Start a Team

Midwest Collegiate Sailing Association, Inc.

by William S. Hall, Jr., Michigan State, ’48 with revisions by James K. Ferguson, Xavier, ’63 and revisions by Gail M. Turluck, Wisconsin ’77


It is with sincere interest and pleasure that the Midwest Collegiate Sailing Association welcomes your request for help organizing a sailing group on your campus. The following material has been compiled from the experience of the member clubs to help you create a vigorous sailing club at your institution.

This material identifies the fundamentals needed to develop a firm foundation. The successful founding of a college sailing club rests solely upon the talents of the leaders and the energy of the group. Of course, the MCSA stands ready to help on special problems and will enlist the aid of its member clubs whenever requested. The Association urges new clubs to report progress frequently and to consult with MCSA officers whenever additional help is needed.


The diversified character of sailing clubs encompasses features commonly treated individually in other college organizations. Basically, it is a group organized for common interest, sports competition, and student service in the form of sailing facilities. Secondarily, sailing clubs function as a social activity–a recreational group–and as a training unit.

Special factors common to sailing clubs pose unusual problems for their leaders. The physical facilities necessary and operating expenses are broader than those required by many other campus groups. Minimum needs include boats, a base or dock, and funds for maintenance. Later, storage facilities, a shelter, traveling expenses and a fleet replacement fund will be required.

The functions and activities of such a group are also greater than those encountered elsewhere. lntra-club racing, shore schools (beginning and racing), and intercollegiate races and regattas are part of the administrational burden of the college sailing club in addition to the normal routine of any other sailing club.

Recognition and assistance from the college to carry on this load is obviously a necessity. While most institutions freely grant charter or meeting rights, only a few are willing to allocate funds or equipment to their sailing club. This is in part due to the lack of potential spectator revenue, lack of popular mass acceptance of the sport and the inability of sailing to be absorbed into the athletic division of most schools. For similar reasons, campus alumni groups have also tended to be unresponsive.

Benefits of organization and membership in sailing groups are as gratifying and unusual as the aforementioned requirements and efforts. In addition to the extension of the sailing season, collegiate sailing clubs are unique in that all members have equal and full opportunity to participate in the majority of activities. Unlike most other activities, female students can participate with and against male students in intercollegiate competition. In contrast to athletic contests, sailing regattas offer splendid opportunities to blend social functions with the competitive events on a friendly informal basis. Finally, sailing is one of the very few activities that has real value as post-graduate leisure-time diversion.


Fact-finding surveys of requirements and resources conducted systematically will enable the organizers to determine the feasibility of forming a sailing group. The proposed sailing waters should be inspected for size, depth, accessibility from the campus, availability of a land-base, and the sentiments of nearby residents concerning college groups. Officials of the college administration should be interviewed in regard to requirements for campus organizations (financial regulations, potential faculty advisors. and social rules) and their attitude towards a sailing club. Neighboring sailing groups, both collegiate and especially private, alumni officials, publicity channels, and athletic departments should be informed of the intentions and their assistance should be solicited and measured. (Note: several collegiate clubs have received valuable aid from private sail and yacht clubs in their locale. By all means, take advantage of the interest of the older sailing factions: college sailing bridges the gap between junior sailing programs and adult level membership for junior sailors.)

Although gathering of data is the basic purpose of these surveys, the pollsters should utilize this opportunity to the utmost for public relations purposes. Every conceivable potential should be exploited and every group and individual should know about the proposed formation of the club. From this exercise will emerge the nucleus of members that will ultimately create the backbone of the organization.

An initial general interest meeting is the next step. It should be prefaced by a well-organized publicity campaign to draw member candidates and a thorough orientation in parliamentary and organizational principles for the spokesperson. Prepare and hand out a form at the meeting which will gather such useful information as name, campus address and phone number, permanent address and phone number, major, college standing (freshman. etc.), previous sailing experience, etc. from the member candidates. In an orderly fashion, brief, comprehensive reports of this information should be delivered.

