Water Sports Foundation Reports Pandemic Spike in Online Boater Education

National Boating Safety Experts Say the Pandemic Likely Created a Surge in Boater Education and an Unprecedented Shift to Virtual Training-

ORLANDO, Fla., March 16, 2022 /PRNewswire/ — The Water Sports Foundation reports a major surge in boater education enrollment across the nation, marked by new online delivery trends. As the non-profit educational arm of the Water Sports Industry Association (WSIA), the Water Sports Foundation attributed the surge to record-setting growth in recreational boating activity and a 35% increase in first-time boat ownership in 2020, brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic.

"We are pleased to report that demand for boater education is on the rise," said Water Sports Foundation Executive Director Jim Emmons. "With 415,000 first-time boat buyers taking to the waterways and traditional classroom instruction temporarily stymied in 2020 and much of 2021 due to COVID mandates, there was initial concern that new boaters might not have access to critical boating safety education. However, an informal survey of several leading boating safety education providers conducted by the Water Sports Foundation has revealed a positive uptick in instructional enrollment along with emerging trends in online delivery methods."

Dave Fuller, director of education for the U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary’s Recreational Boating Safety Programs, oversees the organization’s robust national training program. It includes a mix of traditional, instructor-led classroom modules (which have resumed), along with live instructor-led virtual classes which were launched in the Spring of 2020 in direct response to the pandemic.          

"The pandemic focused our attention on quickly providing the means for our local units to resume teaching boating safety during a time that classroom teaching was impossible," said Fuller. "The need for education is ongoing and remains a critical factor in reducing accidents so boaters can make better decisions and enjoy safer time on the water."

While live classroom training is back, the U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary now offers a mix of both live and virtual training options, which Fuller expects will be "the new norm" going forward. 

"The temporary approvals from NASBLA (National Association of State Boating Law Administrators) and the states to deliver education by virtual means will become a standard method of education delivery alongside classroom delivery," Fuller said.

To view the full release including quotes from various boating safety organization leaders including NASBLA, BoatU.S., American Canoe Association and others, please click here.

For an abbreviated listing of boating safety and educational providers, visit the National Boating Safety Resource Center: Boating Safety Education – Water Sports Foundation

About The Water Sports Foundation
Headquartered in Orlando, Florida, the Water Sports Foundation is the non-profit educational arm of the Water Sports Industry Association (WSIA.net). Since 2011, the WSF has received U.S. Coast Guard boating and paddling safety outreach funding through their non-profit grant program. The Sport Fish Restoration and Boating Trust Fund administered through Congressional action provides funding for the U.S. Coast Guard’s recreational boating safety initiatives. For more information contact the WSF at 407-719-8062 or visit www.watersportsfoundation.com 

Joel Staley


SOURCE Water Sports Foundation