rushing through the qualification without the relevant command experience. The association is concerned that the pressure on entry-level crew to have the qualification is having a detrimental impact on the value of the ticket.

In previous coverage of the topic, training providers have also spoken out about the potential negative effects of this rising trend. “The Yachtmaster qualification is essentially a leisure qualification – an awkward fit in the superyacht industry,” commented Colin Schwegman, principal and chief instructor at Professional Yachtmaster Training. “To require the Yachtmaster as a qualification for entry-level deckhands is to seriously diminish its value as a CoC and this surely has a knock-on effect on the standards of the other MCA yachting qualifications such as OOW and Master.” To read the previous coverage of this issue in full, click here

The MCA and RYA also recently announced a new pathway to the UK Officer of the Watch (OOW) yacht certification via the RYA Yachtmaster Coastal Certificate of Competency (CoC). While the conventional route to OOW via the RYA Yachtmaster Offshore still applies, this new route intends to offer an alternative for crew who have little or no previous experience on vessels less than 24m to be able to progress to the next stage of their careers without them gaining a Master 200gt command qualification. The key benefit of this new pathway is that it will hopefully prevent crew from gaining the RYA Yachtmaster Offshore CoC without adequate experience. For more information about this new pathway, click here.

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