Present your facts in an active manner, and layout a definite plan for the success of the club. Have a concise plan in terms of the responsibilities of individual membership (time, money, and work) and collective requirements as a member of a collegiate movement. Questions must be allowed from the floor, but they should be controlled and minimized for expediency without discouraging the inquirer. A formal vote-of-confidence should be taken concerning the information and a temporary chairperson and secretary, elected from the floor, will be required. The chairperson should then appoint a constitutional committee and a public relations group before adjournment. To complete all this activity in one session will require order and planning.

The formal aspects of creating the organization will absorb the time and efforts of the group before and during the next meeting. The constitutional committee should first acquaint itself with the accepted form of club constitutions (the most familiar is in Robert’s Rules of Order and particular texts may be obtained from established sailing clubs), basic organizational methods and requirements, and the other special data pertaining to the group (dues, types of officers, faculty advisor requirements, etc.). Then in parliamentary terminology and order the constitution, by-laws and standing rules can be drafted. In this connection, the MCSA urges the adoption of a strong executive board type administration. Bear in mind that a pattern is being determined that will be followed in the future–start your club off on the right tack!

Meanwhile, the public relations committee can be recruiting a faculty advisor, releasing copy for the publicity channels, and proposing a slate of qualified candidates for the offices. In collaboration with the temporary chairperson, this committee should help with the planning and preparation of details for the constitutional meeting.

Using the standard parliamentary method, the formal documents should be read, revised and ratified by the group at the next meeting. Election of the officers and the approval of a faculty advisor are next on the agenda. Concerning this step, the MCSA emphasizes caution and good judgment. Avoid the “good sailors” and overzealous volunteers. The administrative burden demands members with plenty of time, energy and leadership talent to develop the initial phases of this kind of a club. A final step will be the appointment of a person or group to formally petition the proper office for official approval and recognition as a campus organization.

Planning and policy making by the executive group is next in the basic steps. The officers and faculty advisor must first appoint the standing committee chairpersons (which will probably include the following departments: social, membership, rules, public relations, and racing). This group can then be assembled. Before planning strategy, the group should be thoroughly instructed in parliamentary and organizational techniques and a definite pattern of conduct may be established. Next, a tentative timetable or schedule and budget may be planned. The MCSA suggests that meetings be held weekly, or semi-monthly, with plenty of Executive Meetings–these will serve both to stimulate continued interest and will build a more closely knit group through contact. In the course of several board meetings general goals can be formulated, activities planned, deadlines set and assignments given.

When a definite, comprehensive plan is ready, the general membership can be assembled. Atthis time, the formal business procedure can be invoked and the committee appointments may be announced. The plan should be explained and approved. Routine operations should begin at this meeting. Dues collection, membership applications and other departmental duties can be pursued at the conclusion of the formal session.

Due to varying local conditions, the MCSA hesitates to further advise specific courses of action. At this point there will be numerous tasks for the officers and members and the leaders will have to use their intuitive skills to choose and guide the action of their group. It is only possible to emphasize the need for systems and order, advance planning and preparation, and impartial leadership in the activities and business of the organization. The leader must reserve his/her efforts and abilities for the supervision and administration of club affairs and delegate the details to responsible subordinates.


Anticipate and plan for some loss of enthusiasm and interest after the initial formation meetings. Finances, the time element, and heavy responsibilities will cause the timid and the “joiners” to slowly drop out.

Sacrifice democratic methods for expediency. Uncontrolled discussion will result in time wasting repetition and deviation from the main issues. Concentration of power and authority in an executive board will eliminate needless business discussion in general meetings.

Avoid the use of the volunteer method for the selection of committees and workers. It only attracts the untalented sympathizers and temporary zealots whose intentions surpass their actions. Instead make appointments in advance through personal channels with respect to the person’s abilities and aptitudes for the particular tasks.

Disperse the assignments widely through established channels such as committee chairpersons and officers. Assignments and tasks should be outlined, deadlines maintained, and frequent checks and reports should be expected. Newcomers should be encouraged by immediate assignments to worthwhile tasks and delinquents should be replaced immediately. Records of the work performed will yield valuable reference for other tasks and make possible some form of reward for the ambitious.

Adopt and use good organizational techniques. Long term scheduling and budgeting are musts for progress. Use of accepted forms and procedures for recordkeeping and paper work promote continuity in spite of the turnover of administrators. Frequent checks and prompt, impartial discipline, though distasteful, must be pursued to insure progress and high morale. Business methods and parliamentary procedure are specifically designed for speed, ease, and clarity, and the use of these procedures is highly recommended by the MCSA.

