Widespread Increase in Boating Activity and Access to Boating & Education Reported by Water Sports Foundation

ORLANDO, Fla., July 28, 2021 /PRNewswire/ — When it comes to boating activity, 2020 proved an epic year with the pandemic delivering an upside surprise to the recreational boating industry. People took to the water in historic numbers as a safe escape from quarantine, while online boater education classes simultaneously spiked. 

New and used boat sales including personal watercraft, kayaks and paddleboards hit record highs, with 415,000 first-time boat buyers flooding the market. Dealers scrambled to provide inventory in every market segment as manufacturers faced supply chain challenges and/or production delays due to COVID.

With purchase options somewhat stymied, boating access providers including boat clubs, rentals and charter operators, among others, saw participation skyrocket among new and experienced boaters. Boatsetter, for example, which offers peer-to-peer rentals nationwide, reported a 90% increase in bookings in 2020, while Freedom Boat Club saw a membership spike of 35%.

Water access through boat sharing programs has enjoyed solid growth as they offer a taste of boating without the financial commitment associated with ownership. Advocates point to the opportunity to experience different types of boat brands and models before making purchasing decisions, coupled with cost-saving benefits associated with annual insurance, storage, service and maintenance.

While there are many ways to access the water for those interested in the boating lifestyle, the Water Sports Foundation Executive Director Jim Emmons is quick to encourage boating education for both new boaters and seasoned salts alike, the latter of whom may benefit from a quick refresher course.

"As an industry, we all love seeing scores of new boaters joining our ranks and are thrilled about the diverse and younger audiences coming aboard," said Emmons. "However, we all want to ensure that these new boaters and even those lapsed boaters who have returned, are educated and well equipped to operate safely on the nation’s waterways. There are a wealth of boating safety and educational opportunities available including both online and live classes; we encourage our boaters to invest time to become educated." 

Added BoatU.S. Foundation President Chris Edmonston, "The boating industry is the #1 outdoor economic driver in the country. We are working hard to make sure that there is access to the water and that people can be safe so they can continue to enjoy boating. We don’t want boaters to have a bad experience and not return; education is the key to achieving that."

For many service providers, safety is paramount; many operators require certifications from recognized educators, sailing resumes or approved boater safety cards prior to renting or leasing a vessel. Some offer onsite education or hands-on training.

To access the remainder of this release including additional information on boating rental access, boating rental safety providers and boating education course providers, please click: https://www.watersportsfoundation.com/widespread-increase-in-boating-activity-and-access-to-boating-education-reported-by-water-sports-foundation/.

About the Water Sports Foundation
Headquartered in Orlando, Fla., the Water Sports Foundation (WSF) is the non-profit educational arm of the Water Sports Industry Association (WSIA.net).  The WSF National Public Relations Outreach including this press release is produced under a grant from the Sport Fish Restoration and Boating Trust Fund, administered by the U.S. Coast Guard.

Joel Staley


Wanda Kenton Smith                                          



SOURCE Water Sports Foundation