Skipper Academy Syllabus

What you can expect from us:

  • One-on-one mentoring and tuition from our expert instructors
  • Shore based and practical lessons to teach you how to maintain the standard of professionalism that Quarterdeck expects of its skippers
  • Course materials and tools to prepare you for work on the water
  • Crew management training
  • Advanced sailing and docking manoeuvres
  • Local tours and fun teambuilding activities
  • A great week of sailing and learning with like-minded people in stunning Croatia

What we expect from you:

  • Minimum age: 20-years-old
  • Fluent in English
  • Valid accepted sailing licence
  • First Aid certificate
  • VHF Licence
  • A great attitude
  • Stamina: This is an intensive course and highlights what it’s like to be on real charter. It will involve long days which can be both physically and mentally challenging
  • Professionalism and a willingness to learn. We have exceptionally high expectations for our successful candidates
  • Sailing experience: This is not an entry level course. Students are expected to be Yachtmaster level sailors. You should be comfortable handling a yacht in any weather condition. Skills that will be verified during the week will include: heavy weather sailing, MOB under sail, night navigation, COLREGs and emergency response
If you do not have the required experience or certification please check out the Training and Partner Schools page. Our partner schools will help you gain the experience and licenses required to attend Skipper Academy.

Course description

Quarterdeck has created the Skipper Academy to produce exceptional skippers that can meet our partners and external companies’ crew needs. The course teaches expectations within the industry; highlighting the safety issues that can occur while working on charter with inexperienced guests, how to interact with clients and how to overcome challenges and unexpected events. The onus is to encourage excellence through safety, sailing skill, leadership and crew management to become a professional Quarterdeck skipper.

This is not a beginners course. Applicants must already be advanced sailors. Going out on the water with experienced friends is one thing, but as a skipper you will be responsible for 6-10 paying guests who may have never stepped on a yacht before. You must be in total command of the yacht, be comfortable sailing in any weather condition, and be a strong leader/communicator. A good attitude is also imperative!


The course is 8 days long and based in Split, Croatia. You must be in Split for 10am on the Friday upon which your course begins. Friday will consist of lectures and group discussions going over shore based theory. The first Saturday till the following Saturday morning will be spent on board a yacht learning the practical skills of a professional skipper.

You will share the yacht with other skipper and host students (see Host Academy), who you will treat as your “guests.” You will begin the week by going through the yacht check-in procedure and giving your guests an in-depth safety briefing, before moving on to practical skills. Your instructor will first demonstrate and then walk you through scenarios, manoeuvres and skills. They will guide you through exercises, standards, tips, tricks and situations; providing constant feedback on how you can improve. Each skipper will have designated periods to implement their knowledge and gain feedback from their instructor.

Course objectives

We train and mentor students on 5 key competencies:

Technical skills

How to adapt your current skills to working with inexperienced clients, and learning how to manage a yacht calmly and effectively in any situation. As stated above, you must consider yourself to be a strong sailor. You must be comfortable handling a yacht in heavy seas. As part of the course, we will spend some time running through example emergency situations and how to act with your novice crew if they were to arise.


Always look good! Keeping the yacht shipshape is essential to maintain the crew’s safety as well as comfort. You will be expected to keep the deck tidy, constantly manage trip and fall hazards, keep all ropes coiled and clean the outside of the yacht on a daily basis, take out the trash, and manage the yacht’s power, water and holding tanks.


An essential skill as a skipper. Whether you're giving an in-depth crew briefing at the beginning of the week, sailing lessons, asking your crew for mooring assistance, or instructing your crew how to put a reef in when the wind picks up; it must all be done in a calm, clear and concise manner. You will learn a variety of ways to communicate effectively with guests, no matter where they are from or their level of sailing experience.


Teamwork and the right attitude are essential on board. Working in harmony with your host is as important as involving your guests in activities on deck. Throughout the week we will see how you integrate and cooperate; you will be expected to help with the hosts’ workload when applicable and support your fellow students. In a flotilla situation, trust and teamwork with your fellow hosts and skippers is what ultimately leads to a safe and efficiently operated event.

Crew management

The key to a successful charter is preparation. Contacting the guests prior to the trip, finding out their expectations, then doing some research to plan the perfect itinerary is the first step to a perfect charter. Part of the skipper’s job is to be prepared in advance for the guests’ needs. Whether it’s buying ice, taking out the trash, paying mooring fees so you can depart as soon as the guests wake up or having recommendations for the best restaurants and activities on each island. Crew management psychology is expected from a skipper. This is where experience in the service industry is key; knowing how to speak, identify and resolve issues on the ground with clients is vital.


At the end of the course, the instructors will ask themselves the following question: “Would I feel comfortable sending *name* out on charter with my friends or family?” This decision will be based on 4 aspects and will determine whether you pass or fail.

  1. Safety and risk awareness as a first priority - Instructors will evaluate your safety consciousness throughout the week. As a skipper you must have the safety of your guests as the first priority. Do you have the knowledge and understanding of risks and safety?
  2. A sailing and mooring focused exam at the end of the week - This is to show us your skill and progression of learning throughout the week. Are you a confident sailor who can handle a yacht with novice guests?
  3. Communication ability - Will you be able to deliver clear and concise instructions to your crew? Are you able to break down complicated sailing related tasks into simple clear instructions? Can you deliver a crew briefing that covers the important safety basics while keeping the crew engaged?
  4. Attitude and personality - Will the guests enjoy your company on board and will you add value to their vacation?