What's Right (or Wrong) with US Sailing?

Glenn McCarthy

Super Anarchist
1,851
302
Elmhurst, IL
I wrote on Page 3 about 3/4 of the way down how US Sailing used to be, responding to the sailors in the sport.

What happened, what is it today?

First the USOC went through a shake up, some employee theft, corruption, etc. Got cleaned up by a sailor and they downsized their Board of Directors.

US Sailing thought they should downsize too. They turned it over to a Doctor. The bylaws were created in the image of a Doctor who does no wrong, and who is not to be questioned. He ignored all input and designed the organization himself. Seriously.

This turned the organization upside down, where ideas now come from the top and are pushed down to the bottom. Where staff no longer executed the wishes of the sailors, but created what they wanted the sailors to do. Simultaneously the world of non-profits changed where bloated staffs and over-sized salaries quickly became the norm.

The great phrase that came out of Watergate - "Follow the money."
Looking at the 2020 IRS-990 (tax return for US Sailing):
Income around $9M (this is a mixture of Olympic Sailing and US Sailing revenue)
Contributions and Grants $4.3M
Programs and Services $5M
Expenses
Salaries and Benefits $4.3M
Individual Salaries
CEO (what used to be called "Executive Director) $252,000
CFO $85,000
CTO $133,000
Performance Manager $108,000
Olympic Head Coach $148,000
USST Performance Analyst $136,000
Chief Marketing Officer $146,000
Director ODP $117,000
Travel $449,000
Of course, there are many more over $100,000, these are the ones that were listed.

What do sailors get for the above listed managers and Olympic staff with a combined salary of $1.1M? I'll wait for you answer for what these 8 people do for you.

What transpired in this evolution, is good things for sailing were pushed aside by Profit Centers. They ditched the things the sailors brought forward with no supported income and have been focusing on what brings in money to pay for this staff.

Simple example - Sailing World Magazine used to own the Safety at Sea Seminars. They paid the expenses out of the magazine subscriptions. The day US Sailing took it over, it immediately added a $50 per head fee to go to US Sailing's coffers. This is not about whether the seminars are good or bad, it is simply a statement how these were turned into a profit center. I do not know what the per head fee is today, this is at least 15 year old information.

You wonder why the Board is so incestuous? Why they pick their own to keep it going? It is the Doctor's wishes that he does no wrong and will continue to make the organization in his vision.

When Gary Jobson was incoming President, we had a 20 minute call as he was gathering ideas from sailors. My biggest comment was, "Be sure the one thing you don't do is to advance the Doctor any further than he has destroyed the organization already." The next President after Gary was the Doctor.
 
As a lifelong multihull sailor, I dropped my membership when US Sailing helped vote the catamarans out of one of the Olympic cycles a number of years ago. Since they chose not to represent me, I chose to not give them money or loyalty. It was kinda the same reason that the Bostonians threw the tea in the harbor...
 

Foredeck Shuffle

More of a Stoic Cynic, Anarchy Sounds Exhausting
I'm not super familiar with golf, but I'm pretty sure you can do both at the same time.
abe48299a36993bfc9f05499e7582439--ghost-makeup-ghosts.jpg
 

EYESAILOR

Super Anarchist
3,632
2,101
I wrote on Page 3 about 3/4 of the way down how US Sailing used to be, responding to the sailors in the sport.

What happened, what is it today?

First the USOC went through a shake up, some employee theft, corruption, etc. Got cleaned up by a sailor and they downsized their Board of Directors.

US Sailing thought they should downsize too. They turned it over to a Doctor. The bylaws were created in the image of a Doctor who does no wrong, and who is not to be questioned. He ignored all input and designed the organization himself. Seriously.

This turned the organization upside down, where ideas now come from the top and are pushed down to the bottom. Where staff no longer executed the wishes of the sailors, but created what they wanted the sailors to do. Simultaneously the world of non-profits changed where bloated staffs and over-sized salaries quickly became the norm.

The great phrase that came out of Watergate - "Follow the money."
Looking at the 2020 IRS-990 (tax return for US Sailing):
Income around $9M (this is a mixture of Olympic Sailing and US Sailing revenue)
Contributions and Grants $4.3M
Programs and Services $5M
Expenses
Salaries and Benefits $4.3M
Individual Salaries
CEO (what used to be called "Executive Director) $252,000
CFO $85,000
CTO $133,000
Performance Manager $108,000
Olympic Head Coach $148,000
USST Performance Analyst $136,000
Chief Marketing Officer $146,000
Director ODP $117,000
Travel $449,000
Of course, there are many more over $100,000, these are the ones that were listed.

What do sailors get for the above listed managers and Olympic staff with a combined salary of $1.1M? I'll wait for you answer for what these 8 people do for you.

What transpired in this evolution, is good things for sailing were pushed aside by Profit Centers. They ditched the things the sailors brought forward with no supported income and have been focusing on what brings in money to pay for this staff.

Simple example - Sailing World Magazine used to own the Safety at Sea Seminars. They paid the expenses out of the magazine subscriptions. The day US Sailing took it over, it immediately added a $50 per head fee to go to US Sailing's coffers. This is not about whether the seminars are good or bad, it is simply a statement how these were turned into a profit center. I do not know what the per head fee is today, this is at least 15 year old information.

