Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Reflections from the President

By US Sailing President Tom Hubbell

Prepared For the Future

Prepared to gybe
I’m not sure just exactly how I managed to fall out of the boat. A Thistle on her side, spinnaker nicely woven through the standing rigging, it’s not pretty. We accepted help to retrieve vital gear and a DNF in that race at Thistle Midwinters East. In the debrief, we realized why we got to swim. I had called the gybe but did not allow time for us to prepare. To my team’s credit, we literally shook off the big negative and 30 minutes later had our best race of the week.

Prepared to support the sport
There’s another message in that story. US Sailing has had a few blown gybes in its history and it has had some great come-backs. Coming in as president and taking the helm of US Sailing, I did prepare and so did the team. I’ve witnessed four presidents up close. But, as much as one can learn about US Sailing, there seems always another layer of detail, another avenue of engagement, another deeply committed volunteer, and another area of expertise among the staff.

You should be confident in knowing that our current board of directors actively engages to steer the organization and the sport to take the lead at the top mark. We won’t be capsizing. The leadership is dedicated, prepared, and knows the sport. US Sailing is looking for teammates to be a part of the 21st Century growth of sailing. The sailing community needs all of us on board as supporters of our national sailing organization. Every sailor needs to hike-out to keep this boat on her lines and going fast.

Prepared for new people
How are we growing sailing? One new sailor at a time. Each of us takes a few new people sailing every year. We take kids. We take young couples. We even take older couples! How do we make that a fun experience? We should prepare. We pick a decent day. We probably don’t plan to race that day, we just go sailing and make it fun.

Everyone has a chance to steer, trim the main, pull on a line, and be safe. We don’t yell. We don’t get all wrapped up in jargon and we certainly avoid talking down to them. We treat them like the mother-in-law you just met that you want to genuinely impress, respectfully.

When the day is over, we introduce them to other sailors and suggest a few pathways that would lead to more sailing; to crew, to take a class, to come back and sail with us.

To offer those pathways, you need to know your area and the sport. Where are the keelboat schools, the community sailing programs, the sailing clubs with open access to classes, and the folks who are fun to be with who also need crew? When your new sailor engages at the next encounter, I’ll bet that US Sailing had a hand in the quality and substance delivered. You need to know what US Sailing offers. It’s a long list of personal benefits, training, and support for sailors and the sport. Prepare by doing your homework, know your national organization. It’s all there in our website, a fresh edition coming very soon at www.ussailing.org.

Each of us is the potential agent of getting new sailors in the game and US Sailing has laid the keel of preparation to support that new sailor, as he or she learns the sport and engages the lifestyle. You can be the agent who grows the sport - one new sailor at a time.

Sail for the fun of it! 

Tom Hubbell
President of US Sailing

Follow me on Twitter @TomHubbell


  1. Tom - nice to hear that US Sailing is focused on the future.

    Can you comment on plans to update the small boat books. Both Beginning Sailing and Intermediate Sailing books suffer from embarrassing flaws. The table of contents is totally wrong in Intermediate Sailing, the index is substantially flawed in Beginning Sailing. Books that fall apart, cross references which are wrong. There is more, of course, but you have to already be aware of that. Plus who made up trim-tales?

    There is much to like in the books, and Beginning Sailing has the potential to be an outstanding book for youth sailing classes.

    But - when will the flaws be fixed?

  2. How about anyone who buys a sailboat big or small even an Opti gets a free one year Sailing membership, get the builders, dealers, boatshow promoters every avenue near or far that touches sailing involve in the promo

  3. Thank you for providing feedback about the books. We are aware of some of the areas that need improvement and we’re working to address them in the next version, both in print and e-book.

    The term trim-tales was developed by a working party of program directors and instructors who felt that it accurately described what they accomplish and would be less confusing to beginners. However, based on feedback we will be returning to the use of “telltales” for the next edition.