> US SAILING Media > Special Events > US SAILING Yacht Club Summit > US SAILING's Yacht Club Summit Session Recaps & Presentations

US SAILING's Yacht Club Summit Session Recaps & Presentations

Welcome to the Yacht Club Summit

Speaker - Gary Jobson, President of US SAILING

Gary Jobson welcomed and all attendees to the inaugural Yacht Club Summit and thanked them for their participation and support of the sport. Jobson began by discussing the importance of yacht clubs and their role in the sailing community, such as access to water, competition and cruising, social activities, education, maintaining tradition, connecting generations, and more.

Jobson explained the goals of the Summit, and why it was so important to hold this first time event. He described the yacht club as the core institution of sailing. Gary detailed the need for an event that inspired individuals from yacht clubs, small and large, to come together and share new ideas and network with peers. He added that collective wisdom leads to collective action.

Gary focused on the value of yacht club membership, management, his experience with various clubs, and developing solutions. He also previewed the Summit session topics.

Key Points & Takeaways
• In regards to membership, clubs are tribal in nature and the emotional component is important to consider. People like the sense of belonging.

• Study trends and procedures at peer yacht clubs.

• Setting priorities:
    • Put out any immediate fires
    • Develop a long range plans
    • Write and use a mission statement
    • Educate staff
    • Use peer clubs as examples of what your yacht club should be doing

• Communications strategies:
    • Hire a communications director
    • Produce high end newsletters (consider digital versions)
    • Host a user-friendly website and keep it updated
    • Send e-mail reminders
    • Foster relationships with local media
    • Invite city officials to events
    • Create photo galleries
    • Keep historical archives
    • Adhere to requirements for public vs. member only pages info on website
    • Utilize social media and other forms of interactive media outlets

• Signature Event:
    • Builds prestige for the club
    • Every club should have one

• Make heroes out of those who do unique things.
    • Examples: Good deeds, race performance, support Olympic efforts

• Host a charity event:
    • Participate with local community
    • Build goodwill
    • Help a worthy cause

• Community access:
    • Provide junior scholarship to sailing program
    • Help high school team/club
    • Work with community sailing groups

• Club owned fleets:
    • Provide lessons for all ages

• Club pride:
    • Fly burgees, place stickers on cars and boats, wear branded clothing
    • Ask members to be ambassadors on trips

• Provide entertainment:
    • Invite industry speakers to your club

• Clubhouse décor:
    • Focus on heritage: paintings, burgees, pictures
    • Showcase trophies and models
    • Honor Commodores
    • Keep a library
    • Have a nice, comfortable, fun bar and restaurant area

• Contiguous Property Acquisition:
    • Includes boatyard, parking, additional facilities, adjacent property, merger with other clubs
    • Building a separate fund

• The big renovation:
    • Establish a need
    • Develop final plan: Take in a lot of input and be flexible with ideas
    • Clearly define the use
    •  Explore funding options: loans from members, bonds, spreaded costs, assessment, volunteer work, accept gifts in kind
    • Create more parking!
    • Work closely with municipality for permit
    • Beware of old guard resistance and take on individually

• Membership:
    • Important to have qualified candidates: active boaters, lots of participation, adhere to rules
    • End legacy that creates long waiting list
    • Must welcome diversity
    • Honorary memberships?

• Financial matters:
    • Dues, initiation, assessment, capital dues, voluntary donation, use of tax exempt status, reserve funds, raising dues annually, recruiting/retention of members

• Boating:
    • Offer activities for all types: Power boat events, cruising, racing, junior program
    • Host important sailing championship for events - 1 per year
    • Support high achievers attendance at major national and international events
    • Acquire boatyard
    • Recruit and retain staff - long term

• What Makes a Good Regatta?
    • Efficient race management
    • Easy launch
    • Good port
    • Timely race management

• Suggestions for Growing Membership
    • Create an inexpensive membership for 21 to 30 years old.
    • Have a fleet of boats that are available for use in two hour blocks. These should be very inexpensive to rent. The fleet should be used for adult sailing instruction. Quite a few yacht clubs around the country have programs like this and it has been a big hit.
    • Create a young member's committee. This has worked very well at the New York Yacht Club. They have lots of events and as a result have attracted many new members.
    • Host family oriented events like a father/daughter luncheon or a mother/son.
    • A swimming pool is always controversial but is a very good move because people will spend a considerable amount of time on the club's property.
    • Do not underestimate the value of peer recruiting. It might take a concerted drive, but if one younger member brings in one friend, the club's roster will increase.
    • Governance
    • Board matrix

Gary Jobson's Memorable Quote
"Have you ever noticed the same six guys sitting at the bar, and whatever the question or opportunity is, their answer is always the same – No."

Read "An Action Plan for Sailing" by Gary Jobson.

Communications - General Session Recap

Gary Jobson:
Moderator - President, US SAILING
Dean Brenner: Chairman, Olympic Sailing Committee / President, Latimer Group
Geoff Mason: Senior Production Specialist, ESPN / Director, Americas Cup Television
Kurt Stocker: Principal, CCO & Senior Partner, Story Trading / Past Commodore, Chicago Yacht Club
Sally Helme: Group Publisher, Sailing World Magazine - Bonnier Marine Group
Dave Perry: Head Coach, US SAILING Team AlphaGraphics Women's Match Racing team

This session focused on how yacht clubs can communicate more effectively and efficiently with its members and the public on the programs they provide and the events they host. Attendees learned best practices in working with the media and how to use new technology and communication tools to maximize their outreach.

Key Points & TakeawaysSummit013
• Questions to consider for yacht clubs in regards to how they communicate:
    • How can your yacht club communicate more effectively with its members and the public? 
    • How can clubs use new technologies and tools to better reach their members? 

• Make sure your communications reflect club goals. 

• Yacht clubs need to accept the changing media landscape and the rise of the linked-up digital world.

