Sail training in the Netherlands

Even though one does not need a certification to sail a boat under 15m of length in the Dutch waters, it’s definitely recommended to learn how to sail before leaving a harbour to sail independent. Also if you are going to rent a boat, many charterers will ask you what experience you have and what courses you took. We will explain here the options for sail training in the Netherlands.

The CWO foundation (Commissie Watersport Opleidingen) in the Netherlands takes care of training and certifications for sailing. Dutch sailing schools teach mostly according to the CWO training system. In addition, some sailing schools in the Netherlands teach according to the British RYA (The Royal Yachting Association) training/certification system. This system is known and popular in many countries and its certificates are therefore recognized worldwide.

  • Dutch system
  • Focus on insight and control of the boat
  • Certificates not widely recognized
  • Training in Dutch
  • British system
  • Focus on safety, preparation and planning
  • Certifications recognized worldwide
  • Training in English

Training/certification path

Here is a schema for CWO and RYA training and certification path:

Sail training CWO vs RYA

Additional training

Besides the primary sail courses it’s also recommended to learn the subjects described below. In some countries it’s even required to have certification on (some of) these.

  • Theoretical navigation / boating licenses
    • Dutch: Vaarbewijs I, II
    • Dutch: Theoretische Kustnavigatie (TKN)
    • British: Theoretical skipper/yachtmaster courses.
  • VHF Radio
    • Dutch: Basis Marifoon (Marcom-B)
    • British: VHF Short Range Certificate (SRC)

International Certificate of Competence (ICC)

A widely recognized certificate for sailing is ICC – International certificate of competence. It’s issued by local authorities in different countries. One can obtain such a license after having become certified as RYA Day skipper (UK) or having passed the Dutch Vaarbewijs I+II exam.

Browse through our directory of sailing schools in the Netherlands to see which one is best for you.

Note: This page is focused on sail training for cruising yachts.

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