Optimist Training Program

Six International Optimist dinghies make up our junior sail training fleet. One is an Olympic Class Regatta Racing boat and the other five are Racing Regatta versions with complete second sets of sailing school rigs and foils to be used for basic training.

The package includes a rescue boat and racing buoys for on-water training and teaching aids in the class room. All Tongans from 9 to 15 year are welcome to be part of this training. Starting in 2018, the five training boats will be moved to Vavau and Nuku’Alofa for 1-month training sessions in conjunction with interested community groups. Live training camps for Tongan instructors will first be held at the RNYC. Please contact us if interested in participating at any level. If you would like to support the development of Tongan junior sailing we would love to hear from you.

RNYC Vaka Sailing Course

All participants completing the Vaka Competent Crew Course are given one year free membership to the RNYC, plus a Vaka sailing log book to note their qualifications and sailing times on the Vaka one-design class.

Vaka captains will be chosen for Vaka sailing opportunities based on their commitment to assisting as a volunteer for all RNYC Vaka sailing activities and training as well as a commitment to maintaining and managing the Vakas.

1. Vaka Competent Crew certificate. On completion, presented a certificate, RNYC one-year membership card, RNYC hat , Vaka Crew T-shirt and Vaka sailing log book.

Theory: Knowledge of the history of Vaka, Tongiaki and Kalia sailing in the Pacific and Tonga’s dominance and strong cultural connections to this. Overview of traditional construction techniques, voyages undertaken from the earliest Polynesian migrations to the role of the Tongan Kalia and transport to battle of warring factions in Tonga. Nomuka’s past Vaka, Tongiaki and Kalia connections. Basic weather, wind and waves, and use of a compass to steer. Safe voyage planning and use of safety equipment. Knowledge of knots and ropes.

Practical: Exercises that when completed will allow the sailor to assist the Vaka captain setting up and preparing the Vaka or Voyaging Double canoe for launching and then sailing them safely and efficiently on all points of wind, including helming skills and racing rules, understanding all risks and safety procedures including, anchoring, communication with other mariners, heavy weather reefing and returning to the beach.

2. Vaka Day Skipper certificate. On completion, presented a certificate and Vaka Skipper T-shirt.

To enrol in the Vaka Day Skipper course, an applicant must be a member of the RNYC and have logged at least 10 full day sails in a Vaka or Voyaging Double canoe, including at least two complete derig and storage actions of them and be recommended for the course by a Vaka Captain.

Theory: Detailed knowledge of construction details of Vaka One Design Class and how to maintain and care for the VAKA. How to get weather reports for pre-sail planning and lodge a safety plan. Emergency, communication and distress procedures. Theory of the compass, basic concept of coastal navigation and position awareness. Basic first aid procedures including resuscitation and CPR. Good knowledge of Vaka racing rules and maritime rules of the road.

Practical: Exercises that when completed, will allow the Vaka Day Skipper to remove the Vaka from storage, set up and rig as a Vaka or Double Voyaging Canoe and then undertake a day sail or Vaka Race with at least one other certified Vaka Competent Crew on board, and up to 1 other for a Vaka and four others for a Double Voyaging canoe (maximum of four to six subject to weather and weight) between the hours of sunrise and sunset only, with the coastline insight at all times and no further than three miles off the coast. Wind strength forecast should not be greater than 20kts on the day. Instruction includes how to remove the Vaka from storage and set up, rig and prep for sailing and how to dismantle the hulls and equipment and put back into storage. Use and maintenance of all the safety gear for day sailing, carry out pre-sailing crew safety briefings and how to manage the crew underway. How to reef masts for heavy weather, use of parachute anchor and basic coastal navigation to return to beach. 

3. Vaka Master certificate. On completion, presented a certificate and a Vaka Master traditional Tongan carved whale bone pendant.

To enrol in the Vaka Master course, the applicant must be a member of the RNYC and hold a Vaka Day Skipper certificate, have logged at least 20 days sailing as captain in command on a Vaka or Double Voyaging Canoe, including at least three night sails and be recommended by another Vaka Master or flag officer of the RNYC. On special application, the Vaka sailing experience for this course may be relaxed if the applicant shows excellent skills and attitude but only with the joint approval of another Vaka Master and a Flag officer of the RNYC.

Theory: Advanced theory of traditional Polynesian navigation techniques and advanced theory of Vaka, Tongiaki, Kalia and all Polynesian sailing craft, so as to be able to share these traditions and stories with other Vaka sailors. Advanced weather, coastal navigation course including chart work and use of GPS, VHF radio license course, night navigation and use of navigation lights. Advanced survival techniques and first aid. Use of EPIRBS and the NZ Rescue co-ordination centres. Understanding Vaka sailing course teaching techniques.

Practical: Exercises that when completed, will allow the Vaka Master to safely plan and execute day and at night sailing with at least one other Vaka Competent crew, and a maximum of two others (total four) between islands that are no more than 15 nautical miles apart. Wind strength not to be greater than 25kts. Teach as an instructor at least one full Vaka sailing competent crew course.

Vaka Instructor Rating: A certified Vaka Master who has been recommended by a flag officer of the RNYC, may complete a one day Vaka instructor training course, and will be endorsed as a Vaka instructor able to teach all Vaka sailing courses up to Vaka master level.

4 . Vaka Voyager certificate. On completion, receive a certificate, at the annual RNYC feast presented with a yacht club burgee, named on the Vaka voyager honour board at the RNYC. Lifetime honorary membership to RNYC.

To enrol in the Vaka Voyager course, the applicant must be a Vaka Master and have undertaken at least 40 days and 8 night sails as captain in command of a Vaka and be recommended by another Vaka master and a flag officer of the RNYC.

Theory: Detailed revision of all aspects of previous theory training and then preparing lessons for working as an instructor in the Vaka training courses. Advanced voyage planning and risk assessments, risk mitigation and value judgement processes and human resource management. Environmentally friendly camping practices and field cooking. Use of Inreach Satellite Tracking and texting units and maintaining a comprehensive voyage log.

Practical: Exercises that when completed, will allow the Vaka Voyager to safely plan and execute ocean voyaging in a Double Voyaging Canoe between any of the islands in the Kingdom of Tonga Group with at least one other Vaka Competent crew and one other (total three). Voyaging from Nuku Alofa to Nomuka to Vavau is now possible. Wind strength forecast at any time not to be greater than 25kts. Teach at least two full Vaka master courses as an instructor.

5. Vaka Voyager. Commercial Endorsement.

After completing at least one voyage from Nuku Alofa to Vavau as captain in command, the applicant can undertake the Tongan Master 6 course delivered by the Tongan Maritime school. Having completed that, this Vaka Voyager is able to be employed and paid by Tonga Blue Ltd to undertake commercial tourist ‘Day Sails’ and ‘Vaka Expeditions’ on a Double Voyaging Canoe, camping overnight on a Vaka operating out of Nuku Alofa, Nomuka or Vavau.