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Midwest Collegiate Sailing Association, Inc.

by Elizabeth A. Braddon, Ohio Wesleyan ’70 revised by Gail M. Turluck, Wisconsin ’77


This publication has been prepared to provide the officers of the MCSA and its Member Clubs with basic principles and guidelines which have proven successful in the operation of collegiate sailing programs.

It is intended that this publication will serve as a reference for the experienced office holder.


DECISION MAKING: This is the most important task of each officer. Each decision will determine the direction of your club. In order to give your club the best direction possible, the following process should be followed:

  1. Clearly define the goal or objective to be met by the decision.
  2. Seek out all possible ways of reaching the desired goal.
  3. Determine impartially, which of the possible solutions will best achieve the goal. Do not forget to consider how quickly you must make your choice in order to achieve your goal.
  4. Evaluate the results of your decision to determine if the solution selected was the best possible.

PEOPLE-PEOPLE RELATIONS: The success of any organization can be measured by how well its officers get along with each other. Several things should be kept in mind to help your group of Officers get along well. Officers should try to remember what the assigned duties and responsibilities are, so they don’t infringe on those assigned to someone else. When planning a project which will involve other officers, consider the time which you are asking of them. Don’t ask them to handle something which is beyond their ability. Don’t commit another officer to anything without consulting him first. Remember to say “please” when asking people to help you, and when they have done something for you say “thank you”–and mean it.

Always give credit to those who help you carry out your duties. Above all keep up your commitments to the organization and the group you are working with. If you do find yourself in disagreement with someone–try to see his point of view. It usually helps to solve the problem.

HOW TO GET THINGS DONE: Once a goal is discussed and the decision made, the task must be executed. If the task is a large one, it is important that it be divided into several parts. No one person should be overloaded if the task is to be completed successfully. Use the aids listed at the end of this publication to guide you in completing the task. Get ideas from those you are working with on how the task should be divided and completed-use these ideas whenever possible. There is nothing like involvement to build interest. Get the individuals involved to agree to meet a deadline for their part of the project. Meet with the members of this group periodically to determine their progress. If it appears that the work is not going as planned. Sit down with those involved and discuss what adjustments can be made to correct the problem. Remember to use a great deal of tact at all times.

TIME MANAGEMENT: Nothing will get done unless you allot time for it. You will need to consider the time which you must commit to your studies and other campus activities. Set up a schedule and stick to it. Don’t plan every second, or every minute, because almost always something will happen which will alter your original plan. Put your plan on paper and keep it up to date. Try to set up blocks of time for various activities. When assigning these blocks of time it is a good idea to assign twice as much time as you estimate they will take. This will cover any travel time and unforeseen contingencies. With this method you avoid taking on too much, and you are usually ahead of yourself rather than behind all of the time. Don’t plan to do things at the last minute something usually comes up. If you will follow these suggestions you will find that your officer’s job and your organization are a lot more fun.

INTEREST POTENTIAL: It is easy to get bogged down in your work and to end up wanting to give up the whole thing. Remind yourself that you volunteered for your job and you must keep it up. Occasionally look critically at your progress toward your “big picture.” Time management cannot be emphasized enough. In fact, all of the former points are crucial in maintaining your own interest. Keep in mind that your members’ interest will tend to follow the pattern of your own. Don’t let the members who elected you down!


MEMBERSHIP INVOLVEMENT: Obviously, you can’t have a club without members and the only way members will stay interested is if they are involved in most of the organization’s functions. Discuss as much as possible with the whole organization. Encourage general membership initiative rather than having everything come from the Executive Board. Develop projects in which the membership can be involved. Call for volunteers often and appoint individuals to get specific tasks done. Nothing builds an organization like work on a common project in which each member can take pride in and feel that he or she helped plan it.

DEVELOPMENT AND MAINTENANCE OF RELATIONSHIPS: Keep your organization together. Beware of factions or cliques–they could destroy an organization. But more than keeping your organization together, consider the outside forces that are even remotely connected with your organization’s operation: school administration, other sailing organizations, alumni, the MCSA and others.

Communication between your organization and other groups and individuals must be maintained. Do not hesitate to consult them when they are involved, or could be involved. Consider them in the decision you make. The functioning of your organization could be helped or hindered by the relationships you maintain. Keep them beneficial.

