Please meet Ken Brown of Saint Petersburg, Florida. He is ASA’s man in China. The first thing I have to tell you about Ken is that he holds nearly every 200-level certification that ASA offers, including ones that I did not know existed like the 2000-level powerboat certifications. This means that Ken is also an ASA IE Instructor Evaluator and ASA FE Facility Evaluator. In total, he has two dozen ASA certifications. When taking into account that 200/2000-level instructors implicitly also hold their 100/1000-level counterparts, Ken’s total ASA certification count jumps over forty. Ken is also a 500-Ton USCG Master Any Waters and a 3000-Ton International.
The recent growth of ASA in China has created the need for us to examine every aspect of how sailing education is conducted in the 21st century. We are learning how to serve a market that has emerging business and personal cultures, different language and symbolism, large time zone shifts, financial bureaucracy, and unpredictable shipping of books and certification materials. In doing this, we are realizing that changes need to be made, and that many of these changes will be for the better for all of ASA: Affiliates, Instructors and Students.
There are signs that ASA is becoming more and more of an international standard. There is awareness that the ASA provides a “Professional Sailing School in a Box”. The US blueprint for establishing and certifying a sailing school, creating and obtaining certified Instructors, and defining Student courses and certifications, yet operating as an independent business with a unique market plan and vision is very adaptable to the international market. Although we have been growing in Europe and Latin countries, the recent main international growth spurt has been in China.
Last week ASA held its first ever regional Asian Affiliate & Instructors meeting in Shenzhen, China. Over two dozen ASA Instructors and Affiliate representatives attended representing ASA sailing schools across mainland China, Hong Kong and Taiwan.