• Content used to be the key, today, distribution matters more, and people want the ability to participate and join the conversation online. [Stocker]

• Example: The web is the best way to reach members, but Stocker noted that after his club stopped mailing a monthly printed calendar, attendance dropped. Families posted the calendar as a reminder for club events, so hard-copy publications still can play an important role in a communications plan.

• The most important thing is to view news organizations as strategic partners, and work with them to fulfill both parties’ needs. [Mason, Helme]

• Turn your club into an “information center,” and invite them to events and teaching programs to improve relations with the community as a whole. [Perry]

- Content recorded by Steve Blackman

Signature Event
- Breakout Session Recap

Tom Ehman:
Moderator - Director and Member, America’s Cup Committee
Dave Elwell: Past Commodore, New York Yacht Club
Greg Miarecki: Rear Commodore, Chicago Yacht Club / Past Chair, Mackinac Race
Bill Hardesty: Sailing Director, Chicago Match Race Center
Randy Draftz:  Race Director, Charleston Yacht Club

The panel discussed the value of clubs hosting signature events and how these events help create enthusiasm, build tradition and support its brand. Attendees learned the importance of putting the spotlight on what makes a club special.

Key Points & Takeaways
• Example: Losing the America’s Cup opened up the club (New York Yacht Club) and made it better. [Elwell]

• Example: New York Yacht Club promotes it’s tradition for hosting signature events. [Elwell]

• Every yacht club should host something that is unique and makes the club special. [Elwell]

• Example: The Mackinac Race is prided on being a family oriented event with events on land. [Miarecki]

• It is important to find ways to record your event for the club’s historical archive. [Bob James, NYYC Commodore, session attendee]

• Example: The Chicago Match Racing Center is a great place for the professional sailor. What makes the Center special is the live results and the ability to view events on the internet. [Hardesty]

• “How do you think your event will change in five years? [Ehman]

•  Each of the panelists responded:
    • Elwell: More enthusiasm
    • Draftz: A higher level of boats and maybe expanding a day
    • Hardesty: New sailors will be advanced match racers
    • Miarecki: Leveraging technology

Memorable Quotes
• “It’s expensive. Costs vary per year. Soft costs, such as those related to volunteers, make it difficult to recite a budget.”  - Greg Miarecki on the Mackinac Race

• “What makes this event special is how everything is run in one space, such as the housing, parties, and launching of boats.” – Randy Draftz on the Charleston Race Week

Click here for presentation documents.

- Content recorded by Allison Gardiner

Refurbishment of Club
- Breakout Session Recap


Gary Jobson: Moderator - President, US SAILING
Lud Kimbrough: Long Range Planning Chair, Fishing Bay Yacht Club
Dorothy Latham: Commodore, Port Huron Yacht Club
Jane Eshleman: Pontchartrain Yacht Club

During the refurbishment of club breakout session, representatives from three very different yacht clubs shared how each of their clubs completed major renovation and refurbishment projects. They all relied on extensive planning and stringent oversight to ensure success, but each faced unique challenges in completing their respective refurbishment projects.

Key Points & Takeaways
• Lud Kimbrough explained how the 300-member Fishing Bay Yacht Club in Deltaville, Va., became the “little club that could” by acquiring property, building a new clubhouse, and hosting major championship regattas for the first time. It all started with the creation of a long-range plan to guide the renovation beginning in 1998, and was financed almost entirely without capital borrowing. The enhanced facilities have increased member involvement and community support and created a cycle of ongoing success. 

• Dorothy Latham of Port Huron Yacht Club told attendees how her club was able to complete a clubhouse refurbishment and the expansion of their harbor using all-volunteer labor by the club’s members.

• Jane Eshleman from Pontchartrain Yacht Club shared the story of how her club recovered from the devastation of Hurricane Katrina in 2005. The club was the first of the Gulf Yachting Association’s 33 clubs to re-open after the storm, at first with a makeshift trailer clubhouse. She attributes their success to the decision to appoint a building committee comprised of the club’s past commodores to oversee the renovation. 

• Gary Jobson, as well as several of the audience members, brought up the issue of capital financing and long-range financial planning, and suggested saving initiation fees to endow a permanent fund. One other potential revenue stream mentioned was renting out the improved space for weddings and other events.

Presentation Documents:
Fishing Bay YC 1
Fishing Bay YC 2
Port Huron YC

- Content recorded by Steve Blackman

Information Technology
– Breakout Session Recap

Stan Honey:
Moderator - Co-founder, Sportvision / Volvo Ocean Race & Jules Verne Trophy Navigator
Ken Taylor: Founder, Regatta Network
Jack Gierhart: Executive Director, US SAILING
Dawn Riley: America’s Cup & Volvo Sailor / Oakcliff  Sailing / Women’s Sport Foundation
Geoff Mason: Senior Production Specialist, ESPN / Director, America’s Cup Television

The panel discussed how emerging technology can be used to both enhance sailors’ and fans’ enjoyment of sailing, and enable organizations to more efficiently manage race operations and generate revenue. The use of technology in television and advanced-media content development, and the rapidly evolving forms of media distribution that result from emerging technology were detailed. The impact of technology on the day-to-day activities of sailors and organizations were analyzed using examples of how technology can enrich the experience, save money, and generate revenue.

Key Points & Takeaways
• During the session experts shared how technology and social media will improve race tracking, event planning, networking in the sailing community and overall distribution of information.

• Internal IT will improve overall operations by more accurately tracking races, organizing the race management process, and communicating more efficiently with both sailing teams and spectators. [Honey]

• Example: These new tracking tools will bring the following features to the America’s Cup [Honey]:
    • Umpiring including precise determination of overlap at zone entry
    • Penalty fulfillment distribution
    • Internet virtual display for viewers
    • Data dashboards for streaming viewers
    • Mobile viewers and possibly interactive games

• Future trends in IT will include [Taylor]:
    • The use of SMS text messaging
    • The convergence of cell phone GPS and web-based tracking and training
    • Live coverage of events (available in video and in text)
    • Websites as a management tool and profit center.

