Americas  Regional CONFERENceS

Annual meetings are held in each of the regions to continue the work of the previous forum and to plan for the upcoming one. It is also a great opportunity to meet with fellow yacht clubs in the region without having to travel the sometimes international distances. The meetings take two days, often over a weekend, and are a good way to introduce junior flag officers to the ICOYC process.

Each of the regional meetings are presented in detail in the table below. Pull down on the tab to read the conference report or reports and take a look at the conference arrangements and delegate housing.

  • 2020 - New Orleans


      17-18 April 2020


      Southern Yacht Club

      New Orleans, Louisiana  USA

      Last updated: Monday, February 10, 2020

      Registration is Now Open!

      Go the detailed sections below for details. 

      Formal Invitation

      Registration Form
      Conference Overview and Agenda
      Hotel Registration


      Formal Invitation

        Southern Yacht Club 
      New Orleans, Louisiana, USA

      January 15, 2020

      Registration is now open for the ICOYC Americas Regional Conference, Friday, April 17 and Saturday, April 18, 2020, in New Orleans, Louisiana, hosted by Southern Yacht Club.

      ICOYC members (from all regions) are invited to sign up now for this important conference. We hope clubs will send both Flag Officers and members who participate on important club committees. Special programming is planned for Club Managers.

      We hope you will register as soon as possible. Payment options and instructions are included on the down-loadable Registration Form described below. Clicking this link will download the MS Word file into your system's download folder. 

      Details about the Conference, Partners Program and optional activities can be found at this link to a Conference Overview. The overview also contains information about the host hotel, Marriott Metairie at Lakeway, 4 miles away from SYC. Bus transportation is included to official conference activities. To reserve a room, click HERE or call 504-836-5253 and reference the block “International Council of Yacht Clubs.”

      Based on feedback, four sessions are planned for delegates: (1) capital planning, (2) facing the senior member challenge, (3) membership development, and (4) ICOYC survey. The program and agenda are still flexible, and all suggestions are welcome.

      If you have questions, comments or suggestions, contact ICOYC Vice President of the Americas, Chuck Lowry, at 425-985-2006 or or Southern Yacht Club Conference organizer Bob Kottler at 504-251-5577 or

      Hope to see you in New Orleans in April.


      Chuck Lowry, VP Americas  
      Bob Kottler, Southern Yacht Club, Conference Organizer
      Dickie Provensal, Commodore, Southern Yacht Club

      Registration Form

      Fill out the registration form shown below by downloading the form in either MS Word or PDF format. With the MS Word file, fill it out, save the resulting file under your Last and First names, and email the file as shown in the instructions in Step 2. For the PDF file, download and print the form, fill it out, and mail the form to the snail-mail address below. 

      Fees (Per Person)

      $350      Conference Registration (Delegates and Club Managers)
      $350      Partner’s Registration
      $100      Optional Thursday Evening of Dinner/Jazz
      $100      Optional Friday Brunch and Walking Tour of Garden District
      $    0      Optional Sunday sail/race (spectator boat also available)

      Next steps

      1.       Indicate intended payment option:
                    __ Check: Payable to “Southern Yacht Club” (see address below)
                    __ Credit card: Please call 504-296-4608 with credit card information
                                   A 3.5% convenience fee will be charged for credit card payments.

      2.       Save completed form and send electronically to or by mail to:
                    ICOYC c/o Bob Kottler
                    Southern Yacht Club
                    105 N Roadway
                    New Orleans, LA 70124

      3.       Book your room at host hotel: Marriott Metairie at Lakeway online or by phone: 504-836-5253. Be sure to mention group name: “ICOYC Conference.” A limited number of discounted room rates are available through March 17, 2020.


      PLEASE REGISTER as soon as possible                  Requested DEADLINE: March 17, 2020

      Upon registration, you will receive an email confirmation with a request for more information: bio, photo, dietary restrictions, etc.                        1/20/2020

      Conference Overview and Agenda

      Download the Overview and Agenda in its original format and with illustrations from HERE.





      2020 Americas Regional Conference

      Southern Yacht Club, New Orleans, Louisiana USA
      Friday and Saturday, April 17 – 18, 2020

      Member clubs of the International Council of Yacht Clubs are invited to attend the 9th Americas Regional Conference at Southern Yacht Club (SYC) in New Orleans, Louisiana, on Friday, April 17 and Saturday, April 18, 2020. The conference provides leading North American Yacht Clubs the opportunity to meet and discuss topics that affect yacht clubs worldwide. Foreign ICOYC members are invited and encouraged to attend. The programs will be relevant, interesting and allow attendees to share their experiences, with ample time for discussion and to socialize. Club managers are encouraged to attend. And special programming will be offered for delegate’s partners. Optional activities are planned before and after official conference dates.

      New Orleans

      New Orleans was founded in 1718 by French colonists and was once the territorial capital of French Louisiana before being traded to the United States in the Louisiana Purchase of 1803. In the mid-1800’s, New Orleans was the third largest city in the United States due to its ideal transportation location at the mouth of the Mississippi River. Today, New Orleans is renowned for the French Quarter, Superdome, Mississippi River and its distinct music, Creole cuisine, and numerous annual celebrations and festivals. The historic heart of the city is the French Quarter, known for its French and Spanish Creole architecture, vibrant nightlife, art galleries, antique stores and excellent restaurants. The city's location and flat elevation make it vulnerable to flooding. The city is protected by a complex system of levees and drainage pumps installed by state and federal authorities.

      Southern Yacht Club

      Established July 21, 1849, Southern Yacht Club (SYC) is the second oldest yacht club in the United States. SYC is located on the south shore of Lake Pontchartrain, a brackish estuary covering an area of 630 square miles with an average depth of 12 to 14 feet. Over the years, SYC sailors have won four Olympic medals and numerous national and international championships. SYC’s current clubhouse opened ten years ago after destruction by a massive fire in the hours following Hurricane Katrina in 2005. Through more than 170 years of prosperity and adversity the club maintains a tradition of keen competition, sportsmanship and eponymous hospitality.


      A block of rooms is reserved for ICOYC Americas Regional Conference registrants at the Marriott Metairie at Lakeway, 3838 N Causeway Blvd, Metairie, LA 70002. The hotel is 4.4 miles west of Southern Yacht Club and on the edge of Lake Pontchartrain. Special rates area available for delegates if booked before March 17, 2020. Click HERE to book your room or call 504-836-5253 and be sure to provide the room block name: ICOYC Conference. Transportation will be provided to ICOYC Americas Regional Conference official activities.

      NOTE: If you would like to book additional dates outside of the room block please be aware that it will require a separate reservation. The hotel will link the reservations to ensure that you will have the same room throughout your entire stay.

