ICS was set up in 1980 by Bryan Willis, former International Judge and Chief Umpire of the America's Cup; Olympic Jury Chairman; international authority on the Racing Rules of sailing; author of several popular books on the rules; nautical adjudicator; and in 2020 Bryan was inducted into the America's Cup Hall of Fame. ICS courses went on to gain international acclaim with many high profile attendees including Peter and Zara Phillips, and many who would go onto enjoy illustrious careers in the sport not least Olympic medalists Andrew Simpson and Sarah Webb. Bryan retired from running ICS in 2006 handing over to his son Jae.
Jae Willis has over twenty five years experience working with young people in sailing, teaching at various clubs in the UK and abroad. Jae was introduced to the effectiveness of understanding psychological states when teaching children from his father who included aspects of child psychology in the ICS instructor handbook. Jae went on to study psychotherapy at Middlesex university and has worked extensively with children and young adults in a variety of settings. Sailing and outdoor pursuits are, in his view, some of the best ways to build confidence and make positive life affirming memories. Jae has now moved operations to a residential venue in the Isle of Wight where he draws on all his experience in teaching and running courses, his own adventures and love for nature, his understanding of child psychology, and his desire to create a truly magical experience for young people with sailing at its core.
Learn more about our courses on this page. If you have already booked onto a course, read our welcome info here.
Having an excellent team that understands the ICS ethos is an essential element in keeping up our renowned high standards. We require instructors to not only be great sailors but also patient teachers who know how to make learning to sail a fun and rewarding experience. And when it comes to advanced race training we utilise our best racing coaches, some of whom raced Optimists &/or Toppers at an international level. All our race coaches compete regularly at national and international events.
Adventure Courses are 4 days, 4 nights - full residential
We use cruising dinghies with up to four skippers per boat. For less experienced skippers, an instructor will be on board. These courses are not solely sailing courses, though sailing is a large and significant part. Skippers learn to sail or improve their already existing skills, taking turns to control every aspect of the boat, from helm to anchor. The boats are also fitted with outboard motors so the skippers learn to operate the boats under power as well as sail.
Syllabus & Awards
ICS is structured around the belief that if a person is enjoying the experience of learning to sail they will be more inclined to want to learn and they'll do so more effectively and effortlessly. So our primary concern is that all the skippers have a thoroughly fabulous time! In addition to all the fun, we work with our own syllabus to structure the sailing sessions and get excellent results.
Syllabus & Awards
This is not an RYA accredited course. Because of the focus on adventure, we decided not to be beholden to a syllabus. Although we do have a schedule that includes specific aspects such as navigation, lee shore landings, tidal awareness and more, we also aim to teach aspects that are not in the RYA syllabus, such as use of an outboard engine, anchoring, how to navigate through shallow waters, and how to have lunch whilst hove-to! Our focus is to teach these things through practical application and experience. ICS certificates will be awarded along with prizes and special awards. Rather than progressing through the RYA syllabus, we want skippers to leave feeling more confident in themselves to handle a variety of situations on the water.
If you have already booked onto a course and are looking for more practical information - read our welcome info here →
All instruction at an average overall instructor/student ratio of 1:4 (the RYA standard is 1:6).
Top Quality Food
Fully catered on site with fresh, locally sourced ingredients (where possible).
Healthy breakfast, elevenses, Pre-chosen packed lunches, tea with sandwiches, biscuits and cakes, two course cooked evening meal. Snacks available throughout the day including fruit and yoghurts. All specific dietary requirements catered for.
Each skipper will receive their own branded ICS T-Shirt, fair-trade and organic.
Course photos are uploaded on to the parents' WhatsApp group during the course so you can see how they're getting on.
All Relevant Awards
There are a variety of awards available during the course, including team awards, adventure certificates (showing level of competence reached from Adventurer to Captain), and the ICS practical sailing award 'The Copper Captain' equal to the coveted 'Copper Oppy' or 'Copper Topper' awarded on the single handed courses.
All travel to and from the island
No Spending Money Required
We provide everything each skipper needs for the course so there is no need for spending money during an ICS course.
There is no minimum swimming experience required to attend an ICS course, however if a skipper can’t swim we must be made aware and they should wear a full life-jacket (rather than a buoyancy aid) at all times when on or near the water.
There is no requirement to belong to a sailing club.
Wherever possible we will use recycled products – from paper to bin bags.
Wherever possible and in relation to availability we will use fresh and locally sourced food products.
We will only use environmentally friendly cleaning products.
We recycle our waste where possible.
For the company T Shirts and Hoodies we use the environmentally friendly screen printers 'T-shirt and Sons' who provide us with organic and fairly traded garments and use earth friendly ink.
"Thanks so much Jae. Such a happy and healthy lot of children - a great tribute to you and the whole ICS team."
_Dr. Cecilia Bottomley.
"Fab photos Jae. Thanks! And another great course. All 3 Hardwicks loved it!"
"Millie has enjoyed your course so much this week that Hamish is filling in the application for Papercourt Membership as I type this! Thank you so much."
"Thank you for the role ICS played in helping our children build a love of sailing. Jess is now SE optimist zone squad coach with level 2 racing and dinghy instructor as well as being a keen 29er sailor. James after a 5th at the Feva worlds is now in 29ers also and Annie made Zone squads in the Oppy!"
"I wanted to thank you for the course this week for Poppy and Elise, which has been a huge success. They absolutely loved the sailing and couldn't be more enthusiastic about Teresa and Hannah and everything they learned, so a huge thank you to them. The great food also featured in their delight, so thank you for that!"
"Thank you for a superb course. Both of my 2 thoroughly enjoyed themselves and Felix was stoked to win the copper Oppy! A lovely touch."
"Belated thanks for a spectacular week at papercourt for Thomas and Arabella green. Thank you very much for organising a great experience for the kids."
_Benedicta green .
"Just a big thanks from me for all you did for Gemma last week."
"Thanks for the fantastic Oppy course that Sebastian did last week. He loved it, and we loved watching them all on Thurs."
"My daughter was pretty nervous the night before and after the first day but then felt very relaxed and thought her group instructor was brilliant. The atmosphere was great and the food was spot on, so thank you for organising such a successful week. We’ll definitely be back next year."
_Mrs Le Butt.
"Jae, thanks for everything last week. Simply the best and most well organised sailing course for young people in the country."
"Phoebe, Daisy and Polly really really loved their sailing course. Even better Phoebe got over her sailing angst and is now relaxed and enthusiastic and longing to do it again. It really was the high spot of Easter. We would definitely like to do it again next year if possible – adding Violet as well (Heintz no 4) They wrote you some letters which you can find attached. Thank you for such a great course – beautifully organised and wonderfully designed for that age group."
"Hi Jae, I just wanted to say a belated thank you for the excellent first sailing experience that Daniel and Millie had last week. They both thoroughly enjoyed themselves and clearly learnt alot in a really fun environment. I thought that the atmosphere was lovely, and particularly enjoyed seeing the kids all helping each other out getting their boats ready. They were both really keen to complete their homefun every evening and get ready for weather forecasting. I am busy recommending the experience to all their friends."
Stephan Groves is a professional Yacht Skipper currently working in the Caribbean. Paul, Stephan's father, has kindly put together this short account of his son's sailing journey (so far) that started with ICS in 1992