You wonder why the Board is so incestuous? Why they pick their own to keep it going? It is the Doctor's wishes that he does no wrong and will continue to make the organization in his vision.

When Gary Jobson was incoming President, we had a 20 minute call as he was gathering ideas from sailors. My biggest comment was, "Be sure the one thing you don't do is to advance the Doctor any further than he has destroyed the organization already." The next President after Gary was the Doctor.
Doctor Tom Hubbell is a good man with good intentions. He has give back to the sport in many ways. He has been class officer of the Thistle class for over 45 years and President for most of those years. He was President of US Sailing for 3 years.
He failed to heed Winston Churchill's sage words of advice
"Democracy is the worst form of Government except for all those other forms that have been tried from time to time"

Tom saw that US Sailing's ponderous volunteer structure was inefficient. It was in many ways . However his solution gutted the democratic nature of the organization, disenfranchised many volunteers, and left it out of touch with the grass roots of the sport.

He recommended some changes before he became President but it was when he became President that he disbanded the remaining representative councils and replaced them with appointed committees , and most significant of all, gutted the democratic election process for Board Members and the President.

Prior to Tom, Presidential candidates could be nominated by representative bodies of the sport and were voted on by the membership. Subsequent to Tom and his rocky path to nomination, the President is appointed by the Board.
Prior to Tom, Board candidates were nominated and voted on by the membership.

"But wait" you say, "Isn't there a Board election going on right now? Does not bylaw 302.2.(1) say that the Board shall include:
Five (5) directors elected by the General Members (each an “Elected Director,” collectively the “Elected Directors”)."
Yes it does, but Tom created a nominating committee and the nominating committee chooses the candidates for those elections.
The nominating committee consists of a Chairperson from the existing Board, the past President from the Board, and 3 other members selected by...you guessed it...the nominating committee!
Thus we have the unsurprising result, that in this years election (as in prior years) there are 3 open slots for Board seats and 3 candidates to choose from: https://www.ussailing.org/about/our-people/board-of-directors/board-election/

Since Tom's term as President of USS , there has not been a single contested election. Coincidentally, that was the last year that Saudi Arabia held an election.

Thirty years is a long time to serve as Thistle class president.

As I say, Tom is a good person with good intentions. But...
 

EYESAILOR

Super Anarchist
3,632
2,101
Since Tom's term as President of USS , there has not been a single contested election. Coincidentally, that was the last year that Saudi Arabia held an election.

Ironically, SA had something to do with this. In one of the last board elections prior to Tom disbanding the democratic process, one of the board candidates had the temerity to reach out to sailors via Sailing Anarchy to outline her position and why USS members should consider voting for her. Imagine that....tsk tsk campaigning! Getting feedback from sailors on what they wanted to see at USS ...Oh the horror!
It was considered very bad form, and even hurtful to some of the candidates that lost in the election who felt they had put their time in and had support from board members like Tom.
Free elections were obviously a very bad thing.

Even though US Sailing's version of Russia's election process only provides 1 candidate per slot, the politburo has one final safety feature. Enter Sailing regulation 6.05:

6.05 BOARD NOMINEE CAMPAIGNING
Campaigning for election to the Board or for the Office of President of US Sailing is limited as follows:
A. US Sailing will distribute the Candidate Profile included in a mailing from US Sailing;
B. Candidates shall not undertake any form of wholesale campaigning including commercial mass mailing, phone or e-mail campaigns or campaign advertising;


AKA "The Sailing Anarchy Clause"
 

PeterHuston

Super Anarchist
5,907
95
Although the invite came bit late to actually fly to and attend this meeting, AT LEAST THEY ARE REACHING OUT to the peons in Paducca Flyover Country and seeking our hillbilly opinions. I find it encouraging (within limits) that the "new" leadership at US Sailing has gotten the message "Stopping focusing exclusively on Newport and Miami and the damn Five Ring Circus and give a bohicans some love and attention. We're paying the bills and demand our pound of flesh.

What's your take or stake?

Event Overview
The Stakeholders Summit provides a collaborative forum for the leadership of local sailing organizations to meet with the leadership of US Sailing to share ideas and perspectives about sailing within specific regions of the United States. The roundtable-type environment of the event allows for engaging and thoughtful conversation between attendees and US Sailing leadership that will stick with you long past the conclusion of the Summit.

All leaders are welcome - instructors, program directors, board members, race managers or individuals from community programs, commercial schools, yacht clubs, high school or college programs, or any other organization, sailing specific or not. Whether you're a seasoned veteran within the sailing industry or are just getting your sea-legs under you, the Stakeholders Summit provides a great experience for all levels of sailing proficiency.

Registration is FREE! Lunch and refreshments are included. Please note that space is Limited - Advance Registration Required.
Schedule of Events(Subject to change)
Welcome, Opening Remarks & Introductions
Richard Jepsen, President, Board of Directors

US Sailing: The New Organization & Mission to Serve All Stakeholders
Alan Ostfield, CEO, US Sailing

Regional Topic #1 TBD
Panel Discussion & Open Forum

Lunch & Networking

Turning Kids into Lifelong Sailors

Panel Discussion & Open Forum

Diversity, Equity & Inclusion: Non-Profit Governance and Best Practices
Panel Discussion & Open Forum

Q&A and Open Discussion
US Sailing Board of Directors and Leadership Team
I've read the thread and am perplexed why anyone thinks US Sailing really matters to those who want to focus on racing sailboats. This entire thread exists because of this invite above - do you see ANYTHING that relates to racing sailboats here? Nope, it's all about the some feel good stuff.