SHORT TERM DEVELOPMENT: Short-term development includes those things which will have an influence on your organization within the next few days, weeks, months or year. Among these are building your membership, teaching sailing, keeping members interested, maintaining, a solvent treasury, maintaining good relations with those groups with which your organization has dealings, acquiring boats, boat maintenance, and transportation to the sailing site. These are the things which will require most of your attention–work on them and don’t let your organization become stagnant.

LONG TERM DEVELOPMENT: Every immediate activity of your organization should aim at certain long range goals such as increasing the membership, improving the activities, improving the organization’s status, and the quality of the sailing program, both pleasure and racing. An organization without direction can’t go anywhere. Layout a 5-year and a 10-year plan. These plans should be updated quarterly. An organization without movement will lose its members and an organization without members can’t exist. When considering the development of your own club, remember to consider its development as a part of the total development of the MCSA. The MCSA needs the support of all of its members to be effective.

MAINTAIN EQUIPMENT: Repair damaged equipment as soon as possible. Your boathouse should be kept well supplied with the tools and parts necessary for any kind of repair. By keeping a piece of paper on a bulletin board, breakdowns can be reported. This list should be checked at least once a week, and the indicated problems corrected. It is important to arrange for a good shelter for your boats in the winter. The shelter should be convenient for work parties. These should be held as often as possible during the winter.

A plan for replacing the existing fleet should be made. A boat fund is the most common method of making sure that the fleet can be replaced before it falls apart. In this effort a certain amount should be allotted for repairs and the rest saved for new boats. If your organization plans on getting money from your school, leave plenty of time for all the red tape–you’ll need it


LEADERSHIP: Good leadership is the key to a successful organization. The leadership involves administration; organization and direction of the activities of the group. It also includes impartial enforcement of the organization’s regulations and seeing that the decisions of the Executive Board are carried out by maintenance of a continual check on the progress of all officers and committees. Administration means passing out jobs and seeing that they are done–not becoming a workhorse. There are some jobs that cannot be delegated. Failure should be expected once in a while. Plan to have enough time to apply your backup plan for these failures. A master list of the names, addresses, phone numbers, and duties of all officers should be made available to everyone. The master plan, including long-term goals, should be made available to everyone, too.

Assignments should be made according to this plan and a master schedule of assignments worked out. Deadlines should be set. Good leadership is necessary in running a good meeting. The agenda should be planned ahead of time and a pattern of operation set using as much Parliamentary Procedure as possible. It is good leadership that will draw initiative, help and enthusiasm from the general membership. It involves openness and flexibility which are often forgotten. Every officer and every member should be heard and their opinions given serious consideration. Take the time to listen and respond.

Besides leadership of the general organization there must be definite leadership in the racing activities of the organization. One person (often called the Team Captain) should be in charge of all arrangements and be responsible for carrying them out.

COMMUNICATION: Everything that goes on in your organization should be made known to anyone or any other group that might be affected. There should be strong communication channels between your organization, your school, the MCSA and its officers. In many cases your Faculty Advisor is your best liaison with your school administration. The advisor should be kept informed at all times. A schedule of the advisor’s office hours and his phone numbers, both school and home, should be available to all of the club’s officers. If your sailing team is part of the Athletic Department, schedules and results should be reported. The names, addresses, and phone numbers of all officers should be distributed to your Faculty Advisor, school administration, school newspaper, and the MCSA. In addition to providing this information your organization should attempt to obtain advice from the MCSA officers and exchange ideas with them as well as the other Member Schools of the MCSA.

MEMBERSHIP: Your membership is your greatest concern. Consistent effort should be made to steadily increase its numbers. However, numbers mean nothing unless you involve and serve your total group. The interests and skills of each member must constantly be considered. You are in your office as a representative of each member and that responsibility must be a factor in everything you do. The character of your membership is constantly changing and your aims must be just as flexible. Taking informal opinion and information polls periodically can help you find out where problems lay and what the membership feels should be done about them. Membership drives should be held in both the fall and the spring. Try to utilize your total membership in these drives.

