Learn to Crew

At Pacific Sailing School we prepare our students for both Harbour and Offshore Racing. No matter your previous experience in sailing, we have the perfect program to get you qualified and racing on the boats and races of your dreams. Have a look below for more details about our programs.

Preparation is the key

Sailing with professionals who have had years of experience takes out the guess work and anxiety of trying something new.  A few courses will have you crewing on the harbour or offshore with safety.

What to do to be a crew member?

Good knowledge gets you good positions on good boats.

  • For crewing in the Harbour: have a good understanding of spinnakers, most yachts sail with symmetrical and asymmetrical spinnakers, have the right shoes, a Harbour wet weather jacket and sailing gloves.
  • For crewing Offshore, be prepared and have this information saved on your Iphone – big boat knowledge is essential –  our 5 days courses cover all the systems and safety gear required for a Sydney to Hobart Race. Get your qualifications, Safety and Sea Survival, Radio Licence and have a current first Aid certificate.  The Owner or skipper will ask if you are a member of the Club to find out if you have insurance.  (Personal yacht racing is included in membership.)  You will have a soft sailing bag now and it should always be at the ready with a good set of wet weather gear suitable for offshore racing, thermals, gloves, knife, inflatable life jacket and tether, personal EPIRPB and a strobe light. Of course you will find all of this information and recommend kit when you complete our courses.

Crewing in the Harbour

I would like to crew on a yacht in the Harbour

For crewing in the Harbour we recommend our Harbour Crew Program

Almost all keelboats have spinnakers, so even as a novice race crew you’ll need to know the basics of how to use one, so the Keelboat Spinnaker course is important.

3-2-1 Tack!

Our Harbour Crew Program is the best way to get crewing positions. Skippers need crew who have a good understanding of sailing and are available. You will also meet lots of new people.

This course includes

  • Start Crewing course
  • Start Helming course
  • Spinnaker course
  • Start Racing (J24 Twilight’s or Regattas)
  • Racing Rules and Social Evenings

That is a total of 36 hours on the boat with Practice Sessions for six weeks afterwards.

Diagram of our Pathways with the Harbour Crew Program highlighted

One of the school boats with the Spinnaker out.

From day one, you will have hands on instruction on helming (steering the boat), main sheet (controlling the power of the boat), winches (turning the boat through tacks and gybes etc.) and the foredeck.

Your are also invited to join the CYCA – benefits of membership include your Club Crew Racing Insurance.

Discover the different Crew Positions below


Steers the boat (not necessarily the skipper) and works closely with the trimmers and tactician to maximise the speed of the boat, call the tacks and gybes.

Mainsheet Trimmer

Trims the mainsail (maybe responsible for the runners on a smaller yacht) works closely with the helm to maintain boat speed.


Responsible for all lines leading to and from the cockpit. A crucial role when hoisting and dropping the spinnaker, coordinates between cockpit and foredeck.

Crew Boss

Responsible for coordination of roles in all drills, often combined with cockpit.


Jib and spinnaker trimmer, crucial to getting the boat back up to speed after tacking and keep the spinnaker  flying during gybes. Works very closely with Mainsheet Trimmer, Helm and Sheet Grinder.

Works with Sheet Trimmer during tacks, and control the spinnaker guys, and works closely with the Pit to control the pole.


Responsible for getting the boat around the course, using the wind and tide to best advantage, works closely with Helm and trimmers to find the fastest way around the course.


Works with Foredeck to hoist the gybe, drop the spinnaker and helps hoist and drop the jib on demand. Works closely with Pit and helps retrieve the spinnaker.


Responsible for calling the line during starts, and identifying overlaps. Prepares the spinnaker before a hoist, and gybes the pole, works closely with the Mastman and repacks the spinnaker.

Did you know?

Club membership allows you to gain compliance with Rule 56 and provides Personal Accident insurance cover. Australian Sailing does not advocate membership of Crew Club and prefers you to join and support your local sailing club.

Except in an international event, any crew member who sails in more than 3 races in a season needs to be a member of a Club affiliated to Australian Sailing and hold a valid Australian Sailing Number.

Crewing Offshore

I would like to crew on BIG YACHTS OFFSHORE, for example in the Rolex Sydney to Hobart Race.

May we recommend our Offshore Racing Program

Our Offshore Racing Program includes all you need to feel confident racing offshore.

This course includes

On completion you will have the technical knowledge and confidence to race offshore.

Team work and synchronisation

Diagram of our Pathways with the Offshore Racing Program highlighted