My experience with being directly involved in USYRU/US Sailing goes back to my first meeting in '86. It was at SDYC, mostly, because in those days the organization was there to support racing sailors and meetings were held at clubs, or at least in association with clubs. I went because a mentor/friend, Carl Eichenlaub suggested I go along with him. I figured that when the then shipwright for the US Sailing Team suggested I go along with him, I probably ought to do as he suggest. I was by far the youngest person there, and it's why Ehman eventually called me "Young Peter". I was blown away with the people who were there - the majority of the owners of maxi boats and all sorts of other icons of the sport. Next year, I went to Cleveland, and literally at the first committee meeting I attended, an Inshore Committee meeting, I raised my hand, asked a question of Gay Lynn, and the next thing I knew I was on the committee. I attended every annual and semi-annual meeting for the next 10 years, served on multiple committees. Meet a lot of really great people all of who shared an interest in making sailboat racing better.

Over time, I could see the changes coming. Change in everything is inevitable, but when some changes are forced beyond what the market really wants or will accept, it never ends well. One of the things that happened routinely at Inshore meetings was dishing out money we had to spread around to worthwhile ideas. At time Susie Trotman was running the Instructor Training program. Every year she would come and ask for something like $10k for some project. Every year it got unanimous support because she was doing an outstanding job. At the time, Training was set up for the purpose of helping to standardize youth learn to sail programs. It was as much an insurance thing for clubs as anything, and while I'm not really big on cascading mandates, there are some things you just can't fight. It was then a support service for clubs, now, Training has become the driver of everything about US Sailing. It's their core reason for being, even if not so stated.

Not long after my first meeting it became obvious to me Jim Muldoon was going to run roughshod over everyone via Training. God, I never met a bigger asshole in the sport. I actually never had a personal problem with him, like many others did, because I stayed away from him as much as possible. I do recall a meeting, I think it was Ft Lauderdale in '90, where he and Sego got into a knock down screaming match with each other, the likes of which I never had seen before, or after, over the Opti becoming the "official training boat of US Sailing". That wasn't going to happen anyway, because the then President of Opti class wanted nothing to do with US Sailing taking over the class. Sego was building Sabots, so he was protecting his business interest. I remember one time Muldoon saying that once they got their first training book done on learn to sail, they could write books on training EVERYTHING in the sport. We also have US Motorboating as a result. (again, probably necessary for a lot of instructors who didn't necessary grow up driving small outboards, but it could have been done differently).

The other thing that happened routinely at Inshore was Penny Hare coming to ask for money for the Leiter Cup. Again, she was doing such a great job with that event no one ever questioned what she wanted the money for. It was one of the better things US Sailing did, and Penny is directly responsible for a number of young girls getting exposure to really great coaching, many for the first time. The depth in the Laser Radial fleet we had for a couple of decades is directly attributed to Penny Hare and the Leiter Cup.

In '92 the late John Bonds, in his capacity as the then ExDir of US Sailing, invited me and about 19 other people to attend a think tank in Chicago, paid for by Sail American, to come up with solutions to "Breaking the Barriers to Entry". Half of us were from racing (I forget all who attended, but do remember that Chip Johns and Garry Hoyt were there) and half were from Training. We weren't even 15 minutes into the meeting, and one of the guys from Training, a guy who ran a for profit sailing school, literally started yelling and screaming at me about how racing had screwed up the organization. Huh?, racing is the reason the organization exists, dickhead. So, now literally 30 years later, US Sailing basically wants to do the same thing with this meeting that is the genesis of this thread.

A couple of comments on things in this thread:

Olympics - some say there is too much focus on the Olympics. It has to be that way - the fact sailing is in the Olympics is the reason US Sailing has the Congressionally granted right to pick the Olympic team. Truth is, US Sailing provides precious little to the sailors on the team. There's a lot of problems with the Olympics, which all start at the IOC, then trickle down to the USOC. People need to understand what the Olympics were, and what it is now - which is nothing more than a TV show. Anyone trying to make the Olympic team needs to understand they are going to spend probably close to $500k, maybe more, per sailor per quad to become an unpaid actor in a TV show.

During my time attending meetings I could see the cultural shift and by the mid-90's I stopped caring. I could see Muldoon running roughshod over everyone. It just wasn't same as it had been 10 years prior - wasn't any fun any more.

By the time Hubble took over, I was watching from the sidelines, and couldn't believe the way things were going to change. And contrary to EyeSailor saying Hubble is a good guy - pardon the fuck out of me - no he's not. A good guy does not radically change the governance structure of a non-profit service organization so that it is now effectively a private company. Worse than the no campaigning clause is the fact that Board members have to sign some oath of omertà, or some such, that they won't speak publicly about anything put before the board. There is no way Hubble had good intent with the change of the governance structure - only a complete asshole does what he did, and everyone on the Board then who let him do it is weak. Imagine members of congress not being able to discuss what they have heard in session - this is exactly the way US Sailing operates now. It is for all intents and purposes a private company.

