Sailing since childhood and most recently, benefiting from the government's NEIS initiative, Neil Driscoll is as highly qualified as he could be in training in recreational boating.
Above & Beyond Boating training
He has sailed all over the world since he was five and done everything from skippering an Atlantic crossing from the Caribbean to playing an integral part in Martin Silk’s Sydney Hobart 2010 PHS overall win.
At the top of his game, he realised last year that he had found a niche area for a new business, using his skills to help boat owners, novice or experienced, improve their sailing knowledge on their own boat, whilst also providing top level maintenance. The basic idea for Above & Beyond Boating was there, but Neil needed help getting started.
That was when he heard about the New Enterprise Initiative Scheme (NEIS). NEIS is one of the government’s longest running employment activities, and has helped more than 126,000 unemployed people start and operate a wide range of new small businesses around Australia.
Having had his idea approved and subsequently completed the course, he attended a final interview, and used his new knowledge to pitch his improved business plan. The panel were more than convinced, and Above & Beyond Boating was born.
'What the NEIS course meant specifically for Above & Beyond Boating was that I can now make sure I have the insurance I need to be able to work on boats that are very substantial in size and value, and be insured to teach on them, drive them and maintain them, is a significant cost. The financial support from NEIS meant I could afford to do that whereas it wouldn’t have been viable otherwise.'
Neil received not only the tools needed to grow his business, but all important funding assistance that meant he could dedicate all his time to doing so. He has spent the last year building his business plan and creating useful connections, although as is often the case in the boating world, word of mouth is proving to be his best marketing tool.
An area which he has realised needs attention, is helping people who would like to own a boat, but don’t yet know how to sail it. Here, Above & Beyond Boating can be onboard from the start, with the personalised service he specialises in.
Boat owners can learn everything they need to know about running their boat, can gain qualifications and get high quality training in all aspects from parking in high winds to racing strategies.
Craig McKenzie is one such happy customer. As one of many with a dream to one day own a boat and spend weekends sailing with friends and family. When his perfect boat became available 5 years sooner than expected, he faced two obstacles: he hadn’t yet learnt to sail, and his boat was 250 nm away from where he planned to keep it.
That’s when he found Above & Beyond Boating, who helped make his dream a reality.
Here are Craig’s thoughts: 'From the very first day on the boat, Neil made me feel comfortable and confident. He not only thoroughly knew his stuff but has the great ability to communicate this clearly to others and ensure that whatever he was teaching was being understood. At times I was pushed well outside my comfort zone, however I never felt as if anything was out of control or that I wouldn’t be able to handle a situation.
'I not only learnt how to sail but the many other things involved in owning and operating a boat safely and responsibly. As well as the practical training, the regular debriefs and conversations, really helped clarify and consolidate everything I was learning. On top of this, the checklists and procedures Neil produced specifically for me and my new boat, will be a valuable resource well into the future.
'Although I still consider myself a novice, Neil has provided me with a strong foundation which will enable me to continue on this adventure with confidence.
'Above and Beyond is not just a fancy name, but an accurate description of the service and effort put in by Neil. I wouldn’t hesitate in recommending him to anyone and I thank him for the great head start he has provided me with.'
Neil’s personalised service and high standards have seen his first year of business gain many happy clients and he is currently managing yachts in various clubs around Sydney's Northern Beaches where he has lived since 2006.
More at www.aabboating.com.au