Update on COVID-19 - 15 April

15 Apr
Update on COVID-19 - 15 April

We are continuing to follow and monitor official guidance, in line with the Government’s advice on reducing social contact we have temporarily suspended all National Centre Cumbrae activities until 30 June. This decision has been made to support the health and well-being of our customers and staff members during this time.

Course bookings

Our team are contacting all customers who are booked on to courses running up to 30 June to arrange a full refund of all monies paid. Please email cumbraecentre@sportscotland.org.uk your name, course name and date and your bank details, (account name, number, sort code, name on account and name of bank) All refunds will be processed by BACS payment.

For course bookings from 1 July – 30 September, please contact us should you have any queries.

Group bookings

All group bookings up to end of June have now been cancelled. Should you have a query over any group booking from 1 July - 30 September inclusive please contact us to discuss directly.

This is an evolving situation and we will continue to update our customers via this webpage and our social media channels, in event of any changes.

Thank you to all our customers for your patience over this period.

Update on COVID-19 - 25 March

25 Mar
Update on COVID-19 - 25 March

We are continuing to follow and monitor official guidance and in line with the Government’s advice on reducing social contact we have made the difficult decision to temporarily suspend National Centre Cumbrae activities until 31 May. This decision has been made to support the health and well-being of our customers and staff members during this time. If you have a booking beyond 1 June and wish to discuss it with our team please email cumbraecentre@sportscotland.org.uk. Please see below for specific information for our customer groups.

Course bookings

Our team are contacting all customers who are booked on to courses running between 20 March and 31 May and can offer two options:

Group bookings

For group bookings up the end of May, you will be contacted by your main booking contact in the next few days for cancellation. If your booking is for a date beyond 1 June 2020 please contact your main booking contact for guidance and advice. This is an evolving situation and we will continue to update you as it continues.


The fitness suite is now closed. All customers will be notified when the fitness suite is to reopen; with direct debits collected on the next 1st of the month after reopening.

Should any of this guidance change, this will be communicated via this webpage and our social media channels on Facebook & Twitter.

Thank you to all our customers for your patience over this period.

2020 Casual Instructor Vacancies

22 Jan
2020 Casual Instructor Vacancies

We're looking for both centre watersports and cruising casual instructors to join our team for the 2020 season.

The closing date for applications is Fri 6 March 2020.

Full details and how to apply can be found on the sportscotland website.

Christmas break - we're back on 6 Jan 2020

19 Dec
Christmas break - we're back on 6 Jan 2020

The team at Cumbrae wish you a very merry Christmas and a happy new year.

The office is closed until Monday the 6th January, meantime our full range of 2020 courses are available to book online.

Our team will be back in the office from the 6th Jan and will be happy to discuss courses options or group bookings with you then if you have any questions.

We look forward to seeing you out on the water in 2020.

Strathclyde Business School - Cumbrae challenge results

18 Nov
Strathclyde Business School - Cumbrae challenge results

Over 150 students from Strathclyde Business School, part of Strathclyde University, came to sportscotland National Watersports Centre Cumbrae as part of their studies between the 28th October and 10th of November 2019. One of their activities was to complete the Cumbrae Challenge: an enjoyable test of organisation, planning, boat handling and navigation skills – with a little bit of local history, tourist information and wildlife watching thrown in too!

The judges have compiled the overall results for the 58 teams that competed and they can be seen below.

Well done to all those who took part, a great achievement considering it was the first time in a small boat for many taking part.

All the staff at Cumbrae hope you had a great time and if you would like to do some more boating please don’t hesitate to get in touch!

2020 Vacancies - Instructor Development Scheme (IDS)

04 Nov
2020 Vacancies - Instructor Development Scheme (IDS)

sportscotland is looking for four highly motivated individuals who have a variety of outdoor experience for the Instructor Development Scheme (IDS) at the National Watersports Training Centre on the idyllic island of Cumbrae.

Starting from 1 March 2020 the scheme offers the opportunity of training, personal development and work experience. The scheme supports outdoor professionals, helping to develop their careers with the following: instructor awards, personal performance in a range of activities, experience and decision-making in the outdoors, coaching and leadership knowledge/understanding, outdoor industry career awareness and developing a personal philosophy to support a career within the watersports sector.