The question in the header is - what does US Sailing do right or wrong. Ok, a couple of things they do right - the safety at sea seminars are really valuable. Arguably, there should be a permanent place to do them on a routine basis, probably one place on the east coast and one of the west. OCC in Newport Beach would be perfect for this.

The Race Officer and Judges training stuff is good - but that all pre-dates the current administration. The reason they are good is because of the people who run them, and again they are a necessary evil for insurance purposes in some instances. That said, I participated in a regatta a few weeks ago where the PRO didn't have any certification at all, and he was one of the best PRO's I have ever seen run a race. Truth is, being a PRO really isn't that hard, particularly if you are an accomplished racing sailor.

What I think should happen is that all the learn to sail stuff and their "recreation and cruising" should be put into a separate entity, wholly owned by US Sailing. Let them run their own thing completely separate from anything related to racing. Set up their own office, and stay the fuck out of racing.

All that said, when it comes to racing, I don't think it's worth the time/energy to try and change a single thing about US Sailing. My primary sailing is in one design classes and those classes are well run. About the only service that US Sailing really provides these days to a well run class is the Appeals. Rules...those come from World Sailing. There's some governance stuff that is necessary for things like the Pan Am classes to keep them included in those games, but that's a requirement because those games need a national co-respondent, they really can't deal a bunch of class associations in multiple countries. For the most part the big classes are best served by US Sailing staying as far away from class administration as possible.

One telling thing about this thread - no one single person who works for, or is a leadership position within US Sailing has come in to defend or support anything they do. Do they really not read SA? My guess, probably not. They just let Leweck pander to them.

The net is that US Sailing is basically impotent relative to racing sailboats. They don't move the needle on participation, never have, never will. If the goal is increasing participation, that is really up to classes and clubs (and boat builders, sailmakers and parts suppliers) to do what serves their interests. US Sailing needs us way more than we need them.
 
Please don’t misunderstand me. I’m all for certification courses. None of us know everything and almost always learn new tips and tricks. My grumble was just that we pay annual dues to US Sailing, then they charge their volunteers to be allowed to volunteer. The instructors deserve to be paid, but our annual dues should pay for that. I would even argue that the certification should require “apprenticing” for a regatta under an experienced PRO. Classrooms teach a lot, but can never account for all the variables that happen out on the water. I didn’t mean to disrespect the folks teaching all the courses. They’re awesome! It’s the admin folks at the top that annoy me.
You are not charged to be allowed to volunteer. You are charged for taking a certification class. If your club requires you to be certified to participate in race management, that is their business. The fact is that those classes are very inexpensive and worth every penny. Take one of the classes taught by one of the National Race Officers and you might discover that you don't know as much as you think you do.
 

Monkey

Super Anarchist
11,059
2,691
You are not charged to be allowed to volunteer. You are charged for taking a certification class. If your club requires you to be certified to participate in race management, that is their business. The fact is that those classes are very inexpensive and worth every penny. Take one of the classes taught by one of the National Race Officers and you might discover that you don't know as much as you think you do.
I know I don’t know as much as I think I do. I never argued that point. My club doesn’t require it, but some events we host do. I’m ok with that. This thread was about what’s good, what’s bad, and suggestions. My suggestion was simply that it should be cheaper for volunteers to become educated and accredited. For most people, these courses already involve travel, hotels, etc. It can be expensive to volunteer.
 

Monkey

Super Anarchist
11,059
2,691
Either way, I’m not cranky. I was just trying to offer suggestions. I’ll still be out there this weekend, and next weekend doing the same old thing. If anyone wants to help next weekend, we’re hosting a pile of college kids for a match racing event. If they can travel, so can you. (That’s aimed at everyone accusing me of being cheap)
 

EYESAILOR

Super Anarchist
3,632
2,101
I agree with Peter about everything he wrote. With one exception. I think Eyesailor was joking about the Doctor being a good guy. :giggle:
I only met Dr. Stubble once. I cannot claim to know him well. I was introduced to him and he was pleasant, generous and certainly did not strike me as the yelling dictatorial type. I attended and listened to meetings where he spoke about the changes that he intended to make. His overriding goal was to try and make US Sailing better organized and more efficient. He had a point.

US sailing at the time was a mass of volunteer committees and councils, without a lot of coordination, reporting into a 50 person Board which was not an effective decision making body. As Peter described above, there were no strategic goals, money was dished out to people because they were nice and trusted. It was a loose network based on who-you-know rather than what-you-know. Im sure this worked well when the organization was smaller but it sounded like it had become unwieldy. Committees multiplied , established for good ideas but never closed. There was duplication of effort. and a very flat structure. Stubble wanted to reorganize USS into 4 divisions, each with a division chair tasked with rationalizing his or her division.

These seemed like sensible ideas .

But I recall having 2 reservations:

1. The reorganization did not need to remove the democratic election process. Why was US sailing doing away with elections? and why was US sailing disenfranchising the US Sailing Council? The reorganization would create this decisive 10 person board and these 4 very powerful division heads.......who are the Board and the Division heads accountable to?

