How Tempe Town Lake Works: ASF, AYC and TTL Cooperation

We love that small lake in the middle of the Phoenix metro. Sure, the winds are shifty, it’s on the landing path for the airport, it parallels the busy 202 freeway, but it’s incredibly convenient and great fun for small boats (and a huge billboard for the joys of sailing). You’ve probably also heard that it’s one of Arizona’s top tourist attractions—the city website reports 2.7 million visitors a year and dozens of special events.

C14 sailing on Tempe Town Lake. Photo: Mike Ferring

Because we have to share with so many people and events, the Arizona Yacht Club (AYC) and our subsidiary Arizona Sailing Foundation (ASF) have developed a close but fragile relationship with the city and with the other people who use the lake. We have to treat it with great care and respect.

ASF takes the lead, since the City of Tempe allows not-for-profit organizations to operate educational programs for a low fee per student. ASF is a 501(c)3 nonprofit that teaches sailing and owns a fleet of sailboats and two power safety boats, all housed at the lake.

In return, the city requires us to get approval for any programs and requires us to coordinate with the City of Tempe Boating Coordinator on dates and times we’ll be on the water. The city will usually grant approval if our programs don’t conflict with other activities, principally the city rowing programs and big special events.

The ASF programs include the Start Sailing Right classes, Junior programs, and high school classes.

AYC also has educational programs at the lake and you’ll recognize them as the Sunday afternoon racing and race committee training sessions. This is a relationship we’ve developed with the city over time and it’s worked well for AYC.

During these sessions, AYC members who are signed up for the series can adopt ASF boats and use them to develop sailing and racing skills, something that’s become a great AYC member benefit.

The city has been very supportive of ASF and AYC, and over the years our organizations have developed a good working relationship. To maintain this positive relationship, it’s essential that we play nice—that we’re polite, that we follow the rules, and that we get along with other lake users.

Written September 2012 by then-ASF President John Mayall and then-AYC Commodore Mike Ferring

Here are the city’s Tempe Town Lake rules