One word: Volunteers. At any time, there are at least 25 people who hold official positions in the club. That’s a lot of volunteer help.
Here’s a quick, basic version of what they do and a sketch of the official structure of the club.
Board of Directors
The board is made up of 11 people, 9 of them elected by members of the club and two (secretary and treasurer) elected by the board. They meet monthly and confer frequently. The election is in the spring and the board takes office in May.
The structure and the schedule is tightly controlled by the Articles of Incorporation and the Bylaws.
- Commodore. Basic charge is to keep the club on the tracks: to make sure everything is running as it should and when it should.
- Vice Commodore. Communications, which today means the website, and prepares to become Commodore the following year
- Rear Commodore. Puts the monthly meetings together
- Fleet Captain. See fleet captains below.
- Cruising Captain. Takes charge of our three-to-four events that are more social than racing.
- Membership Directors. Two, elected for two years each in alternating years. Oversee membership, including renewals, roster, and new member recruiting.
- Senior and Junior Staff Commodores. Former Commodores who remain on the board to help continuity and institutional memory. The Junior Staff Commodore (immediate past commodore) has also been responsible for the Birthday Regatta, but Emory Heisler is working to create a management/committee structure to replace this role and will be in charge of the 2014 regatta.
- Secretary. Keeps the minutes.
- Treasurer. Pays the bills and maintains the books.
The Year and the Money
AYC operates on a schedule designed for our weather: the official year starts in May, with the fiscal year beginning July 1. You may join the club at any time during the year, but you pay annual dues each year by the end of July.
Because we collect dues in the summer, the AYC bank account is most full as summer ends. We collect money for our various events throughout the year, but we also pay for things, and by the end of the fiscal year, the bank account is at low tide. At the end of the 2011-2012 fiscal year, we’d lost about $2,700 on the year, reducing our reserve, which was just under $28,000. As the economy rebounds, we expect participation to rebound too, which should mean our reserve should grow.
The instructions to event organizers are these: put on a good event and try to break even. Most of the time they succeed.
Tempe Town Lake racing generally makes a little money because the races are inexpensive to stage and because we’re able to share the cost of committee boats with the Arizona Sailing Foundation (ASF).
Lake Pleasant racing loses a lot of money because it’s expensive to maintain and store the boats and the entry fees don’t begin to cover the cost. This is our biggest expense, but because it’s also our most important activity, we chalk it up to the price of doing business.
The Birthday Regatta has traditionally made money for the club, but in recent years did not. In 2013 there was a small profit because of a new format that reduced overhead. (In addition, over its life the regatta produced about $500,000 in contributions for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, but the Birthday Regatta is no longer part of the Leukemia Cup.)
Some other events produce a small net loss, but we believe that they’re good for the health of the club and think that this is a good use of dues money. For instance, the end-of-year party lost about $1,000, but we knew that going in and wanted to keep dinner costs as low as possible to encourage people to attend.
Other costs include the necessary infrastructure, such as the website, online registration, and insurance.
If you have questions about your club’s finances, please ask. There are no secrets.
Each club racing fleet chooses a Fleet Captain and the Fleet Captains hold a significant role in the operation of the club. The fleet captains have full authority over the conduct of the races and even decide the calendar (though the board usually has a lot of influence over the calendar, too). To be considered an “active fleet” and get a seat at the table, the fleet must have had at least five entries in the most recent fall and spring race series. As a result, the number and composition of the fleet captains group fluctuates and changes. Right now there are 9 active fleets. The club Fleet Captain (yes, that’s confusing) is one of the 9 elected members of the board and presides over meetings of the Fleet Captains.
Typically, the fleet captains meet 2-3 times a year to approve the racing documents and to consider any other business that comes before them. They’re also part of the process of electing a board, serving as most of the members of the nominating committee.
In addition, there are usually two Lake Captains, one for TTL and one for LP. They work with the club Fleet Captain to maintain the committee boats and to make sure races are conducted properly.
Arizona Sailing Foundation
In 2002, the club decided to formalize our sailing education program and created a subsidiary group called the Arizona Sailing Foundation (ASF). ASF is run independently as a nonprofit 501(c)(3) by a seven-person board of directors. The board is elected by the AYC board each summer, but then sets its own educational programs and handles its own budget.
As you’ll see from the Education section on this website, ASF’s core programs are spring and fall offerings of these basic programs: Start Sailing Right (a learn-to-sail program), Sailing Skills Development (practice), Opti 1&2 (for juniors), and high school. In addition, there is usually an Introduction to Sailboat Racing class in the fall.
The ASF programs have been very successful and by now hundreds of people have taken part, many of whom have gone on to become AYC members. Initially, ASF needed to acquire boats and so needed contributions to operate. Now that it has the boats it needs, the program is self-sustaining through tuition and has a healthy bank account to protect against a time when it might need to make more capital investment.
ASF is entirely run by volunteers, including all of the US Sailing-certified instructors. At one time, ASF had about three dozen volunteer instructors, but that number has diminished and over the last few years ASF has not had enough recruits to put together a certification class to replenish the instructor pool. (If you’re interested in teaching, contact George Tingom to learn about the next US Sailing Instructor class.)