2. Stubble struck me as a planning person. I wondered what his managerial skills were going to be like. Was he elected President because he had done all this work? or was he going to be good at execution and motivation? At one of the meetings he didnt seem to hear when somebody pointed out a flaw in the details of one of his plans. I am a physician. I would not put me in charge of anything, let alone a volunteer organization. I am very nice to patients, but in the OR I am used to barking out instructions and having them obeyed instantly. Chefs and Surgeons don't acquire consensus building in our life skills!
 

EYESAILOR

Super Anarchist
3,632
2,101
I should point out that I have never been anything other than a member of USSailing. Unlike Peter and Glenn, I have never served on a USS committee or been an active volunteer within the organization. I dont have their insights.

I just happened to be around in town when the changes were introduced. In those days, any member of US sailing could attend the agm. I had attended a US Sailing rules course a couple of weeks earlier and realized I was going to be in town during the agm, so I thought it would be interesting to learn and listen. As a US Sailing member I could walk in and attend almost any meeting. It was amazing to actually meet Dick Rose and listen to him chair a rules discussion. Even one of the Board meetings was open to members (discussing Olympic class selection).

I attended a very large meeting where the changes were being discussed. I was very struck by the young man who was Chair of the One Design Council. He had been in the role for about 18 months. They had increased the number of participating classes by 50%. They were working on a bunch of interesting projects; Using scale to negotiate a USS insurance policy for D and O insurance to offer to class officers, offering a free legal template that classes could share to create non-profit organizations, lobbying World Sailing to reduce the number of IJs required and to reduce the cost for smaller classes hosting championships, creating a panel of one design class officers to give feedback on proposed rules changes to the rules committee, organizing symposiums for one design spark plugs with tips on how to grow fleets, organizng a One Design space at boats shows, something about standardizing PFDs and others that I dont remember. It all sounded like relevant and energetic stuff to me . His only request was that the OD council remain a body of elected class presidents rather than an appointed committee and that his job was elected not appointed. Stubble reassured him that he would remain in his role .....but that was not the point, he wanted to be hired and fired by the one design classes not US sailing.

He was gone within 12 months after the changes.... Each class has to find their own D and O insurance and it is very expensive.
 

Glenn McCarthy

Super Anarchist
1,851
302
Elmhurst, IL
It comes down to what sailors want. While antagonists called the old system dysfunctional, quite to the contrary it was very functional. Really 350 to 400 people from all walks of life coming together solving problems.

Now they were effectively fired. 60 go to the meeting and 25 of them are staff.

The organization has said they want to rebuild their volunteer base, but it ain't gonna happen. No one wants to volunteer for a dictatorship.

The current junta is dreaming.

In one tiny little piece where the baby was thrown out with the bath water, look at the W Van Allen Clark, Jr Sportsmanship Trophy.

That honor used to be a huge thing. An entire committee considered the nominations throughout the year. Then picked one as the best example of sportsmanship in the US for the year. It got heavy publicity.

Pretty much gone, or barely on life support.

Dictatorship, or a drove of volunteers serving the sport, which does anyone prefer?

I say that the old system was way way way better.
 

EYESAILOR

Super Anarchist
3,632
2,101
The current junta is dreaming.

In one tiny little piece where the baby was thrown out with the bath water, look at the W Van Allen Clark, Jr Sportsmanship Trophy.
Sadly , it is more than a little piece. Many USS trophies and USS championships have completely faded in terms of participation and recognition..

Can you name one of the winners of the US Sailing's International Women's Keelboat Championship over the last 5 years since 2017?

The winner is awarded the Bengt Julin Trophy and a Rolex watch. (Aka The Rolex Woemns championship)
US Sailing describes it as (I quote) "The premier women’s sailing event in the U.S. and worldwide"
Can you name any recent winners of this prestigious event?

Previous winners include legends like
Anna Tunnicliffe
Cory Sertl
Sally Barkow
Betsy Allison
JJ Isler
Jody Swanson
Hannah Swett
Annie Lush

Today, I bet you cannot even name a single competitor since 2017.

I met Emily Hague, the incredible young talent that won the Melges 15 North American Championship, at a keelboat event in the North East. I asked he if was she thinking of entering for the US Sailing Women's keelboat championship........."Oh, Ive never heard of it"
 

Monkey

Super Anarchist
11,059
2,691
Sadly , it is more than a little piece. Many USS trophies and USS championships have completely faded in terms of participation and recognition..

Can you name one of the winners of the US Sailing's International Women's Keelboat Championship over the last 5 years since 2017?

The winner is awarded the Bengt Julin Trophy and a Rolex watch. (Aka The Rolex Woemns championship)
US Sailing describes it as (I quote) "The premier women’s sailing event in the U.S. and worldwide"
Can you name any recent winners of this prestigious event?

Previous winners include legends like
Anna Tunnicliffe
Cory Sertl
Sally Barkow
Betsy Allison
JJ Isler
Jody Swanson
Hannah Swett
Annie Lush

Today, I bet you cannot even name a single competitor since 2017.

I met Emily Hague, the incredible young talent that won the Melges 15 North American Championship, at a keelboat event in the North East. I asked he if was she thinking of entering for the US Sailing Women's keelboat championship........."Oh, Ive never heard of it"
The funny thing is that I’m friends with about a third of that list. I suppose it helps that we run a lot of high level women’s events so they’re regulars.
 

