Forum Schedule

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*schedule subject to change

2023 Keynotes

Ron Tite

Purpose-Driven Leadership and Marketing Expert

5 years after Ron Tite challenged SLF to embrace the “revolution” and work together to grow the sport, he is back by popular demand with a timely keynote on reinvention.

NOW WHAT? Prioritizing Personal and Organizational Growth to Go From Recovery to Reinvention

Leaders have been forced to react and respond to a dynamic environment that featured everything from a dismantled supply chain and muted virtual teams to overdue calls for equality, mental health concerns, and an economy on the brink of disaster.

Well, that was fun. Now what?

Leaders can’t just flip the switch and resume their previously scheduled path to success. And the way forward? It’s filled with unclear and competing priorities, contradictions in what customers want and expect, and a workforce that’s completely divided on why they work and where they work. How do leaders inspire, inform, and prepare their people and organizations for that?

Now what? Prioritize growth.

Yes, that means financial growth. But it also means personal growth. Organizational growth. Systems growth. The growth of new communities, new processes, new environments, and more.

Great challenges always create great opportunities. And this opportunity is a once-in-lifetime chance to reinvent and re-energize you, your team, and your business. So don’t go back to where you were. Go forward to where you deserve to be.

Too challenging? Don’t worry. You’ll grow into it.

Ron Tite is the founder of Church+State, a content marketing agency based in Toronto. His work has been recognized by The London International Advertising Awards, The New York Festivals of Advertising, The Crystals, The Extras, The Canadian Marketing Association, and The Marketing Awards, to name just a few. He also hosts Church+State’s Canadian Podcast Award-winning series, “The Coup”.

In addition, Tite is the executive producer and host of the Canadian Comedy Award-winning show Monkey Toast, and, in partnership with CBC Radio’s hit show This is That, the publisher of the award-winning and bestselling humour book, This is That Travel Guide to Canada. He has also written for several television series; penned a children’s book; and wrote, performed, and produced the play, The Canadian Baby Bonus.

Tite is also a bestselling author of two books: Everyone’s An Artist (Or At Least They Should Be) and Think. Do. Say.: Building Personal and Organizational Momentum in a Busy, Busy World.

Welcome back to SLF Ron!

Kevin Pearce

Champion Snowboarder & Traumatic Brain Injury Survivor

In the blink of an eye, Kevin Pearce went from being an Olympic gold medal hopeful to suffering a severe traumatic brain injury (TBI) that nearly took his life. As a champion snowboarder once considered the key rival to Shaun White, Kevin earned back-to- back victories at The Oakley Arctic Challenge and two Air & Style Victories in 2007 and 2008. He went on to become a silver medalist with a thrilling performance at the 2009 Winter X Games. By 2010, Kevin was considered a gold medal contender in the Winter Olympics. Then, tragedy struck. In a devastating training accident, Kevin suffered the traumatic brain injury that would change his life forever.

After six days in a coma, Kevin awoke to the faces of his family and a grueling road to recovery. He began intensive therapy and rehabilitation that included relearning how to walk, talk and even swallow – rewiring his brain to do all the little things that most of us take for granted. By drawing upon his own unwavering optimism, the discipline that he had acquired as a world-class athlete, the love of his family, and the support of numerous healthcare professionals and caregivers, Kevin made amazing progress that continues to this day. He recently got married and continues to prioritize his family. His journey has also included forging a new path toward helping and inspiring others. As the co- founder of the Love Your Brain Foundation, Kevin has found a passionate sense of purpose advocating for the prevention of brain injury and assisting those affected by it.

Today Kevin Pearce is inspiring the level of admiration that he once did as a spellbinding snowboarder. Known for contagious optimism that lifts up audiences, he is delivering a powerful message of perseverance, purpose, overcoming adversity and finding strength through helping others.

Fahd Alhattab

Founder, Unicorn Labs | Leadership Development Expert 

Having spent years researching and building extraordinary teams, Fahd Alhattab found the key ingredient that sets high-performing teams apart — their leaders prioritize team performance over individual success. He calls them “unicorn leaders”. Alhattab defines unicorn leaders as the heroes within an organization. They have an innate ability to attract and retain top talent, engage a multi-generational workforce, and build high performing teams for extraordinary impact. An award-winning leadership speaker, coach, and consultant, Alhattab shows audiences how to unlock the leader within and become the architect of effective teams through his principles of unicorn leadership.

