Just Add Spray

Berkeley sailing school OCSC uses video streaming to reel in students

Anthony Sandberg figured that if a single picture is worth a thousand words, streaming video could be valuable indeed. Especially for a sailing school trying to impress clients with the joy of open water and salt air.

How right he was. After Sandberg added streaming video to the Web site of his Berkeley (Calif.) OCSC Sailing School last year, revenues at the 72-person company grew about 10%, to $2 million. "Since ours is a very visual sport, people need to get a sense of what this really is about," says Sandberg, OCSC's president and founder.

The cost of upgrading OCSC's Web site was minimal. The sailing school paid $1,000 for the handheld and stationary digital-video cameras that Chief Operating Officer Max Fancher used to record the footage, plus $300 to a Web developer to add the video to the site. As before, Sandberg pays an outside Web developer $15,000 a year to maintain the site.

Visitors to www.ocscsailing.com now see a view of the bay from the company's clubhouse and a shot of its docks in the Berkeley Marina, both with a 10-second delay. Event planners can watch a video of corporate employees honing their team-building skills -- and get an idea of what their clients might be in for -- on a J/24 sailboat in a mock regatta.

Sandberg isn't stopping there. He recently spent about $5,000 for a new digital camera that will let him post higher-quality images on the site. And in September, he paid a Web developer $5,000 to add an hour-long tutorial on the fundamentals of navigation to the site, including nautical charts and an interactive quiz. (The quiz is at www.sailing-schools.us/study_halls.) Sandberg says 60 clients have signed up with OCSC after checking out the tutorial, bringing in about $60,000.

More tutorials are on the way. Over the next year, Sandberg plans to add one or two lessons a month on everything from engine repair to cooking on board. By beefing up his Web site, Sandberg is putting wind in his company's sails.

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