Monkey

Super Anarchist
11,059
2,691
The funny thing is that I’m friends with about a third of that list. I suppose it helps that we run a lot of high level women’s events so they’re regulars.
I won’t name names, but for the love of god don’t let a certain gold medal winner from that list into your car. I mistakenly agreed to pick up her and her crew from the airport in a big ass van. She was calling tactics from shotgun. Bad idea. Other drivers didn’t understand that you only need a few inches to break overlap.
 

BrightAyes

Member
318
115
Final, Peter read the OP and answered it well. Unfortunately, it doesn't fix my little club's woes. I blame two facts in our case: a) Covid-19 which killed all F2F for 2 years and b) aging Boomers not being replaced with their adult kids. When Boomers finally pass either a) it's ALL over or b) it's ALL better.

Class of '55

:)
 
I've read the thread and am perplexed why anyone thinks US Sailing really matters to those who want to focus on racing sailboats. This entire thread exists because of this invite above - do you see ANYTHING that relates to racing sailboats here? Nope, it's all about the some feel good stuff.

My experience with being directly involved in USYRU/US Sailing goes back to my first meeting in '86. It was at SDYC, mostly, because in those days the organization was there to support racing sailors and meetings were held at clubs, or at least in association with clubs. I went because a mentor/friend, Carl Eichenlaub suggested I go along with him. I figured that when the then shipwright for the US Sailing Team suggested I go along with him, I probably ought to do as he suggest. I was by far the youngest person there, and it's why Ehman eventually called me "Young Peter". I was blown away with the people who were there - the majority of the owners of maxi boats and all sorts of other icons of the sport. Next year, I went to Cleveland, and literally at the first committee meeting I attended, an Inshore Committee meeting, I raised my hand, asked a question of Gay Lynn, and the next thing I knew I was on the committee. I attended every annual and semi-annual meeting for the next 10 years, served on multiple committees. Meet a lot of really great people all of who shared an interest in making sailboat racing better.

Over time, I could see the changes coming. Change in everything is inevitable, but when some changes are forced beyond what the market really wants or will accept, it never ends well. One of the things that happened routinely at Inshore meetings was dishing out money we had to spread around to worthwhile ideas. At time Susie Trotman was running the Instructor Training program. Every year she would come and ask for something like $10k for some project. Every year it got unanimous support because she was doing an outstanding job. At the time, Training was set up for the purpose of helping to standardize youth learn to sail programs. It was as much an insurance thing for clubs as anything, and while I'm not really big on cascading mandates, there are some things you just can't fight. It was then a support service for clubs, now, Training has become the driver of everything about US Sailing. It's their core reason for being, even if not so stated.

Not long after my first meeting it became obvious to me Jim Muldoon was going to run roughshod over everyone via Training. God, I never met a bigger asshole in the sport. I actually never had a personal problem with him, like many others did, because I stayed away from him as much as possible. I do recall a meeting, I think it was Ft Lauderdale in '90, where he and Sego got into a knock down screaming match with each other, the likes of which I never had seen before, or after, over the Opti becoming the "official training boat of US Sailing". That wasn't going to happen anyway, because the then President of Opti class wanted nothing to do with US Sailing taking over the class. Sego was building Sabots, so he was protecting his business interest. I remember one time Muldoon saying that once they got their first training book done on learn to sail, they could write books on training EVERYTHING in the sport. We also have US Motorboating as a result. (again, probably necessary for a lot of instructors who didn't necessary grow up driving small outboards, but it could have been done differently).

The other thing that happened routinely at Inshore was Penny Hare coming to ask for money for the Leiter Cup. Again, she was doing such a great job with that event no one ever questioned what she wanted the money for. It was one of the better things US Sailing did, and Penny is directly responsible for a number of young girls getting exposure to really great coaching, many for the first time. The depth in the Laser Radial fleet we had for a couple of decades is directly attributed to Penny Hare and the Leiter Cup.

In '92 the late John Bonds, in his capacity as the then ExDir of US Sailing, invited me and about 19 other people to attend a think tank in Chicago, paid for by Sail American, to come up with solutions to "Breaking the Barriers to Entry". Half of us were from racing (I forget all who attended, but do remember that Chip Johns and Garry Hoyt were there) and half were from Training. We weren't even 15 minutes into the meeting, and one of the guys from Training, a guy who ran a for profit sailing school, literally started yelling and screaming at me about how racing had screwed up the organization. Huh?, racing is the reason the organization exists, dickhead. So, now literally 30 years later, US Sailing basically wants to do the same thing with this meeting that is the genesis of this thread.

A couple of comments on things in this thread:

Olympics - some say there is too much focus on the Olympics. It has to be that way - the fact sailing is in the Olympics is the reason US Sailing has the Congressionally granted right to pick the Olympic team. Truth is, US Sailing provides precious little to the sailors on the team. There's a lot of problems with the Olympics, which all start at the IOC, then trickle down to the USOC. People need to understand what the Olympics were, and what it is now - which is nothing more than a TV show. Anyone trying to make the Olympic team needs to understand they are going to spend probably close to $500k, maybe more, per sailor per quad to become an unpaid actor in a TV show.

During my time attending meetings I could see the cultural shift and by the mid-90's I stopped caring. I could see Muldoon running roughshod over everyone. It just wasn't same as it had been 10 years prior - wasn't any fun any more.