Alhattab’s path to leadership began with philanthropy. Compelled by his background as an at-risk immigrant from a low-income family, he raised over $1 million for local charities and founded a camp for underprivileged children. He was awarded Canada’s Top 20 Under 20 Award in recognition of his work. Alhattab’s passion for entrepreneurship continued in university, where he launched a student entrepreneurship center while serving as president of the student union. It has since founded more than 50 student startups and helped raise over $300,000 in seed capital.

Named a “Rising Star Speaker” and “Most Entertaining Speaker” by the Canadian Association of Professional Speakers, Alhattab has spoken to audiences across North America. He is also the host of the podcast, Unicorn Leaders with Fahd Alhattab.

Positive Motivation: Getting the Best from Athletes

Coaches and their PCA Trainer facilitator, Carmyn Samuel, will engage in interactive discussion of the impact of Positive Coaching on athletes.  Coach Carmyn is mission-focused and has repeated success in helping organizations grow by steadfastly engaging with an organization’s goals, committing to the stamina necessary for clear and effective communication, examining data to create plans of action, using engagement strategies effectively, and applying leadership skills that positively reinforce and encourage accountability. PCA shares research from the world’s top sport psychologists and researchers, some who serve on PCA’s National Advisory Board and have provided insight exclusive to PCA. Your coaches learn exactly why positive motivation helps athletes to improve their performance and to process the life lessons available through sport that impact them in athletic competition and beyond. Coaches explore scenarios and apply this knowledge to some of the most difficult team and player motivation challenges:

  • Motivating difficult-to-reach players and underperforming teams
  • Having “hard conversations” with players
  • Communicating “Receivable Criticism”
  • Giving players an “Emotional Tank Vocabulary” for use with themselves and their teammates.

Larry Ledgerwood

Bodies in Motion

We Are Moving Toward or Moving Away From: People, Ideas and Situations.


We will take a playful look at how our minds work that starts us moving towards or away from (accepting or rejecting) people, ideas and situations before we even “know” it. And how that impacts what happens next.  And then we will explore how to use this awareness for the rest of your time at SLF 2023.

Larry describes his work life as helping clients pursue the answers to two questions: “Why do we do the things that we do? (and the more interesting question) “Why don’t we do more of the things we know to be effective?” Those two questions have been the central themes in his work over the last few decades. Leadership and organizational development have been the context.

Larry has been a volunteer with US Sailing focused primarily on the work of the Education Committee (formally the Training Committee) which he currently chairs. His sailing includes lots of bareboat chartering and several decades of racing mostly J-24s and Etchells. He just acquired a Mercury 18 as yet another source of being humbled on the race course. He was a keelboat instructor at OCSC Sailing on San Francisco Bay for two decades and taught in the Basic Sail Training program at the US Naval Academy for five summers.

He lives outside of San Francisco with his wife of 30 plus years with whom he shares a passion for spoiling their grandchildren.

Featured Breakout Sessions


Business Development and Leadership

Habits of Excellence: How World Class Teams Turn Core Values into Core Behaviors

What do the world's greatest teams have in common? They don't just talk about core values, they LIVE and breathe them.
Research and practice show that the most successful teams tend to have core values created, embodied, and enforced by the team members. These values serve as a roadmap to continued success if cultivated properly.
Where most teams fall short is finding a way to bring those values to life. if your core values remain as mere words on a website or a motto on a shirt, your team is missing a key ingredient to becoming a high performing unit. Core values need to be transformed into core behaviors that are lived and breathed by each teammate, every day.
In this breakout, Coach Reed will walk you through a "mini workshop" example of the process he has used with hundreds of teams over the years to help them develop their core value statements and generate daily habits of excellence that are tied to the core values, thus building core behaviors that lead to long term success on and off the field.

Presented By: Reed Maltbie

You Can’t Go Faster than Your Boat, and You Can’t Operate Better than Your Governance: Board Governance

A discussion of the basics of sport governance and how your NGB, your club and your sport can benefit from better governance practices. Discussion will include how best to be clear about what is governance and what is operations, as well as how to use policy as a tool for the Board to give durable, important directions to management.