      For more information

      Contacts: Bob Kottler (    Jenny Kottler (


      Preliminary Schedule of Events

      As of 1/5/2020

      Thursday, April 16 
      6:00 PM – 10:00 PM                              Optional: Evening of Dinner & Jazz

      Friday, April 17
      10:00 AM – 3:00 PM                              Optional: Lunch & Walking Tour of Historic Garden District
      7:00 PM – 10:00 PM                              Opening Dinner in French Quarter

      Saturday, April 18
      8:00 AM – 8:30 AM                               Breakfast
      8:30 AM – 9:00 AM                            Opening Ceremony
      9:00 AM – 5:00 PM                                Delegates and Club Managers Program (Described below)                                      
      9:00 AM – 4:00 PM                                Partner’s Program (Described below)
      6:30 PM – 9:30 PM                                Closing Dinner at SYC

      Sunday, April 19
      9:00 AM – Noon                                    Optional: Sailing on Lake Pontchartrain

      Delegates Program

      9:00 AM – 10:15 AM                  Session 1: Capital Planning
      10:15 AM – 10:30 AM                Break
      10:30 AM – 11:45 AM                Session 2: Facing the Senior Member Challenge
      11:45 AM – 1:15 PM                  Lunch with Speaker
      1:15 PM – 1:45 PM                    Break
      1:45 PM – 3:00 PM                    Session 3: Membership Development
      3:00 PM – 3:15 PM                    Break
      3:15 PM – 4:30 PM                    Session 4: ICOYC Survey
      4:30 PM – 5:00 PM                    Wrap Up

      Club Managers Program

      9:00 AM – 1:45 PM                    Same as Delegates Program
      1:45 PM – 3:00 PM                    Session 3: Club Managers Program (TBD)
      3:00 PM – 3:15 PM                    Break
      3:15 PM – 4:30 PM                    Session 4: Club Managers Program (TBD)
      4:30 PM – 5:00 PM                    Wrap Up

      Partners Program

      9:15 AM                             Bus departs from SYC
      9:30 AM – 11:00 AM               New Orleans City Park: Café du Monde and
                                                            Sculpture Garden or Botanical Gardens
      11:00 AM – 12:15 PM             Driving Tour of New Orleans
      12:15 PM1:30 PM               Lunch Uptown
      1:30 PM3:00 PM               Shopping on Magazine Street
      3:00 PM – 3:30 PM                 New Orleans Cemetery Tour
      3:30 PM – 4:00 PM               Bus returns to Marriott

      Partners Program: Saturday, April 18

      9:00 am – 4:00 pm

      Included with registration fee

      The program will begin with a stop at Cafe du Monde in City Park for New Orleans’ famous café au lait and beignets.

       Dating back to 1854, City Park is one of the nation’s oldest urban parks; its 1,300 acres feature dramatic mature live oaks draped with Spanish moss and bald cypress trees bearing intriguing knees. From Cafe du Monde, the group can choose from (and easily walk to) City Park’s Botanical Garden, Besthoff Sculpture Garden or the New Orleans Museum of Art.

      Late morning, the group will board the bus and enjoy a ride along St. Charles Avenue, traveling alongside New Orleans’ classic streetcars on the oldest continuously running streetcar transit route and through the Garden District and Uptown, viewing a spectacular collection of 19th and 20th century mansions, Loyola and Tulane Universities, and a breathtaking view of the Mississippi River.

      We will have lunch at a restaurant on Magazine Street and browse a few art studios, galleries, boutiques, antique stores, home and garden stores.

      On the way back to the Marriott, if time permits, we’ll drive through a local cemetery. Dating back to the late 1700s, New Orleans’ historic Cities of the Dead, as they are known, fill the natural landscape with elaborate stone crypts, ornate tombs, beautiful sculptures, and mausoleums. These mysterious necropolises, which are assembled above land, house and honor NOLA’s most iconic (and infamous) characters.

      The group will be led by an SYC member and accomplished New Orleans tour guide.


      Agenda planned as of 1/10/2020

      Optional Activities

      For conference attendees who can arrive early or stay a few days late, SYC will facilitate fun exposure to some iconic features of New Orleans.

      Thursday, April 16 | 6:00 pm – 10:00 pm
      Dinner and Jazz on Frenchman Street in the Faubourg Marigny ($100 per person)


      Enjoy dinner at Snug Harbor Jazz Bistro on Frenchman Street in the Faubourg Marigny, followed by the 8 pm show at the same venue. Snug Harbor’s dining room features Creole & regional cooking, great examples of traditional New Orleans fare. Snug Harbor’s limited caberet type seating guarantees an intimate musical experience. The room occupies two floors: downstairs is the stage & seating; upstairs is a mezzanine with seating that overlooks the stage. Frenchmen street a smaller version of Bourbon street with a calmer and cozier feel, that might just be the most consistently musical stretch of asphalt in New Orleans.


      Friday, April 17 | 10:00 am – 3:00 pm
      Brunch at Commander’s Palace and Guided Walking Tour of Garden District  ($100 per person)


      Commander's Palace is nestled in the middle of the tree-lined Garden District has been a New Orleans landmark since 1893. Known for the award-winning quality of its food and its convivial atmosphere, the history of this famous restaurant offers a glimpse into New Orleans' storied past and has been the go-to destination for Haute Creole cuisine and whimsical Louisiana charm.

      Originally developed between 1832 and 1900, the Garden District is considered one of the best-preserved collections of historic mansions in the Southern United States. The 19th-century origins of the Garden District illustrate wealthy newcomers building opulent structures based upon the prosperity of New Orleans in that era.

      Attire: Commander’s requires collared shirts; be sure to wear comfortable walking shoes – the sidewalks are brick and uneven.

      Hotel Reservations are Open


      Special group rates at the New Orleans Marriott Metairie at Lakeway3838 N. Causeway Boulevard Metairie, Louisiana 70002, are avaible at the llink below. Do mention the International Council of Yacht Clubs Regional Conference to obtain the the group prices.

      NOTE: If you would like to book additional dates outside of the room block please be aware that it will likely result in a separate reservation. The hotel will link the reservations to ensure that you will have the same room throughout your entire stay

      Book your group rate for INTERNATIONAL COUNCIL OF YACHT CLUBS

  • 2019 - Marblehead

      12-13 APRIL 2019

      Eastern Yacht Club

      Marblehead, Massachusetts, USA

      Last updated: Saturday, April 27, 2019

      Conference Summary

      download this image  download this image

      Phil Smith, host of the 2019 Americas Regional Conference wrote on 24 April 2019:

      Ladies and Gentlemen: It was good to see everyone here in Marblehead at the Americas Regional Conference.  I hope that the meeting proved to be educational. As with any such meeting, presentations are designed to alert attendees to issues, not provide the answers to every possible question.  If you left the meeting wanting to know more about a particular topic or planning to have your club explore a particular matter further, the meeting accomplished it intended purpose.  In order to be helpful, I’ve attached a PDF file with the following documents reproduced in it:

      • The list of attendees with emails that was included in the conference binders
      • A summary of the presentation by Martha Altreuter, Cory Sertl and Laura Sigmond on engaging women in sailing.
      •  A summary of John McNeill’s presentation on “The Crucial IOCYC Connection—The members of our member clubs”.
      •  A summary of Ray Lynch’s presentation on “What to do “if . . . .”
      •  A paper prepared by Gary Jobson and John Rousmaniere on “10 Crisis Steps”.
      •  A paper prepared by Jim Burns describing the Alternative Voting Program at the Royal Vancouver Yacht Club.
      •  Gary Jobson’s outline of his presentation. 
      •  A guide to Clean Regattas form Sailors for the Sea.

