Keeping recreational sailors safe on the water. That was the aim of Annapolis Yacht Club (AYC) when they hosted a data collecting event May 15-20 for the U.S. Coast Guard’s (USCG) National On-The-Water Standards (NOWS) program.
At each of the data collecting events held across the country, beginner sailboat operators are asked to demonstrate specific skills on the water while being monitored by instructor-level sailors in powerboats.
“This will determine how closely the standards meet with the reality of what beginners are facing on the water,” said K. Brian Dorval, National On-The-Water Skills Standards Facilitator. “We can then put together national standards for safe boating.”
AYC is providing classroom space, powerboats and a sailboat, with another sailboat being provided by a local sailing school, according AYC Waterfront Director Charlie Arms. Four AYC members are involved in the program, with three of them driving the observation powerboats, said Arms, who is assisting with logistics and boat launching with the AYC dock staff.
The AYC was chosen for its location in Annapolis – an area with protected waterways as well as access to the open waters of the Chesapeake Bay.
“When you think of sailing, you think of Annapolis,” Dorval said. “And who in Annapolis has the dedication and facilities that help people learn and engage in sailing? The Annapolis Yacht Club.”
There were 4,158 recreational boating accidents involving 626 deaths and 2,613 injuries last year, according to the USCG’s 2015 Recreational Boating Statistics report.
The increase in safety has a trickle-down effect on the entire recreational boating industry, Dorval said.
“The safer people are on the water, they will enjoy it more often and for longer,” he said. “That boosts the sport, and that boost the industry. Over time, we can create a culture of safety in recreational boating.”
AYC’s participation in the NOWS program increases the Club’s national impact by helping to establish national standards for safe boating, according to Arms.
“AYC is a leader in the sport of sailing,” Arms said.