Presented By: David Patterson, NGB Governance Advisor, USOPC

Unmasking the Top-Most-Closely-Guarded Secrets to Building and Sustaining Your Fundraising Success

This is session will reveal the most well-kept secrets possessed by the most skillful fundraisers for building, integrating, and sustaining successful fundraising programs whatever the size and composition of your organization.

Key Objectives:

  • The variety of fundraising techniques and how they can benefit your organization, donors, and the community
  • How to successfully scale your existing fundraising efforts into successful annual giving, events, grants, major gifts, planned giving
  • How to identify and match the fundraising technique(s) that best fit your donor marketplace with your organization’s circumstances, needs and interests
  • Burst the myths about fundraising complexity and excuse of resource limitations
  • How to achieve successful donor solicitations through actual conversational models and role-plays
  • Best practices for marketing, record-keeping, documentation, and stewardship
  • How to convert difficult conversations into successful outcomes in your organization, with your board of directors, staff, and donors
  • Answer questions unique to your organization

Presented By: Steven Schwartz, Principal Advisor, Philanthropic Visions

Planning for Future Success: A Guide to Developing and Launching Your Business Strategy

Know you could be helped by having a strategy to guide your business success, but not sure how best to get started? Or have you had some experience with strategic planning, but found it to be a struggle or perhaps an overly academic experience? Or have a solid strategy but have had difficulty in how best to implement it? Or maybe you’re just curious about what strategy is and how it could help you? If the answer to any of these questions is “yes,” then this session is for you! Over the course of this session, you will be introduced to what strategy is (and is not), best practices to set you up for successful identification of priorities and practical tips and techniques for implementation – from both a point of initiation to sustained advancement. You will learn a “3P” approach to strategy development and how to establish a “system of measurement and accountability” to aid implementation activities. Along the way, you’ll engage in fun and interactive exercises to aid your understanding and apply concepts.

Key Objectives:

Understand importance of strategy in positioning your organization for success now and in the future; build competence in strategy development and execution.

Presented By: Avery Wilson, Governance Reform Project Advisor, USOPC

7 Secrets of Intelligent Leadership

This presentation will cover the challenges for today's leaders, it will draw a focus on self-awareness, then jump into the 7 Secrets of Intelligent Leadership.

Think Differently, Thing Big
The Vulnerability Decision
Establishing a Mindset of Duty Over Entitlement
How to Leverage Your Gifts & Address Your Gaps
Obtaining the Courage to Execute with Pride, Passion and Persistence
How to Stay Present and Remain Vigilant
The Critical Importance of Course-Correction

Presented By: Scott Johnson, Executive Coach, Intelligent Leadership

Grant Writing

This session is an introduction to the basic process of grant writing and examines the relationship between grant writing and an organization’s strategy for fundraising. Participants will learn the different stages and best practices of grant writing. Topics will include how writing grants is a critical part of gaining funding for any nonprofit organization’s mission, and how strategic grant writing aligns the needs of a nonprofit with funding sources including foundations, government agencies, corporations, and individuals.

Presented By: Mary Ellen DeFrias

Innovation, Sustainability and Technology

Keeping Your Program Afloat with High School Sailing

Has your program considered hosting a High School Sailing team? Learn about the benefits, High School Sailing's surprising reach, and most importantly - how to get started!

High School Sailing is a great on-ramp to the sport of sailing. Truly co-ed with tiers of competitions ranging from local to National events. Teenagers from a wide array of backgrounds and experience levels can get something out of it. Beyond the benefits to sailors, High School sailing can bolster club membership, provide an instructor base, and foster a new generation of sailors. Learn how to get started!

Presenters are all board members of the Interscholastic Sailing Association (ISSA), and are current High School Sailing Coaches and program leaders.

Key Objectives:

  • Learn how High School Sailing allows a critical mass of youth to onboard to the sport of sailing at a competitive level with low-barriers and high rewards.
  • Co-ed, diverse, and growing. High School Sailing is an important pathway for the sport of sailing in america.
    Ask the youth: "fomo" is real. Teens want opportunities to compete as school athletes with teammates, to socialize and balance fun with sport.
  • Always searching for instructors each spring? Start, or rejuvenate your High School Sailing program, and create a passionate and loyal instructor base.
  • Wondering how to get started? It's easy! Will go over the basic structure of a team, competitions and how to get involved.