      Several of you mentioned that as a result of Ray Cronin’s program on the “Financial Sustainability of Yacht Clubs” you were thinking of hiring him to do a review of your own club’s financial health.  You asked for a copy of his presentation. I am in contact with Ray  and hope to have something from him shortly.  Since it is Power Point presentation, I won’t clutter everyone’s mail box. Please let me know if you’d like a copy and I will send it to you.  In the meantime,  the information on Ray’s website is extremely detailed and informative.  

      Lastly, attached are a few photos of the event.  

      Best regards, Phil

      +1-781-631-4848, +1-617-921-6443 (mobile). 

      Conference Binder Downloads

      You can download the conference binder containing the photos and biographies of the attendees in PDF format HERE.  Versions in MS Word and MS Publisher can be obtained by sending a request to




      Invitation to the 2019 Americas Regional Conference



      In the Downloads section below you can find a flyer/brochure describing the current plans for the next Americas Regional Conference being held at the Eastern Yacht Club in Marblehead, Massachusetts, on Friday, April 12, and Saturday, April 13, 2019.   Participants from other regions are very much encouraged to attend. In addition, we hope that clubs will send not only Flag Officers but also members who participate on important club committees. Also, we are making a special effort to include club managers in this conference.

      We have planed four programs which should be of interest to everyone:  (1) encouraging more women to sail, (2) communicating what we do to individual club members, (3) managing food and beverage costs, and, (4) helping Sailors for the Sea with its mission.  Gary Jobson will be our featured speaker.  At this point (late November, 2018), the agenda is flexible and all suggestions are welcome.

      Also attached in the Downloads section are the registration forms for the conference. It would be helpful if you could register as soon as possible.  Payment of the conference fee is not due until February 1, 2019, even if you register earlier.  Payment instructions are included in the form. The flyer contains hotel information as well. Please note that the Partner's Program is fully featured and makes the conference enticing for a couple to spend a weekend in lovely Marblehead.

      Please feel free to contact ICOYC VP Americas Chuck Lowry at +1-425-985-2006 or or ICOYC Secretary Phil Smith at +1-781-631-4848 or with questions, comments or suggestions.

      Hope to see you in April,

      Phil Smith
      ICOYC Secretary


      •   Conference Agenda -   PDF    MS Word  (25 Feb 2019
      • Flyer and Brochure describing the Conference, Town of Marblehead, Housing Options, Preliminary Agenda, and Partner's Programs (19 Jan 2019)
      • Conference Registration Form -- PDF    MS Word   (19 Jan 2019)

      Conference Agenda (updated 21 Feb 2019)

      Friday, April 12

      12:00                  Optional Dutch treat lunch for delegates and partners at one of two restaurants overlooking Marblehead Harbor,  followed by a guided tour of a local boat yard.

      3:00                    Optional brief walking tour of Marblehead Neck, the peninsula on which the EYC is located.

      4:00 to 6:00      Registration at the EYC for any attendees not pre-registered.

      6:30                    Hors d’oeuvres, cocktails, wine and dinner at Ann and Phil Smith’s home. Their address is 35 Harbor Avenue about a 10- minute walk from the Eastern.  The streets are dark so driving is suggested.  Rides will be provided as needed.


      Saturday, April 13

      8:00                    Breakfast at the Eastern Yacht Club

      8:30 to 8:45      Opening ceremony

      8:45                    Partner’s Land Cruise Departs Eastern for tour of Marblehead, the North Shore coast, Gloucester and Salem Museums.  (Note that this is earlier than in the preliminary brochure.)

      8:45 to 10:00   Presentation on Increasing Women’s’ Participation in Sailing - Why is it important to focus on women?

      10:00 to 10:15 Break

      10:15 to 10:45 Presentation by John McNeill - Making the ICOYC relevant to yacht club members

      10:45 to 11:15 Presentation by Ray Lynch - The Crisis Occurred; You’ve called 911; What Now”

      Are you prepared for what’s next?

      11:15 to 11:45 Break

      1:45 to 1:15   Buffet Lunch with Gary Jobson

      Current topics followed by Town Hall discussion

      How does World Sailing (ISAF) really work?

      Olympics and America’s Cup Insights

      1:15 to 1:45      Break

      1:45 to 3:00      Presentation by Ray Cronin, founder of Club Benchmarking

      How much should clubs focus on food and beverage?

      What do statistics show about F&B profitability and a club’s financial health?

      How does your club approach F&B?

      3:00 to 3:15       Break

      3:15 to 4:30      Presentation by Sailors for the Sea

      What specifically can ICOYC clubs do to help?

      Should the ICOYC adopt recommended goals?

      3:15 to 4:30      Separate meeting of General Managers

      4:30 to 5:00      Wrap up

      5:00                    Partner’s Land Cruise docks at the Eastern

      6:30                    Cocktails at the EYC followed by elegant dinner at 7:15

      Conference Flyer  (20 Nov 2018)






      Each member club of the International Council of Yacht Clubs is invited to attend the Eighth Americas Regional Conference at the Eastern Yacht Club in Marblehead, Massachusetts on Friday, April 12 and Saturday, April 13, 2019.  The conference will allow the leading North American Yacht Clubs to meet and discuss topics that affect yacht clubs worldwide. Foreign ICOYC members are invited and encouraged to attend. The programs will be relevant, interesting and allow attendees to share their experiences. There will be ample time for discussion and to socialize. Club managers are encouraged to attend.  A program directed at food and beverage shrinkage and cost management as well as a separate session where managers can discuss issues of particular interest to them is included in the agenda. Gary Jobson will be the featured speaker.  A “Land Cruise” of Boston’s North Shore for partners is planned.  


      Marblehead is a seaside town just 18 miles north of Boston’s Logan Airport. Founded in 1629, the town retains its quaint streets and historical 17th and 18th century buildings. It is one of the prettiest and best maintained historic towns. Citizens of Marblehead made significant contributions to the America Revolution. The Eastern has a extended history of leadership in American yachting starting by winning the America’s Cup two times in the mid-1880s and extending to the current day.  The clubhouse was constructed in 1880 and resembles clubs of that era. The interior was completely refurbished from top to bottom several years ago as a result of a fire. Twelve overnight rooms are available to attendees. Many of the rooms have a view overlooking the harbor which during the summer is filled with over 2,000 boats.   

      The rooms at the EYC are reserved for the conference on a first come first served basis. Each room has its own bathroom, TV and heat/air conditioning controls.  Click HERE for more information that describes what is available. To make a reservation it is best to call the Front Desk at +1-781-631-1400.

      In addition, a very nice hotel not far from the Club with 14 renovated rooms in an old Victorian mansion has reserved rooms for the conference until the end of January. To check out the rooms go to To reserve a room rather than book on line, call +1-781-639-9999 and use the password “Phil Smith”. Rates for April won’t be set until January 1 but they are not likely to increase by more than $20 per night. You can wait until January 1 or call now as you prefer. The people who are likely to answer the phone are Teresa (manager), Angelina (day concierge) or Andrea (night concierge) but anyone will be able to help you if you use the password.    


