Our story

Kipper Sailing has been operating since 2008 and until 2013 specialised in teaching RYA Sail Cruising qualifications by way of 9-day, combined theory and practical courses. Whilst this format was popular with our students because it only required them to take a week’s leave and the over 90% passed at their first attempt, many found the first four days, which were spent in the classroom, very challenging. There’s an awful lot to cover, not everyone works at the same pace and some found it impossible to keep up. To reduce the pressure we developed eLearning for 3 key topics: The Collision Regulations, Buoyage and Meteorology, and offered students the opportunity to work through them before joining their 9-day course. This proved highly-successful and students told us that they really enjoyed learning on-line at their own pace. From an instructor’s perspective it was clearly evident that student’s knowledge of the topics taught through eLearning was superior to that we achieved in the classroom.


So we embarked on a 2-year development programme with the goal of delivering the best possible training products to enable students to study for and pass RYA examinations. The challenges were not inconsiderable and it took much longer than we expected. Lessons are designed by a highly-experienced Yachtmaster Instructor. Turning them into engaging on-line training required the services of a programmer, a 3D graphics designer and a professional voice-over artist.


We've now trained over 6,000 students in 83 countries.

Our Team

Kipper Sailing’s Managing Director is Iain Barbour  who joined the business in 2018.  As well as being a Yachtmaster Instructor and volunteer  Skipper with Ocean Youth Trust Scotland Iain also runs yacht crew agency Crewseekers.  Passionate about sailing and teaching sailing Iain is delighted to become part of the Kipper Sailing success story.

Kipper Sailing’s Principal is John Corden, a life-long sailor and Yachtmaster Instructor. 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 the challenges of bringing products like this to market. When he’s not working all hours to develop new lessons and provide technical support he likes to sail as much as possible, preferably racing two-handed with his son on his vintage Scampi half-tonner.

Mark Godwin joined Kipper Sailing in September 2016 to answer students' questions and mark exams. He started sailing on The Solent 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. He now owns a Moody S336 based in North Wales and enjoys cruising 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 joined us in October 2017. He started sailing in the chilly waters of Scotland in the early 80’s, then, after moving to Hong Kong in 1993, he became a boat owner, enjoying regular sailing in the much warmer waters there. Mervyn moved to Thailand in 2006, became a Yachtmaster Instructor and was the founder, principal and chief instructor of Andaman Yachting, a successful RYA Training Centre operating in Phuket since 2010. Mervyn retired from the business in 2017 and is now a Skippers Online instructor, working from home in Phuket. Mervyn is an electrical engineer who moved into commercial and project management. His most recent employment was 14 years as a commercial and contracts manager for the Mass Transit Railway Corporation in Hong Kong.

Alan Mellor joined Kipper Sailing in October 2018 and assists Mark and the team in answering questions posed by students as well as marking exams. He started sailing whilst at college in the 1960’s, initially in dinghies and moving on to offshore sailing in 1980. A current Yachtmaster Instructor and Yachtmaster Ocean, he continues to teach both the practical side of sailing as well as the theory, both in the UK waters and warmer climes. He is also engaged in ‘sailing the world’, a personal programme in which he sails in a different area that he has not visited before every year (Desolation Sound, Vancouver being the current highlight).

Ally Brown handles administration. She joined Kipper Sailing in November 2017 and is looking forward to taking her Competent Crew course is 2018.

Patrick Veenstra develops and maintains our learning management system. Based in Barcelona he has heroically fixed technical issues, not caused by us,  by working through the night on more than one occasion.

David Williams is narrator of our lessons. He is a professional voice-over artist, more used to narrating page-turning novels. David started working with us in 2013 and has since learned an awful lot about skippering a yacht.