US Sailing: State of the Union

Published on December 18th, 2013

The mission of US Sailing is to provide leadership, integrity and advancement for the sport of sailing. What does that mean? Here is what it meant in 2013, from Jack Gierhart, Executive Director of US Sailing, in his report to the membership …

In 2013, we have been focused on updating and improving our core programs – growing our businesses organically – and supporting local sailing organizations. Across the board we’ve seen progress. Membership continued to grow, and this provided us with an opportunity make significant enhancements and changes to many programs.

Our training programs continued to set the standard, including the introduction of new advanced instructor and coach training incorporating safety, emergency response and more advanced sailing skills training. Chart Your Course was implemented as the new Instructor Certification Path for all instructors who want to become US Sailing Certified Instructors. We released the Adaptive Sailing Resources Manual that has set the standard internationally for adaptive sailing programs, as well as for other sports here in the U.S. Twelve organizations launched the Junior Big Boat Program, introducing big boat sailing to young dinghy sailors. The Reach program – sailing and STEM education – continued to expand, engaging over 7,500 instructors, teachers and middle schools students across the country, and introduced an educator’s guide and seminar series.

As part of our ongoing support for youth sailing, US Sailing assumed the management and ownership of, a web site for young sailors created by the Southport Sailing Foundation. Along with five other youth sailing organizations and supporters, we are enhancing the site to engage a broader range of young sailors and their parents. During the summer we toured the West Coast from San Diego to the Gorge, making 28 stops and engaging junior and adult sailors at community sailing programs, yacht clubs, National Championships and the America’s Cup. We also developed a new website – – in conjunction with the America’s Cup to promote sailing to a new audience and give them a guide to get started.

We launched a new service to assist PHRF fleets manage their members’ boat data and certificate issuance. We can now store a boat’s data, collect dues/fee and issue certificates on behalf of fleets. Rating decisions still rest with the fleets, although some fleets request guidance on ratings. The Safety at Sea Committee released new Safety Equipment Requirements, greatly simplifying ISAF’s Offshore Special Regulations, and providing race organizers and sailors a powerful tool to improve safety. In our ongoing efforts to make the Racing Rules of Sailing easier to use and understand, we updated the RRS App for iOS and Android, and integrated Dave Perry’s Understanding the Racing Rules into the app. We also created a new, easy to understand handbook, The Sailors’ Guide to the Racing Rules, for sailors new to racing.

Following our Olympic review at the end of 2012, this year we implemented the new Olympic strategy that focuses on domestic training as a strength, developing a culture of technical excellence, and building a broad base of sailors who aspire for the Olympic pathway. We made significant progress on all these fronts. We established a team training center in partnership with Oakcliff Sailing Center, and have discussions ongoing with other potential training partners around the country. New coaches with successful Olympic track records ands specialized technical skills and class specialties have joined the team. We introduced Vision 2024 that lays out the path to the Olympics and how current junior sailing classes and programs are integral to the pathway. We ran an extensive Olympic Night Series that put coaches in front of the top sailors across the U.S. We are seeing the fruits of this strategy from success in international competition, to strong interest from young sailors at home.

This year our staff, board of directors and volunteers spent a good deal of time travelling as we implemented the organization’s 2012 restructuring and worked to strengthen relationships with clubs and sailing organizations around the country. These local connections are crucial as we modernize and evolve our programs, create pathways that attract and keep folks sailing, and build broader support of US Sailing through membership growth. We organized approximately 15 formal national and regional conferences and meetings to bring sailors and organizations together, and meet individually with dozens of other clubs and programs to hear their thoughts and understand how US Sailing can serve them better. We now have our sites set on the Sailing Leadership Forum set for February 6-8, 2014 in San Diego where we will bring together all the key constituents and leaders in sailing for three days of networking, workshops, and insight from true innovators. We encourage you to come and join us.

Volunteerism continues to thrive within US Sailing, and we would like to thank our incredible community of passionate volunteers who dedicate tens of thousands of hours to our sport and enhance all of our sailing experiences.

You, our members, make this possible, and by working together we can accomplish great things. From all of us at US Sailing, thank you for helping us make the progress we did this year, and in laying the course for continued success in the future. We wish you smooth seas and outstanding sailing in 2014.

Happy New Year, and we look forward to seeing you on the water!

Source: US Sailing

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