      The registration form can be downloaded from the Adobe PDF or MS Word documents which accompany this flyer. Instructions for filling out and submitting the form as well as payment methods are included in the form. 

      The conference registration fee for both delegates and partners is $300. The fee is all inclusive and includes hors d’oeuvres, cocktails, wine and dinner on both Friday and Saturday evenings as well as breakfast for everyone at the Eastern on Saturday morning, lunch and all-day soft drinks and coffee on Saturday, the partners’ Land Cruise and all miscellaneous conference expenses. Delegates and partners will be able to use a Mastercard or Visa to charge at the Eastern whether or not they are staying at the club.

      (See the section Conference Agenda above)

      Partners will meet at the Eastern at 09:30 to board a bus for a day-long Land Cruise along the North Shore of Boston, which is sometimes referred to as the “Gold Coast.”  The cruise will include a guided walking tour of historic Marblehead; a drive along the coastline with a stop to view beautiful Manchester Harbor followed by lunch in the famous fishing port of Gloucester.  After lunch we will visit the Witch Museum in Salem with its collection of artifacts from the witch trials and hysteria that occurred in the 1690s.  Next stop is the nearby Peabody Essex Museum with its significant exhibit of Maritime Art and an unmatched collection of objects from the China Trade--including a complete Chinese home that was imported and rebuilt on Museum property. The Museum is an outgrowth of the East India Marine Society whose members were ship captains who had ventured past the Cape of Good Hope or Cape Horn.  Those who do not wish to visit the museums will be dropped off in Marblehead.  The bus will then return to the PEM. The Land Cruise, including lunch, is part of the Partners’ Registration Fee.  


      The conference is meant to be an open conversation among peers. To help attendees feel comfortable about sharing their concerns, all information conveyed at the conference is considered highly confidential.  Ideas that are presented can of course be used but please be careful not  to disclose information, particularly information that might be at all sensitive, about specific clubs.

      The dress for dinner at Ann and Phil’s on Friday evening is smart casual.  The dress for dinner at the Eastern on Saturday evening is club blazers and ties.  Otherwise, yacht club casual is the order of the day.  Blue Jeans are not permitted.

      Conference materials will be available at the Eastern on Friday afternoon.  Program details set forth above are current as of November 20, 2018 and are subject to change.

      In addition to Flag Officers, members who are involved with important club committees are welcome to come to  the conference. Please encourage your manager to attend as well.  A number of managers are interested in coming as long as there is good attendance by other club managers.

      Please feel free to contact Chuck Lowry at+1-425-985-2006 or or Phil Smith at +1781-631-4848 or with questions, comments or suggestions.

      It is your conference and we will try our best to include your ideas.  

  • 2017 - Chicago

    • Americas Regional Conference - 2017
      20-22 October 2017


      Hosted by Chicago Yacht Club

      Last updated 10/24/2017

      Delegate Binder - bios, agenda, presentations  (members only)

      Photos - Posted in Photo Gallery 

      2019 ICOYC Invitational, presentation by Phil Smith, Eastern Yacht Club, visit the Regatta Page in On the Water/ICOYC Regattas


      The purpose of the Conference is to afford Commodores and senior officers of the leading North and South American yacht clubs an opportunity to meet and discuss their concerns for 2017. The discussion will provide a summary of key points from the ICOYC World Forum at the Royal Danish Yacht Club in Copenhagen in October 2016.  We will also look ahead to topics for the World Forum at the St. Francis Yacht Club and San Francisco Yacht Club in April 2018.

      Registration Form

      Download the registration in Adobe PDF or in MS Word. Instructions for filling out the form, submitting, and the payment methods are on the document.



      Draft of Sept 02, 2017, download PDF HERE

      The purpose of the Conference is to afford Commodores and senior officers of the leading North American yacht clubs an opportunity to meet and discuss their concerns for 2017. The discussion will provide a summary of key points from the ICOYC worldwide Commodores' Forum at the Royal Danish Yacht Club in Copenhagen in October 2016.  We will also look ahead to topics for the Commodores’ Forum at the St. Francis Yacht Club and San Francisco Yacht Club in April 2018.


      Friday, October 20 – Chicago Yacht Club


      • 1630-1645 -- Registration, Introductions & Welcoming Remarks - ICOYC VP Chuck Lowry – Seattle YC
      • 1645-1715 -- Presentation - A Look Back At The America’s Cup in Bermuda – Tucker Thompson
      • 1715-1900 -- Reception- Hors d’ Oeuvres & Cocktails (no-host) (Club Blazer but no tie please) Reservations at Monroe or Belmont available


      Saturday, October 21 – Chicago Yacht Club, Monroe Station


      • 0730-0900 Breakfast with Partners
      • 09:30 Partners outing
      • 0900-1030 -- Roundtable Discussions:

        Membership Issues – Greg Miarecki (moderator)|
        a)  How to recruit new members – each club presents best ideas – Rick Lillie
        b)  Retention – getting new members interested in club activities – Greg Miarecki/Dwight Jenson
      • 1030-1045 Break
      • 1045-1200 – Roundtable Discussions:
        c)  Recruiting and retaining younger members (20-30) Lilly
                                - including:  how to compete with less expensive alternatives      
        d) Junior Programs – how do we keep the kids interested (for life) - Sandoval


      • 1200 -1315 -- Lunch – Yacht Club Insurance Issues presented by Steve Prime- Growrie
      • TBD – Partner’s Lunch at Monroe




      A couple of notes to make your pan the conference pleasant and rewarding:

      1)  Our sessions are meant to be an open conversation among peers. Any information conveyed here is considered confidential unless stated otherwise.   Do feel free to ask, though.

      2)  The only 'dress' event will be at evening functions, where Club blazers and ties are appropriate.

      4)  These 'conversations' among us are most valuable when some preparation has been made by each of us in anticipation  of the agenda. Please review the agenda accompanying this set of Notes, and consider reviewing your clubs programs and experiences. We NEVER fail to learn from each other.

      5)  A packet of material for the Conference will await you at the Yacht Club at registration including a list of attendees and some material from recent Forums pertinent to our topics.

  • 2015 - Annapolis
    • ICOYC Americas Regional Conference 2015
      Annapolis Yacht Club – 11-12 October 2015

      Last updated Saturday, October 24, 2015

      Conference Report

      ICOYC Regional President - Americas, Jim Burns presents the conference report. (PDF download)


      ANNAPOLIS YACHT CLUB - 11-12 October, 2015

      The 4th annual ICOYC Americas Regional Conference was hosted by the Annapolis Yacht Club on October 11th and 12th, 2015.   Council Delegates from the Annapolis, Chicago, Eastern, Long Beach, Newport Harbor, Royal Canadian (Toronto), Royal Vancouver, San Francisco, Seattle, Southern, and St Francis Yacht Clubs were joined by guest delegates from Coral Reef YC (Miami) and Royal Southern YC (Hamble, UK) and partners.


