End Game

If you pay attention to national and international sailing news, you will have noticed:

1. US SAILING, the national organizing body of competitive sailing in the USA, has made a strong push to require the skipper of any boat competing in any U.S. regatta to be a member of US SAILING.

2. This was not popular.

In many sports, membership in the governing body is mandatory. In some
other countries, the sailing authorities require racing skippers to be
members. In the U.S. the issue raised sparks from Seattle to Newport, from San Francisco to Annapolis. Many argued that US SAILING is out of touch with the popular mood; others took the tack that membership should be compulsory, especially if the U.S. wants to have a hyper-competitive Olympic team on the order of the British squad.

As letters, emails, tirades and the occasional wobbler now subside into our collective wake, the decision emerged from US SAILING last night as the Board of Directors voted to withdraw the proposed compulsory membership requirement.

“We have heard from our members, and we thank everyone for their input,” said US SAILING President Jim Capron. “Many sailors and sailing organization[s] have told us that racing sailors should be members, but that their membership should be voluntary. We also appreciate that many of these sailing organizations have indicated their willingness to help grow our membership. We look forward to working with all of you to strengthen both our organization and our sport.”

This ends months of heated debate. Still, the argument remains that the entire situation could have been avoided if US SAILING had taken a tack similar to that of the UK’s Royal Yachting Association a decade ago. Ah, hindsight.

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Posted: June 17, 2008

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