Throughout the IDS, you will have opportunities to gain experience, shadow instructors and attend courses including a broad range of assessment courses such as Paddlesports Instructor, Dinghy Instructor or Windsurfing Instructor. Opportunities are also provided to gain experience within the RYA cruising scheme up to Yachtmaster level. Much of Cumbrae’s work is training and assessing for Royal Yachting Association (RYA) and British Canoeing (BC) awards.

Due to the nature of the role, you should be a team player with good communication skills. Those selected will usually have basic National Governing Body (NGB) awards such as a Sailing, Paddlesport or Powerboat qualification, with an interest to obtain instructor qualifications.

Full details and application form can be found on the main sportscotland recruitment site.

Closing date: 15 December 2019

Seek adventure with Cumbrae

01 Sep
Seek adventure with Cumbrae

Sailors know the thrill of exploring somewhere different from their usual home cruising ground. The cruising adventure programme at the National Watersports Centre Cumbrae is about just that – giving crew members new experiences and adventures.

With 3500 miles sailed and 25 islands visited by Cumbrae’s yachts during the summer of 2018, the 2019 cruising adventure programme was eagerly awaited by crew members and skippers.

The first crew to embark on Santa Vey, guided by skipper Peter Braidwood, contained a good mix of experience all with the desire to visit and explore new places. Seeking adventure quickly became the theme of the week.

The group’s appetite for adventure and the weather forecast helped shape their journey with the acronym TWIP considered daily: Tides, Weather & Wind, Information and Pilotage.

The adventure

Blue skies above and a fair westerly wind meant summer had well and truly arrived. The week of adventure would see the crew sail from Largs, to Campbeltown, to Rathlin Island in North Ireland, to Jura, Colonsay, down the Sound of Mull to Oban and Dunstaffnage, with many stops in between!

Exploring the wilderness

Day three of the trip was spent exploring the wonderful inner lochs of West Loch Tarbert on Jura. The opportunity to explore the impressive Cumhann Beag channel was too good to miss and with slack water, Santa Vey cautiously crept through. However, as the tide range was on springs, there was a high probability of getting stuck in the upper pools. Taking on adventures sometimes requires a back track! Loch Tarbert is a true wilderness with many geographical features to explore, something all crew members hope to do again one day.

Gaining skills

All crew members took the opportunity to learn new and develop their existing skills. One crew member, experiencing strong downwind sailing for the first time, superbly helmed Santa Vey recording a maximum speed of 12.2 knots whilst surfing down a wave. A real achievement and adventure! Others took the opportunity to navigate from down below using traditional dead reckoning techniques, aided by the depth sounder.

Wildlife spotting

From puffins on Rathlin Island, to otters at Ulva Ferry, the wildlife was out in force to greet the crew on their voyage. While passing through the Sound of Iona, the crew was accompanied by bottlenose dolphins. Luckily a nearby yacht managed to capture Santa Vey alongside one of their new travel companions.

Seek adventure too

The crew explored seven islands and logged 280 miles while onboard Santa Vey. That afternoon a different crew started their own adventure to Saint Kilda, signalling the adventure season at Cumbrae was well and truly underway.

Start planning your next adventure today by visiting the Cumbrae website, www.nationalcentrecumbrae.org.uk.

Sea Kayak Festival a fantastic celebration of the sport

30 Aug
Sea Kayak Festival a fantastic celebration of the sport

The sportscotland Sea Kayak Festival took place in August at the National Watersports Centre on the Isle of Cumbrae. The festival, formerly known as the Sea Kayak Symposium, took on a different feel this year and looked to welcome new paddlers to the wonderful sport. Over the weekend, there were a variety of workshops and clinics on offer in topics including kayak manoeuvring and handling, practical navigation, turning in wind and waves and race techniques. Taking place as part of the festival was the Great Cumbrae Sea Kayak race. Over 40 paddlers from beginners to elite took to the waters surrounding Cumbrae across the weekend.

The wind and weather forecast for the weekend kept the organisers on their toes with strong south winds for Saturday and Sunday. This turned out to be the case and although at times the sea state and wind make for challenging paddling, the island location meant it wasn’t too difficult to find relative shelter.

Cumbrae Senior Instructor and Festival organiser Calum McNicol said, “It was great to be able to introduce people to the sport and offer them a variety of options at the festival including the race, which goes from strength to strength.

