by Jake Fish
US Sailing, the National Governing Body of the sport, has selected 12 Powerboat Training Centers to serve as a model and resource for sharing best practices with start-up powerboat facilities in their regions, as well as hosting powerboat instructor and safe powerboat handling courses. The development of powerboat training centers is an objective of the Drivers Education for Boaters™, awarded to US Sailing by the U.S. Coast Guard last July.
Here is the list of US Sailing Powerboat Training Centers, sorted by state and region:
California (West Coast)
* The School of Sailing and Seamanship Orange Coast College / Newport Beach, Calif.
* California Maritime Academy / Vallejo, Calif.
* J World San Diego / San Diego, Calif.
* Pettipaug Sailing Academy / Essex, Conn.
* Edison Sailing Center / Ft. Myers, Fla.
* Shake-a-Leg / Miami, Fla.
Illinois/Michigan/Wisconsin (Great Lakes Region/Midwest)
* City of Chicago Parks District / Chicago, Ill.
* Downtown Sailing Center / Baltimore, Md.
* Community Boating Center / New Bedford, Mass.
New York/New Jersey/Connecticut (Northeast)
* State University of New York (SUNY) Maritime College / Bronx, N.Y.
Texas (Gulf Coast)
* Gateway Sailing School / Kemah, Texas
Former US Sailing President and current Chairman of the National Safety Boating Advisory Council, Jim Muldoon, had this to say about the direction of this program, 'US Sailing’s partnership with the U.S. Coast Guard continues to play an important role in the growth of our powerboat programs. We are excited about expanding US Sailing’s on-the-water education and awareness strategies for safe powerboating practices in the U.S. These training centers will play a significant part in supporting our educational programs and best practices in general.'
A set of criteria was established to evaluate and select these Powerboat Training Centers. US Sailing reviewed U.S. Coast Guard accident report statistics to identify the most popular boating areas with the most reported accidents, injuries, fatalities and property damage. Additional criteria included the organization’s commitment to boating safety, incentive to aggressively promote on-the-water training, active US Sailing Certified Instructor(s), facilities to support first rate on-the-water training, serve as a model to replicate at emerging or future sites, and can be sustained at this facility beyond this grant.
Richard Jepsen, Chair of the US Sailing Training Committee said, 'By creating a solid infrastructure in the busiest powerboating regions, the powerboat program will be able to reach thousands of new boaters with high quality hands-on-training. Our powerboat training program will enjoy a vastly improved infrastructure of centers, equipment and certified instructors, as well as enhanced visibility to the public. Through this program funded by the U.S. Coast Guard, US SAILING is becoming known in federal and state boating safety organizations as the premier on-the-water training provider in the United States.'
In July of 2010, the U.S. Coast Guard has awarded US Sailing with a significant one-year Drivers Education for Boaters™ grant. These funds are being used to support the increase in retention and acceptance of safe boating practices, expand our on-the-water training capacity, ensure sustainable powerboat training facilities, reduce accidents, and create effective marketing and branding tools. US Sailing set out to achieve these goals by utilizing powerboat training coordinators in strategically targeted locations, developing and promoting the Drivers Education for Boaters™ brand through a marketing campaign, building the powerboat training capacity by identifying and supporting the acquisition of equipment through partnerships and buying cooperatives, facilitating information exchange and adoption of best management practices, and supporting life jacket wear observations. US Sailing values the importance of expanding on-the-water training to local communities.
US Sailing developed the first national on-the-water hands-on certification for small powerboat handling. The US Sailing Powerboat Handling Certification Program offers Safe Powerboat Handling™, Safety and Rescue™ / Support Boat Handling™, and Powerboat Instructor courses. Topics covered in the hands-on courses include docking, close quarters maneuvering, high speed turns and stops and emergency procedures including person in water recovery. US Sailing Certified Instructors provide flexible, entry-level courses for adults and youth. The course may be structured for precision boathandling sessions for support boat operators.