Standardize tasks and establish routine wherever possible. Due to the rapid turnover in personnel, every routine task should have a simple, effective system which is easy to learn and use by anyone. In designing systems, account must be taken of the fluctuations in aptitude and talent of succeeding officers and committees to insure that these successors can and will perpetuate the work. Minimize needless detail, but insert checks to detect mistakes and delinquency. Conserve the time and effort for the frequent tasks that will require individual effort of a non-routine nature.

Discipline violations promptly and privately, especially in regards to sailing safety and regard for private property.

Investigate legality of the club’s actions, especially in reference to business negotiations and liability for injury or loss of life.

Employ ceremony and tradition when applicable. These mechanisms are infallible in promoting esprit de corps and maintaining strong interest in the organization. Officer installations, banquets, outings, open house, and the like serve as a common bond and symbolize the group’s purpose in a tangible way.

Publicize constantly, consistently and heavily. Exploit and use every channel of group communication and emphasize these efforts where the alumni and college administration are involved. Promotional stunts (Ohio State displayed a boat in an outdoor pool), pictures, progress reports and annual reports (required by Notre Dame and Xavier) and tie-ins with other campus events help tremendously to gain attention and provoke interest. Make use of your campus newspaper.

The MCSA should be informed of club news and its publicity channels should be used for regional and national publicity.

Know and observe college rules, especially those pertaining to organizations. Regulations concerning parties and off-campus travel usually require strict adherence. Avoid suspension or revocation of charter by timely inquiry and advance planning. Once suspended, it is extremely difficult to regain acceptance by school authorities.

Consult with the faculty advisor and use his aid whenever negotiations are conducted with the administration. His advice, because of position, maturity and experience, will be most valuable in planning long-range policy.

Establish, use and enforce a definite policy for every major phase of the club’s activity. This policy should be in writing and should be amended and improved at frequent intervals (especially at the beginning of each Executive Board’s tenure). Membership and discipline are two definite elements that require a standardized concept. Efforts should be made to familiarize every member with its content and interpretation.


Generally, the administrative personnel of sailing clubs are classified under the following titles: Commodore, Vice Commodore, Secretary (sometimes divided into Corresponding and Recording), Treasurer, Fleet Captain and/or Racing Team Captain (which duties are frequently part of the Vice Commodore’s job) in the electoral branch. Appointive chairmen are: Social, Membership, Public Relations, Racing and Rules, who combined with the officers comprise the executive board. Too many board members can become unwieldy.

The framework and authority for their duties and actions spring from the documents of the club namely: the constitution, by-laws, standing rules, and special rules, i.e., sailing, safety, and racing regulations. In addition, they are bound by the statutes of the institution and the applicable rules of the Association to which they are affiliated.

Powers normally granted to the board include: initiate disbursements, ratify agreements, authorize club participation in events, administer discipline, approve budgets and schedules, formulate plans, and determine the general policy for the club.

Records and forms that are most frequently used include: minutes of the meetings, financial journals, ledgers, receipt books, membership rosters and data, pictorial scrapbooks and correspondence files. Information leaflets, membership application forms, checkbooks, annual reports, letters to the membership, alumni lists, racing records, and data issued by the MCSA and the ICSA of NA are also used in the course of sailing club business.

Activities sponsored by sailing clubs range from business meetings, regattas, shore schools, banquets, outings, dances, educational programs, open houses, and sailing instruction sessions. Speakers, movies, slides, demonstrations, forums and field trips are some of the vehicles used. Due to the burden of fleet maintenance, most of these events must be financed by the individuals rather than from the club treasury.

Operating and capital expenses are financed by a variety of methods. Many collegiate clubs operate on dues alone. At big schools, this is a feasible system. However, for the smaller schools, campus projects (serving meals, holding a dance each year, working during registration, cleaning the stadium after a game) are sometimes a necessity. School or alumni grants are a prime goal of the MCSA and its members for fleet and boathouse acquisition. Operating expenses and fleet replacement can come from school funds.