• Example: Integrating IT and content management systems into US SAILING will make more information available as to what others are doing in easier, more efficient ways. [Gierhart]

• Gierhart encouraged people to register and to use the new “Where to Sail” database at http://www1.ussailing.org/wheretosail/wheretosail.aspx.

• Online calendaring is a great opportunity. With hundreds of events happening every summer, and not enough staff, IT integrations can foster a circle of communication. [Riley]

Memorable Quotes
• “The use of IT will change the way we run the sport and change the way fans enjoy the sport.” – Stan Honey

• “If organizations put their business on a platform, people will find it. Information technology advancements ultimately create distribution.” – Geoff Mason

• “Distribution is now, has been, and always will be what it’s all about. If you don’t have distribution, you can’t monetize anything. And as much as we all have passion for what we’re doing, we need to find some way along the way to monetize it so we can get commercial support for these wild ideas we have.” – Geoff Mason

Click here for presentation documents.

- Content recorded by Tatiana Kouskoulas

About the Sailors
- Breakout Session Recap


Tom Duggan: ISAF International Race Officer / US SAILING National Race Officer

In this session, Tom Duggan focused on how clubs can better serve sailors and their needs. Duggan discussed the complexities of the sport and what we can do to simplify it. Best practices in member/customer service are presented, along with how clubs can be more flexible to accommodate the sailors’ schedules.

Key Points & Takeaways
• Clubs do not place enough emphasis on the sailors, who are your clients.

• To give perspective on the complexities of sailboat racing, Duggan used the analogy of the baseball World Series being umpired by a race committee. The wind shifts, and the umpire raised a C flag, directing home plate to move by 10 degrees. The base runner misses home plate and his team calls for redress. The umpires announce that fans will have to return that night to find out who won the World Series.Tom Duggan

• Establish a focused goal within the club that everyone, especially the sailors, is willing to work toward.

• Examples of flexibility and accommodation: Duggan cited an example of a yacht club where the majority of the sailors are businessmen who want to sleep-in, play golf, eat lunch, call their broker and then go sailing. That club sails at 2 p.m. each day. Another example was a youth program that raises a special flag when the sailors can come in to eat Spaghetti-Os.

• Use clear flags and have no unnecessary flags on the committee boat, in addition to clear use of radio and horns.

• Committee members must make themselves constantly available.

• Accountability is crucial.

Tom Duggan’s Memorable Quotes
• “James Carville famously said ‘It’s the economy, stupid.’ When it comes to organizations, it’s the sailors, stupid.”

• “Racing is complicated and it always will be. But it can be simplified in many ways.”

• “Institutionalize feedback and institutionalize information sharing.”

• “You’ve got to walk the boat park, you’ve got to walk the dock, and you’ve got to go to the bar. The bar is where you will find out what people really think.”

• “If you make a mistake, say I am sorry, I blew it, let’s see how we can fix it.”

• “I wish you would take this quote out of the lexicon of your club: ‘Because this is the way it’s always been done.’”

- Content recorded by Austin Smith

Building and Motivating Your Organization
- Breakout Session Recap

Dean Brenner: Chairman, Olympic Sailing Committee / President, Latimer Group

Dean Brenner’s presentation focused on successful teamwork strategies that sailing organizations can use and apply. Brenner’s approach detailed how to best utilize the strengths and skills of each team member to find common ground and reach your collective team goals.

Key Points & Takeaways
• Each person on the team has different skills, motivations and agendas. The goal is to create common ground.

• The first is a willingness to change your approach. What works flawlessly one time might work again in the future, but it will certainly not be the best option every time.

• Brenner offered five pieces of advice for reaching that common ground.

• Every race is going to be different, good team leaders are flexible in their approach.Brenner2

• A team needs to find a focused goal.

• Leaders of clubs should create ownership. Spend more time serving those beneath you than having them serve you.

• Share credit broadly.

• Create a well-aligned organization and put yourself out there for criticism.

• Brenner cited the example of a yacht club in San Diego where members and committees each have different focuses, but each person he spoke with was passionate and excited about the junior sailing program. This program acted as a uniting force.

• The more positive communication a club has, the more likely the community is to embrace it as a place where they and their families want to spend time.

Dean Brenner’s Memorable Quotes
• “When you have ten people running a race management team, each has a different opinion. A good team will head toward the same goal. Or, since we’re sailors, toward the same windward mark.”

• “It might be strategic or tactical. It might be focused on sailing or focused on revenue,” he said, “whatever it is, it has to be something people can get excited about it.” [on finding a focused goal]

• “Nobody comes home from work glad about being told what to do all day.” [on leaders serving those beneath them]

• “I challenge myself to use the word ‘I’ as rarely as possible. My goal as a leader is to make as many people feel like they are part of it and publicly thanked as much as possible.”

• “If you can show that you’re open to that communication, then it’s possible that it could trickle down into the rest of the organization.” [on accepting criticism]

- Content recorded by Austin Smith

Long-Range Planning
- General Session Recap

Clay Deutsch:
Trustee, New York Yacht Club / McKinsey & Co.

Clay Deutsch, a lifelong sailor and financial consultant, showed how yacht clubs have a need for long-range planning similar to most businesses. By presenting case studies of common club problems, Deutsch identified areas that all clubs, no matter how big or how small, can focus on to improve the health of their organizations. 

Key Points & Takeaways
• A successful club builds D.E.E.P. relationships with its members:
    • Development of a strong membership
    • Engagement of a high percentage of members
    • Enrichment of identity and affinity
    • Perpetuation of the club

• The most important thing is to provide a compelling on-water and shore program that creates a unique experience of traditions and memories to attract and retain active membership. 

• A key component of creating and sustaining a unique experience for members is to continuously update and maintain facilities.

