Who has the best sailing training program out there?
Well, NauticEd of course! But we did write this article so you’ll have to make your own mind up after you read all this.
First, to set the lay of the land (water) of who does sailing training in the USA. There are three main organizations who affiliate themselves with privately-held practical training school operators in various locations. These three organizations issue their own certifications and issue training guidelines and standards (to various degrees) to the practical schools. The organizations are:
- NauticEd International Sailing Education (Privately held company) (NauticEd short for Nautical Education)
- US Sailing (Nonprofit company)
- ASA or the American Sailing Association (Privately held company)
You might be saying, but wait a minute, ASA is the “American” sailing association. Aren’t they the official body? No! And far from it actually.
In the United States, the federal government does not get involved in training or licensing recreational sailors or boaters. However, in 2017, the US Coast Guard created the American National Standards (ANS) for Sailing Training and Assessment. The standard was subsequently accepted by the American National Standards Institute which is part of ISO (the International Standards Organization). The United States Coast Guard hoped that organizations would voluntarily pick up on ANS and run with it.
To date (2019), only NauticEd has adopted ANS and has been audited and accepted as conforming to the standard. Thus, in actual fact, NauticEd is the only officially recognized sailing training body in the USA. From the very inception of NauticEd in 2007, “competence” was the one word used to describe how the company and sailing training program was to be built. And now, as the only organization to be recognized by the United States Coast Guard (and subsequently every state and territory of the United States), NauticEd is at the top of the government recognition chart.
In tennis, that’s “15 – love” (to NauticEd)!
Only NauticEd has fully adopted a 21st-century approach to sailing training. NauticEd’s courses are in eLearning format in ebooks and online AND in paper book format. But even the paper book format has embedded videos and animations through a hybrid approach using QR codes to bring the book alive when needed. NauticEd’s eLearning software was purpose built. From the start of NauticEd, it was recognized that a canned piece of eLearning software would not work for sailing training. It needed to be tied to a practical training element which no canned, off-the-shelf, generic software can do.
30 – love (to NauticEd)
Only NauticEd has taken an experience approach when issuing competency certificates. You cannot get “zero to hero” or a recognized “bareboat charter certificate” in 5 days with NauticEd. Actually, no one can – that’s just a marketing ploy. Ask any charter company; you cannot charter a yacht after 5 days of training no matter what certificate you have. NauticEd’s electronic logbook and resume software approach gives the student and the student’s instructor a proper structured growth tool whereby competency is properly recognized. NauticEd’s Bareboat Charter Certificate is the only one in the world accepted on face value as being worthy of chartering. This is because the Bareboat Charter Certificate is only awarded when a student’s resume documents sufficient practical theory and experience and is therefore deemed charter-ready.
40 – love (to NauticEd)
And only NauticEd takes a fully vertically integrated software approach to training the student from the online course material and examinations to on-the-water instruction via an instructor, to the school administration, and on up even to the yacht charter company whereby they are able to view 24/7 a cloud-based sailing resume of the student.
But what is really game, set, and match is the following (which is really written to address ASA affiliated sailing schools but, as a consumer, you are welcome to read the following as well – just so that you understand the sailing education industry a little more and to help you make an informed decision about the best sailing education).
BEST VS BRAND
NauticEd has invested an incredible amount of time, energy, funding, and technology in the past 10 years to make sailing education simpler and easier for the Student, the Instructor, and the School. ASA relies on its older more known brand and market dominance to hold position in the market. But that strategy never works long term. Pretty soon consumers find out which is the best for them.
Here is a graphical representation and decision tree matrix of how NauticEd has become the best sailing education and certification provider to students and schools. And it helps schools to decide who they should align with going forward.
ASA’s Exclusive Dealing Contract
ASA has been in business for about 30 years, and so naturally, they have admittedly become the larger recognized brand. They hold a monopolistic position on the market and have almost become the eponym of the market. “I’m going to get my ASA 101”, means, in reality, “I’d like to learn to sail”. Or an “ASA 104” means, “I’m wanting to learn to bareboat charter a sailboat”. Kind of like Blockbuster 10 years ago, you’d say “I’m going to rent a movie from blockbuster tonight”. Or kleenex, escalator, dumpster, aspirin, jeep, popsicle, zipper – you get the point. A brand name just becomes a meaning. But there are lessons to be learned from Blockbuster, Kodak, and Nokia. Brands need to keep their eye on the ball if they are to remain competitive and a favorite in the market.
With NauticEd’s highly competitive position price wise and highly desired technology creating incredible ease of use, ASA has switched tactics to try to maintain its market position that has lead to a detriment to the consumer.
