National Standard now Available for Course Designers and Instructors of Sailing Programs

WASHINGTON, D.C. (June 13, 2017)After six 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 publication of an American National Standard (ANS) for recreational sailboat operation.  This ANS identifies the fundamental skills operators should be able to demonstrate as a result of receiving entry-level instruction in sailing. It is freely available to course designers and instructors for their use in designing and delivering high quality, skills-based instruction in sailing that meets or exceeds the national standard. The National Sail Standard is available for free download from ABYC’s online store.

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, skills-based performance standards for recreational boat operation. An objective facilitator designed and is managing the collaborative development of SAIL, POWER and HUMAN-propelled boating standards.  The resulting ANSs will be made freely available and recognized (not mandated) by the US Coast Guard for voluntary incorporation in beginner-level recreational boating training programs.

“We are spearheading one of the largest collaboration initiatives in recreational boating history.  Over 3,000 people from across the three domains of recreational boating have been directly involved in the process of developing and field-testing the recreational boating skills standards to ensure their usefulness in the field.  Along the way, we have stimulated new relationships with conversations and interactions across people and domains that will positively impact recreational boating education for the foreseeable future,” said Mr. James, P. Muldoon, past chairman of the National Boating Safety Advisory Council and NOWS Program Oversight Committee member.

Formally approved on May 25, 2017, EDU-3 Skills-based Sailboat Standard is one of three American National Standards developed by the NOWS Program, working in partnership with ABYC using its ANSI-approved process, and hundreds of volunteers across the country.   It was developed as part of the US Coast Guard’s initiative to raise the overall quality, availability and consistency of On-Water skills-based recreational boating instruction.

The sailing standard represents the consensus of recreational boating experts, and a definitive statement about what fundamental skills course designers and instructors should include within their sailing training programs.  It was developed on paper and then field-tested 197 times with over 60 beginner-level sailboat operators by 69 sailing instructors at five different venues across the country to ensure it effectively identified the skills entry-level boaters should have to help them safely operate recreational sailboats.  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.

All recreational boating safety education providers, large and small, national or local, are encouraged to use the sail standard 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 sailing, education providers can help create a culture of safety in recreational boating that reduces accidents and saves lives on our nation’s waterways.

The three skills-based ANSs are available for free download at: For further information about the NOWS Program, visit

Contact: K. Brian Dorval, National On-Water Standards (NOWS) Facilitator,

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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