Clay Deutsch’s Memorable Quotes
• “If you don’t spend the money to keep the assets fresh, you’re killing the club.”

• “Get members involved in committees and governance, increasing their ownership in the club by giving them a stake in the responsibility.”

Click here for presentation documents.

- Content recorded by Steve Blackman

Collaborations Between Community and Club
– Breakout Session Recap

Dawn Riley: Moderator - Director and Member, America’s Cup Committee
Steve McInnis: Chair, Sail Newport Nominating Committee
Tom Atkins: Board Member, Sail Sheboygan
Bill Hardesty: Sailing Director, Chicago Match Race Center
Janet Baxter: Past President, US SAILING / Chicago Yacht Club

This panel explored all types of sailing organizations from grass roots community sailing centers to the most distinguished yacht clubs. The panel analyzed how these organizations can maintain their unique character while collaborating with the community to create opportunities for any individual, family or team who would like to navigate through the world of sailing.

Key Points & Takeaways
• Example: Oakcliff Sailing Center has extensive training and coaching for adult sailors, including scholarships for 18 to 30 year olds. [Riley]

• Example: Sail Newport and Ida Lewis Yacht Club have pooled their competitive racing programs. Lasers and 420s now sail out of Sail Newport and Optis out of Ida Lewis. [McInnis]

• Example: Sail Sheboygan used “Sea Scouts” as a brand name for their junior program, but now they named their program, “Sheboygan High School Racing League.” The program has generated more interest since this name change. [Atkins]

• Example: The Chicago Match Racing Center has drawn a fun group of sailors (star sailors) and has found it important and helpful to work with businesses in the area such as Navy Pier and community oriented projects including trade shows. [Hardesty]

• Janet Baxter urged everyone to visit the US SALING website and find a place to sail at http://www1.ussailing.org/wheretosail/wheretosail.aspx.

• High school programs have been growing. For more information go to, http://highschoolsailingusa.org/ - [Baxter]

• An audience member advised attendees to go to churches, Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, YMCA, and athletic directors for collaboration efforts and support.

• The panel didn’t want the audience to forget about the value of clubs and communities cross pollinating and finding each other.

Memorable Quotes
• “When students leave this program (Oakcliff scholarships), they could run a sailing related business.” – Dawn Riley

• “Sail Newport is an example of how public and private can work together. Neither Ida Lewis nor New York Yacht Club have boat hoists which allow boats to be put into the water and pulled out. Sail Newport aides these clubs by lending access to its boat hoists.” – Steve McInnis

- Content recorded by Allison Gardiner 

Financial Stability
– Breakout Session Recap


Dan Cooney: Moderator - Development Dir. & Assoc. Exec. Dir., US SAILING / Former Treasurer, Beverly Yacht Club
Nancy Glover: Former Treasurer, Chicago Yacht Club
David Elwell: Former commodore, New York, Yacht Club
Leslie Keller: Treasurer, US SAILING / Corinthian Yacht Club
David Pensky: Board of Governors, Annapolis Yacht Club

The panel discussed what financial stability means for yacht clubs and how different clubs execute plans to achieve it. Panelists talked about the level of financial reserves a club should maintain, and how to make the tough choices in leaner times without losing sight of the club’s core purpose and principles. The panel addressed the funding of capital expenditures and financial incentives for certain membership segments. Other areas covered include unrelated business income and IRS rules, process for setting dues, assessments and fees, and breaking down the financial roles between volunteers and staff. As some of these answers vary greatly depending on the size and mission of the organization, the panel addressed these differences.

Key Points & Takeaways
• Find an auditor that specifically understands private clubs and yacht clubs. [Glover]

• Reserve Funds: There is no right amount. For a point of reference, aim at a goal that is one year’s dues. This may be a heavy target for some clubs, it is imperative in the long-term to manage a business with a stated goal of having a reserve fund with a target. [Elwell]

• Increases member dues of roughly 3%, even when not needed. [Elwell]

• Elwell refers to assessing deprivation by asking yourself the following: Is your club in better shape this year than last year?

• Always pay yourself first. [Keller]

• Keep day-to-day policies and procedures simple and easy - easy to train and easy to pass from person to person. [Keller]

Memorable Quotes
• “We have to provide really valuable services to our members and we have to do that in a sustainable way and be prepared for good times and bad.” – Dan Cooney

• “Unrelated business income is a real issue. I recommend having an auditor that is familiar with 501(c)(7)’s, not just non-for-profits.” – Nancy Glover

• “It is important in hard times to maintain your property and your boat. Differed maintenance never saved anybody any money. It just gets worse. Have an emergency fund and don’t spend it all.” – Nancy Glover

• “For purposes of managing a club, it is absolutely imperative that it be managed as a business.” – David Elwell

• “While hiring the best staff may cost a little bit of money, inevitably they will make you more money or save you more money. And that goes from the general manager to the chef, to controller or chief financial officer... it is money extremely well spent.” – David Elwell

• “Financial stability isn’t rocket science, it is paying attention, tracking statistics and knowing your revenue and expenses.” – Leslie Keller

• “Whether big or small [club], as long as someone appears to be paying attention, that can head off so many unfortunate financial situations.” – Leslie Keller

• “The treasurer is not the only person who should be responsible for the money. Everybody on the board should have input. Anything financial should be absolutely 100% transparent to everybody.” – Leslie Keller

- Content recorded by Tatiana Kouskoulas

Regatta Management
- Breakout Session Recap

John Craig:
Moderator - Principal Race Officer, 34th America's Cup
Bill Stump: Past Commodore, California Yacht Club
George Brengle: Marketing Director, Sperry NOOD Regattas
Tom Duggan: ISAF International Race Officer / US SAILING National Race Office
Brad Read: Executive Director, Sail Newport
The speakers at the Regatta Management panel shared their extensive combined experience and offered attendees tips for running effective regattas, from small fleet races to major class championships.