Choice of boat types is left up to the individual club. The selection of boats is dependent on the type of sailing waters and the financial position of the club. Some schools have selected sloop-rigged boats while others have chosen cat-rigged boats. The MCSA does not recommend one over the other type.

Some things to consider when selecting a boat are: construction, how much maintenance will be required within the first year, initial investment, whether a larger number of less expensive boats can be purchased; and the use to which the boat will be put–most schools will use their boats for training and racing, therefore a boat which can be used for both should be selected.

Rigid safety precautions and programs are required of all members. It is up to each organization to define their training and safety programs.

An interest sustaining program during the early stages of the club organization will be necessary. It may take over a year to acquire the finances and the equipment to establish the sailing program. During this interval, substitute activity will have to be planned to keep the interest and the support of the general membership alive. It is well to minimize the business detail in general meetings in favor of social, recreational and instructional activities. Speakers, movies, and slides have been used by most clubs during this time. Shore-school classes for the beginners and advanced courses in racing and seamanship appeal to most groups. Informal outings, parties and dances help to bind the group, too. It is during this formative stage that most clubs experience the most group enthusiasm. Thus, it is suggested that this opportunity be exploited fully to get everyone busy at a worthwhile task. Once the sailing facilities are available, it is difficult to spare time for setting up administrative detail and systems, which makes it necessary to emphasize this activity during the boatless stage. Such things as a complete outline for the shore-school curriculum, standardized tests, information leaflets, alumni solicitation and administrative procedures and systems should be devised and initiated during this period. A busy group is high-spirited and loyal and will more patiently await the arrival of the boats.

Traveling subsistence for sailing teams is rightfully the responsibility of the college as it is with athletic, debate and choral groups. Yet, in most instances, member schools have experienced difficulty in procuring assistance from the school. Until this aid is a general policy among the member schools, it will be necessary for the clubs to use their own ingenuity in sending their teams to intercollegiate meets. At present, most teams pool their expense money and travel by automobile. Except in very rare instances, the host clubs supply housing accommodations which leaves only food and transportation expenses to be paid by the team. Until such time as the college administrations are persuaded to grant aid, true competition will be tempered by the undesirable element of financial inability on the part of some clubs and teams that have the sailing talents. It is, therefore, of the essence that all clubs persistently attempt to get the cooperation of their respective administrations.


The MCSA functions primarily as a clearing house and coordinating agency for all the recognized collegiate sailing organizations in the Midwest Conference (as defined by the Inter-Sailing Racing Association of North America) of North America. Basically, its services include: scheduling and managing intercollegiate sailing events; collecting, publishing and distributing administrational information; providing publicity channels for national and regional publicity; serving as a bureau of standards in conjunction with the North American association, and most important of all, promoting the acceptance and aid of alumni and college administrations for its members. The MCSA joins each individual club to the international organization, the ICSA of NA, which not only provides international competition each year at the six North American championships (Co-ed Dinghy, Team Racing, Women’s Dinghy, Sloop, Co-ed Singlehanded and Women’s Singlehanded), but also arranges for frequent British-American and Japanese-American competition by collegiates as well as participation in the Pan American Games and the Olympic Games.

Undergraduates, alumni and college officials jointly manage the affairs of the MCSA according to the wishes of the representatives of the member clubs. Basically, the governing body is the Executive Board, with six undergraduate officers and four graduate members. Two advisory committees are the Board of Advisors, which is composed of each club’s faculty advisor and the MCSA Conference Commissioner, and the Board of Governors, who are appointed by the MCSA because of the service or potential service and interest in the MCSA.

Operational details of administration are handled by the Executive Board, which is comprised of the following undergraduate officers: Commodore. Vice Commodore, Race Chairman, Publicity Secretary, Equipment Information Coordinator, Special Interests Representative, and four graduates who provide continuity as Conference Commissioner, Treasurer, and Intersectional Regatta Coordinator. The officers are elected by the member clubs at the MCSA’s Midwinter Annual Meeting.