      The conference opened in the Skipjack Room of the Annapolis Yacht Club overlooking the United States Sailboat Show, the largest on the water sailboat show in North America.  After a warm welcome by RC Jim Ellis of Annapolis YC, President John McNeil introduced Gary Jobson who reminded us that Yacht Clubs continue to be the cornerstones of sailing and he congratulated us on our ongoing efforts to collaborate and to move the sport forward.



      The conference began in earnest on Monday morning with an inspiring presentation by Commodore Greg Miarecki of the Chicago Yacht Club.  He described CYC’s reform initiatives over the past several years.  Careful capital planning, strategic planning, and refocusing its efforts towards on the water activities and delivering tangible member value were key components of this initiative.  CYC built a comprehensive capital budget, hired a waterfront director and keelboat director, introduced new distance racing formats to the Chicago area, purchased a fleet of Sonars for member usage, and stepped up its efforts to host world-class regattas.


      In terms of its leadership, CYC has moved towards younger racing sailors.  All three of its Commodores were younger than 50 years of age at their election.  Under their leadership, the Club began implementation of a new strategic plan, which called for even more focus on the water, with new paddleboard and kayak offerings.  CYC also completely revamped its food and beverage team, emphasized a renewed focus on membership recruitment and retention, and launched a number of new community service and engagement initiatives.  CYC also added new activities to drive member usage, including a number of women’s activities (happy hours, networking event and Women on the Water -racing Club Sonars) and activities focused on families.


      Engagement is a key goal of CYC’s new Flag.  For example, Flag officers searched the database to look for members with the potential to become the next level of leadership both on Committees and on the Board and these members were encouraged to get involved.  Commodore Miarecki writes a two paragraph e-mail each week to the membership in order to engage members.


      The results of all of these changes are quite impressive and include: a substantial increase in operating revenues; a 50% reduction in resignations; a significant increase in membership; more events being sold out; and, a substantial increase in membership engagement.    In summary, Commodore Miarecki provided these conclusions from the CYC experience:


      1. Strategic planning is essential, as is aggressive implementation.

      2. Yacht clubs must focus on the water.



      1. F&B is a critical aspect – everyone eats.

      2. Obsess about member value.

      3. “Youth movement” is generating excitement among all member classes.

      4. Actively cultivating young talent is key.

      5. Focus on the entire family drives positive results.

      6. Clubs must be led by active, serious boaters.

      7. Club leaders must adopt a “one Club” mentality, and actively promote “crossover” between different groups and fleets.

      8.  Active leadership is essential.



      One of the common themes in the ongoing effort to keep “Intermediate Members” engaged in the Club was the provision of a Club owned keelboat fleet to enable them to transition from race team participation to keel boat match racing and team racing.


      Most Clubs either: owned boats (including: J24’s J22’s, Sonars, Harbor 20’s & Elliot 6’s);

      chartered boats from another organization; or borrowed boats from Club members.   Only one Club did not have a “captive” keelboat fleet.  


      Invariably, Clubs that owned keelboats charge for their use and have dedicated staff for maintenance but only one Club (which has the boats in use 7 days a week in season) was able to “break even”.    However, all Clubs with keelboat fleets felt that they were important for member engagement and to serve as a bridge for younger members to stay engaged in racing and involvement in the Club.


      One Club has started a fleet of radio controlled sailboats that they race in the club’s indoor pool (with the help of large fans) during the winter months to keep members engaged.   The races have become extremely popular as the “heats” are televised with a live feed from the pool to the bar for those not racing.  A brilliant idea!



      This topic arose in part because 8 of the 17 participants in the latest New York Yacht Club Invitational Regatta were ICOYC Clubs and many of the Clubs in attendance in Annapolis  have incurred the very substantial expense of supporting a team for the event.    


      The discussion was led off by describing the fund raising efforts one west coast Club that enabled them to participate in the last two Invitationals.  These efforts included primarily the direct solicitation of donations from members as well as the use of a Sailing Foundation to support the extraordinary cost, especially if the team must charter a boat to participate.   


      Another Club that has participated in all three Invitationals, acknowledged that they could not have done it without the participation of a key member willing to have his Swan 42 be used almost exclusively for the event.    


      However, many expressed the concern that, while their Club did support members, especially youth members, participation in away regattas, they didn’t believe that funding for the Invitational was a reasonable expenditure given the extraordinary amount and the relatively limited number of Club members that would benefit from it.   Others felt that it was a reasonable investment in that it became a “Club wide” event.  A large number of members had actually travelled to Newport, simply to spectate and that, together with the prestige of being invited to participate, added tremendously to the concept of “member value”.


      It was agreed that the Invitational was an exceptional event and not one in which every Club was either willing or able to participate.  The discussion turned to whether Clubs were willing to pay for their members to attend away regattas and if so, their guidelines for doing so.


      While most Clubs appear to have dedicated funds for such expenses, many are very limited in what they do pay for such as only entry fees or only travel and regalia but not for food and accommodation.   While most US Clubs appear to have an associated sailing foundation that is able to fund at least part of these expenses, Canadian tax laws do not permit members to receive tax receipts for donations to their in-club “Corinthian Funds” or “Olympic Funds”.  As a result the Canadian Clubs assess their members automatically for these Funds but the members have the ability to “opt out” of the assessment and about 20% of members do so.


      All Clubs who provide such support have dedicated committees to “vet” applications for support and have a set of criteria to determine whether:  a) the event in question is one that that the Club is willing to support; and b) the applicants have the appropriate skills to properly compete in the event.



      After an absolutely splendid buffet lunch, the afternoon session began with a presentation on alternate voting methods for Club meetings. The only Club to adopt such procedures so far did so because despite having over 2000 voting members, only about 250 to 350 members would actually show up at an AGM or SGM to vote.  As this group tended to heavily weighted with older members, they could be successful in showing up in sufficient numbers to effectively block any proposed motion to which they objected (usually dues increases).


      Nevertheless, the change to online and telephone voting was embraced by the membership as sufficient numbers in support of the initiative did show up to vote for the change.  An obvious issue with such a system is how to ensure that the membership is sufficiently informed before voting on an issue without actually attending a meeting.


      In the case of issues such as by-law changes or dues increases, this is dealt with by using various media (mail, newsletters, website and e-mail) and is helped by the fact that over 60% of the members have opted to receive Club communications by e-mail.


      For the voting of candidates for positions on the Board, an “all candidates meeting” is held at which all candidates for contested Board positions have an opportunity to demonstrate their suitability. As well, all candidates for office have an opportunity to broadcast a limited campaign statement through the Club’s media.   This required the implementation of an election campaign policy that appointed a Chief Electoral Officer to ensure that these statements are made with respect, dignity and fairness to fellow members. 


      The actual web based voting system was developed and operated by Simply Voting ( and the cost to the Club is about $18M the first year and $12M thereafter.  It can also be used for membership surveys. 


      Concern was expressed that members would not inform themselves and simply vote “no” regardless of the issue because they would not be subject to the “peer group pressure” that a meeting entails. This does not seem to have occurred as the first vote for a dues increase passed easily as apparently the need for the increase was adequately explained.  