Key Points & Takeaways
• Put value into preparation and planning, understanding and managing expectations, and developing the know-how to make big events a success. 

• Clubs need to sell prospective sponsors on the sport of sailing by bringing people out on the water and showing how the audience and demographics of sailing can help their brand. [Brengle]

• Don’t be afraid to make changes to long-running events. The best events are scalable from year-to-year depending on sponsorship and number of participants.

• Manage expectations to enrich participants’ experience. In the past 30 years, regattas have gotten more user-friendly on the water, but land the activities hasn’t kept pace. During the planning process, ask the competitors what they want to get out of the regatta, and tailor the level of competitiveness and types of associated events, and managing the event within the parameters of their expectations. [Read]

• The best way to manage the protest process is by having a set procedure and following it closely.  Getting more members involved in running races pays off in the long run, since the only way to become a skilled race officer is to learn by making the tough calls yourself. [Duggan]

- Content recorded by Steve Blackman

Yacht Club Branding and Image
- Breakout Session Recap

Bob James:
Moderator – Former Chair, McCann Erickson / Past Commodore, New York Yacht Club
Dave Perry: Head Coach US Sailing Team AlphaGraphics Women’s Match Racing Team
Geoff Mason: Senior Production Specialist, ESPN / Director, America’s Cup Television
Gary Jobson: President, US SAILING
Sally Helme: Group Publisher, Sailing World Magazine - Bonnier Marine Group

Panelists in the branding session explained the value of branding their clubs and programs properly and how to reflect that brand to their members and the greater sailing community. Panelists challenged attendees to find their identity and explained to them how to use this identity to create an accurate brand or image.

Key Points & Takeaways
• Display your logo and burgee consistently on letterheads, shirts, napkins, hats, etc. [Jobson]

• Example of branding: Annapolis Yacht Club auctioned off license plates with the letters “AYC” on the plates. The event raised money and reinforced their branding on the vehicles of club members. [Jobson]

• Example of branding: Perry explained what made his home yacht club (Pequot Yacht Club) so special for him growing up. He cited racing excellence, sportsmanship, and its friendly, and welcoming atmosphere. He continues to reflect that culture everywhere he goes, and that is the brand of his home club.

• A club must find its niche and express it. [Perry]

• Clubs need to find ways to be more relevant. [Mason]

• Consult with members and the public and seek common threads. A club might see itself as inclusive and open, but the public might see it as being exclusive. Clubs need to strive to merge the image they want to portray with what the public sees. [Helme]

• Clubs can hold events, such as a sailing safety weekend, which brings the community out to the water while enhancing the public image of the organization. [Helme]Branding

• Clubs must focus on heritage while constantly refreshing and modernizing their images. [James]

• The panel agreed that a written mission statement, which is allowed to evolve, is important for any yacht club.

• Panelists had differing opinions on whether the term “yachting” continues to hold negative connotations, but all agreed that clubs can break through that barrier if it does.

• Yacht clubs must adapt and create images of openness, youth and fun. [Perry]

• Perry said he was in Manhattan recently and saw sailors wearing flip flops and drinking from a keg. He felt this was the image of an adapted club that is looking to the future.

Memorable Quotes
• “Your yacht club brand is the definition of who you are.” – Bob James

• “These are key things to think about to make your club more valuable, more distinctive and more enjoyable.” – Bob James

• “If you keep trading off what your specialness was years ago, you’ll wake up one day to find it’s gone, evaporated.” – Bob James

• “I like to be proud of the image and show it off.” – Gary Jobson

• “It can be a strong racing club, a strong cruising club, a strong social club, a strong junior club or a strong adult education club. Any club can focus on several of these areas, but a club needs an identity.” – Dave Perry

• “Lightning in a bottle is hard to manufacture. The America’s Cup has given us lightning in a bottle before.” - Geoff Mason

• “Think about not our brand, but who we are, what we stand for, how we market ourselves, and how we carry ourselves.” – Geoff Mason

• “A brand is many things, but in essence it is the personality of your organization. What is our personality? What is our identity? What do we want it to be?” – Sally Helme

• “Social networking and digital media offer a great opportunity for creating momentum.” – Geoff Mason

• “This isn’t my grandfather’s New York Yacht Club.” – Dave Perry

- Content recorded by Austin Smith

Junior Programs
– General Session Recap

Dave Perry:
Moderator - Head Coach, US SAILING Team AlphaGraphics Women's Match Racing team
Michael Spark: Waterfront Director, Mantoloking Yacht Club
Brad Read: Executive Director, Sail Newport (R.I.)
Jay Kehoe: Waterfront Director, Annapolis Yacht Club (Md.)
Bryan McDonald: Chair, Windsurfing Task Force (Calif.)
Jesse Fielding: Storm Trysail Club

The goal of the Junior Programs session was to give sailors involved in yacht clubs and other sailing organizations the chance to learn about some of the cutting-edge techniques and practices going on today in junior sailing education. Attendees learned how clubs and organizations are prospering in today's environment, and took away some ideas and best practices and apply it to your programs.

Key Points & Takeaways
• While clubs need to focus on non-competitive sailing to bring in fresh faces, don’t underestimate the competitive side of the sport. [Spark]

• Only 5% of programs are elite racing training, but they receive a disproportionate amount of the funding and attention. The 80% of junior programs that serve the youngest sailors are learn to sail/learn to race/love the water-type organizations. Keeping those kids interested in the sport as they grow older is a big problem.

