Sailing Education Providers
There are many ways to learn how to sail, including just going out and buying a boat and learn as you go. There are also over 18,000,000 videos when you do a Google search for learn how to sail. Tens of thousands of books, articles, or sites to help you figure it all out. You may easily find thousands of sailors and instructors that will show you the ropes and teach you without any formal certification process.
For those that are looking for a formal certification for sailing, below are the major recognized sailing certification providers, listed in alphabetical order. Each requires a classroom and on-the-water evaluation to gain their certifications.
- American Sailing Association (ASA) - The American Sailing Association was founded in 1983 with a simply stated mission: to teach people to sail safely and confidently. To achieve that goal, the ASA set out to establish standards against which to measure a sailor’s level of knowledge and skill, the first such unified standards in the U.S. to apply to sailors in keelboats. Today, the ASA is an association of sailing schools, charter companies, professional sailing instructors, and sailors, with over 400 affiliated sailing schools located throughout the U.S., as well as in the Caribbean, Europe, Central America, and Asia. These accredited schools offer ASA certification to individuals who meet the requirements for a given level. To date, ASA schools have certified over half a million sailors!
- Royal Yachting Association (RYA) - RYA stands for Royal Yachting Association. Set up in 1875 as the Yacht Racing Association, the RYA has since become the national governing body for dinghy, motor and sail cruising, all forms of sail racing, RIBs and sportsboats, windsurfing and personal watercraft and a leading representative body for inland waterways cruising. The RYA exists to get more people into boating and watersport activities, promote safe boating practices and raise the standards of yachting and sailing in the UK through its network of more than 2,400 RYA recognised training centres in more than 58 countries, and more than 1,500 RYA affiliated clubs.
- United States Sailing Association (US Sailing) - US Sailing, the National Governing Body for the Sport of Sailing, has been serving sailors since 1897 and our commitment to our more than 45,000 members is to provide a safe, fun and successful experience. We developed a certification system that makes learning to sail easy and fun and supports you as you work to achieve your goals. All of our programming is designed to help you learn safely and with confidence and our educational materials are created by dedicated volunteer experts who share their passion and knowledge of sailing and education. Whether you’re planning to cruise over the horizon, or sail in local waters near home, we’re here to help you gain the knowledge and the skills to achieve your goals. As the National Governing Body for sailing, US Sailing accredits only the top schools in the country. Today, the membership of US Sailing is over 1,700 organizations strong, and counting.
While taking a course, passing the on-the-water practical examination, and passing the written examination are great training, having a credential or certification from any of these education providers, or their affiliated schools, is not enough to allow you to bareboat charter on your own. You need practical, logged, and verifiable experience in taking vessels out with or without crew to continue your education. Great sailors and mariners always learn something new, many times from their mistakes, with each day they log on the water.
When looking at any learning materials, always consider the quality of the materials and the quality of the instructors. Even with ASA, RYA, and US Sailing certifications, do your homework and research the affiliated school, their instructors, class sizes, etc. Some schools have a maximum of two students per instructor/class, others will put you on a boat with 9 other students and one instructor. Consider the waters you will be training in, and of course the associated cost of the training to match your budget.
The most important thing you can do after you take any sailing course, or earning any sailing certification, is to practice, practice, practice. Finding a local school that has boats for bareboat charter to past and current students will help you gain the necessary experience to be confident to go anywhere in the world. Remmeber to log each trip on your Trusted Sailing Resume!