Presented By: Liam Faudree, Rob Hurd, Sarah Hanavan, Jane Millman

Get on Up! Creating Affordable and Safe Foiling Programs with Wings

Get on up! Foiling has provided an undeniable improvement in performance, comfort, and access to new sailing skills. But how do you create access to this pathway on a budget, mesh safety protocols with groups of new foilers, and retain a low barrier to entry? Matthew Thompson (Wayzata Sailing) shares their solution to creating a safe and fun youth camp, without the commitment to $$$$$ boats, wind limits, or long equipment repair schedules. Demystify the foil for community programs and average sailors who want to make the next leap in their skills. Join us for a discussion on just how easy it is to start foiling programs through the use of Wingfoil equipment.

Key Objectives:

  • Leave with the confidence to start foiling programs within any dinghy program, without major structural or operational changes
  • Exploration of foiling options for all wind ranges, pros and cons
  • Sample budgeting exploration of a small foiling program
  • Walkthrough of simple safety and liability changes to integrate foiling into existing programs
  • Employment and instruction options, including getting starting without prior knowledge or IKO/other relevant certifications

Presented By: Matthew Thompson, Executive Director, Wayzata Sailing

Breaking Through Sustainability Challenges

Are you facing roadblocks while trying to reduce the environmental impact of your event or club operations? Maybe you are struggling to get water out to youth competitors without single-use water bottles, or you are confused on how to properly manage waste; perhaps a food vendor arrives with plastic bottles or utensils, or your club has a curmudgeon who is hesitant to implement changes. Join us in a lively discussion where we will chat about creative solutions to common issues, share knowledge on the implementation of different sustainability practices, and celebrate success stories.

Key Objectives

1. Empower: Attendees will learn about creative solutions to a variety of sustainability challenges and that one size doesn’t fit all

2. Activate: Attendees will be able identify actionable next steps to take to elevate their organization’s commitment to sustainability

3. Connect: Attendees will build relationships with like-minded sailors and organizers who are committed to sustainability and may be facing the same challenges

Presented By: Shelley Brown & Emily Conklin, Sailors for the Sea

Teach Sailing and Deliver an Experience: Rethinking Sailing Instruction in the Experience Economy

The experience economy is here to stay. Times have changed and continue to change - has your program evolved with those changes, or are you repeating what worked in the past and wondering why you have less participants?

Customers are more discerning than ever and have immediate access to seemingly limitless information. As a program offering a service you must be able to articulate what you do and why a potential student should choose your program.

Mission Bay Aquatic Center centers its programming and training around the entire customer experience, not just the learning objectives we expect students to achieve. Learn about how we implement this at MBAC and the positive impacts it has had on participation.

Key Objectives:

  • Examine their own program with a critical eye in terms of what is the overall sailing student experience in their program.
  • Determine what sets their program apart from competitors and identify ways to market those distinctions.
  • Identify potential new participant activities that prioritize customer service exceptional student experiences.

Presented By: Paul Lang & Kevin Straw

IQ Foil, not your grandfather’s Windsurfing

IQ Foil is the new Olympic Windsurfing class. Though iQ Foil isn’t just for Olympic athletes. This is the exciting part, the IQ Foil Olympic pathway is with the IQ Foil Youth and Junior windsurf foiling classes. It is amazing to see kids as young a 10 and 11 windsurf foiling with the iQ foil. Yes the gear is sized down to fit the smaller bodies, but performance is not dumbed down for kids.    Having a Foiling windsurf program aids with youth sailor retention as well as gives another pathway to Youth Worlds, Junior PanAm Games, Youth Champs and other international and national events.