• There is a need for more public access to the water, either through yacht clubs or community sailing centers, as a way to get more people to fall in love with sailing. [Read] 

• Example: Windsurfing is one of the fastest-growing areas in the sport and it attracts new beginners. US SAILING and US Windsurfing offers a number of resources and free clinics to help you bring windsurfing to your club. [McDonald]

• Example: Junior Safety at Sea programs (developed by the Storm Trysail Club) get kids out on the water safely and teaches them to handle themselves responsibly. [Fielding]

• Use tool CleverPig.org as a clearinghouse for sailing instruction. The site was designed to help sailors of all levels improve. [Perry]

Memorable Quote
• “If we don’t make sailing experiential and fun on day one, we lose these kids forever.” – Brad Read

Presentation Documents:
Brad Read: Youth Programs
Clever Pig
Keeping Kids on the Water
Youth Match Racing
Michael Spark: Junior Sailing
Windsurfing Presentation
Windsurfing Task Force

- Content recorded by Steve Blackman

Building Membership
– General Session Recap


Gary Jobson: Moderator - President, US SAILING
John McNeill: Vice President - Americas, International Council of Yacht Clubs
Janet Baxter: Past President, US SAILING / Chicago Yacht Club
Chuck Inglefield: Past Commodore, Cleveland Yacht Club
Bill Kirk: Chairman - Membership Committee, US SAILING
Jennifer Dunbar: St. Francis Yacht Club

In this session the panel discussed the importance of understanding the identity of your club and how your club is perceived by members and the sailing community. Attendees learned how to better identify member prospects, membership retention, the importance of research and finding your niche in the sailing market. The panel analyzed the value associated with the investment in youth for the future well-being of your club and the sport as a whole.

Key Points & Takeaways
• Clubs now consist of strong youth programs and a core group of long-term members who direct club activities, but a gap in between of the critical 22 to 40-year-old age group. This gap can be filled by focusing on what those potential members want out of the club and making the club a focal point in their lives. [McNeill]

• It is important for member retention to be part of the overall membership strategy, since clubs are losing infrequent sailors, even though participation in the sport is gradually increasing. [Kirk]

• Instead of positioning your club against other activities that demand their time, develop ties with these organizations and crossover sports, and be sure to develop relationships with your members to avoid losing them. [Kirk]

• It is important to recruit peers, for existing members to bring new faces into the group, and to dovetail new member events with major club events. [Dunbar, Inglefield]

• Club-owned fleets help eliminate boat ownership as an obstacle to membership.

• Membership development is tied in with nearly everything the club does, from racing to community outreach.

Memorable Quotes
• “More and more, clubs have become a mix of kids and curmudgeons.” – John McNeill

• “Retaining existing members is always easier and cheaper than acquiring new members.” – Bill Kirk

Click here for presentation documents.

- Content recorded by Steve Blackman

Increase Race Participation
– Breakout Session Recap


Hank Stuart: Moderator - National Race Officer / Senior Judge / ISAF International Race Officer
John Craig: Principal Race Officer, 34th America’s Cup
Susan Epstein: Board of Directors, US SAILING
Jeff Johnstone: President, J/Boats, Inc.
Randy Draftz: Race Director, Charleston Yacht Club

Panelists in this session focused on generating ideas for getting more sailors at all levels interested in racing, and how clubs need to reach out to their respective communities for advice and support. Topics such as event and race duration, participation costs, social events, and relationship building were discussed in this session.

Key Points & Takeaways
• US SAILING website for guidance on race management at http://organizations.ussailing.org/Resources/Race_Management.htm.

• The panel addressed the importance of good communication between yacht clubs and US SAILING, and how yacht club members should reach out to their community for advice.

• Get more involved with the national sailing community and club members should participate in race events outside of their own yacht club. [Epstein, Craig]

• While referencing racing events at the Ida Lewis Yacht Club, Jeff Johnstone pitched five significant tenets:
    • Keep events short
    • Encourage low cost for all ages
    • Be aware of the vocal minority
    • Social events are the fabric of the group
    • Create time to debrief / create relationships

• As a veteran of the racing lifestyle at Ida Lewis Yacht Club, Johnstone sites listening to the demands of high level racers, who he categorized as the vocal minority, and how these demands can be detrimental to the fleet as a whole.

• Example: Social media has shown to be a great tool for promoting the Charleston Race Week. [Draftz]

• The popularity of the Charleston Race Week has forced organizers to focus on crowd management at the venue. [Draftz]

Click here for presentation documents.

- Content recorded by Allison Gardiner

Club Owned Fleet
- Breakout Session Recap

Tom Atkins: Board Member, Sail Sheboygan
Stuart Johnstone: Chairman, J/Boats, Inc.
Wes Richardson: General Manager, Hyannis Yacht Club
Michael Zavell: Managing Director, LaserPerformance

This panel discussed the key elements for success in creating, organizing and managing a sailing program in conjunction with club owned fleets. A number of questions were considered pertaining to purchasing a fleet, such as why your club plans to buy a fleet and how you plan to use the boats. The panel discussed common challenges associated with this process as well as the pros and cons of certain boats. Relevant topics such as maintenance and facilities, fleet promotion, financing, space limitations, and management and operation issues were also included.

Key Points & Takeaways
• Club are struggling to engage the 21 to 35 year old demographic. [Johnstone]Club Fleet

• Create an understanding of the opportunities in age- or gender- based instruction, fleet championships and open sailing, in addition to the hurdles of owning a fleet, such as cost of boats, maintenance, price for use and liabilities.

• Example: Hyannis Yacht Club owns 18 420s, seven Hunters, six Bics and several windsurfers. Most recently, they developed a plan to create a fleet of J/22s for racing, instruction and open sailing. The club created a plan, whereby they purchase two used J/22s each year. They try to find boats of similar age and condition, and they go to great lengths to refurbish and maintain them. [Richardson]

• Example: To help subsidize the fleet the club (Hyannis) charges fees for use. A member can rent a boat for four hours for $75, plus $50-per-hour if they have an instructor, and for a three-day regatta a boat can be rented for $250. During team racing, Hyannis does not charge for use of the boats. [Richardson]

• Example: Sail Sheboygan in Wisconsin has helped create three separate organizations with 501(c)(3) status. They each have a different budget, a different purpose, but they are all working together. [Atkins]

    • The first organization is a traditional yacht club, started in the 1930s, which continues to be just that.
    • The second is the Sheboygan Youth Sailing Club.

