National standard now available for course designers and instructors of HUMAN-propelled craft operation

Media Release

From the National On-water Standards Program
United States Coast Guard’s Non-profit Grant Program
National System of standards for Recreational Boat Operationonwaterstandards-logo-2016

WASHINGTON, D.C. (October 20, 2016) After five years of intense work involving national surveys and country-wide field-testing validation programs, the U.S. Coast Guard’s National On-Water Standards (NOWS) Program grant management team and American Boat and Yacht Council (ABYC) are pleased to announce the development of an American National Standard for recreational HUMAN-propelled craft operation.  This standard identifies the fundamental set of skills operators of HUMAN-propelled craft such as canoes, kayaks, rowboats, rafts, and stand-up paddleboards, should be able to perform as a result of receiving entry-level instruction. It is freely available to course designers and instructors as a powerful resource to know they are delivering recreational boating instruction that meets or exceeds the national standard.

Since 2011, US Sailing has been awarded grant funding from the U.S. Coast Guard to facilitate a consensus-based process by which a team of diverse SMEs from across the recreational boating community develop entry level, skill-based performance standards for recreational boat operation. An objective grant facilitator is designing and managing the collaborative development of SAIL, POWER and HUMAN propelled standards that will be made freely available and recognized (not mandated) by the US Coast Guard for voluntary incorporation in beginner level recreational boating training programs.

Formally approved on October 11, 2016, EDU-2 Skills-based HUMAN‐propelled Standard, the standard was developed by the NOWS Program Subject Matter Expert team, working in partnership with ABYC using its ANSI-approved process, and over one thousand volunteers across the country.  It was developed as part of the US Coast Guard’s goal to raise the overall quality, availability and consistency of On-Water skills-based recreational boating instruction.

The standard represents the consensus of recreational boating experts, and a definitive statement about what fundamental skills course designers and instructors should include within their training programs.  It was developed first on paper and then field-tested over 180 times at five different venues across the country to ensure it effectively identified the skill set entry-level boaters should have to help them safely operate HUMAN-propelled recreational craft.  Working in conjunction with knowledge-based standards, the standard puts course providers in the best position to develop highest quality, on-water skills-based instruction.

EDU-2 Skills-based HUMAN‐propelled Standard is one of three national standards planned to support skills-based instruction in recreational boat safety education and training.  The entry-level powerboat skills standard was approved in December 2015; with the entry-level sailboat skills standard planned for release later this year.  The HUMAN and POWER domain standards are available for free download at:

Contact: Brian Dorval, National On-Water Standards Facilitator,

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This effort is part of the US Coast Guard’s (USCG) vision of a National System of Standards for Recreational Boat Operation – that will organize both on-land knowledge and On-Water skills standards within a comprehensive system of recreational boating education. US Sailing, the grantee, has hired an impartial professional facilitator to spearhead the project so that all recreational boating constituencies are equally represented in the organization of this system. A core team of 43 Subject Matter Experts (SMEs) is developing On-Water Standards for SAIL, POWER and HUMAN-propelled domains of recreational boating. More information can be found at