Overall coordination is managed by the office of the Conference Commissioner. Liaison and correspondence with MCSA clubs and officers and records are handled by this officer. The Treasurer handles all the financial transactions of the MCSA. The Intersectional Regatta Coordinator schedules all MCSA teams for all out-of-district events, among other duties. The Conference Commissioner publishes The Black Book, the MCSA handbook. The Current Information Bulletin (schedule), and The Tell Tale, the MCSA newsletter, seven times a year, among other duties. These graduate positions are filled strictly through volunteers who are willing to devote much of their limited leisure time freely to the MCSA organization and to collegiate sailing in general.

The MCSA’s primary affiliation is membership in the Inter-Collegiate Yacht Racing Association of North America. The MCSA is also a member of the United States Sailing Association (US Sailing), the national governing body for the sport of sailing.

Chief activities of the MCSA include the sailing events and the annual business meetings. During the fall and spring seasons, the MCSA sponsors a full schedule of intercollegiate regattas throughout the Midwest. Through two-day series of short-course races by two-person teams, member clubs have the opportunity to pit their skills against the best regional and National collegiate sailing talent regularly. These events range from in-district two-school regattas through continental championships with the ICYRA/NA member associations serving as hosts on a rotating basis. Business meetings of the MCSA include its Midwinter Annual Meeting with representatives of all member clubs in attendance. The Executive Board meets seven times a year.

Meeting with representatives of all member clubs in attendance. The Executive Board meets five times a year.

Requirements for membership in the MCSA are based upon standards set up by the member clubs and all applications are subject to approval and ratification of a majority of the Executive Board. Basically the requirements are:

Represent a recognized university or college.

Official recognition by the authorities or the school administration.

Acquisition of a faculty adviser.

Give evidence of being a permanent and well-organized activity group.

Availability of a suitable body of water and permission to use a site on that body of water.

Ability and willingness to pay dues, fees and other financial obligations to the MCSA.

Ability and willingness to attend and participate in meetings and sailing events.

An approved policy of safety measures for sailing and racing.

High standards of sportsmanship and responsibility.

Benefits of membership in the MCSA are highly commensurate with the requirements and responsibilities. Main attributes of membership are:

Opportunity to compete on a regional, national and international basis with collegiate sailing groups in an organized program, on a fair and equal basis.

Opportunity for education in the sport of sailing.

Fellowship with collegiate sailors on both a regional and international level.

Access to regional and international publicity.

A free initial supply of all MCSA and ICYRA publications.

Subscriptions to The Tell Tale, the MCSA’s newsletter.

Discount privileges on fleet and equipment purchases.

Availability of a low-interest boat loan fund.

Accessing the informal path used for identifying, developing, and training potential representatives for US Sailing events, Olympic, Pan American, and other international competition.

Associate, Provisional, and Regular Intercollegiate Memberships are available in the MCSA. The first, Associate, is for clubs in their formative period. The second, Membership in Provisional Status, is designed to provide an interim or trial membership period during which the member club demonstrates its ability to assume the obligations and responsibilities of Regular Membership. The third, Regular, entitles the member club full privileges, rights and obligations embodied in the By-Laws of the Midwest Collegiate Sailing Association.

We, the members of the MCSA, look forward to the day when you are eligible to affiliate with us. A sample form for your letter of application is attached.


To assist colleges in preparing an application for Associate Membership or for advancement in membership level, it is recommended that applicants use the following form.
(Name of Club)
(Street Address)
(City, State, Zip Code)
(Telephone Number)

Conference Commissioner
Midwest Collegiate Sailing Association
(City, State, Zip)

Dear Sir:

As Secretary (Commodore, Faculty Advisor, or Athletic Director) I am duly authorized to make formal application for (state classification) Membership in the Midwest Collegiate Sailing Association, Inc. on behalf of the (full name) Sailing Club (Team, Athletic Association) of (name) College (or University) of (City and State).

(Provide brief history concerning the applicant organization. Include date of formation, number of members, type of recognition accorded sailing by college authorities, boats and sailing facilities or plans for such, club activities, financial support and alumni backing. )

(Applications for advancement to higher classifications should stress the progress of the organization since first becoming affiliated with the MCSA) .

We have included a map to our campus from out-of-town, as well as a map from our campus to our sailing site.

The (title) Club (Team) and its officers will be glad to assist the Midwest Collegiate Sailing Association by furnishing further information on our organization at any time and thank your Association and its Executive Board for your consideration of this application.

Respectfully submitted,


John Doe