Tuesday, October 15, 2013
Reflections from the President
This year, two of my favorite sailors have “crossed over the bar,” as one had written. Both lived and worked to make sailing more accessible, more fun, and more meaningful to people of all stripes. We were travelers on the same path. It made me wonder, what am I doing to advance the mission?
I met Greg Norwine in Colorado Springs at a US Sailing meeting about 12 years ago. He was there encouraging the notion of improving the training of keelboat sailors and bringing them into focus through US Sailing’s binoculars. A soft-spoken and personally engaging fellow, whatever he was selling you would buy and be happy. We hit it off. He got the Cruising Council launched and we started collaborating on related issues in US Sailing. Over 3,000 people a year take keelboat courses, at schools like his, and they all join US Sailing to do it. Greg’s contribution to the overall success of keelboat schools and the multiple levels of curriculum development via US Sailing remains undiscovered, because he took no credit. Greg was a class act.
Two-hundred people attended Charlie Leighton’s memorial service on a gorgeous day in Newport, RI. Appropriately, a brisk wind blew through the tent and ruffled the outfits and hair of all the sailors and friends present. Charlie created the sailing program at Bowdoin College as a student in the 50’s, sailed all his life, excelled in business, led US Sailing as Executive Director in his “retirement,” and showered the people he cared for with an enduring encouragement that no one will forget. His advice was clearly his own belief, “find something important, and make it better.” I will not forget his conviction and encouragement to make something good happen. He lifted our sailing organization by business wisdom, genuine personal inspiration, and the sheer force of his positive belief in the good people around him.
I don’t have to tell you that sailing is something important. It builds character and it’s fun, outdoors, green, frequently competitive, social, and much more. Let’s keep working on making it better.
I have a goal: wherever we are having a meeting, there should be some sailing! This week, the leadership convenes at Captiva Island, Florida for US Sailing’s Annual Meeting. My team plans to win the Championship of Committees Regatta at the Colgate School next door. Both the legacy of our sport and the promise of the future are on our minds. From whatever backgrounds and sources of inspiration, people who are volunteer leaders and committee members love the sport and want to spread and enhance its enjoyment. We each have been motivated by a Greg or a Charlie - people of unique stature. Let’s get to work making our important pastime even better.
If you can’t be in Captiva this week but have been inspired to share and grow the sport, please join the sailing love-fest at Sailing Leadership Forum 2014. Sailing is important and we need your engagement to make it even better. Join the party at the Leadership Forum in San Diego this February. We need local spark plugs, regional organizers, creative people for national work groups and committees. Learn, lead, and network with motivated sailors. The first step is to just show up and see what is happening. We need you!
US Sailing President