Skippers Tickets

Selecting the route: SA Sailing or RYA or both The International Certificate of Competence
Learning through an Accredited Sailing School Conversion to sail and power
Examination process
CASA to SA SAILING conversion
Cost and bank details
The self study route Frequently asked questions


To skipper a sailing boat over 9 meters in South Africa you are required by law to hold an appropriate Certificate of Competence. SA Sailing is the only body that South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA) has authorised to issue Certificates of Competence for sailing boats.


Because of the progressive nature of the qualifications from Day Skipper to Yachtmaster Ocean, it is preferable to follow the sequence of qualifications shown in the flow diagram and note that there are only two points of entry into the scheme i.e. Day Skipper (for the less experienced) and Coastal Skipper (for the very experienced).

Although it is beneficial to attend an SA Sailing approved sailing school, this is not mandatory. Candidates with the required experience and knowledge may make application directly with SA Sailing offices for examinations.

It is recommended that you go through a school offering an SA Sailing approved course, as they will ensure that all areas are thoroughly covered. Even if you are an experienced skipper, it is unlikely that you will have had practice in the many scenarios that could put you or your crew at risk.

Selecting your route: SA Sailing or RYA or both


Before you decide on a sailing school or book your exam with SA Sailing if you are opting to go the self-study route, you need to be absolutely clear about the certificate of competence you need.

Recreational Sailing

  • To sail a recreational sailing vessel >9m in South Africa – or to sail a SA registered recreational sailing vessel anywhere in the world - you need a SA Sailing Certificate of Competence.
  • An RYA or IYT Certificate of Competence is not recognised.
  • A SA Sailing qualification is generally sufficient for recreational sailing anywhere in the world. (For sailing in the Mediterranean however, both the RYA and SA Sailing recommend that you consider getting the International Certificate of Competence.

In many countries in Europe the ICC is regarded as the equivalent of an international driver’s licence.

NB: For SA nationals with a SA ID, any SA Sailing qualification from SA Sailing Day Skipper upwards entitles you to an ICC. For details on the ICC)

Commercial Sailing

  • If you want to operate a commercial sailing vessel in South Africa, you will need a SAMSA commercial Certificate of Competence with a sailing endorsement.
  • To get a SAMSA commercial certificate of competence with a sailing vessel endorsement you need to start with the appropriate SA Sailing certificate of competence for a recreational vessel.

Working abroad sailing

  • If you want a career overseas as a skipper of a superyacht, you need to consider the RYA or IYT route.
  • The RYA and IYT qualifications are entry points into the MCA Master of Yachts qualifications which go up to 3000 GT.
  • If you are a South African, you should do your SA Sailing certificate at the same time. That will allow you to sail in SA or be delivery skipper on a SA flagged vessel.

The additional qualifications also look good on your CV, and most candidates say that preparing for both examinations gave them a far broader perspective and a better grounding. Schools which are accredited by both SA Sailing and the RYA/IYT will prepare you for joint SA Sailing/RYA examinations.

Learning through an SA Sailing Recognised Sailing School (offering >9 meter Training)


The best way to get a certificate of competence (skipper’s ticket) is through an SA Sailing Recognised Sailing school. The interaction with an instructor and the discussion amongst other students provides a far better learning experience than you can ever achieve by the self-study route.

See below table for the approved schools with their contact details:






2 Oceans
Maritime Academy

Hout Bay

084 511 2726



022 772 0718

Bay Sailing

Gqeberha (PE)

083 380 3777

 Cape Point
 Sailing Academy
  False Bay   084 335 5420

Cape Town
Sailing Academy

Cape Town

082 445 9059

Good Hope
Sailing Academy

Cape Town

066 282 6649

  Mills Boating
  False Bay   084 338 4093

Ocean Star
Sailing School

Cape Town

021 418 4074

Sailing Academy


073 806 0802

Southern Yachting


044 382 3400

Yachtmaster Ocean
Sailing School

Cape Town

082 088 7186





In order to accommodate those who do not wish to or cannot afford to go to a sailing school, SA Sailing does examine individuals who have selected to go the self-study route. The SA Sailing Day Skipper, Coastal Skipper and Yachtmaster Offshore Course Manuals can be purchased at SA Sailing.

Prerequisites for Skippers' Ticket Application



There are some prerequisites that must be met before a sailor can apply for a skippers' ticket. They are as follows:

In order to be able to make an application, you need to either be a member or have an SA Sailing profile/user account. 

(Please note membership will only be activated on reciept of payment made on your behalf from your club)

  • Age

The candidate must be at least 16 years of age.

