Friday, July 5, 2013

Reflections from the President

by Tom Hubbell

July 4th is a good day to talk about volunteers. This past Wednesday evening I tagged along as the fire station horn sent my neighbor, the volunteer fire department’s chief, racing down the road. In a moment we saw a huge plume of smoke and flames coming from a lakefront house. He called in an order - “send everything.” Over the next few minutes fire trucks, support vehicles, and about 50 volunteer firefighters from surrounding villages poured onto the scene. The Chautauqua Lake area has a handful of year-round residents and many thousands of summer transients, like me. Tax dollars, donations, and hundreds of volunteer hours created the ability to serve the common good. That house was gone before the alarm sounded, but the one next door, 20 feet away, is unscathed. We sent one firefighter to the hospital to check his heart. And all of them gave up their first evening of the holiday to serve.

So, what does that have to do with sailing? Plenty. Think about the rescues of property (boats) and people that your club, sailing center, or regatta support boats routinely provide. We sailed Thistles at Sheboygan Yacht Club and Sailing Center on Lake Michigan last weekend. We were supported by a first class race committee, mark-set boats, and safety boats that kept a watchful eye as we enjoyed playing in 20 knot winds and 4 foot waves. The water was cold enough that most of us wore wet suits. Could boats have been lost? Absolutely. Could people have gotten in trouble? Definitely. Who was there to help as well as create our game board? People volunteered to perform in race management.

Take it to the next layer. Where did the training and standards for race management, for small boat safety and rescue, and for sailing center management come from? Those were created by hundreds of volunteers working under the US Sailing umbrella, for hundreds of hours, over many years.

Of course, we also have a dedicated staff that is a daily presence of collaboration and expertise and coordination of our organization. Their passion for sailing and our mission adds immeasurably to our work.

It is time that all kinds of sailors recognize and become supporters of US Sailing’s leadership of the sport.  And our sport will not work without all kinds of volunteers. 

Interested in being a volunteer? It's a lot of fun and great for our sport. Visit the US Sailing directory for a list of committees and contact information.

Be a member. Be a volunteer.

Tom Hubbell

President of US Sailing


  1. I really love your blog post and passion for volunteerism and sailing! I wanted to share this story of sailing and volunteerism about my sister who is bravely sailing the South Pacific Ocean with her husband as we speak. They are not only making a documentary of their journey, the culture and people there, they are also a carrier vessel of much needed medical supplies. They have volunteered to cary these medical needs to islands so remote, that some of them are even sinking.
    Please check out the link below. I know this will truly resonate with you!

  2. Great story and very noble. Thank you for sharing.