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I am on the West coast and was confused about the same issue. Though you may be on the East Coast, I would like to share what I found in my research of each association.

In research of ASA vs. US Sailing Associations:

I learned that each association schools switch their affiliation from ASA to US Sailing believing that, on a business level one may be better than the other. I found out that ASA has 315 school locations; US Sailing has less than 50. One of the very largest and most respected schools in the United States, Annapolis Sailing, switch from US Sailing to ASA, so there are a few schools going back and forth at any given time.

ASA started keelboat education in the United States in 1983. About ten years later, US Sailing followed suit and replicated ASA’s education standards and levels. Therefore, the systems themselves are virtually identical. Sad that they do not respect each others certifications. Business plans getting in the way?

In researching, it might be said that ASA provides a training format and experience that is geared for people interested in renting charter boats, or who would be potential customers for charter services. They both have excellent training materials and training formats. The US Sailing side is usually presented as being more amateur racing oriented, and more geared to training you to sail sans heavy chartering emphases.

I made an Excel spreadsheet of all schools ASA and US Sailing in San Diego. It included the club joining and monthly fees, additional family member fee, cost for each certification level, pro/cons of each school and fleet, for comparison. We prioritized our preferences for training and we wanted a school with catamaran training and reciprocal sailing clubs out of our area. Our goal was also to gain as much experience sailing with different conditions, sailing locations, variety of boat types and variety of sizes to ensure our future sailboat purchase would be as educated as possible. We visited our top five choices of training facilities and weighed all of the factors. We ended up with ASA, mainly due to the 13 reciprocal club affiliations around the U.S, in general. Also appealing is Tuesday raceing, group sails, and club activities centered around education, gaining experience while having fun. I would like to point out a book that jump started me into all aspects of sailing, in general. THE ANNAPOLIS BOOK OF SEAMANSHIP by John Rousmaniere. It is fairly expensive but well worth it...

At the end of the day, it’s the quality of the specific school and instructor that matters most, regardless of whether they are ASA or US Sailing.

I do feel that after your training is completed you should consider joining a sailing club. I found this to be the best way to gain additional sailing experience, which is to do it. Its kind of like chess, easy to learn, takes forever to master. I found that volunteering to crew on someone else’s boat for sailboat races or legs of a cruise are the best way to gain additional hands-on experience. A sailing club that has weekly racing, providing you pay attention and have a crew who tolerates questions, is a great way to learn about reading wind, trim and other important aspects. Crewing on an extended cruise is a great way to learn navigation, watch keeping, chaff protection etc.

Best of luck,


Life and everything in it, is either an 'ordeal', or an 'adventure'...depending on your attitude.
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