Former rugby pro becomes a successful yacht deckhand after completing the Professional Yachtmaster Offshore course

27-year-old Nicola Belardo, from Naples, Italy, went from professional rugby for the past 7 years, winning 3 Italian Championships, to turning his skills to sailing to start a new career. He is currently working as a deckhand on an 80m superyacht sailing all over Italy, the Cote D’Azur and Greece.


Nicola shares his story:

“Ever since I was just a month old, my father took me with him on the water with the rest of the family. I spent all summer and weekends on our “gozzo”, a typical Italian wood boat touring Capri, Ischia and Amalfi coast. We especially enjoyed underwater fishing then eating what we caught for lunch on-board.

The idea of travelling all over the world working on a boat and meeting people from different cultures inspired me to train professionally. I chose UKSA as a friend who was already in the industry said that UKSA was recognised across Europe for its professionalism and teaching skills. Gaining my yachtmaster qualification has helped me completely change my life.

At the end of my 4 months, I was sad to leave UKSA

I funded my Professional Yachtmaster Offshore course from my earnings. It was a really great experience; at the end of my 4 months I was so sad to leave UKSA. I met awesome people with a huge knowledge of the sailing world and I am still in touch with some of the guys as they have become good friends. My best memory of training at UKSA was our night passage in the middle of the Solent with 300m-long ships passing just a few metres from us. And while it was sometimes cold, windy and dark, the special part was a super nice sunrise to compensate!

Starting off my career in maritime went smoothly; just 5 days after passing my examination, I walked into my current job and am already looking forward to my next step in the industry. My advice to others contemplating a career change is: enjoy every single moment there, even the tough moments. Also, don’t forget to ask as many questions as you can because the people working there can teach you such a lot”.

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