Comprehensive “How-to” Guide Available for Recreational Sailboat Instruction


WASHINGTON, D.C. (July 12, 2017) The U.S. Coast Guard’s National On-Water Standards (NOWS) Program grant management team and the American Boat & Yacht Council (ABYC) are pleased to announce the release of a new comprehensive “How-to…” guide for providing On-Water instruction in sailing. The SAIL Standard Technical Support Document (SAIL TSD) was developed to assist education providers, course developers and instructors in designing and implementing skills-based instruction and assessment in recreational boating that meet the American National Standard (ANS) for sailboat operation.

This 160-page document contains the most complete set of information and tools available to assist education providers, including:

  • Information about the national skills standard for sailboat operation, why it was developed, and why education providers should use it in their sailing instructional courses and programs
  • Tips and recommendations from recreational boating experts across the country for how to use the national standard to design, develop and implement courses, curricula, syllabi, and lesson plans that deliver high-quality On-Water, skills-based sailboat instruction, and
  • Guidelines for using performance assessment rubrics to design specific behaviors into programs that result in skilled entry-level sailboat operation

The Sail TSD also contains additional support materials for designing and implementing On-Water instruction, including:

  • The Sail ANS itself (titled EDU-3 Skills-based Sailboat Standard)
  • An extensively field-tested Checklist Tool for assessing student performance as well as calibrating student evaluations to ensure consistency across instructors
  • The Sailing Knowledge ANS for use in designing instruction that integrates recreational boating skills and knowledge, and
  • Information, guidelines and suggestions for how to ensure On-Water, skills-based instructional programming complies with the national standard for entry-level sailing skills.

The Sail TSD is freely available for download as a PDF from the NOWS Program website ( and the ABYC Online Store (

All recreational boating safety education providers, large and small, national or local, are encouraged to use the materials contained within the Sail TSD to develop or enhance their On-Water instruction.  By taking an active role in raising the overall quality and availability of skills-based training and instruction for entry-level recreational sailboat operation, education providers can help create a culture of safety in recreational boating that reduces accidents and saves lives on our nation’s waterways.

TSDs for Powerboat and Human-propelled craft instruction are also available on both websites.

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The National On-Water Standards (NOWS) Program is a collaboration initiative lead by a diverse group of 27 volunteer Subject Matter Experts from many different recreational boating organizations across the recreational boating community.

Funded in part from US Coast Guard Grants awarded to US Sailing, and facilitated by a professional facilitator, the purpose of the NOWS Program is to help raise the overall quality, consistency and availability of recreational boating entry-level skills instruction throughout the United States.  It does this by developing national standards and tools education providers can use to teach people skills in how to operate recreational powerboats, sailboats or human-propelled craft.  The ultimate goal is to increase the level of safety and enjoyment recreational boaters experience on our nation’s waterways… saving lives in the process.

Thus far, the NOWS Program has established three ANSs identifying the skills associated with safely operating a SAIL, POWER or HUMAN-propelled recreational boat at an entry level.  The NOWS Program is currently in the process of establishing a fourth national standard designed to help education providers develop high-quality approaches to delivering On-Water skills Instruction.

More information can be found at