      The change has resulted in an entire segment of the membership being re-enfranchised as almost 900 members voted, a 250% increase over the most votes at any AGM or SGM previously.  As well, it is likely the case that many of these newly voting members are somewhat younger than those who traditionally show up at meetings and thus the change has re-engaged a demographic of the Club that is crucial to its long term success.   



      Most Clubs present were split with about half not being very far along using social media and the other half making significant levels of progress.  A webinar based “Social Media for Yacht Clubs Boot Camp” firm touts the benefits as including the ability to: increase revenue; attract new members; retain members and reduce the average membership age.


      While not all of the delegates were convinced of the merits, one Club has “jumped in with both feet” and has a closed group Facebook page that does daily postings of everything from dining room menus to race results.  They also have a member driven Twitter feed that publishes race results from the race course.  The junior fleet has an open Facebook page with 775 likes.    Another Club has 6 closed Facebook pages for various member groups within the Club and tried Twitter but couldn’t get traction.

      Most Clubs on Facebook have “closed” pages and one has 3700 likes.  They publish a quarterly newsletter and a downloadable monthly calendar on Facebook.  Another has involvement with Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Flickr, re-tweeting member posts and also posting on Instagram and Flickr.  


      Virtually all Clubs with active Facebook pages also continuously monitor the pages by a communications committee and/or by dedicated support staff.  Many Clubs closely monitor these media on Google Alerts and one was heartened to find that, when harsh and inappropriate comments were being made on the Facebook pages, it was the members themselves who countered the criticism.  As such the pages have become “self-policing” without the need for the Board to step in and impose restraints.


      However another Club experienced a group of disaffected members who created their own closed Facebook page, complete with unauthorized Club regalia, and used it to disparage the Board and espouse their own candidates for office.   The Club managed to have the page taken down but not before significant “damage” was done.  


      The conclusion is that, if a Club is to have any hope of engaging younger members, it must be involved in social media but vigilance is required and a dedicated staff person is needed to monitor various media using Google Alert as well as a daily review.



      Once again, the discussion of social media was a good segue to the perennial topic of how our Clubs are to attract and keep younger members.    Many clubs have scaled dues and entrance fees steeply in an attempt to move the bulge in the demographic curve to the left, the average age of Club members stubbornly remaining in the 60’s.



      Some of the more interesting ways in which Clubs have striven to meet this challenge included:

      1. a “Serve to Sail” Program where a prospective young member with skills needed by the Club can receive a substantial discount to their initiation fees putting in 50 hours of sailing related service to the Club.  It adds 50 members a year using this program.
      2. a “fast-track” for membership applications from a prospective member who is a member of another recognized YC and has moved to the Club’s city from elsewhere;
      3. extending the discount both for dues and initiation fees to age 30 to facilitate young members joining and staying with the Club in their early working years,
      4. enabling Intermediate members attending University in the Club’s city to pay the same dues as non-resident members (away at University) to encourage them to remain members during this period.


      It has become a bit of a tradition to end these conferences with a bit of a “tell all” session where we each tout our greatest success and admit our greatest failure.    For obvious reasons, no Clubs or delegates will be mentioned by name.


      The experiences of many were similar and generally related to the interaction between the Board and the membership and sometimes between the Board and the General Manager.  

      Remarkably, while a number of Clubs indicated that the best thing that they did was to fire their General Manager, many said that in fact it was the hiring of their current GM that was the best thing that they ever did.


      Others said that one of the best things that they did was to discipline a member that had become a bit of a “wrecking ball” in the Club and that there was “nothing like a pelt on the wall” to get the membership’s full attention and smarten up the grumblers.  


      One delegate said that one of the worst things was to respond to an “incendiary” e-mail from a disaffected member with a thoughtful, e-mail response, only to have the response excerpted, edited and broadcast to “the western world” as evidence of the delegate’s lack of: competence; knowledge; concern; engagement, etc.   Instead, the message was to telephone the disaffected member to discuss their complaint and NOT to respond to the e-mail. 



      To conclude, each of the delegates were asked to pick one topic or issue that they would like to see explored and discussed at the ICOYC Commodores Forum in September of 2016.   As you might expect there was considerable agreement on a number of topics and, in order of popularity, they were:

      1. Capital Replacement – Analysis and Funding (including disaster planning)  - 6
      2. Governance – including recruiting, leadership development and structure – 4
      3. Membership – including development, discipline and family engagement  - 3
      4. Cost benefit analysis – for F&B; House; Programs; Outstations; - 3
      5. Staffing – paid staff v. volunteer members – 2
      6. Sponsorship – the care and feeding of – 2
      7. External Relations – with local governments, first nations, etc.  2  



      Having completely exhausted topics the delegates retired to freshen up for the closing dinner and, once again, AYC did not disappoint.   The unwise stuffed themselves with appetizers of freshly shucked oysters, famous Chesapeake blue crab and giant prawns only to sit down to an outstanding dinner of yet more crab, lobster AND beef tenderloin – an unforgettable “surf and turf combo”.  When General Manager Brian Asch introduced the AYC Executive Chef, Michael Herr, some unruly delegates attempted to hire him away on the spot!   It was a delightful end to a great conference in a great venue.  Thank you AYC!

      Download Files

       The following documents are ready for download in MS Word or Adobe PDF format:

      Conference Announcement

      The next conference for the Americas region will be held at Annapolis Yacht Club on 11-12 October 2015, directly following the Chesapeake Bay Cruise, and while the United States Sailboat Show is running. Read the material below to get information on the hotel, cost of rooms, and how to make your reservations.

      Jim Burns, ICOYC VP Americas, says (in part):

      "We have invited Gary Jobson to speak at the Opening Reception on Sunday, we will have an all-day conference and Partners’ Program on Monday and a splendid wind-up dinner on Monday evening.

      During the conference, we will introduce the latest ICOYC developments, discuss current issues of mutual interest, and briefly review the recent worldwide Commodores' Forum held at the Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron in Auckland. We will also have an opportunity to discuss possible topics for the 10th Commodores’ Forum which will be held at the Royal Danish Yacht Club in Copenhagen in October of 2016.

      Discussion topics will include the challenges presented by a changing membership and how the Chicago Yacht Club has “re-invented itself” to meet this challenge. Another topic that is an increasing issue in all of our Clubs is “electronic communications”, including online voting. How do your “manage the genie” of social media and other online communications, once they are out of the Club’s bottle. "  Read the complete text of the invitational letter

      Take a look at the draft agenda and download the registration form from the Download Files section below. Make your hotel reservations quickly since the week in Annapolis is a busy one.  

      All ICOYC members are invited, even if from other regions. Also, member clubs are asked to send more than one delegate, if possible. More the merrier. 

  • 2014 - San Diego

      ICOYC Americas Regional Conference 2014
      San Diego Yacht Club – February 8-9, 2014


      Report by Americas Regional Vice President, Jim Burns

      The 3rd annual Americas’ Regional Conference was hosted by the San Diego Yacht Club on February 8th and 9th, 2014. Thirteen clubs were represented by 20 delegates and almost 40 people participated in the event including guest delegates from both the Royal Canadian and Royal Victoria Yacht Clubs.