Key Takeaways: 

  • Foiling windsurfing has a shorter learning curve than traditional windsurfing.
  • Olympic Windsurfing has dramatically increased participation with foiling
  • How windsurfing has added to and not subtracted from traditional sailing programs, like 420’s, ILCA, Optimists

Presented by:
Britt ViehmanNorth American rep for iQ Foil
Gonzalo Costa HoevelIQ Foil Class 

Scoring Methods for Handicap Yacht Racing

Making an informed and appropriate choice on how to score a handicap sailboat race has never been more critical to the understanding and acceptance of the results by the competitors and the very success of the race. There are numerous handicap rules available from PHRF to Portsmouth Yardstick on the more casual end, IRC/ORC/ORR on the most serious end, and ORR-Ez and ORC Club in the middle. For rules that provide only a single rating there can still be a decision to be made. For those that use a table of boat speed polars, derived from a velocity prediction program (VPP), the choices are limitless. The correct choice is one that best balances the often contrary priorities of fairness on one hand and simplicity on the other. That choice for a specific event will be influenced by the expectations and experience of the participants.

For those that place fairness as the highest priority, but also want to limit or mask complexity, there is good news. Not only are the handicap systems getting more accurate, but weather forecasting and the tools that can make use of those forecasts are becoming more sophisticated and accessible. These developments open the door to new scoring methods that can provide simple TCF handicaps that are tuned to the specific course and weather for a race and are provided to the sailors at a reasonable time before the start.

Presented By: Stan Honey & Jim Teeters

Accessibility and Inclusion

Changing TIDEs: How College Sailing is shaping the conversation around DEI

In 2020, College Sailing decided to start directly addressing DEI issues by forming The Inclusivity, Diversity and Equity Task Force for College Sailing (ICSA TIDE). Undergraduates worked with coaches and experts to create positive change within our community. The work has included continuing the conversation, collecting data, creating education, updating policies, and fostering relationships. Join TIDE to help shape the conversation around DEI in sailing!

Presented By: Reed Maltbie - Moderator Preston Anderson, Cori Radtke, Michelle Lahrkamp, MacKenzie Berwick

Rocking the Boat: Bringing Sailing to the People Study

Much of the emphasis on how to diversify the sport of sailing is focused on developing programs that attract BIPOC to existing sailing centers located in and designed for predominately White communities. Located in the predominantly BIPOC community of the South Bronx, Rocking the Boat has a different approach, running sailing, wooden boatbuilding, and environmental science youth and community development programs for over 3,000 BIPOC a year. Rather than bringing people to sailing, Rocking the Boat brings sailing to the people. But there is a lot more to this approach than location. This presentation will describe Rocking the Boat’s youth development model, participant engagement strategies, and the joys and challenges of teaching sailing – and a whole lot more – to teenagers from the Bronx.

Key Objectives

  • Understand Rocking the Boat's educational model and be able to apply it to your own programs.
  • Identify learning experiences from Rocking the Boat's sailing curriculum and how to connect it to the social-emotional development of your students.
  • Identify, and hopefully, contribute to the challenges of teaching a majority BIPOC audience.
  • Create connections and networking between like-minded clubs and community sailing centers.

Presented By: Juan Pablo Sarmiento Torres, Director of Sailing Operations, Rocking the Boat

Sailing Diversity in Action

So often, organizations who desire to address diversity, inclusion and belonging in their programs fall into two traps: 1. Caught up in an endless cycle of talking, listening, forums, feedback, surveys, etc. and fail to move into program development. 2. Move directly into program/class development and offend participants, make fundamental mistakes, and fail to develop trust.
This session will cover the foundational components that lead to successful organizational initiatives for Lake Champlain Community Sailing Center and others around the country.

Key Objectives
  • Create a strategic / organizational approach to Diversity.
  • Engage their local community in program development feedback.
  • Engage donors/foundations in "pilot" programs.
  • Build in proven program attributes to break down cultural/systemic barriers.
  • Track success, reach out to donors/foundations to support growth.

Presented By: Owen Milne, Community Sailing Center and a Panel of Other Sailing Programs

Pathways to Club Currency: Achievable Equity and Inclusion workshop (Community Sailing Committee Led)

Attendance broken to four smaller groups, to discuss with session leader & brainstorm pathways to stronger equity and inclusion in four digestible & focused pathways. Brainstorm session will be broken into 3 phases (20 minutes each): identification of issues/impacts, solutions you've seen, assessment of options/achievable targets for you.

