Sailing activities


​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​Guideline review date: 28 October 2021

​This guideline is provided to support schools in implementing the managing risks in school curriculum activities procedure.

The CARA planner (DOCX, 600KB) must be used for the specific school context in conjunction with this guideline considering additional risks, hazards and controls and including environmental, facility, equipment and student considerations.​

For activities beyond the scope of this guideline, complete a CARA record using the CARA generic template (DOCX, 488KB)​.

Activity scope

This guideline relates to student participation in sailing during daylight hours in craft propelled by wind and/or an auxillary motor for the purposes of instruction, competition and/or recreation as an activity to support curriculum delivery.

Depending on the scope of this activity, other risk assessments may be required when planning. Curriculum activities encompassing more than one CARA guideline (e.g. marine animal activities while snorkelling) must comply with the requirements of all CARA guidelines appropriate to the activity.

For activities conducted at a non-Department of Education venue, and/or when engaging external expertise (e.g. charter company), request written risk assessment advice detailing the safety management system​ from the Australian Maritime Safety Authority, safety and communications equipment and crew qualifications and attach it to this CARA record.

For activities conducted off-site, schools must comply with the school excursions procedure.

Medium risk
Sailing in smooth​ waters (rivers, creeks, streams and lakes, waters within breakwaters or revetments).
High risk
Sailing in partially smooth waters.
Extreme risk
Sailing in beyond partially smooth waters. Beyond partially smooth water sailing conditions are appropriate for advanced sailors only.

Activity requirements

If any requirement cannot be met, the activity must not occur.

If any other safety recommendation cannot be met, modify the activity (or elements of it) and/or identify and use the hierarchy of controls to implement alternative control measures to meet or exceed the minimum safety standard.

Reference to Operating Standards and Guidelines for Australian Sailing and the Queensland Government recreational safety guidelines is required when planning this activity.

All craft must comply with safety management systems, Queensland Department of Transport and Main Roads registration, maintenance and equipment requirements.

Schools using their own vessel/s must keep maintenance records as outlined in the guidelines for a safety management system.

Queensland Government zoning and designated areas must be consulted for restricted areas.

Permits and permissions are required to be obtained as necessary (e.g. Queensland Government Marine park permits and activities, Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority).

Participants must adhere to all rules and advice communicated by marine rescue service, facility operator/owner and any safety signage at the facility/location.

Confirmation of student water safety and swimming competence is required prior to participation. The process is determined by the school and must consider the specific aquatic environments in which the activity will take place. Consult the sequence of competency water safety and swimming education program​ for support in determining age-appropriate suitability and consider student self-rescue skills in the specific aquatic environment.


Parent consent (DOCX, 306KB) is required for all activities conducted off-site and extreme risk activities, and strongly recommended for high risk activities conducted on-site.​


Principals make final supervision decisions for the activity. Sufficient adult supervision must be provided to manage the activity safely (including emergency situations).

Specific roles for supervisors must include recovery, emergency and general supervision roles. All adult supervisors must be able to identify, and respond to, risks or hazards that may emerge during the activity, including the ability to:

  • recover a student from the water
  • be able to take control of the vessel if required
  • operate signalling devices needed in a duress situation, including marine radio and flares.

For activities with students with a medical condition or disability that may impact on safety during the activity, consultation with parents is required prior to allocating supervision to determine the impact of students’ medical condition or disability on safety during the activity.

The number of adult supervisors required to fulfil emergency and supervision roles must consider the nature of the activity, students’ ages, abilities and specialised learning, access and/or health needs. Consult the Operating Standards and Guidelines for Australian Sailing for guidance on participant to supervisor ratios.

Before the activity, all adult supervisors:

  • must be familiar with the contents of the CARA record
  • must assess weather conditions and obtain accurate information on tides, depths, currents and other expected water conditions (if applicable) prior to undertaking the activity, inspecting the intended location in order to identify variable risks, hazards and potential dangers.

During the activity, all adult supervisors:

  • must be readily identifiable and all students in sight of at least one adult at all times
  • must closely monitor students with health support needs
  • must comply with control measures from the CARA record and adapt as hazards arise
  • must suspend the activity if the conditions become unfavourable (e.g. poor visibility, extreme temperatures, thunderstorms)
  • must not allow students to be relied upon to recover a person in difficulty.

Supervisor qualifications

Principals make final decisions in determining supervisor capability (competence, relevance and currency) and are responsible for encouraging and enabling school-based activity supervisors to raise their qualifications to improve safety standards.

All adult supervisors must comply with the working with children authority—Blue Cards procedure and be able to identify, and respond to, risks or hazards that may emerge during the activity.

A registered teacher must be appointed to maintain overall responsibility for the activity.

At least one adult supervisor is required to demonstrate capacity to perform an appropriate rescue procedure including using appropriate rescue aids.

At least one adult supervisor is required to be:

  • a registered teacher with with demonstrated ability to undertake instruction and coaching in sailing who holds a recreational marine driver licence issued by Department of Transport and Main Roads; or
  • a registered BoatSafe trainer, working under the direct supervision of a register teacher.

In addition to the above, for medium risk activities:

In addition to the above, for high risk activities:

  • At least one adult supervisor is required to be:
    • A registered teacher with competence (knowledge and skills) in the teaching or coaching of sailing, with current qualifiction in Certificate II in Maritime Operations (Coxswain Grade 1 Near Coastal) or similar; or
    • An adult supervisor, working under direction of a registered teacher, with current qualification in Certificate II in Maritime Operations (Coxswain Grade 1 Near Coastal) or similar and a relevant instructor qualification from Australian Sailing or similar.