By the time Hubble took over, I was watching from the sidelines, and couldn't believe the way things were going to change. And contrary to EyeSailor saying Hubble is a good guy - pardon the fuck out of me - no he's not. A good guy does not radically change the governance structure of a non-profit service organization so that it is now effectively a private company. Worse than the no campaigning clause is the fact that Board members have to sign some oath of omertà, or some such, that they won't speak publicly about anything put before the board. There is no way Hubble had good intent with the change of the governance structure - only a complete asshole does what he did, and everyone on the Board then who let him do it is weak. Imagine members of congress not being able to discuss what they have heard in session - this is exactly the way US Sailing operates now. It is for all intents and purposes a private company.

The question in the header is - what does US Sailing do right or wrong. Ok, a couple of things they do right - the safety at sea seminars are really valuable. Arguably, there should be a permanent place to do them on a routine basis, probably one place on the east coast and one of the west. OCC in Newport Beach would be perfect for this.

The Race Officer and Judges training stuff is good - but that all pre-dates the current administration. The reason they are good is because of the people who run them, and again they are a necessary evil for insurance purposes in some instances. That said, I participated in a regatta a few weeks ago where the PRO didn't have any certification at all, and he was one of the best PRO's I have ever seen run a race. Truth is, being a PRO really isn't that hard, particularly if you are an accomplished racing sailor.

What I think should happen is that all the learn to sail stuff and their "recreation and cruising" should be put into a separate entity, wholly owned by US Sailing. Let them run their own thing completely separate from anything related to racing. Set up their own office, and stay the fuck out of racing.

All that said, when it comes to racing, I don't think it's worth the time/energy to try and change a single thing about US Sailing. My primary sailing is in one design classes and those classes are well run. About the only service that US Sailing really provides these days to a well run class is the Appeals. Rules...those come from World Sailing. There's some governance stuff that is necessary for things like the Pan Am classes to keep them included in those games, but that's a requirement because those games need a national co-respondent, they really can't deal a bunch of class associations in multiple countries. For the most part the big classes are best served by US Sailing staying as far away from class administration as possible.

One telling thing about this thread - no one single person who works for, or is a leadership position within US Sailing has come in to defend or support anything they do. Do they really not read SA? My guess, probably not. They just let Leweck pander to them.

The net is that US Sailing is basically impotent relative to racing sailboats. They don't move the needle on participation, never have, never will. If the goal is increasing participation, that is really up to classes and clubs (and boat builders, sailmakers and parts suppliers) to do what serves their interests. US Sailing needs us way more than we need them.
The trouble with debate is that we tend to focus more on points of difference than on where we agree. So I want to state up front that I agree with the greater amount of what Peter is saying here.

With that caveat, I have a couple of comments where we may differ on the margin.
My primary sailing is in one design classes and those classes are well run. About the only service that US Sailing really provides these days to a well run class is the Appeals. Rules...those come from World Sailing. ... For the most part the big classes are best served by US Sailing staying as far away from class administration as possible.
I sail and race in a very well run class. It has a professional paid administrator, a Board that includes savvy business minds, passionate sailors, and thoughtful legal advice. The class has World sailing "international" status, and hosts well run events in some great locations with strong participation. They have locked down their intellectual property and own the trademark. They appoint the builder and approve the sailmakers. The class members are empowered and feel involved with a transparent and democratic process. The end result = fun, competitive racing and a class that has grown in every year since inception. All for only $55 per year (less than the annual subscription to USS).

At first glance, that might endorse Peter's observation. He is right; the front line of one design racing is at the class level and USS does very little to help the class associations.

Where I disagree, is that I feel this did not need to be so. USS could be a platform to support OD classes. However that platform needs to be run and "owned" by the Class Associations. The USS One Design Council had a burst of membership growth in the two years before it was disbanded. The Class Officers of the various Class Associations including my own, were persuaded that there were various things we could do if we acted together. We were going to be represented by a Council which consisted of one class officer from each member class which joined the USS Class Associations. That Council elects an executive committee from its midst. This meant that most every member of the Council's executive committee had
(a) Hands on experience of managing a class association
(b) Had been elected through a democratic process, first to be elected as a class officer in their own class , then to be confirmed to the council executive by his or her peers. This gave them a real mandate. When they spoke on an issue, they directly represented hundreds of sailors.....and they were accountable to those sailors.
(c) direct knowledge of the needs of class associations and the ways in which USS could support vs hinder One Design sailing.

They came up with a number of issues, which might seem trivial but actually mattered to classes. They were especially important to the smaller classes which were well represented due to the one class- one vote structure. Here are some of them (@EYESAILOR seems to have been privy to the minutes....and that is no surprise because they were circulated to every class. There were no secrets.):

Directors and Officers Insurance. Many class volunteers were (and still are) woefully under-insured. The classes that had D&O insurance were (and still are) paying through the nose for that insurance. US Sailing , advised and led by the ODC was in a position to negotiate with underwriters en-bloc to create a D&O policy customized for class associations at a price commensurate with the risk. The combined classes could provide decades of data across dozens of classes to support the thesis that class association D&O risk is substantially less than typical commercial D&O.