• They created a fleet of Elliot 6 meters and eight Sonars, under a third 501(c)(3) called Sail Sheboygan. This is a program focused strictly on racing.

• Example: Another interesting approach taken by Sail Sheboygan was when they noticed certain kids wanted to be on the water but did not have great interest in sailing. They bought four kayaks, and noticed that kids who went kayaking quickly became comfortable and were immediately more interested in sailing. (Atkins)

• Example: Sheboygan Youth Sailing Club has a popular youth program, but the organization noticed kids tapering off around age 14, at which point their program was called “Sea Scouts.” This program operates through Boy Scouts of America, which assumes partial liability for its operations. They implemented a subtle, yet aggressive, marketing strategy. They changed the name from Sea Scouts to the Sheboygan High School Racing Club. This change multiplied their membership.

• Keep a fleet in good shape. Good maintenance attracts members and top-notch instructors and saves time and money in the long run. (Zavell)

Memorable Quotes
• “We believe one of the best strategies to keep them (21 to 35 year olds) is to have some form of club-owned fleet.” - Stuart Johnstone

• “This way, the five guys at the bar don’t need to worry about the liability of kids running up and down their docks.” [on creating separate organizations] – Tom Atkins

• “If a club can afford it, a constantly cycling fleet is a great way to keep boats up-to-date.” – Michael Zavell

- Content recorded by Austin Smith

Waterfront Management
– Breakout Session Recap

Dawn Riley: Moderator - America's Cup & Volvo Sailor / Oakcliff Sailing / Women's Sports Foundation
Michael Spark: Waterfront Director, Mantoloking Yacht Club
John Fisher: Founder, Gowrie Group Insurance
Rives Potts: Rear Commodore, New York Yacht Club / Partner, Brewer Yacht Yard

Solutions to waterfront challenges were analyzed by this expert panel. Did you know that some yacht clubs have full service boat yard with travel lifts?  Does your club beach launch boats? Is it time to upgrade your docks but you don’t know how? Do your members make demands but then shy away from the risks? These questions and answers were discussed and answered in this session.

Key Points & TakeawaysSummit008
• One interesting fact about America’s yacht clubs:

    • Of the 1,500 yacht clubs and sailing organizations, only 900 are on the water. 

• Practical ideas that are easy to implement and let sailing programs operate more efficiently [Riley, Spark]: 
    • Build better boat racks and rigging storage for Optis to let junior sailors spend more of their practice time on the water.
    • Have regatta participants pack their own lunches to cut down on waste.
    • Don’t operate your own boatyard at your club unless you fully understand the complexities of such a facility. Expanded environmental regulations, among other problems, make this area something that is usually best left to professionals, especially if you can negotiate a partnership with a local marina or boat yard.  [Potts]

• The worst thing that can happen with insurance is being surprised, so look forward (with your carrier) and see what kinds of problems you might have and how you can avoid them, especially when making changes around your club. [Fisher]

Memorable Quote
• “While insurance is the longest four-letter word that I know, working proactively with your insurance agent and understanding the nuances of your policy can pay off big if anything should happen.” – John Fisher

- Content recorded by Steve Blackman

Sailing Oriented Charitable Foundations and their Sponsoring Yacht Clubs
– Breakout Session recap

Phil Smith: Commodore, Eastern Yacht Club

Phil Smith broke down everything you need to know about charitable foundation and their sponsoring yacht clubs from a legal standpoint. Donations, contributions, technical issues, foundation status and more were discussed in detail in this session.

Key Points & Takeaways
• Good legal advice is absolutely critical when forming a charitable foundation and sponsoring it with a yacht club.

• Technical issues deserving of legal advice include:
    • Board make-up
    • The no private benefit rule
    • Providing of equipment
    • Accepting boats as donations
    • Accepting designated contributions for a specific cause

• Business questions relating to this formation include:
    • Will the foundation have members and if so, how are the members selected? 
    • Who should be elected as initial directors and how will ongoing directors be selected?

• Most yacht clubs are not-for-profit organizations under 501(c)(7) and that contributions to 501(c)(7) organizations are not tax deductible since they are not “charitable.”

• It is important to keep clear who’s benefiting from donations in order to keep status as a charitable foundation.

Phil Smith’s Memorable Quotes
• “[People] should not set up a foundation if they think that the foundation is going to be primarily a benefit to their yacht club. It has to have a much broader public purpose.”

• “If you want to accept a boat as a charity, get a lawyer and get an accountant, because it gets complicated.”

• “Get legal advice every step of the way.”

Click here for presentation documents.

- Content recorded by Tatiana Kouskoulas

Insurance Does not Matter Until it Does
– General Session Recap

Carter Gowrie: Founder, Gowrie Group Insurance

In this interactive seminar on yacht club insurance attendees learned why yacht club insurance does matter, and that not all club insurance is the same. Topics explored include what an ROR letter is and why you don’t want to receive one, what types of hidden exclusions might lie in your policies, what unexpected types of claims are on the rise, how to be more proactive about club safety, and more.

Key Points & Takeaways
• Claim types: Dock damage, slip & falls, property damage, workers/compensation, liquor liability, boat damage, theft, etc.

• There are more claims made for on-land incidences than on-the-water.

• Safety materials you need include: Standard junior registration forms, release forms, inspection checklists, and a safety committee.

• Club officers and directors are at risk for complex lawsuits.

• Average compensation awarded is more than $200,000.

• Gowrie is involved with over 50% of yacht clubs in the U.S.

• Visit us at www.burgeeprogram.com.

Click here for presentation documents.

