Jersey-bred US Sailing president endeavors to keep yacht clubs thriving
By Charles Zusman
February 24, 2010, 7:03PM
For many of us boaters, largely sailors but not only, the traditional yacht club gives us a little patch of water we think of as our own.
“It’s a home away from home,” said Gary Jobson. “We’ve got to protect our yacht clubs,” and if we don’t, the sport of sailing will be in danger.
Jobson, perhaps the country’s best-known sailor, is the president of US Sailing, the national governing body for the sport; a veteran of an America’s Cup victory, and a noted sailing journalist and ESPN commentator.
But he’s also a Jersey guy, quick to praise Barnegat Bay, where he began sailing as a youngster at the Beachwood Yacht Club, and where he worked as an instructor at the Toms River YC. He now lives in Annapolis, Md., but keeps his membership at both New Jersey clubs.
Jobson was speaking recently at the Manasquan River Yacht Club to a gathering of representatives of clubs from around the region. His message was one of concern about the aging and declining participation in sailing but still upbeat on the future of the sport.
Pricey development eating away at shoreline, the economy, environmental issues, insurance needs and litigation issues all conspire against waterfront access for the boater. A robust network of yacht clubs serves as a bulwark against these threats, he said.
“These clubs are so precious ... we need to make sure they are viable at all times,” Jobson said.
The term “yacht club” may sound pretentious and scare newcomers away. But a “yacht,” which can be loosely defined as a recreational craft, may be a very modest vessel.
Certainly some clubs are fancier than others, but many are run with hands-on volunteer work by the down-to-earth membership. Often, yacht clubs are family-oriented, with grandparents, parents taking part.
Jobson ticked off a list of points to help yacht clubs thrive:
• Have a long-range plan for growth, drawing from what’s worked in the past. Update a mission statement periodically.
• Communicate effectively with the membership and prospective members, whether via website or printed material -- probably both. Host a charity event, because “goodwill counts.”
• Do what you can to bring people to the club. Make sure the club decor is attractive for when people do come. Refurbish buildings as resources permit.
• Consider a fleet of club-owned boats, so members do not need to own their own. It will bring “super benefits,” Jobson said.
• Above all, “go out and recruit, get young people,” he said. “Sailing is a beautiful way to connect the generations.”
Many clubs are members of regional yacht racing associations. Our area includes the Barnegat Bay YRA (bbyra.org) and the North Jersey YRA (njyra.org), the latter covering Long Beach Island and north of Barnegat Bay, including lakes.
The New Jersey Marine Trades Association has announced two scholarships for New Jersey residents interested in careers in the marine trades.
The first is through the MTA/NJ Foundation and is for $3,000 at any marine trades program at any school. The second is for a full scholarship for the marine trades program at the Automotive Training Center in Warminster, Pa.
For further information and applications go to mtanj.org and see “scholarships” on the left side, or call (732) 292-1051. Applications are due by April 1.
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