Sailing Association Certification Program
The American Sailing Association
(ASA) is an association of sailing schools, professional sailing instructors,
sailors and charter companies. There are over 180 affiliated sailing schools
located throughout the U.S., Canada and the Caribbean, offering the ASA
certification programs to individuals who meet the minimum requirements.
ASA was established with the goal of
increasing sailing safety by establishing standards for sailing education. In
nearly every other nation where sailing is popular, there is some sort of
organization overseeing educational standards. Until ASA implemented its
certification program in 1983, there was no such unity in the U.S.
ASA educational system has a strong
heritage. Rather than starting at ground zero, the founders of ASA studied
programs available in other countries. Eventually the Canadian Yachting
Association's (CYA) "Learn to Cruise" program was selected and
licensed by ASA for use in the U.S. The system continues to be improved upon
through the valuable input of the ASA school network. The ASA works closely with
other nations through the International Sailing Schools Association (ISSA) in an
effort to co-ordinate international standards.
The certification program has been immensely
successful in the U.S. There is no other program like it. By meeting established
criteria, a sailing school may offer ASA certification to students. The most
rigorous of the requirements concerns the school's instructional staff.
Instructors must be certified at Instructor Qualification Clinic (IQCS)
conducted by Instructor Evaluators. The intensive clinic measures the instructor
candidate's knowledge of sailing and seamanship, practical sailing ability and
teaching ability. The ASA Instructor Training Program is extremely demanding
because of the importance ASA places on the professional instructor. Nearly 3000
instructors have been qualified as ASA Certified Instructors. Only these
instructors are empowered to certify students to the ASA system.
This intensive quality control is designed
to ensure that a student can be confident that they will receive quality
instruction at any ASA school. The benefits of certification are immediately
obvious. The ASA system has seven levels of certification. The newcomer
begins at the ASA Basic Keelboat Sailing Standard. Upon successful completion of
the first course, (which includes both written and practical on-the-water
exams), the student receives a seal, for his personal Logbook as proof of their
competence at the first level of certification.
All standards have a written exam that tests
the student at the appropriate level. All standards, except the two navigation
levels, require a practical on-the-water checkout. The ashore and afloat
requirements for each standard are outlined in the ASA Log Book.
The ASA system promotes continuing
education. There is always more for a sailor to learn. Upper level standards
provide goals to be achieved and challenge the experienced sailor's ability. ASA
certification is recognized at over 130 sailing clubs and charter companies in
the U.S. and the Caribbean. Many offer rental/charter discounts to sailors who
are certified above the Basic Coastal Cruising level. The sailor's official ASA
Log Book provides proof of ability that can make charter checkouts easier and
less time-consuming. The Bareboat Charter Standard is specifically designed for
For the experienced sailor, ASA offers the
opportunity to "challenge" the system. Individuals must simply pass
the written and practical sailing requirements of the desired standard with an
instructor aboard. This enables the experienced sailor to become certified
without having to take a course at school.
ASA has come a long way towards achieving
its goals. By establishing national standards for sailing education, ASA has
ensured that more people will be brought into the sport safely with the proper
training and respect for their responsibilities as boaters. ASA certification
provides a meaningful measure of a sailor's ability and a structure for the
sailing industry. Ultimately, it will be through this sort of self-policing that
sailing will keep the specter of mandatory government licensing out of our
Letís Go Sailing 6122 Long Drive, Houston, Texas 77087-2008 (832-221-4431 or 800-950-7035)