- Content recorded by Allison Gardiner

Recruiting: Change of Staff and Volunteers
– General Session Recap

Charlie Leighton: Moderator - Former Executive Director, US SAILING / Past Commodore, New York Yacht Club
Dave Elwell: Commodore, New York Yacht Club
Bob James: Former Chair, McCann Erickson / Past Commodore, New York Yacht Club
David Pensky: Trustee, Annapolis Yacht Club

In this session the panel evaluated the good people that form the character of our clubs. They discussed how to recruit volunteers, how to retain them, the different kinds of volunteers, and how to go about change. The panelists addressed staffing considerations, including the development of job descriptions, compensation, recruitment, terms and limitations, and more.

Key Points & Takeaways
• Questions for clubs to ask themselves [Leighton]:
    • Can we create value? 
    • Do we have members that can do it? 
    • Is it financially feasible? 
    • Who should serve on your nominating committee? 
    • What three things would you do to survive? 
    • What three things would you not do?

• Example: Friday night dinners were an important networking event for a club in New Orleans. These dinners turned into an important gathering place for the community. [Leighton]

• There are three kinds of volunteers that feed into a yacht club:
    • Volunteer 1: Needed by the yacht club with specific skills - legal, financial, leadership, etc.
    • Volunteer 2: Needed by the yacht club for multiple needs - race official, nominating committee, member relations, activities, etc.
    • Volunteer 3: Needs the yacht club more than the yacht club needs them - micromanagers, conflicts, threaten staff, has more time than ability.

• The panel recommended a strong mission statement because it serves to take out the emotions. They discussed the importance of understanding what you are and make sure others do the same.

• The panel encouraged job descriptions for committee chairs as defined board qualifications.
Make sure there is a balance between authority and responsibility.

• Find ways for the staff to provide feedback. [Leighton]

Memorable Quotes
• “A yacht club is like a tribe.” – Charlie Leighton

• “Do what’s right for the members of the future.” – Charlie Leighton

• “How to be a leader without a title? Use the word ‘us’ versus ‘I’ and use ‘thank you.’” – Charlie Leighton

- Content recorded by Allison Gardiner

Yacht Club Governance
– Breakout Session Recap

Kurt Stocker: Principal, CCO & Senior Partner, Story Trading / Past Commodore, Chicago Yacht Club

In this session, Stocker explains how yacht clubs are populated by members who work every day in and with public companies and corporations, and are being exposed to massive changes in the governance of those organizations. The boards are being made up of directors who are chosen for their independence, ability to play well with others, and needed skill sets. Governance issues in the public sector cannot be ignored. In recent years, private organizations, including more than a few yacht clubs, have suffered the same lapses. This drives new regulations and approaches to governance.

Key Points & Takeaways
• Yacht clubs and their boards are made up of members that have demanding day jobs.

• The role of the board is to manage and provide leadership.

• The club’s mission is important and sets parameters for the board.

• After researching yacht club websites, only a few clubs listed a mission or a vision for the club, and approximately half the clubs listed their directors or staff directory.

• Boards vary in management style, some act as operating boards and others act as governing boards.

• A strong board has diversity and that diversity means more than race and sex.

• The nominating process needs independence. It should include member input as well as advice from the board.

• Nominees should be chosen by qualifications, such as years in the club, committee involvement, and a representative of a member category or constituency. 

Kurt Stocker’s Memorable Quotes
• “If you suggest it you must do it.”

• “Avoid giving power to someone that doesn’t play well with others.”

• “A strong governance model has an independent nominating committee, financial literacy, diversity, business backgrounds, defined qualifications for it members, board self assessment, term limits, and practices oversight not micromanagement.”

Click here for presentation documents.

- Content recorded by Allison Gardiner

Responsible for the Environment
– Breakout Session Recap

Rives Potts:
Rear Commodore, New York YC /Principal at Brewer Pilots Point Marina (Conn.)
Jim Callahan: American Yacht Club

Rives Potts and Jim Callahan discussed environmental topics and government relations issues that affect the sport of sailing. The presenters urged attendees to protect the environment, enhance waterfront performance, and provide access.

Key Points & Takeaways
• Responsibly for the environment should be about what is right versus what is socially acceptable.

• Ask yourself these questions:
    • Think about whether they are “pushing a rule” even if they know they are wrong?
    • Do you have a downward facing spout aimed toward open water? 
    • Have you scrubbed a boat or sanded a boat?

• It is important for sailors to understand regulations. Sailors may be getting fined because we are “pushing the rule” or we are not aware of acceptable practices. You just may be breaking the law.

• Sailors may be getting fined because we are “pushing the rule” or we are not aware of acceptable practices.

• The Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) enforces these rules and regulations.

• The Clean Water Act (CWA) calls for no processed industrial waste water to be emptied into the waters of the United States.

• The Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) in Connecticut has formed a Clean Marina Program.

• Programs and regulations vary in each state.

• The presenters also recommended becoming involved with Sailors for the Sea, a non-profit that empowers sailors with the knowledge of ocean conservation.

Memorable Quotes
• “Enforcement regulators are focusing on the big ships and working their way down. Yacht Clubs are next.” – Rives Potts

• “Be on your game and be prepared because you are guilty until proven innocent.” – Rives Potts

- Content recorded by Allison Gardiner

Final Thoughts - Recap

Gary Jobson:
President, US SAILING
Jack Gierhart:  Executive Director, US SAILING

Key Points & Takeaways
• Jobson believes there are issues we can address swiftly, including:
    • Running races well
    • Decreasing obstacles for becoming a race official
    • Attracting youth to our sport
    • Use social media

• Look for an evaluation survey in your inbox. [Gierhart]

Gary Jobson’s Memorable Quotes

• “Together we have the power to get something done. It is our job to listen.” – Gary Jobson

• “Community sailing is a big wave of the future.” – Gary Jobson

• “It’s disturbing to witness the aggressiveness toward youth involved in our sport. There is a fine line between making sailing compelling and not pushing kids away.” – Gary Jobson

- Content recorded by Allison Gardiner

Gary Jobson with Ted Turner