Key Objectives

  • Walk away with an achievable goal and tools towards growing THEIR club, program, or sailing community and increasing its relevancy.
  • Understand that solutions to growth come from openness, discussion, sharing, inspiration, and borrowing.

Presented by: Matthew Thompson, Paul Lang, Don Rotzien

Values based Education in Sailing Programs

Values-based-education aims to increase academic development and skill retention as well as development of social and emotional skills by focusing on creating a positive and welcoming environment for students to learn. Programs/schools intentionally ground aspects of the experience around a set of chosen values to encourage positive behavior and habits and promote education and communication around such behavior.

Siebel Sailors Program Coaches will give an overview of how they achieved values-based-education in every day lesson plans, its role in other youth sports experiences, and how the Siebel Sailors Program staff worked with sailing centers to offer a values-based-sailing program on a national scale.

Key Objectives

  • Participants will know symptoms, outcomes of negative learning environment; benefits, outcomes of culture of positivity and learning
  • Participants will learn tips on how to develop VBE practices in their programs, train coaches, talk to youth and parents and otherwise support values-based-education in sailing programs
  • Participants will learn tips to collect annual data to help develop and continually shape value-based culture for their students and staff.

Presented By: Chris Childers, Janel Zarkowsky and Patrick Burkes

Sailing Beyond the Diagnosis, Navigating Neurodiversity to Find Success

In this session you will learn what neurodiversity is and why inclusion is important for your program. You likely already have some neurodiverse sailors in your programs. Whether you are thinking of starting a program for youth with Learning Differences or on the Autism Spectrum, or you want to get your staff the training they need to better serve this population, we will have a lot of information, ideas and time for you to ask questions. We will highlight two programs, Spectrum Sailing and Freedom Sailing Camp, that serve youth on the Autism Spectrum and hear from a past student and current instructor on his real life experience. You will also hear about The Brendan Approach training to improve instruction with this population.

Presented By: Charlie Arms, Scott Herman, Bonnie Monroe and William Mark Monroe

Mixed+ Sailing: Encouraging Gender Balanced Teams

Know better way to diversify our sport, add divisions to their one design class and know where to go to to get support to help their events grow in the future.

Presented By: Ed Furry & Becky Furry, Sail22

Trends, Participation and Growth

Youth Racing Pathways
What is a racing pathway, anyway? In this session we will break it down into simple components and discuss some of the key steps and transitions between starting to race, and racing for life. Along the way, we will hear from several sailing organizations who are incorporating lifelong and performance racing into their sailing programs and consider how we can all help develop and retain youth racing sailors and support the transitions between age groups and boat classes.

Presented By: John Pearce

I Took the Basic Keelboat, Now What? Building a Thriving Community of Adult Sailors

Description: The US Sailing Basic Keelboat Course is a great introduction to sailing for adults getting out on the water for the first time, but it can be a struggle to take your new sailors and build them into a thriving community. Sailing comes with a long list of barriers to entry, but it also has the power to change lives. In this session we hope to get to the core of why people sail, What causes people to bounce off, and how to build your organization around the things that really matter.
Surface what brings people to sailing and what keeps them engaged
Identify common barriers to entry and how to overcome them to create an inclusive environment
Discuss the importance of core values to building community
Explore ways to get your community connected to the larger world of sailing

Presented By: Don Rotzien & Robert Burke

Lifelong Sailors Inspiring Fellow Lifelong Sailors to Cultivate Lifelong Sailors

Four lifelong sailors Paul Cayard (Star worlds, Whitbread winner, America’s cup, US Sailing YOY), Pam Healy (Olympic medalists), Stan Honey (Navigator, US Sailing YOY), and Beau Vrolyk (Sailing Bum, Commdore StFYC) share how they became lifelong sailors and how they have succeeded in helping others along that path. All of you are lifelong sailors, come hear what has worked for these four and how you might put their experiences to work with your sailors.

Presented By: Beau Vrolyk, Stan Honey, Paul Cayard and Pam Healy

An Idle Fleet Doesn’t Pay the Bills: Maximizing Income from an Already Existing Fleet

Maximizing income from an already existing fleet. I am finding that many programs, particularly yacht clubs have idle fleets. If a boat is on land, it isn't paying for its' existence. I feel that each vessel should pay for itself each season, otherwise it hasn't earned its' space on the dock/beach.

