How to Prepare for a Jet Ski (PWC) Instructor Course

In this article our resident RYA PWC Trainer Ross gives some useful tips on how best to prepare for a RYA Jet Ski (PWC) Instructor Course. These tips are applicable whether you are taking your Jet Ski Instructor Course at a land based RYA Training Centre, or are Superyacht Crew and have a RYA PWC Trainer running a Course onboard.

First of all let’s just clarify what the pre-requisites are for attending the RYA Jet Ski (PWC) Instructor Course:

  • You must have completed the RYA PWC Proficiency Course. Please note especially if working within the Superyacht Industry this is the One Day Proficiency Qualification (the Green Certificate shown below) and not the RYA Intro to PW Safety Course (the Orange Certificate) which you may have completed at some point onboard a Yacht to assist with PW operations if you are working within the SuperYacht Industry.
  • RYA First Aid Qualification. With regards to your First Aid Qualification please check two things:

Is it in date? Most First Aid certificates need to be updated every 3 years to keep you up to speed with any changes in first aid practices, STCW is every 5 Years.

Is it a recognised First Aid Qualification by the RYA? For more information on whether your First Aid Qualification is valid please click here.

We sometimes get enquiries as to whether you can still partake in an RYA Instructor Course prior to completing your First Aid Course? The answer is yes, in this scenario the trainer would simply wait to see evidence you have completed course before submitting your form to the RYA when successfully completing the Instructor part.

  • Sign a Medical Declaration to confirm you are not suffering any physical or mental impairment which may have an adverse effect on your ability to properly discharge your duty as an instructor.
  • Have at least 2 years experience (or one full season) of driving a PWC.
  • Minimum Age – 16.
  • Have an RYA Membership – if not a member you can either join online through the RYA website or at the centre when you undertake your course.

So hopefully you have ticked all the pre-requisite boxes, booked onto a course and are now wondering how to prepare? Whichever RYA Training Centre you book through should send you some joining instructions but hopefully the below tips will help you prepare even further to achieve a successful result from your Jet Ski (PWC) Instructors Course.

There are 2 areas to focus on to help you feel confident when arriving onto the course. First thing to think about are your jet ski (PWC) handling skills. Secondly your ability to deliver theory sessions on topics such as charts, navigation and tides.


Let’s start off by focusing on Area 1:

Your PWC Handling Skills. I will break this down into 3 specific areas to think about:

Slow speed manoeuvres

When it comes to PWC Handling Skills I am not referring to being able to drive a jet ski flat out up and down in a straight line. This isn’t the area we are particularly worried about as it doesn’t require a huge amount of skill. What does require more skill are your slow speed manoeuvres and control of the jet ski in more confined environments.

As a trainer I would be looking for trainee instructors that can deliver a good demonstration of coming alongside or picking up a man overboard as per the RYA teaching points to their students.

Leading a group of student jet skis in formation

As an Instructor your skills and mindset will need to shift from simply riding around on a jet ski for pleasure, to leading a formation of up to 3 student jet skis, whilst making ‘col reg’ decisions to take your students on the safest possible route whilst transiting across a busy harbour.


Positioning your jet ski whilst giving a briefing

Another Jet ski teaching skill to practice is being able to hold a jet ski in position whilst delivering a brief for an onwater session. It sounds simple but you’ll need to take into account wind, tide and what the other student jet skis are doing during the briefing. It comes down to multi tasking, and controlling the jet ski should be second nature as your brain will be mainly concentrating on the points to raise during the briefing.

Therefore in summary make sure you have a practice of some of your slow speed manoeuvres and handling. Also be aware, just like driving a car it is only natural to pick up bad habits so have a check over the syllabus / Instructor Handbook to check you are practising things the right way.


Will I teach from a jet ski or powerboat during my Jet Ski Instructor Course?

When running Jet Ski Instructor Training at Jetski Safaris I am a firm believer of getting students used to teaching sessions from both a PWC and a Powerboat. This will hopefully prepare you for all scenarios once qualified whether going on to work onboard a Superyacht or at a land based RYA Training Centre. So that said it may also be worth getting comfortable driving a powerboat. Whilst it is not a pre-requisite, ideally students should be up to at least Powerboat Level 2 standard.

If you feel you may need to work on any of the above points but don’t have access to a PWC or Powerboat then contact Jetski Safaris for prices and availability on Jet Ski and Powerboat Experience builder sessions to give you some extra time out on the water before attending your course.



Moving onto Area 2 : Theory sessions and background knowledge of PWCs

This brings us on to an area that unfortunately several students each year fall short of and that is their level of knowledge around some of the theory topics within the course.

I would like to focus on the specific area of Essential Navigation which covers knowledge of Charts, Buoyage, Tidal Information and IRPCS. The question you need to ask yourself is: ‘would I feel comfortable delivering a session on these topics?’


If you don’t feel comfortable talking about charts, how to put a basic pilotage and passage plan together or rules of the road (IRPCs) then I would definitely recommend undertaking The RYA Essential Navigation and Seamanship Course. This course can either be completed online or in a classroom at an RYA Training Centre. This is even more applicable to those students who have only covered a small bit of chart work when completing there one day PWC Proficiency Course or work onboard a superyacht as deck crew and don’t require getting involved in this for their day to day duties.

Theory Topics that you will need to have a good understanding of are listed below:

  • Different Types of PWC on the market
  • Launching and Recovery
  • Knots (bowline and round turn & 2 half hitches)
  • Weather
  • Tides and tidal streams
  • Charts – measuring distance and taking a bearing on a chart, chart symbols
  • Bouyage
  • Putting together a basic Pilotage & Passage Plan
  • Anchoring
  • Jet ski maintenance and after care
  • Trailering and Towing

If you are not sure what depth of knowledge you need on these topics, then if you don’t already have it, it is worth buying either a physical or electronic copy of the RYA Personal Watercraft Handbook (R-G35) to read up on them. It is worth mentioning though that as an instructor your students will often ask a variety of questions around a subject so the more you can research into them the better understanding and answers you will be able to provide.

As well as the RYA PWC Handbook, I would also suggest purchasing the RYA Power Schemes Instructor Handbook (G19) to have a read through.

By clicking on the books below it will take you straight through to the RYA Website.


Resources Centre

Do I have to get a license to ride a Jet Ski / PWC?

Whilst currently many areas in the UK do not require a jet ski license to launch or use a jetski, over the last couple of years more areas are starting to require some form of license or evidence of a jet ski training course completed to issue a permit.

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Advice for Jetskiing in the Winter

Here at Jetski Safaris we often get asked by customer’s with their own jet skis whether it is possible to carry on riding through the winter. The quick answer is yes. Whilst we don’t offer our Jetski Safari experiences through the winter months we do carry on with our RYA Personal Watercraft Training Courses all year round.

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