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ABYC unveils new initiative, revises standards

MIAMI BEACH — The American Boat & Yacht Council this morning announced new educational initiatives, as well as revisions to a quarter of its standards.

The announcements were made at the Miami Beach Convention Center during the 18th annual International BoatBuilders' Exhibition and Conference.

Mike New, ABYC director of education, announced the formation of the Marine League of Schools, a group of geographically diverse institutions affiliated with ABYC that will share a common standards-based curriculum and commit to teaching a range of systems.

The first schools to join are the International Yacht Restoration School in Newport, R.I.; Broward College in Fort Lauderdale; Rappahannock Community College in Virginia; and Skagit Valley College in Washington State.

School officials and industry leaders will meet once a year to review curricula and make changes to keep up with industry standards.

New said he expects a few more schools to join the partnership, though membership will be capped at eight to 10 schools.

"It makes our program legitimate," said Scott Clawson, from Rappahannock Community College, explaining why his institution got involved with the Marine League of Schools. "It's an improvement for the entire industry."

In other education-related news, ABYC announced a joint continuing program with the Westlawn Institute of Marine Technology. The two organizations have bundled a number of courses together to crease a series of continuing education offerings.

Also, ABYC is partnering with Cruising World, Power Cruising and PassageMaker magazines to create consumer training opportunities. The first of these was recently held and was a success, according to Ed Sherman, ABYC instructor and curriculum designer.

"It's in its infancy, but we're excited about it," he said of the program, which likely will be held in various areas of the country to attract the largest number of participants.

On the standards side, ABYC has updated 16 of its 66 standards, or about 25 percent of the documents.

"This is a big year for it. It has a lot of implications," Sherman said.

While the normal review cycle had been every five years, it has been shortened to three years. Not all standards are necessarily changed, but with the industry changing so rapidly, ABYC thought it best to shorten the review cycle, Sherman said.

The updated standards, which include those for electrical systems, steering wheels, firefighting equipment, and ventilation on boats using diesel fuel, may be found in the organization's new soft-cover archival manual, on CD-ROM, or online at Web-STIR and Rulefinder.net.

For information, visit the ABYC Web site or call (410) 990-4460.

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