Community Sailing programs, yacht clubs- all types of programs are sitting on major assets. For the most part, these vessels are not being used to their maximum potential.

Income per vessel may not be a priority for all, but in recent months I have been speaking with friends about their idle fleets. Exclusivity (membership) vs pushing for use of vessels can be balanced. One size fits all? No. But I think it is worth a conversation.

Presented By: Jane Pimentel, President, Longshore Sailing School

Great Regattas: Get Them, Sell Them, Deliver Them

Most one-design classes have at least one large regatta annually.  How to find a club that fits your needs as a class?  From a host perspective, what are the pros and cons of hosting?  How to budget, schedule and run an event that satisfies the sailors needs while not creating undue burden on the host club, staff and volunteers.  

Key Objectives:
Participants will learn and share available tools, successes and failures. Audience participation and brainstorming will help all present maximize the value of their next event.

Presented By: Janet Baxter, Greg Miareki and Debbie Probst

Growing Your Membership: Attracting and Retaining Young Sailors in Classes and Clubs

Any organization relies on growth to sustain itself. We will share successful strategies and how you can adapt these to your organization with a special focus on targeting young and new sailors. Opportunities for sharing your own successes and obstacles will be provided in order to take advantage of the audience’s collective experience.

Presented By: Debbie Probst & Laura Jeffers

Safety On and Off the Water

My View from the Water; Our View From the Deck

As a racing or cruising sailor, no one wants to experience a person overboard from either in the water or “above it” on the boat. We will take you through our experience from 2020 with a storm-generated, nighttime person overboard during the Hook Race on Lake Michigan. Sarah will share what she did to survive. Jeff and Mickey will guide you through the perspective of being a skipper and a member of the crew of 8 on the boat. The inclusion of Bruce Brown, US Sailing Safety at Sea Moderator will add his expertise in this area. From Sarah’s time in the water, you will learn the challenges that she dealt with and how she problem-solved solutions for survival. Jeff and Mickey will share the onboard challenges from regaining full control of the boat to the recovery of Sarah in the water. This session will give participants, from the survivor and crew viewpoint an opportunity to reflect on their "personal" POB plan and safety equipment as they prepare for their next sail.

Key Objectives:

Participants will be able to begin to reflect on their personal plan for preparation, survival and recovery if faced with having a "View from the Water or View From the Deck”.

  • Reaffirm the importance of preparing for a potential emergency
  • Build awareness of some of the challenges that are faced by the person overboard or crew on the boat during a POB.
  • Cultivate a routine of checking and knowing your equipment.

Presented By: Sarah Pederson, Jeff Shaeffer, Mickey Nielson and Bruce Brown, US Sailing Safety at Sea Moderator

Preventing Future Insurance Claims: Managing Risk and Developing Safety Protocols

This session will cover an analysis of the most frequent and most severe claims seen at sailing organizations over the past 5 to 10 years. We will also do a deep dive into 5 claims scenarios to understand what controls and risk management best practices can be put into place to prevent and reduce future claims. Risk Management tools and check-lists will be reviewed and distributed to attendees.

Presented By: Whitney Peterson, John Fisher, and Kellie Crete

New Technology in Safety

New technology is bringing solutions to problems that have not been easily addressed.
Fire fighting technology for Lithium Ion Battery powered devices
406 MHz Personal Locator Beacons with AIS
New USCG Approved Inflatable life jackets
Foul Weather Gear fabrics that breath and resist staining
A New Engine Cut-Off Switch which alerts driver when not connected
Presented By: Bruce Brown, US Sailing Safety at Sea and Emlie Barkow Veinot, Safe Lakes LLC

Advancements in Race Management

Creative Solutions to Unusual Situations in Event Management: A Guide to a Sailor-First Regatta

Competitive sailing requires quick reactions to unexpected situations, creative thinking and unwavering focus on your goals. So too, it turns out, does running a great regatta. Join our panel of veteran organizers and officials for a lively, interactive discussion about anticipating the unexpected, solving problems with a smile and leaving your customers wanting more – all while keeping both feet firmly planted in the racing rules. Bring your questions!