MONEY: Each organization is unique in the expenses it incurs. MCSA dues, regatta expenses, fees, social activities, office expenses, new equipment, boat maintenance, insurance, etc., should all be considered in your budget. The dues you charge your members as well as any other fees should be reconsidered periodically. Don’t run a deficit–it is awfully hard to pull your club out later. All major expenses should be discussed with the whole membership before you incur them. Be sure to keep accurate records of all financial matters including copies of old bills.

PUBLICITY: Good publicity is vital in building up interest in your organization. School and local papers should be notified: when new officers are elected; of the accomplishments of members; of any outstanding activities, including guest speakers; and any new innovations; etc. The arrival of new boats, or an increase in membership should always be reported. In addition to supplying the local media with information, regular articles and photographs of a newsworthy nature should be sent to the MCSA’s Publicity Secretary. This publicity should be as factual and accurate as possible. Specifics are necessary and the reporting should be polished and interesting reading. As far as campus publicity is concerned, signs announcing meetings and activities should be placed in all prominent places. Other notices should be placed in any publication possible. One idea for membership drives is to put a boat in a central place on campus with members there at all times to answer questions.

If your organization has special jackets or sweatshirts, encourage your members to wear them often. Urge all of your members to talk up the organization in their dorms, houses, and classes. Publicity is the force that will keep your organization going–take it seriously!

INSTRUCTION: The majority of your members will have joined to learn how to sail. You will find all levels of experience from novices to championship sailors within your membership. Be prepared to deal with each one’s needs. Work out a definite plan of shore instruction. If possible, this should be available ever week, all year-long. Often two or three different groups are most effective; one dealing with the very basics, another with more advanced techniques, and finally a tactics seminar for those who are involved in racing. Your purpose is to promote sailing and to increase the knowledge of those participating. Keep that in mind!

As much on-the-water instruction should be planned as is possible. At a minimum, you must offer an opportunity for your members to get on the water once a week. This is, of course, the most valuable kind of training for both the novice and the racing skipper. Assign specific people to take others out for instruction. Insist that they make a point of using correct nomenclature, and explain everything they do in detail. For the more advanced, plan informal races often to get them used to the close quarters of sailboat racing. This also provides an excellent opportunity to let the novices practice crewing. Finally, on-the-water tactics sessions should be scheduled for the racing skippers, who will always need to polish up their skills. All of these programs must be organized–scattered, non-directed sessions do more harm than good.

PLEASURE SAILING: Your racing team is only a small portion of your total membership. Therefore, your major concern should be to get your total group sailing. This can only be done through a strong program of pleasure sailing.

Never leave anyone on the dock. Have at least one day a week set aside for anyone interested in just pleasure sailing. If your sailing site is quite a distance from campus, arrange rides and let everyone know where these rides will leave from and when. Encourage your qualified sailors who don’t have a chance to race often to participate in the pleasure sailing program—remember many are content just to be in a boat. Sailing is a pleasure and this is what will keep your membership with you.

RACING: Racing, while a small part of your organization, is a vital part.

Your racing team is, in reality, a separate entity. With this in mind, as many regattas as possible should be scheduled for the racing team. Once scheduled, it is the organization’s responsibility to make sure that its team makes the regatta. It is good practice to set aside one regatta a season for the new members of this group. This should only be an extension of the regular practice which will have to be scheduled if the team is to do well. There should also be a constant discussion of racing problems and tactics.

The responsibility for the team should rest in the hands of one person who should set up the elimination series, file necessary paper work, check to see that all members of the team have completed their on-line registration, make travel arrangements, and see that travel expenses are taken care of. This person should also be in charge of the planning for all home regattas, as outlined in the MCSA publication “Hosting a Collegiate Regatta. ”


GENERAL MEMBERSHIP: Your general membership is the most valuable and available source to solve problems. Their opinions are important and should be considered before decisions are made. They are also your work force. Many of them will be anxious to give their time to the organization. Call for their opinions and help frequently.

FACULTY ADVISOR: If your Faculty Advisor is active and understands how your organization operates, he or she can be a valuable aid in solving problems, or in helping you follow the right channels to accomplish your goals. The advisor should be a liaison with the school–not just the one who approves the registrations..

