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Understanding ASA Certification: What it is, How to Get it and Why it Matters

Updated: Jan 9

In the United States there are two governing bodies for the sport of sailing, American Sailing Association and US Sailing. The American Sailing Association focuses on “cruising”, long-distance recreational sailing, while US Sailing focuses on “performance sailing,” including racing and the management of the US Olympic Sailing Team. Each organization offers a curriculum of certifications that allow a student to progress from novice sailor to expert. The certifications prove that the student has mastered a certain level of practical sailing and knowledge of sailing concepts.

What is ASA Certification?

The American Sailing Association (ASA) offers a wide range of certifications and endorsements. Their core curriculum is linear and begins with ASA 101 - Basic Keelboat and ends with ASA 108 - Offshore Passagemaking.

Each of these courses is a prerequisite for the following course, meaning you must pass ASA 101 to move on to ASA 103. At the end of each course you take a written and practical exam and upon a passing grade you receive your ASA certification.

American Sailing Association Certification Courses

When you join the ASA you receive a logbook and a student ID. Once you complete a certification course you receive an official seal to place in your logbook and your course grade is registered under your ASA ID number. This means that even if you lose your logbook there will always be a record of your certifications!

Do You Need ASA Certification to Sail?

No! In the United States there are no requirements to sail recreationally regardless of vessel size.

However, many insurance companies require their customers to prove that they have a proper amount of sailing experience. Having ASA certifications proves to them that you have a certain level of sailing knowledge and skills. Most insurance companies will even lower your insurance rates further with every ASA certification you achieve.

If your goal is to rent a boat or “bareboat charter,” most charter companies require you to be ASA certified for the same reasons that insurance companies do. Further, if you ever plan to charter a sailboat in the Mediterranean you will be required to have an “International Certificate of Proficiency (ICP).” The ASA 104 - Bareboat Cruising certification is the US equivalent and you can receive the (ICP) upon request with no further instruction.

At the end of the day having time on the water is paramount as well as having a formal base of knowledge about safety, rules and regulations, and sailing skills. At First Reef Sailing all of our courses spend a minimum of 12 hours sailing per course!

Benefits of Being ASA Certified

Being an ASA certified sailor opens many doors. You can progress on to more and more advanced certifications, get lower insurance rates for your own sailboat, be able to rent and bareboat charter at different locations, qualify to join First Reef Sailing on their exciting Mile-Building Passages, and much more!

In addition to certifications, American Sailing Association Members receive invitations to unique events, courses and clinics, and are eligible for deep discounts on marine products such as weather software, sailboat parts, apparel, and more.

How Much Does it Cost to Become ASA Certified?

It costs $59.00 a year to be a member of the American Sailing Association There are additional costs to become certified and each ASA certification course can vary in price. For example to get started with ASA 101 - Basic Cruising at First Reef Sailing it costs $1,149.00. This includes 3 days of instruction with 6 hours in the classroom and 12 hours sailing, an ASA membership and certification fee, textbooks, etc.

Does ASA Certification Expire?

ASA certifications never expire! As long as you have your logbook and student ID you have the sailing certifications for life!

Is ASA Certification Worth It?

Absolutely. American Sailing Association sailing certifications never expire and while it does cost money to take each course, over your sailing career you will be saving thousands of dollars between lowered insurance payments, discounts on sailing products and events and reduced chartering rates. Not to mention the top tier sailing instruction and invaluable sailing experience you will receive during your course!

Book ASA Certification Courses With First Reef Sailing Today

At First Reef Sailing, we offer a range of hands-on sailing experiences, from learning the fundamentals to cruising inland or coastal waters. We offer a wide range of ASA courses:

Book today to begin or continue to improve your sailing education.

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