Hello, we’re
Skippers Online

We work hard to deliver high quality, enjoyable and fulfilling online RYA theory courses.
We focus on product quality, customer service and excellent support because that’s the things we like when we buy anything.

Course development hours
Sea miles of our instructors

“We share a passion for sailing and boating, and know that developing your theory knowledge will lead to an even greater enjoyment of your time on the water.”

We love teaching the really useful stuff that makes being on the water even more fun, safer, and more interesting.

We focus on product quality, customer service and excellent support because that’s the things we like when we buy anything.

It’s been over 10 years now since we first started teaching RYA Sail Cruising qualifications as a practical sailing school. Now we specialise in teaching via our online theory courses.

We were known as Kipper Sailing when we first started - delivering RYA Sail Cruising qualifications by way of 9-day combined theory and practical sailing courses.

From an instructor’s perspective it was clearly evident that student’s knowledge of the topics taught via online learning was vastly superior to that which they achieved in the classroom.

So we embarked on a 2-year development programme to build online learning courses for the entire RYA Day Skipper and Yachtmaster syllabus with the goal of delivering the best possible training products to enable students to study for and pass their RYA examinations.  

Over 100 RYA Training Centres now sell our courses to their students as well to make sure they are as well prepared for their practical training courses as possible.

We’ve now trained over 7,500 students in 83 countries and are continually working to ensure our online RYA theory courses are the best available.

And with our team of highly experienced instructors providing one-to-one support, we’ll make sure you have everything you need to succeed.

The Skippers Online Team

  • Iain Barbour

    Managing Director

    Passionate about sailing and teaching sailing, Iain is a Yachtmaster Instructor and also a volunteer Skipper with Ocean Youth Trust Scotland. When not looking after Skippers Online he’s often out sailing around the west coast of Scotland - inspiring groups of young people on adventure sailing trips. A previous career running a magazine publishing company has also given Iain a love of all things creative and customer focussed.

  • John Corden

    RYA principal instructor

    John is a life-long sailor and Yachtmaster Instructor, but it also helps that in a previous life, he spent nearly 30 years in the software products industry, progressing from programmer to Chief Operating Officer of a successful £60m turnover software company. So he knows a thing or two about developing successful software programmes.

  • Mark Godwin

    Senior instructor

    Mark started sailing in the 1970s and learned to navigate well before the advent of GPS. He has sailed in The Baltic, The Mediterranean, New Zealand, Australia and the USA. and now enjoys cruising to Brittany, the Welsh coast, Ireland, NW England and The Hebrides. He has a degree in electronics and communications and a doctorate in microwave engineering. His former career was in satellite communications and space research. He recently learned to play the tin whistle!

  • Mervyn Wilson


    Mervyn enjoyed an outstanding career as a commercial project manager including working on the Mass Transit Railway in Hong Kong. He first started sailing in the UK before becoming the founder and chief instructor of his own RYA Training Centre in Thailand. After running that successfully for many years, he joined us as an instructor working from Phuket. His location allows us to provide instructor support across different time zones.

  • Alan Mellor


    Alan started sailing dinghies whilst at college before moving on to offshore sailing. He continues to teach practical sailing courses as well as being an instructor for Skippers Online and is engaged in his own personal programme “Sailing the world” where he aims to sail in a different part of the world each year that he has not yet visited - Desolation Sound, Vancouver is his current highlight.

  • Ally Brown

    Course administrator

    Ally is in charge of ensuring your course runs smoothly - from despatching your student packs with the physical RYA course materials to the far flung corners of the globe, to processing your qualifications and registration with the RYA. Often very busy but always calm and never flustered.

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