ASA’s affiliated sailing schools are now required by contract to deal exclusively with ASA only. In fact, the contract specifically points out NauticEd as a company that ASA affiliated schools cannot deal with or offer NauticEd training systems. ASA is effectively using its monopolistic position to drive fear into schools rather than developing a better product. It is the old bow tie or peanut butter argument; a peanut butter brand – say JIF cannot legally use its power position in the market to force stores to not carry a new (possibly tastier and healthy) startup peanut butter brand. A store being forced by JIF peanut butter to only carry JIF or not at all – may opt to cower and accede to the dominant firm’s wish for exclusive dealing and remove other brands from the shelves.
To ASA schools, I say this:
As a sailing school, you’re also a business owner. As such, you should be able to conduct your business the way you see fit. ASA’s exclusive dealings contract disallows this philosophy and prevents you from offering multiple products on your own business shelf. It also indicates the threat ASA feels from NauticEd and other sailing organizations. Such fear can only be because it recognizes the viability of the NauticEd system and the betterment of the products. As such, shouldn’t you at least check us out?
Fair trade laws in the United States (and every first world country) were clearly written for the benefit of the consumer. Congress recognized in the early 1900’s that allowing monopolies to stymie innovation would never lead to a healthy economy and ultimately allow the degradation of products and services. Without these laws (Sherman Act 1 and 2 and the Clayton Act), Monopolies could rely on threats to its dealers and outlets rather than spending money on the betterment of the product and thus upstarts could be forced out of the market. The consumer is ultimately benefited by allowing companies to present the best product to the consumer and let the consumer decide. In this manner innovation thrives, profits thrive, business thrives and the consumer is happy. (And the government gets to collect more taxes. Clever!) Thus Congress outlawed exclusive dealing contracts whereby a dominant player in a market could threaten companies such as yourselves.
I also reference ASA’s policy letter sent out to schools a few years back. Here is what the letter said:
“Regarding the two or three new players in the so-called online certification arena, ASA believes Internet-based learning systems are not in the best interests of our schools. They will commoditize classroom learning and lead to significantly lower margins for the remaining on-the-water portion of these courses. Schools will be under more pressure to compete on price, and instruction quality will inevitably suffer. Accordingly, ASA has not developed its own online course.
As a consumer, you should be pretty pissed off at this policy! Certainly, the above statement focuses more on the collusion of price-fixing at the expense to the consumer. Here is ASA a dominant player and brand in the market with a policy to not offer online courses because it would lower costs to the consumer and thus lower profits.
And now since schools affiliated with NauticEd are thriving with more students and a better product, we have proof that this policy was also NOT in the best interests of the schools after all. Rather the policy was more likely in the sole interest of NOT spending its own profits on developing technology for the betterment of the product – and probably because the technology to match NauticEd would be in the range of 1 million (just speaking from experience). Oh, and one more activity that is prevented by Congress outlawed are tying arrangements. ASA forces a school to buy a membership for the student in order to give a certification to the student. Doesn’t that make you mad? Certainly, this is not for the benefit of the consumer.
Given the above behavior, I’m having trouble coming up with a reason to try to block NauticEd out of the market using an exclusive dealing contract other than maintaining dominance. Certainly it is not quality of the product and certainly, it is not safety (since NauticEd meets and exceeds the American National Standards). And Certainly, we all know that the consumer is asking for NauticEd products and technology.
I say “Stop holding schools at ransom for your own purposes. Open it up and let the consumer decide and let the schools decide which product best fits their own customer’s desires and needs”.
NauticEd is an Easy Choice for the 21st Century
Well into our 10th year in modernizing (and disrupting) the sailing education and certification business, NauticEd is thriving with direct sales to the consumer, affiliated practical training schools, modern vertically integrated school management software, and national and international recognition. Our technology approach makes NauticEd the easy choice for the 21st century for students, instructors, and schools. Our 21st century eLearning platform delivers the most captivating and enjoyable sailing education content. Just like the rise of Uber, AirBnB, VRBO, and Netflix, NauticEd represents the shift in consumerism.
It is clear that there are student demands for online sailing education. US Sailing has online education, and even the RYA, the world’s oldest, largest and most respected sailing education program, has a whole suite of ebook courses (the RYA explicitly embraces NauticEd for our online RYA Day Skipper course). All the while, ASA hides under an exclusive dealing contract with no eLearning investment for the schools, instructors, or the consumer.
