A Lancashire-based yachtsman has turned privateer by going it alone and breaking the monopoly on yacht training.
Andy Dobson, who runs Atlas Sailing in Fleetwood, has become the first trainer in the country to offer the internationally recognised International Yacht Training Accreditation.
It means he can train would-be yachtsmen and sailors to world standards which are recognised around the globe.
Previously, anyone wanting to learn the skills of sailing in the UK had to go through Royal Yachting Association training courses.
But these are not always recognised by other countries and so Andy has set up Atlas to offer the IYT training which is more widely used.
He said: “I expect this move will cause quite a stir in the yachting fraternity. The RYA based near Southampton has held a monopoly in this country but they have not always supported members in the north as well as they do people in the south.
“So I decided to offer my clients a series of qualifications that are widely recognised around the world.
“When people start to get into sailing they often are under the impression that they have to get their certificates through the RYA. But the IYT is recognised by more countries. It was a big decision for me. This will cause a stir.
“Now people can come to the UK to train for IYT certificates and get their International Certificate of Compliance for the first time.
“But to do it they will have to come to Lancashire, which puts us and Fleetwood on the map.”
He said the series of certificates ranges from beginner level all the way up to off shore and open water navigation and sailing.
The accreditation also helps Andy’s business in that he can take training courses both here off the Fylde coast and even in Greece, where he has a summer yacht charter business.
Andy, who has the highest ocean master qualifications himself, said:“It’s great. I can offer sailing taster session, entry level one day basics courses, written courses and modules to individuals and to companies as a sort of team building scheme.
“It will encourage people to come to Britain for international qualifications and training in sailing and encourage them to come to Fleetwood for the practical hands-on work.”