MCSA PUBLICATIONS: The MCSA has many useful publications for the use of its Member Schools. A full set of these publications is known as The Black Book. Each Member School should have a printed copy of The Black Book as required in the MCSA’s Policy Handbook. The publications can be down loaded from the MCSA Website www/

  1. Current Information Bulletin — This publication contains: Racing (the year’s schedule), Member Schools (information about and their officers), Officers (information about and their officers).
  2. MCSA Procedural Handbook — This publication gives the formal statements of current MCSA operating policy. It is made up of four parts: MCSA By-Laws, A Guide to the Beginning Sailing Club, A Guide to Hosting a Collegiate Regatta, A Guide for Officers, and MCSA policy Handbook. Any changes from the printed contents of the MCSA Policy Handbook are published in The Tell Tale, the official.newsletter of the MCSA.
  3. ICSA Policy Handbook — This publication contains the information needed by those involved in intercollegiate sailing competition including; Administrative Policies, ICSA/NA By-Laws, ICSA Championship Conditions, ICSA Elibility Case Book & Guide, ICSA Procedural and Class Rules, ICSA Team Race and Observer Guide, ICSA Safety Pamphlet, ICSA Schedules.

All of these materials can help the functioning of your organization. Please use them frequently.

MCSA OFFICERS: These officers can be of help because of their experience in the operation of an organization. If your club is experiencing a difficulty, contact these officers to get help:

The Commodore can be contacted concerning any problem which might come up. This officer should be contacted if you have trouble reaching other MCSA officers. Any suggestions which your organization might have for the betterment of the MCSA should be directed to the Commodore.

The Vice Commodore is assigned as a liaison person between the Member Schools and the MCSA. This officer’s job includes troubleshooting for those clubs which seek assistance with internal problems. This officer is the contact person for clubs seeking new membership or advancement in the MCSA.

The Race Chairman should be contacted concerning regatta scheduling, boat trailing, boat damage claims during regattas, and other things relating to racing.

The Publicity Secretary should be contacted for ideas on how to publicize your event or organization, and other matters related to publicity.

The Special Interests Representative should be contacted for information on non-traditional format events: singlehanded, women’s. sailboard, catamaran. keelboat, and the like.

The Equipment Information Coordinator should be contacted for information on buying, selling, or repairing boats. This officer often has good leads for suppliers at good discounts, and often will be in the process of arranging group purchasing deals.

The Conference Commissioner runs “the office” of the MCSA. This officer should be contacted about the interpretation of MCSA policy. You can get any supplies which your organization might need. The Graduate Secretary sends out regatta report packets. This officer keeps all eligibility records. The Conference Commissioner handles most contacts with the ICSA/NA.

The Treasurer handles the financial affairs of the Association. This officer issues MCSA Bills three times a year and payments should be sent to the MCSA in care of this officer. This officer handles the Afterguard Fund, and any fundraising efforts for the MCSA.

The Intersectional Regatta Coordinator should be contacted about all matters involving intersectional events–either in-district or out-of-district.

All communication should be directed to the officer involved. Their addresses are readily available on the MCSA Website. These officers are there to provide a unified and working organization for collegiate sailing in the Midwest.

SCHOOL ADMINISTRATION: The degree of connection with school administrations varies. Those organizations that are supported financially by the school are often strongly controlled. This control is not necessarily negative. The money that is provided helps to keep dues low and equipment in order. School support brings more publicity. School administrations can only be assets when communication is good. Know and use the proper channels and school policy–it will expedite things.

ALUMNI: The MCSA is proud of its thousands of alumni. Your team’s alumni can be a source of invaluable assistance. Your alumni can help in many ways. Alumni are effective in convincing prospective members to look into your school. Often, if asked with enough notice, alumni will help run your regatta. Many of your club’s problems stem from situations which occurred before you got involved and the best way to handle these is to know the whole history. Ask your alumni about them. Alumni can give financial support and aid in publicizing the achievements of your organization.

Keep an accurate record of the addresses and phone numbers of past members, especially past officers. Keep them informed of your organization’s activities. The closer contact you maintain with alumni, the more helpful they will be.

OTHER ORGANIZATIONS: Almost all collegiate sailing clubs experience the same problems at some time. It is often helpful to contact other clubs to see how they functioned in the same situation. On the MCSA Website you will find the addresses and phone number of all Member School Commodores. Try to combine forces with those organizations near you to increase facilities and perhaps share travel expenses.