      But the numbers do not tell the story. A lucky number of delegates and partners who arrived early were able to enjoy an unforgettable sail on the schooner “America”, a replica of the 1851 winner of the Around the Isle of Wight race in the UK. The annual migration of grey whales down the coast of California was in full flood and the shipmates were treated to a spectacle of breaching off Point Loma.

      The America returned to the dock right in front of the San Diego Yacht Club clubhouse and we were fortunate enough to have our opening reception aboard. However splendid the venue, the warmth of the sun completely disappeared at sunset leaving the partners huddled together. They were immediately dubbed “the blanket ladies” but their spirits (and their glasses) remained high.

      Read the rest of the report HERE. Note: This link is "members only" and requires a login to the private side of the ICOYC website.

      Other Conference Reports and Presentations


      Nancy Glover, Eastern YC and Chicago YC, presented a detailed discussion on Tax Issues for Yacht Clubs. Items discussed included accounting and tax issues, Social Clubs (501(c)(7)), public charitable foundations (501(c)(3)), Unrelated Business Income (UBI).
      The report can be downloaded HERE

      Report to the Board, Seattle Yacht Club, by Dick Haelsig

      Photo Gallery

      A photo slideshow can be viewed in Photo Gallery.

      Downloads for the Conference Arrangements
      (PDF format, signed-in members only)

      Hotel Reservation
      Conference Registration 
      Saturday Whale Watching Ride on the historical racing yacht  America
      Partners' Program

  • 2013 - Newport
    • Americas Regional Conference 2013
      Hosted at New York Yacht Club – Harbor Court, April 5-6


      The conference was opened by the Conference Chair, Regional Vice President-Americas Jim Burns of Royal Vancouver YC, on Friday evening. Council delegates from Annapolis, Chicago, Eastern, Newport Harbor, Royal Vancouver, San Francisco, Seattle, Southern, and St Francis Yacht Clubs were joined by guest delegates from Bayview (Detroit), San Diego, and Seawanhaka Corinthian (Oyster Bay, NY) Yacht Clubs. The group of 40 plus experienced boaters and their partners came together at the Opening Reception in the Library of the New York Yacht Club’s spectacular facility overlooking the world famous yachting town of Newport, RI.
      ICOYC President John McNeill of St Francis YC, presented an overview of the results of the Commodores’ Concerns Survey and outlined the four main conference topics to be discussed on Saturday. These were Membership Growth and Retention, Club Owned Fleets, Sponsorship, and How to Involve Clubs and Their Leadership in ICOYC. President McNeill reiterated the ICOYC promise that “the comments made during these meetings are to be kept confidential within ICOYC to encourage the participants to speak freely.”

      After the opening reception, the attendees broke into several groups and headed out for dinner in the fine restaurants in Newport. These ‘off-the-clock’ informal social gatherings are a great way to talk with other yacht club leaders and to share experiences. Saturday morning arrived on a bright, but chilly day and the conference sessions started after coffee and sweets. Spouses and partners headed out to visit Newport’s famous mansions built during the late 1800s and early 1900s.

      After a full day of discussion, PowerPoints, and a working lunch of DIY sandwiches, delegates joined their partners in the Dining Room at Harbour Court for a delightful meal and great conversation. After dinner, those who attended the Americas 2012 Conference at the Southern Yacht Club were delighted to learn that their old friends from the Louisiana bayous, Mr. Boudreaux and Mr. Thibodeaux, also were at Harbour Court. The entire room was roaring in laughter at the tales of Boudreaux and Thibodeaux, artfully told by Guy Brierre, Secretary/Treasurer of Southern YC, in authentic Cajun dialect. It was a wonderful end to an enlightening and entertaining conference at a splendid venue.

      Proceedings of the conference can be downloaded by logged in ICOYC members from HERE

      The agenda can be downloaded by logged in ICOYC members from HERE.

      Photos of the conference can be found (members only) in the Photo Gallery page.

  • 2012 - New Orleans
    • Americas Regional Conference 2012
      Hosted March 9-10 by Southern Yacht Club in New Orleans


      All but two of the US and Canadian member clubs in the ICOYC were represented in a most useful Regional Conference in New Orleans. Commodores from two guest clubs joined us – Chicago YC and San Francisco YC. The Conference was chaired by Vice President John McNeill and I was pleased to join in and learn more about the day-to-day interests of the American clubs in the International Council. It was also my first opportunity to enjoy some extraordinary Southern hospitality.

      Our host was the Southern Yacht Club at their rebuilt clubhouse right on the edge of Lake Pontchartrain. They have exceptional sailing opportunities and their post-Katrina clubhouse has been purpose-built to a high standard, somewhat along the lines of a grand ante-bellum plantation house.

      A stated purpose of the Conference was to suggest topics for discussion at the worldwide Commodores’ Forum in UK in September 2012. This we did, passing a number of key ideas on to the next Conference in Europe in the following week. We also discussed many specific North American issues, some of which were tax-related, and under John McNeill’s steady guidance ranged over many of the aspects of running a large yacht club in today’s environment. There was extensive note-taking with quite a number of new ideas to be followed up in subsequent weeks. 

      The Regional Conferences are proving to be a most useful addition to the range of ICOYC activities. Through them we have the chance to get to know other clubs in more depth and can ask many questions to help resolve our own issues, or give our own members an even better deal. In New Orleans there was complete trust and openness among the Commodores present. When one of the Commodores asked all of us about our biggest mistake while in the role, the results were fascinating, but will never be published more widely! The mistakes fell into three main categories – failures in member communications, staffing and financial issues.

      The Southern hospitality extended to a special welcome for the wives of the Conference delegates. They had the opportunity to see more of the city, and the shopping, than the rest of us who were largely confined to the club. However we had the chance to sample some of the SYC’s excellent food, with all its creole influences, and to gather in the club’s new bar. We were briefed on the impact of Hurricane Katrina,  the pronunciation of the city’s name (something like ‘Nawlins’), and the need to say ‘y’all’ on all possible occasions. Which we did.

      It was a most valuable event and a great way to spend a long weekend.
      Submitted by John Stork


      Please be sure to read the detailed Conference reports for both Genoa and New Orleans in the ICOYC Newsletter for July 2012 found in Library/Newsletters.


