Sail vs. Power Certification

3 August 2009 By Louisa Cowan

With the competition for jobs in the yachting world currently so fierce, it's even more important for crew members and potential crew members to spend their money on earning the right qualifications. One question to consider is this: Is a superyacht a superyacht no matter what drives it, or does the sail vs. power distinction really matter?

A recent forum post highlighted this question by asking, “What value do S/Ys place on the sail endorsement, and what does it entail (my background and my focus is primarily sailing)?”

Many people entering the industry have a real ambition to be able to confidently apply for jobs on the Perini Navis and Wallys. These students in particular need to ensure they are making the right choices as far as the qualifications they undertake – but motor yacht captains also look at your qualifications more closely than you may think.

Andy Middleton, UK director of Global Yacht Training, says, “Once [crew] have achieved the sailing qualification, they can convert to Yachtmaster Power relatively easily. There is also the fact that many large power superyacht captains ask for crew with sailing knowledge because they will be working on yachts that have ‘toys’ on board including sailing dinghies and Hobie Cats.” He goes on to say, “In my experience, students with sailing qualifications tend to look for jobs on sailing yachts because they often come into the industry with a passion for sailing; however a large proportion of them do take jobs on power yachts in the Med and U.S.”

When considering the best course for you, it's all about the time, money and inclination. If you already have the miles and the sailing experience, why not get the sailing qualification? The final certification is the same as the power course, but you will have the added advantage of proving you not only have the skills needed to be a seaman, but also have the extra knowledge required aboard a sailing yacht.

Scott Grey, mate on a 50-metre power vessel, has had a varied career himself, working on both sail and motor yachts. “When I am employing new crew, I will always sort through a pile of CVs according to experience levels,” he says. “However, if I had two candidates who were equally suitable for a deck position with the same qualification, but one had sail and the other had power, I would go for the candidate with the sail qualification. To me, it just shows that there is that little extra knowledge available if it's needed.”

The bottom line is, if you have the necessary sailing experience, why not put it to good use towards the sail certification? It will put you in a much better stead when it comes to landing a job on a sailing yacht – and it also could improve your chances when applying for motor yacht positions as well.

For more information on Global Yacht Training’s courses in the UK and Australia, visit