Sailing schools that have quit ASA to come over to the NauticEd 21st Century Sailing Education platform are reporting increased sales and increased profits. Students are happier and feel more competent because of our government recognized practical education standards and the comprehensive training both in theory and practical. Schools have vastly reduced their administrative costs; no more buying stocking and mailing books, no more buying stocking and mailing logbooks or paper tests. No more proctoring and grading tests. Students show up to class more knowledgeable because they have engaged in the captivating theory material online beforehand. This allows the instructor to deliver more practical information in the same amount of time giving rise to more competent and happier students. Schools receive checks quarterly from NauticEd. Schools can convert prospects faster by dropping free modern 21st-century online theory courses to the student within 20 seconds of receiving a phone call.
Simply put, NauticEd has an awesome platform that is vertically integrated from the student, up to the instructor, up to the school and onto the yacht charter company with fully modern robust software. The software helps the student gain a fully cloud-based sailing resume guiding them all the way through training and assessment to chartering a yacht in the Caribbean or Mediterranean with an instantly downloadable sailing resume, certification, and License.
Brand in the 21st Century
I recently bought a Greenworks electric lawnmower from Amazon. I’d never heard of Greenworks but now I love it and I now also have a Greenworks leaf blower too. BUT I only bought it AFTER I had checked out consumer ratings which were great. A few whiners about how it did not mow their entire 3-acre lawn in one charge (like a tank of smoke spewing petrol engine mower), but by and large, the Greenworks was a clear winner. You should get one – they are awesome. So note what just happened: I used consumer ratings to make a buying decision and now I am recommending an unknown brand to you because of my user experience. This is the 21st century way.
In the 21st century, some would argue that brand identity is key and some would say brand is dead. The real answer lies in what how company approaches the market. Think about Blackberry or Kodak! Companies relying on brand alone are simply becoming obsolete due to complacency. Savvy consumers rely on technology, connection, personal experience, and trust via consumer ratings. Think about the above Blockbuster example and then pile on Netflix – who won that battle? Netflix had a clear winning technology – yet no one had heard of them – but for $10 per month you could try it out. Do you even still have a Nokia phone in an old drawer somewhere? (it is next to the ASA paper logbook btw). Did you know that Kodak actually invented the digital camera? Yet, they only exist in a Paul Simon song nowadays. Are phone shops out of business? No the technology got better and they are integrated with phone companies and computer companies. Are red phone booths out of business? They certainly are, along with video rental stores.
Brand survivability then, requires a responsibility – and that responsibility is to make profit while best serving the consumer needs.
A brand surviving on an exclusive dealing contract is weighing its dealers down. So, who wants to be tied to that?
For you as a sailing school, when the phone rings and a potential sailing school student uses the eponym “I’d like an ASA 101”, a school can now simply say “oh great you want to learn how to sail right?”. “Yes” will be the answer. Then you can go on to recommend your personal real favorite type of training that will really serve the customer. Simply enough, you can drop NauticEd FREE courses on their computer or smartphone in 20 seconds as a trial (or if you like you can mail them an ASA book). Simple, job done, new very happy and excited customer!
Discover for yourself as a business owner why keeping up and modernization is better than sticking solely with an old brand. It’s because your consumers are smarter with information technology at their fingertips (or even by voice command with Siri or Alexa). More important than actual brand these days is taking note of available consumer research. A consumer can easily sort out who has the best technology and ratings of anything from washing machines (think of LG – they entered the market because they had a clear technology jump over others) to electric lawn mowers (Greenworks above).
Here is some great reading that might help you discover why monopoly brands are becoming less viable and the threat of ASA is actually pretty shallow these days.