The choice of entity and legal templates. Some classes were unicorporated associations. Some had expert legal council. Some had articles of association that were 2 decades out of date. Some had the latest and greatest documentation. The council members suggested a task force to look into the various formation documents and come up with some recommended best practice. The stronger classes were happy to share.

Cost of hosting a World Championship. Even the larger classes were starting to find that the World Sailing regulations requiring international judges were burdensome and unnecessary. The Melges 24 class was in its heyday back then and their representative submitted this as a priority issue for the ODC to raise with USS's delegation to World Sailing. The ODC offered a powerful counterbalance to a US delegation which was dominated by current and former IJs.

I had forgotten about the PFD issue until Eye reminded me in her post. USS should be lobbying and should be involved with the efforts to integrate global PFD standards. Any class official running an international event in the US is doubtless aware of the contortions that class rules and Notice of Races have to go through when PFDs are a requirement.

There were others that I dont recall.

It is irrelevant now because the ODC was disbanded and replaced by an appointed committee.

The Classes went back to taking care of their own business.
 

PeterHuston

Super Anarchist
5,907
95
The trouble with debate is that we tend to focus more on points of difference than on where we agree. So I want to state up front that I agree with the greater amount of what Peter is saying here.

With that caveat, I have a couple of comments where we may differ on the margin.

I sail and race in a very well run class. It has a professional paid administrator, a Board that includes savvy business minds, passionate sailors, and thoughtful legal advice. The class has World sailing "international" status, and hosts well run events in some great locations with strong participation. They have locked down their intellectual property and own the trademark. They appoint the builder and approve the sailmakers. The class members are empowered and feel involved with a transparent and democratic process. The end result = fun, competitive racing and a class that has grown in every year since inception. All for only $55 per year (less than the annual subscription to USS).

At first glance, that might endorse Peter's observation. He is right; the front line of one design racing is at the class level and USS does very little to help the class associations.

Where I disagree, is that I feel this did not need to be so. USS could be a platform to support OD classes. However that platform needs to be run and "owned" by the Class Associations. The USS One Design Council had a burst of membership growth in the two years before it was disbanded. The Class Officers of the various Class Associations including my own, were persuaded that there were various things we could do if we acted together. We were going to be represented by a Council which consisted of one class officer from each member class which joined the USS Class Associations. That Council elects an executive committee from its midst. This meant that most every member of the Council's executive committee had
(a) Hands on experience of managing a class association
(b) Had been elected through a democratic process, first to be elected as a class officer in their own class , then to be confirmed to the council executive by his or her peers. This gave them a real mandate. When they spoke on an issue, they directly represented hundreds of sailors.....and they were accountable to those sailors.
(c) direct knowledge of the needs of class associations and the ways in which USS could support vs hinder One Design sailing.

They came up with a number of issues, which might seem trivial but actually mattered to classes. They were especially important to the smaller classes which were well represented due to the one class- one vote structure. Here are some of them (@EYESAILOR seems to have been privy to the minutes....and that is no surprise because they were circulated to every class. There were no secrets.):

Directors and Officers Insurance. Many class volunteers were (and still are) woefully under-insured. The classes that had D&O insurance were (and still are) paying through the nose for that insurance. US Sailing , advised and led by the ODC was in a position to negotiate with underwriters en-bloc to create a D&O policy customized for class associations at a price commensurate with the risk. The combined classes could provide decades of data across dozens of classes to support the thesis that class association D&O risk is substantially less than typical commercial D&O.

The choice of entity and legal templates. Some classes were unicorporated associations. Some had expert legal council. Some had articles of association that were 2 decades out of date. Some had the latest and greatest documentation. The council members suggested a task force to look into the various formation documents and come up with some recommended best practice. The stronger classes were happy to share.

Cost of hosting a World Championship. Even the larger classes were starting to find that the World Sailing regulations requiring international judges were burdensome and unnecessary. The Melges 24 class was in its heyday back then and their representative submitted this as a priority issue for the ODC to raise with USS's delegation to World Sailing. The ODC offered a powerful counterbalance to a US delegation which was dominated by current and former IJs.

I had forgotten about the PFD issue until Eye reminded me in her post. USS should be lobbying and should be involved with the efforts to integrate global PFD standards. Any class official running an international event in the US is doubtless aware of the contortions that class rules and Notice of Races have to go through when PFDs are a requirement.

There were others that I dont recall.

It is irrelevant now because the ODC was disbanded and replaced by an appointed committee.

The Classes went back to taking care of their own business.
Actually, I completely agree with what you say.

I was around when ODCC did a really great job connecting classes and figuring out ways to help each other. It would be great if that could happen again....under a different governance structure than currently exists.

I was wondering over the weekend if there could be a way to get the classes back together under their own structure outside of US Sailing. I'm not close enough to enough classes to know their specific needs.

Earlier this morning I was thinking....hmmmm...maybe I ought to fire off a bunch of questions to the US Sailing CEO, or whatever they call the most expensive hired hand, asking him directly what he's going to do help one-design sailing in the US, and ask him to explain what he understands about the market of racing sailors and their needs for an SA story. Then I thought....I've got better things to do with my time. US Sailing, in its current governance form, is just about worthless in terms of trying to communicate policy concerns. They've got their fiefdom and they are happy with it just the way it is.
 




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