      The conference report and information on delegate lodging.
  • 2011 - San Francisco
    • Americas Regional Conference 2011
      Hosted 28-29 January 2012
      by St. Francis Yacht Club in San Francisco


      The first ICOYC AMERICA’S FORUM was a great success.   Quality, not quantity was the order of the day throughout.   Note only did the Forum provide for a stimulating dialogue with many good “take aways”, but also it has resulted in two formal applications for Membership in the Council, one from Annapolis Yacht Club and a second from Newport Harbour Yacht Club. 
      The Forum was held on the afternoon and into the evening of January 28 th and on the morning and early afternoon of January 29th at the St. Francis Yacht Club.  Staff (past) Commodore John McNeill, ICOYC Vice President of the Americas, presided and kept us all moving forward.  
      Attending the forum were the following Clubs and their representatives:  

      Annapolis Yacht Club   Commodore William Torgerson 
      Newport Harbor Yacht Club   Commodore Jeffrey Gordon
      Rochester Yacht Club    Commodore Charles Ross 
      Royal Vancouver Yacht Club   Past Commodore Jim Burns      
          Past Commodore Sarah Howard 
      Seattle Yacht Club     Commodore Kim Lorenz
          Past Commodore Jack Sullivan
          Committee Chair Bob Miller  
      Southern Yacht Club     Past Commodore Jim Wade
      St. Francis Yacht Club    Commodore Patrick Nolan
          Vice Commodore Peter Stoneberg      
          Staff Commodore John McNeill

      We were give a very warm welcome by Commodore Nolan, who noted the high value that St. Francis YC places on its ICOYC membership, and began the session with an outline of the Agenda from Commodore McNeill. This set out an ambitious timeline for the topics to be covered.  Clearly we were going to have to “sing for our supper”.  
      Commodore Sullivan from Seattle then gave us a preview of the structure and program of the Seattle Forum in September and details were provided regarding venues, the social program and some of the likely topics.   There is  little doubt that SYC is pulling out all the stops to make this a most memorable event.  
      Many of the Club representatives were accompanied by their spouses and after the initial session ended, we all moved into one of the many spectacular waterfront dining rooms at St. Francis for a truly memorable dinner. The General Manager of St. Francis personally supervised the meal and advised us that with very few exceptions (the salmon) all of the ingredients for dinner, including the wine, had come from within 100 miles of the Club.    
      Replete with dinner and after a toast to hosts, the assembled moved back to the meeting room for a presentation from Vice Commodore Stoneberg who is also the Vice Chairman of the 2013 America’s Cup Organizing Committee.  It was a rare treat to be briefed on the intended venue and “tools of battle” by the Vice Chair of the AC Committee.  It became abundantly clear that the proposed changes to the boats, the races and the venue will very much make it a spectator friendly event.  Details such as two sizes of catamarans (one for regional events, one for the “big show”), potential 30 knot closing speeds and circular courses with gates should ensure plenty of excitement.  
      Having sailed a number major regattas in the Bay I can attest to the fact that in the summer, “the hurricane kicks in at noon” and on a sunny day, you can be guaranteed 25 knots of breeze.    It certainly appears that the Americas Cup will once again be an exciting sporting event.   
      One of the highlights of the Forum for some of us was to be a ride on Vice Commodore Stoneberg’s own Formula 40 Catamaran.   However it was not to be as Saturday morning dawned foggy (it was San Francisco) with no wind.  
      Saturday was also the day for the annual Three Bridge Fiasco Race, a doublehanded event whereby over 400 boats have to sail under all three of the major bridges in the Bay in whatever order they choose.   Even though there was little wind, it was nonetheless very distracting to have all of these sailboats milling around just outside the window of the “Starting Line Room” where day 2 of the forum was held. 
      Commodore McNeill drove us on however and as the morning progressed, it became clear that the delegates were becoming comfortable in each other’s company and the discussion became more animated, direct and fruitful.  
      A number of issues were examined with a view to determining whether they would be suitable for a wider exploration or exposition at the Seattle Forum.  They ranged from the “macro” such as Governance to the “micro” such as adjusting the “minimum charge” to members for food.   
      Primary topics and some of the “take-aways” included: 

      1. Sponsorship – How to create and maintain an organized and targeted sponsorship program in your club.  How to deal with potential conflicts between Regatta Chairs and sponsors/sponsorship organizers. 

      2. Member volunteer participation – How to deal with the growing trend of having more and more Club activities completed by staff as opposed to volunteer members.   How to recruit and motivate members to actually “get the job done” in a professional and timely manner.  

      3. Membership development – Most clubs appeared to be actively seeking new members and lively discussion ensued on how we deal with the aging membership demographic and how “deep discounts” or “seat sales” do not appear to have not resulted in long term members.  There was a lengthy discussion of the entrance fees and monthly dues being charged by most Clubs and the range was considerable.   A very interesting sidelight was that when one Club raised their “balance to minimum” not a single member resigned as a result and it added approximately $80,000 to the “bottom line.” 
      4. Communication – most clubs appear to be moving towards the dissemination of Club news and activities by electronic means but most still publish a monthly newsmagazine.   Many clubs now have interactive web sites allowing members to book events online but some expressed concern about “too many” emails from the Club being ignored by members.    
      It was good to hear Bob Miller’s views on this topic, being the Chair of the Communications Committee of Seattle YC.  More and more members are demanding wireless communications be available at the Club.   There was also discussion of the increased use of Social Media by many members and a question as to its security and utility for the Club.   Commodore McNeill has found that Facebook in fact provides a secure platform for discussion.  
      5. Governance, - or, how to Keep the “College of the Sea” on the side of the Board instead of moaning about how it was in “the old days”.     Many of the senior members of most Clubs (including many Past Commodores) are still well respected and seen as Opinion Leaders.   It appears that the senior Flag Officers or the Board of many clubs engage these members on a semi formal basis (by way of a lunch or a morning briefing) on a periodic basis.    It is found that this was a useful method of floating “trial balloons” and ensuring that a significant power base in the Club remained in the know and were more likely to support Board activity than oppose it.  
      A secondary consideration in Governance was how voting by members was permitted and specifically whether proxies, mail or electronic voting was permitted.   It is apparent that some Clubs permit voting by mail for the election of Officers but require voting in person, although occasionally by proxy on substantive Club issues such as by-law changes or major expenditures.  
      6. Home Port Moorage.   This was not a topic that was universal and few of the Clubs offer extensive Home Port Moorage.    Nevertheless, with one notable exception, those that do typically charge moorage rates were in the range of 90-95% of commercial moorage rates.   One of the Clubs that subscribes to this practice generates substantial net revenues in this fashion which in turn enables other Club programs to be funded.  An interesting sidelight to this discussion was that it was the advice of a well respected  Marina consultant to one of the Clubs that the Club should NOT build additional moorage in light of the aging demographic of the membership and the general decline in boating activity.  

      7. Club Owned Boats.     In part to address membership recruitment and retention issues and in part to participate in the growing trend of Team Racing, each of St. Francis and SYC has acquired a fleet of J22’s.    It was fascinating to learn that in Seattle, the Marine Trades Association has a program called “Butts in Boats” which is specifically designed to increase the ’publics awareness of and participation in boating.    A direct result of this has provided SYC with boat moorage and chandlery support for their J80 fleet.   

      Summary.   The topics were wide ranging and varied, the discussion was lively and candid and I think that every delegate learned a great deal at the Forum.   It is indeed a credit to the St. Francis YC and especially to Staff Commodore McNeill that the first ICOYC America’s Forum was a resounding success.    
      Respectfully Submitted. PC Jim Burns Royal Vancouver YC


      You can download the report and the agenda while logged in as an ICOYC member.

Snapshots from recent regional conferences