And check out these customer reviews of NauticEd:
NauticEd makes sailing education simple and accessible: Peter Nielson, Cheif Editor -Sail Magazine
I am impressed with my students and the way they came so prepared for a week-long charter, not knowing a thing about sailing prior to that. Kudo to this program. Jean Loup Dalle – Sailing Instructor Canada
It’s impressed me that although my sailing experience spans over 65 years, I always learn something new when going to your website. This is particularly true when using NED. Albert D. Student
I’ve sailed for the last 30+ years on my own boats and I have a 50 ton Masters credential. I’m constantly learning something new or forgotten from NauticEd. L.N – Student
Keep up the amazing work you’re doing with NauticED. I’m a huge fan! Maja G. – Student
The most professionally organized sailing training I’ve seen. The adaptation of combining e-learning with a practical experience based sailing certification is impressive. Well done! Michael L – Student
As a professional power boat captain and boating instructor, I was impressed with the level of detailed content and practical teaching information covered in the series of NauticEd courses. Captain John D. – Instructor
I am a retired Superintendent of Schools and currently provide online professional development for the principals in the province of Ontario. Consequently, the NauticEd program has been of considerable interest on a variety of levels. Your platform is exceptional. Dr. Andrew S. – Student
At MIT’s sailing program, we use the NauticEd Skipper course to make sure everybody gets a good understanding of the fundamentals before taking practical classes. It’s a great timesaver and lets the sailors learn the classroom material at their own pace. Keith W. – Educator
I enjoy the friendship of quite a few sailors. I don’t hesitate to recommend your Nauticed courses to them. The main value of the courses are that it provides a platform on which one anticipates scenarios at sea. Prior thinking and planning is key to safety in my view. Paul L. Australia – Student
Landfall Sailing, Austin Texas
Landfall Sailing focuses on developing close relationships with our students using a highly professional approach. Having NauticEd as our training partner further demonstrates our commitment to professionalism right from the first contact with the student. In a matter of seconds I have the ability as an instructor to deliver high-quality interactive sailing courses to my new student’s computer or mobile device. NauticEd’s modular approach allows us to tailor the degree of learning our student’s goals and objectives. By neatly dovetailing theory, education and logbook experience with our practical training, our students love watching their resume grow in real-time; this feature is unique to NauticEd. Landfall Sailing benefits from the fact that by the time we actually see the student, they have completed their theory coursework and testing. Given this, we can now focus on providing a fully professional practical training experience. At the end of our practical training and assessment, we just click a button to sign off on the student’s competence. Our boats are immaculate and we expect the same for every aspect of the student’s experience with us. With this, we get a lot of repeat upgrade business and word of mouth viral marketing.
Bruce Schwaegel – Landfall Sailing – feel free to contact us to validate this statement.
Island Sailing School, Portland Oregon, Kirkland Washington
Island Sailing joined to NauticEd after 20 years as an ASA school, and we are very pleased with the results. Our goal was to develop the best sailing program we could conceive for our students, and that includes consideration that National sailing “brands” have lost relevancy with today’s standards and charter companies. We joined NauticEd because they proved themselves to be a potent partner in developing the resources, support, and innovation needed to train and prepare students in a rapidly evolving and competitive sailing and charter market. Simply, training aligned with modern resources, support, and methodology is what students want and need. As far as the switchover was concerned, although initially hesitant, Grant and his team made it very simple. We did not lose one student, to the contrary, our business has grown from that very day.
De Henderson – Island Sailing – feel free to contact us to validate this statement.
Vancouver Sailing School, Vancouver Canada
We joined NauticEd in 2012 replacing the ASA program at our school. For us, the best parts are the quality self-paced curriculum and the international recognition of the NauticEd Student Sailing Resume for international bareboat Charter companies like Sunsail, Moorings, Dream Yacht Charters, Spartivento and BVI Yacht Charters. Our Club has also benefitted from the streamlining of administrative processes including registration for courses, elimination of pre-course study package mailing & delivery follow-up, and the Instructor’s smartphone student certification system. In the 21st century our Club doesn’t want to mail and inventory books, grade tests and store records manually. Our Instructors love how we can confirm our students have completed the ashore theory and sailing knowledge before they show up for on-the-water practical sessions. The practical instruction time for boat handling and practicing Rules of the Road has increased by more than an hour. Our selling process has also been streamlined by entering a potential students email address and then just clicking a button to add two free courses to their online curriculum. We follow up and they join quickly after that. Not only has our closing rate gone up but the students keep coming back for more. I highly recommend joining the NauticEd network.
Carl Richardson – Vancouver Sailing School – feel free to contact us to validate this statement.
Spartivento Yacht Charters, Italy
We are the first choice sailing company in the Mediterranean – serving Portarosa and Trapani in Sicily, Tropea and Amalfi coast- and the Caribbean. We gladly welcome and accept NauticEd’s students who hold the NauticEd SLC license. Come visit us, you’ll fall in love again
Spartivento Yacht Charters – feel free to contact us to validate this statement.
Yachtcations Sailing School, Houston Texas
We’ve just started with NauticEd and I must say the startup process was simple – almost plug and play. Within days we were fully functional. NauticEd has literally thought of everything that a school could wish for in terms of systems. And this made all the difference to give us an instant highly professional look and resources with zero investment. It is truly amazing what the NauticEd team have put together.
Chris Block – feel free to contact me to validate this statement.
COME JOIN THE BEST SAILING EDUCATION PROGRAM
Together with NauticEd, you as a consumer can access the very best in sailing education technology, the only recognized sailing education program by the United States Coast Guard and the most enjoyable and fully comprehensive sailing education content. As a sailing school, you can make 2019 an awesome business year which benefits you, your students and instructors far beyond what you can imagine.