“50% of the race participants were first time racers who saw the course as a challenge and embraced the distance and the conditions with the necessary enthusiasm. It was great to see competitors come from all over the country and beyond, placing the Great Cumbrae kayak race on the map.”

The Saturday evening saw participants relax and socialise with a BBQ and prizegiving. The evening entertainment was led by expedition paddler, adventurer and Olympian, Patrick Winterton.

Patrick entertained the group with tales of his ultra-long-distance paddling expeditions, including Scotland to the Faroe Isles and Scotland to Norway. What came across throughout was his genuine enthusiasm for paddling, in particular the opportunities and accessibility of the sport in the UK.

Calum reflected, “It was a real privilege to welcome Patrick back to Cumbrae, who won the race back in 2017. He really pushes the boundaries of what’s possible in a sea kayak, and is a passionate ambassador of the sport and what it offers right on our doorstep."

Following the weekend, paddler and race participant Andy Morton said, “I would encourage anyone who has a quest for adventure to try sea kayak racing. It’s a great adventure and we have more than a few great venues on the racing circuit. Hopefully events like this continue to grow as we encourage more first-time entrants and younger racers to take part.”

Details of winners and times from the Great Cumbrae Sea Kayak Race can be found on the blog section of our website.


19 Aug

A big thank you and well done to all those who took part in 2019's Great Cumbrae Sea Kayak Race. Details of the results can be found below!

James MayersElite1st01:22:18
Michael SumonElite2nd01:27:34
Lizelle KempElite3rd (1st Woman)01:31:09
Calum UrquartElite4th01:32:08
Michale WildElite5th01:33:28
Kenny FraserElite6th01:33:54
Patrick WintertonElite7th01:34:02
Steven MarnellElite8th01:36:32
Les KilpatrickElite9th01:36:47
Gilbert SpiersElite10th01:36:55
Andrew MortonElite11th01:37:38
David McCormackElite12th01:38:00
Allan HunterElite13th01:40:00
Luke FurzeElite14th01:44:45
Collin CampbellTouring15th (1st Tourer)01:45:18
Dave SimpsonTouring16th (2nd Tourer)01:48:00
Andrew MullholandTouring17th (3rd Tourer)02:29:56
Tina MisselbrookTouring18th (2nd Woman)02:30:48
Robin DavisTouring19th02:31:00
Annie StobartTouring19th (3rd Woman)02:31:00
Sam AlbrowJunior1st02:30:39
Harris McNicolJunior short course1st09:23
Mark WilliamsRetired
Mike GodwinRetired
Fiona ClarkeRetired
Stuart NicolsonRetired
Suzanne ConnollyRetired
Inness McNicolDNS
Paul CareyDNS
Garry RathboneDNS
Steven WhippDNS
Douglas WilbyDNS


05 Jul

Gain your professional yachting qualification at Cumbrae.

sportscotland National Watersports Training Centre has over 40 years of experience and expertise in delivering world class sailing courses. Our Professional Yachtmaster Training (PYT) is no different.

Our aim is to produce well rounded and competent skippers, not just people who feel confident enough to pass their exam. We have previous customers who now work in the industry on superyachts, in sail training and in instructional positions and we pride ourselves in the level of training we can provide.

Our 16 week ‘fast track’ course allows participants to build most of the required 2,500 nautical miles, five passages of 60nm or more, whilst building confidence, expertise and skills vital to achieving Professional Yachtmaster status. PYT participants are supported throughout the course by our expert team to ensure they’re ready for the final exam to officially achieve their professional qualification.

Benefits of doing this professional course;

Why choose the National Centre?

What previous PYT students are saying

“The programme includes self-sails without an instructor to gain required skippered passages and this was a particular highlight for me. A voyage from dinghy sailor to yachtmaster. Visited stunning places with amazing people.”
Malcolm Lord

“I was unable to find a similar comprehensive sailing programme in the US and that’s why I chose to go to Cumbrae for my training. The entire RYA Training Scheme is the best I was able to find anywhere”
Rob Geisler

“It was an intense course, though wholly rewarding for many reasons. Would I recommend such an experience to others? For sure, indeed I might suggest…stop talking about it and stop reading about it…just go and do it.”
David Jack

Start your journey to becoming a Professional Yachtmaster by visiting our website or by phoning 01475530757 to speak to our expert team at the centre.

Most Recent Entries