In addition to the above, for extreme risk activities:

  • At least one adult supervisor is required to be:
    • A registered teacher with competence (knowledge and skills) in the teaching or coaching of sailing, with current qualification in Certificate III in Maritime Operations (Master up to 24 metres) or similar; or
    • An adult supervisor, working under the direct supervision of a registered teacher, with a Certificate III in Maritime Operations (Master up to 24 metres) or similar and a relevant instructor qualification from Australian Sailing or similar.

Facilities and equipment

The qualified adult supervisor of the activity, in consultation with the principal, determines the requirements for facilities and equipment appropriate to the local context.

Location must be suitable for the activity being undertaken to ensure safe participation and that safety rules and procedures can be followed. Undertake a reconnaissance of new or infrequently used locations to ascertain suitability. Consider depth of water, tidal flow, currents, visibility, underwater vegetation (e.g. coral), marine life (e.g. stonefish, blue-ring octopus, crocodiles, sharks, eels), and debris. Obtain advice from lifeguards, local authority or other relevant authority (e.g. Department of National Parks, Recreation, Sport and Racing) about waterway conditions (e.g. contaminants, such as blue-green algae) and other potential hazards (e.g. rips, tides, currents, submerged rocks, water temperature, depth conditions).

A seaworthy vessel/s suitable for the activity (e.g. hygiene facilities, accommodation if required) must be used.

Vessel must have a fixed Australian Builders Plate (capacity, capability and limitations of the vessel).

Life jackets that comply with Australian standards for level 50 (smooth and partially smooth waters), 100, 150, 275 (beyond partially smooth waters) that are brightly coloured, are the correct size for the wearer and adjusted correctly must be worn at all times while on the water.

Equipment must have Australian Standard certification and comply with the requirements of that schedule (e.g. life jackets, safety harnesses, sailboats).

Safety harnesses, if used, must be able to be released by the students in any situation, as per Australian Standards.

Participants must wear personal protective equipment as relevant for the location and conditions (e.g. sunscreen, wetsuits, stinger protective swimwear, thermal underwear, fleece, enclosed footwear with thick soles when boating/launching where dangers such as stonefish may be present).

Prescription spectacles and sunglasses, if worn, to be secured with a suitable restraint.

Minimum safety equipment appropriate to the activity as per safety equipment for boats in Queensland must be available.

Equipment must be sized to match the ability and strength of students.

Equipment correctly waterproofed and stowed securely in the vessel.

A retirement schedule must be developed to replace plant and equipment by manufacturers' nominated expiry date or when significant wear causes a hazard.

Ensure adequate fuel, drinking water, food and shade is available for the duration of the activity.

Access to waterways for emergency vehicles and vessels must be available.

No single navigation system to be relied upon. Where an electronic system (e.g. GPS) is used, have spare batteries and another position-fixing method available (e.g. chart and compass).

Follow appropriate procedures for the use of incendiary devices, such as flares.

Ensure there is some means of reefing the sails when strong winds are likely to affect the activity. Note: Reefing may be undertaken by removing one or more sails from the standard working set of the large craft. Smaller sets of sails may be used as an alternative to reefing.

If privately owned equipment is being used, principal approval and owner consent/insurance details must be obtained prior to the activity (e.g. volunteer owned/operated vessels).

Private craft must have a signed Queensland Special Regulations Equipment Audit form relevant to the craft type and conditions.

 Hazards and controls

Further to those listed, include any additional hazards and control measures considering the local context of the activity.

Environmental hazards Control measures

Animal bites/diseases
Stings, poisoning, infection

Adhere to Queensland Government dangerous marine life and Surf Life Saving Queensland marine stinger safety guidelines for information on dangerous marine animals. Stings and bites by stonefish, irukandji and other dangerous marine animals can be fatal. For further information about types of poisoning and treatment available, consult Queensland Poisons Information Centre or phone 13 11 26.

Marine organisms not to be handled and contact with marine creatures to be avoided.

Continually assess threat of dangerous marine animals (if appropriate to location). Immediately move the participants to a safe location if dangerous marine creatures are detected or suspected.

Environmental conditions
Weather, surrounds

The school's sun safety strategy must be followed.

Follow the managing excessive heat in schools guidelines when participating in very hot or extreme heat conditions.

Facilities and equipment hazards Control measures


Continually assess threat of other vessels.


If vessel/s has a motor, refuel the vessel/s safely (e.g. all occupants to disembark prior to refuelling, switch off engines, maintain contact between hose nozzle and fixed pipe to prevent static sparks, ensure no smell of fuel from bilges). Do not allow students to refuel vessels.

Student considerations Control measures


Students aware of the location of emergency and first-aid equipment.

Manual handling
Lifting equipment

Use correct manual handling processes when lifting, lowering, pushing, pulling or carrying.

Physical exertion
Exhaustion and fatigue

Continually monitor students for signs of distress (e.g. fatigue, exhaustion, illness, hunger, dehydration, hypothermia, difficulty breathing and hyperventilation).

Adopt system of signals to clearly communicate the need for assistance if in difficulty.

Student issues
Student numbers, special needs, high risk behaviours, medical conditions, separation from the group

Remove accessories (e.g. jewellery, lanyards) before participating.

Ensure fingernails and hair do not pose a hazard.

Develop a procedure for students who may develop sea sickness.

Instruct participants to call or signal for assistance if a problem cannot be rectified immediately.

Implement procedures for regular head counts before, during and after activity and roll marking mechanisms for students leaving the activity.

Ensure that all participants work far enough apart that they are not struck by falling masts and to be aware of the boom at all times.


Have students wear easily identifiable clothing (e.g. high visibility rash vest).

Ensure staff can easily recognise those students with health support needs (in and out of the water) and are familiar with their needs.


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Last updated 14 July 2022