Preparing to teach the RYA PWC Instructor Conversion Course:

Content from: Candi Abbott RYA PWC Trainer

Refresh your instructor students knowledge on: 

  • PAME 

Remember, it may have been a very long time since they completed the powerboat instructor course...

PWC Instructor's toolkit (advice to instructor candidates):

The things we'd struggle to teach a PWC course without:

  • Being dressed appropriately to get wet partially do that we can get on the PWC to demonstrate but also in case of emergency i.e. that we may need to enter the water. You don't want to finish the day because you're too cold to continue. 
  • Whiteboard & marker to draw course layouts 
  • Model PWC to test understanding of IRPCS
  • The usual kit for teaching nav sessions
  • Syllabus crib card

Items to focus on during a PWI conversion course:

The PWCP Students Personal Safety:

Knowing what the minimum required kit and the importance of these items: 

  • Impact buoyancy aid vs buoyancy aid
  • The importance of wearing at minimum neoprene shorts

Teaching instructor students how to brief PWC sessions:

Briefing skills:

Probably one of the most important parts of delivering this course is teaching powerboat instructors group control and briefing skills. Though Powerboat instructors need to be aware of their surroundings, they do not need to consider these items in the same way as three new elements are now introduced.. PWC student's can't always hear you or see you, you're not in close proximity to the craft controls. 

Safety briefing:

Completed before EVERY session:

  • Safety
  • Signals - hand signals 
  • Aim - of the session
  • Area - Operating area
  • Direction of travel - When using a box course 
  • Distance - between each PWC  /away from a specific object 
  • Speed - Maximum speed

Session briefing:

  • What are we going to do?
  • Why are we doing it?
  • How do we do it? (Demo)
  • Where are you going to do it?
  • Who is having a go first?
  • When are you starting / finishing? 

Check understanding:

Ensure your instructor students check understanding before each session commences by asking questions like:

  • What does 'this' signal mean?
  • What direction are you travelling in?
  • What speed are you going to go?

Group Control Skills:

  • Follow my leader - dove tail pattern (the importance of keeping the PWCs to starboard)
  • Hand signals - including stop, turn to port, turn to starboard, slow down, speed up - do not forget to inform a student when they should look at you i.e. every time they pass the 'orange buoy' on a box course
  • Recall signals - come to me, everyone come to me, go home
  • Emergency signal (blast of a fog horn?) - whistles can rarely be heard over the engine noise at planing speed 

Delivery of practical sessions:

The instructor candidate needs to understand what it is to do deliver and WHY we teach it.., items like stopping distances can be confusing without knowing the context behind them. 

Teaching IRPCS:

One of the most unique sessions within the RYA schemes 'teaching practical IRPCS' - knowing how exactly to run this session so the idea of it doesn't terrify them (nor their students). It is in fact one of the safest and most controlled sessions in the syllabus (if run correctly). Run through the exact system for delivery and practice afloat (if possible run this session twice with different instructor candidates delivering each time or get each candidate to deliver one aspect of it). 

Stopping distances:

This is another perceivably 'random' session if you didn't understand the context behind it.. if two PWC travelling at the same speed, in the same direction, for the same distance pull their kill cords at exactly the same time, do they stop at the same time? The answer is definitively NO.. there are lots of factors to consider which is why we deliver the session: 

  • Elements (wind  / tide)
  • Weight of the PWC
  • Weight of the rider/s
  • Hull design 

Another question; do you always stop more quickly from planing speed or from displacement speed? In addition to the considerations listed above, this will also be dependant on the bow design - stopping the engine at planing speed on a Kawasaki STX will stop you almost immediately as the bow will bury into the water VS on a Seadoo GTX where you will keep drifting along for some time.. 

If the PWC has iBR or RiDE we must introduce this IN ADDITION to stopping with a kill cord not INSTEAD OF - most PWs on the UK second hand market and those available to rent in holiday resorts do not have 'braking' systems, so even if your school PW the PWCP student must complete this exercise using the kill cord alone too. 

Kawasaki STX-12F - nicknamed 'quackers' due to the duck-bill style of their bow. 

Seadoo GTX 155 Ltd


Other practical sessions:

Please visit the 'Handy hints for teaching PWC' section of this website here and refer to the RYA PWC Handbook and RYA Power Schemes instructor handbook

PWC Specific knowledge:

Much of the syllabus is identical to powerboat level 2, so focus on how to make it specific to PWs and bring their knowledge up regarding PWC. 

Items like: 

  • Types of PWC, types of use and their technology (iBR, RiDE etc)
  • Simple things that become fundamental such as 'where's the flushing point' on each model?

PWCP Course programming:

  • Realistic session durations
  • Adaptations / differences between teaching powerboat & PWC
  • Natural course sequence - get your students to plan a program that they think follows a natural progression & offer constructive guidance along the way to ensure it follows a natural & realistic course sequence. 
  • For a 'first time PWC instructor' there is a lot to fit into one day & it needs finite planning to work 

Session Key Teaching Points:

It's worth running through the key teaching points of each PWCP session as a instructor student led exercise (ashore) before going afloat as this will mean your instructor candidates can just crack on with practicing the on-water sessions without as much discussion before each session when you go afloat. 

PWC Instructor Conversion Course Example Program:

AM (approx 9am - 12pm) PM (approx 12:30pm - 5:30/6pm)
Housekeeping / Intro to the course, RTC requirements Launching (Student led)
Complete Pink record cards & check relevant certificates

Practical session delivery practice (following EDICTS)

Course program creation (Student led) Familiarisation afloat, Transit to operating area
Key teaching points - practical sessions (group session) Stopping Distances, IRPCS, Towing,
Briefing skills & Group control (Trainer led) Planing speed, Slalom Exercise
How to run a productive nav session afloat (Trainer Led) Recovery, Aftercare & Maintenance
Intro to the PWC & Personal Equipment (Student led) 5-min dit presentations on PW specific subjects (see below)
LUNCH End of course debriefs

If time is available then you can afford to cover sessions such as CAS, MOB, Anchoring etc but as these are session within the powerboat level 2 syllabus there has to be some presumption that they will beable to effectively deliver these sessions once they have an understanding of PWC group control & briefing so if time does not allow then you shouldn't need to worry as long as they know that they are in the syllabus and have scheduled them into the PWCP course program. Personally, I opt to put a heavy focus on the sessions that are either done differently because you're on a PWC or that are not in the powerboat syllabus.

Lets assume you have 6 students on your instructor conversion course, the candidate sessions would break down similar to the below, with each instructor student leading two sessions each: 


Session duration approx 5 - 10 minutes each:

  1. Intro to the PWC
  2. Intro to the controls
  3. Personal Kit 
  4. Launching 
  5. Familiarisation
  6. Transit to operating area

Session duration approx 15-20mins each:

  • Stopping Distances
  • Towing
  • Planing speed box 
  • Planing speed - Cornering
  • Slalom Exercise

Example 5 min dit presentation examples:

  1. Types of PWC & their uses - Types (Manufacturers and Models), Technology and their uses
  2. PWC Personal Kit - What we should wear and why?
  3. PWC Safety Kit - What we should carry and why?
  4. Capsize recovery - How to safely right a PWC after capsize?
  5. Aftercare & Maintenance - Rinse, Flush, Check
  6. Byelaws and Consideration to other water users
  7. What you can do with your PWC - the importance of getting our students away from the beach/slipway i.e. Cruising, Clubs, Aqua-X, JSRA racing etc

Any questions or queries on the above, just drop Candi an email, she'd be more than happy to assist