Presented By: Tom Duggan, Malinda Crain, and Dave Perry

Building a High-Functioning Race Committee Team

Race officers are often called on to build a high-functioning race committee in a short time with volunteers they've never worked with before. International Race Officer Tom Duggan talks about identifying volunteers' skills and building a team that can handle the challenges of a high-level regatta. Although this session is not focused on how clubs build and train their Wednesday night RC, many of the concepts of team building and leadership will apply equally at the club level.

Key Objectives:

How do race officers:

  • Identify the right people, with the right skills, for the job
  • Put those people in the right positions
  • Deal with the challenges that always come up?

Presented By: Tom Duggan, International Race Officer

Keeping the Fun in Race Committee Work: Training Your RC volunteers with US Sailing's Race Committee Fundamentals Course

Race Committee Fundamentals is a hands-on, six-hour course that teaches the essential skills of race committee work, including tracking the wind, basic course setting, pulling flags, making sounds and recording finishes. This is a fun way to engage volunteers with limited experience with racing. The presenters will demonstrate some key topics from the course and discuss how clubs can set up RC Fundamentals at their own clubs with the goal of expanding their volunteer base.

Key Objectives:

  • Understand the audience this training is intended for
  • Be ready to offer this class at their home club
  • Make volunteering for race committee easier and develop a pipeline for future race officials

Presented By: Mary Ellen DeFrias, Race Committee Chair, New Bedford Yacht Club & Matt Hill, Race Administration Director, US Sailing

Top 10 Cases Every Event Organizer Should Know

The World Sailing Cases are the only “authoritative interpretations of the rules” in the sport. There are 130 cases in the Case Book. Dave will highlight ten of them that are important for event organizers (regatta organizers, race committee members and judges) to know.

Presented By: Dave Perry

New Solutions to Old Problems in Race Management

Join four tech-savvy sailors and officials who will review the growth of technology in race management over the past decade and explore questions like what’s new, what’s next, and what do humans still do best?

Presented By: Stan Honey, Mike Martin, Kevin Morin and Matt Bounds (moderator)

Well-Being and Personal Growth

It’s All About Relationships! Networking Made Easier

Today, social and corporate environments are more strongly intertwined than ever. Internal and external business dynamics require strong interpersonal skills. For hiring or job seeking, while sites such as and can be helpful, the truth of the matter is that most position fulfillment and career advancements are the result of people connections, of knowing someone (or someone who knows someone). But for many of us, the seeking and asking for support for a job can be uncomfortable or downright scary. In this course, we explore and practice ways to help you get “get over the hump” and start building network(s) in support of your personal and professional goals.

Presented By: Avery Wilson, Governance Reform Project Advisor, USOPC

How are you, really? Checking in after Stormy Weather

How often do you ask (or get asked), “How’re you doing?”

“Fine,” we say, or maybe, “Good, how about you?”

If we’re struggling and accept some vulnerability, maybe we say, “Hanging in there,” and then the conversation often ends.

But holy cr@p! Let’s be honest, it’s been a rough few years for some of us: Pandemic, significant losses, missed opportunities, and even natural disasters. Sometimes there’s a fear that if we acknowledge our own struggles, or others’, that we might dwell – or even crumble. There can also be a fear that if we open that can of worms, we’ve got to be ready to fix it directly.

Yes, time on the water is medicine, but we can go beyond providing sailing opportunities. We can create an environment centered on keeping it real. We can cope without pretending. In fact, being authentic, and having real, supportive conversations can go a long way with helping others to cope. And, we can offer a great deal by talking, without necessarily having to be fixers. This session will be substantive, but we’ll also enjoy a few laughs along the way.

Key Objectives:

This seminar will lay out the broad range of functioning on the mental health and mental performance continuum. Common sequelae of mental health concerns in the aftermath of rough times will be described. We will delineate nonverbals and other cues that can tip us off that something’s not quite right. Strategies for approaching conversations will be laid out, whereby we can: 1) cope with our own discomfort; 2) be bold enough to dig in with someone; and 3) be respectful of their boundaries. Finally, approaches to really difficult conversations will be broached – sharing/practicing tactics to ensure that people are safe and/or taking steps to get the care they need.

Presented By: Tim Herzog, Reaching Ahead Counseling and Mental Performance