  • SRC Radio Operators Licence

Candidates for day skipper and above require a radio operator’s certificate which must be valid for operating a Marine VHF radio in South Africa. The following radio operator’s certificates are accepted:

  1. The South African Short Range Certificate (SRC). This covers the operation of a marine VHF radio with DSC. It is issued by SAMSA. Several SA Sailing schools run SRC courses and exams. The certificate is issued by SAMSA.
  2. The South African Long Range Certificate (LRC). This covers the operation of marine DSC VHF radios and DSC MF/HF SSB Radios. It is issued by SAMSA.
  3. Higher level GMDSS qualifications such as the General Operator’ Certificate (GOC).
  4. For 2020, the Restricted Radiotelephone Operator’s Certificate (Marine) will be accepted for Day Skipper, Local Waters Skipper, and Coastal Skipper. It is however being phased out and will not be accepted for Yachtmaster Offshore candidates writing exams to the new 2020 Yachtmaster Offshore syllabus. Nor will it be accepted for Yachtmaster Ocean. From 2021 it will no longer be accepted for any SA Sailing qualification.
  • Visual Acuity and Ishihara Colour Test

All candidates require a basic eye test, which many opticians will do for free. If you are colour blind you cannot go further than Day Skipper.





  • First Aid Certification

Candidates for Coastal Skipper and above must hold a current and valid Level 1 First Aid Certificate or a current and valid higher level first aid qualification or medical qualification acceptable to SA Sailing.

  • Logbook of Experience

A logbook is required as proof of experience. The logbook records the details of each voyage, and should be signed off by the skipper. If you are the skipper for a particular voyage you will sign for that voyage yourself. Log books for this purpose are provided for by SA Sailing

Where the candidate has not kept a logbook, the examiner may accept retrospective logging of experience at his or her discretion.

For Inland Waters Skipper, the minimum experience required is 100 nautical miles as a skipper or an active member of crew on a sailing vessel >9m LOA on inland waters or at sea.

For Day Skipper to Yachtmaster, the minimum experience required is laid out in the table below. Only experience as a skipper or an active member of crew on a sailing vessel >9m LOA at sea is considered to be qualifying experience. Powerboat experience does not qualify.

The purpose of night entries is for the skipper candidate to experience entering a port using the harbour or marina lights. Entries during twilight are not accepted.




Examination Process for Skippers Tickets

The examination process typically includes the following steps:

  • An initial interview with the examiner who will want to hear about your sailing experience and look at your logbook. He or she may use the opportunity to talk you through the examination process and discuss arrangements. This is your opportunity to ask any questions about the exam process.
  • A written navigation theory paper. If you can do the sample chartwork questions you should not have difficulty with the exam.
  • A written Colregs paper which covers the International Regulations for the prevention of Collisions at Sea and IALA buoyage.
  • A practical exam on a yacht. It is your responsibility to arrange the yacht and the crew. The examiner must focus entirely on the examination and so will not be available to act as crew.
  • An oral exam. This is often combined with the practical exam.

However, there are some differences. Specifically:

  • For Inland Waters Skipper the chartwork and Colregs exam is combined into one paper.
  • For Local Waters there is no chartwork paper. The focus here is on Colregs and practical night sailing. You will be asked to do a MOB after dark and a night entry.
  • For Yachtmaster Offshore there is often no practical exam. All the practical examination issues were covered in Coastal Exam. However, if the examiner has concerns about your sailing ability - based on your experience or oral - he will request a practical. There will always be an oral exam. 
  • For Yachtmaster Ocean there is no Colregs exam. The focus here is celestial navigation which is tested fully in the written exam. There is an oral exam. 

The examination results

If your examiner feels that you are generally competent but have shortcomings in particular areas you may be asked to prepare for re-examination on particular topics. At the end of the examination process, your examiner will recommend a pass or a fail to the senior examiner. The final decision is with the senior examiner who may ask to examine you personally.

The Self Study Route

To assist those who cannot go to a sailing school, we have Day Skipper, Coastal Skipper and Yachtmaster Offshore course manuals which can be purchased online. Those course manuals include sample chartwork questions and sample oral general knowledge questions.

For Yachtmaster Offshore you will require the Yachtmaster Offshore course manual and the Yachtmaster Offshore Exercise and Navigation Tables. 

For the chartwork exam you will require:

  • A clean practice chart SAN 3002. (not required for Yachtmaster Ocean)
  • An examination pad. (square blocks are useful for interpolation)
  • A parallel ruler or a Portland plotter. (both are required from Coastal Skipper upwards)
  • Dividers, pencils and eraser.
  • A simple calculator with a square root button. A calculator with scientific functions is permitted but programmable calculators, cell phones and laptop computers are not.
  • The SA Sailing Exercise and Navigation Tables.  These tables are only required for the Yachtmaster Offshore chartwork exam.

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Please note that the exams include questions from lower-level course manuals.  So, for example, if you are doing your coastal Skipper and find you are rusty on Day Skipper topics, you might want to read the Day Skipper course manual.

For Inland Waters, Local Waters and Yachtmaster Ocean we have study guides which tell you what you need to know and where to find it.  These study guides are free downloads.


The International Certificate of Competence

The International Certificate for Operators of Pleasure Craft -more commonly known as the International Certificate of Competence or ICC - was established under Resolution 40 of the Working Party on Inland Water Transport of the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE). It has become quite common for charter companies in the Mediterranean to request the ICC. Both SA Sailing and the RYA recommend that people wishing to go cruising around Europe and the Mediterranean obtain an ICC.

SA Sailing has been authorised to issue the ICC. The prerequisites are: 

  • The person must be at least 16 years of age.
  • SA residents or SA nationals who can prove their status by providing a copy of their South African ID document.
  • Nationals of any North American country or any country that is not a member of the UNECE who can prove their status by providing a current passport.
  • The person must hold an appropriate SA Sailing or SAMSA Certificate of Competence. For SA Sailing certificates the minimum requirement is a SA Sailing Day Skipper Certificate of Competence, and the ICC issued is for power and sailing vessels <24m in coastal waters. For SAMSA certificates the minimum requirement and the corresponding ICC is given in the table below. 


SAMSA Certificate

International Certificate

Day Skipper Category C <9m

Power Vessels <9m in coastal waters

Day Skipper Category B <9m

Coastal Skipper < 9m

Skipper Offshore < 9m

Day Skipper Category C > 9m[<100GT]

Power Vessels <24m in coastal waters

Day Skipper Category B >9m[<100GT]

Coastal Skipper >9m[<100GT]

Skipper Offshore >9m[<100GT]


SA Sailing is not authorised to issue an ICC based on older styles of certificates such as those issued by Pretoria for category A1(1) or A1(4). Holders of these certificates must have them converted by SAMSA to the new format before applying for an ICC.

There are ICC certificates for inland waters and coastal waters. SA Sailing only issues the ICC for coastal waters because ICC for inland waters requires detailed knowledge of the European CEVNI regulations for inland waters. The International Certificate of Competence issued by SA Sailing is valid for 5 years.

Conversion to Sail and Power

SAMSA consider a SA Sailing recreational sailing certificate of competence to cover recreational power vessels. This is clearly stated in Marine Notice 13 of 2011.

However, some local authorities have in ignorance refused to allow an individual with a sailing certificate of competence to launch a power boat at their launch site. That can ruin your day. So in about 2012 SA Sailing started printing certificates of competence that stated explicitly that they are valid for sailing and power vessels. If you would like to convert your skipper’s ticket to one that specifically states “sail and power”.

The cost is given on the price list below:
There is however an important safety warning here. The SA Sailing practical exam is typically conducted on a monohull sailing vessel >9m. Passing that exam does not mean that you are competent to skipper a large catamaran or a large power vessel with trim tabs or a tender with an outboard engine or a jet ski. Before you skipper a vessel, it is your responsibility to ensure that you are fully competent to handle the vessel and understand the safety issues involved.

For example, many jet ski’s injuries and deaths have occurred because jet ski novices failed to understand that you lose all steerage when you power down. The steerage comes from the jets. No jets equals no steerage.

 CASA TO SA Sailing Ticket Conversions 





Certificates of Competence issued by the Cruising Association of South Africa (CASA) are still recognised by SAMSA (see Marine Notice 13 of 2011 item 10.7.3). However local authorities may not remember CASA and may be reluctant to accept a CASA certificate. That could spoil your day. SA Sailing recommends that folk with CASA Certificates of Competence convert these to SA Sailing Certificates of Competence for a small fee. 

The cost is given on the price list below:

Cost and banking details

Prices effective 01 April 2024 - vat included.

SA Sailing is a non-profit organisation managed by volunteers. The prices below do no more than cover costs. Costs include VAT, a small
honorarium to examiners and the costs of running a certification scheme to the standards demanded by SAMSA and necessary to give
the SA Sailing Certificates of Competence credibility internationally.

All pricing now includes a fee of R100.00 for delivery via Aramex to the street address provided by the applicant. The pricing stated now includes the Aramex courier fee.



The SA Sailing Bank Details are as follows:


South African Sailing


First National Bank, Pinelands

Branch No:

260 209

Account No:

6274 7183 995

Account type:

Business check account

Swift code: