How AYC Works

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 are tightly controlled by the Articles of Incorporation and the Bylaws.


  1. Commodore. Basic charge is to keep the club on the tracks: to make sure everything is running as it should and when it should.
  2. Vice Commodore. Responsible for club communications, which today means the website, membership emails, and social media sites. Keeps track of club trophies. The Vice prepares to become Commodore the following year.
  3. Rear Commodore. Puts the monthly meetings together and oversees Special Social Committees.
  4. Racing Captain. The Racing Captain oversees the conduct of the racing program and the maintenance of equipment with the assistance of lake captains and the captains of the various club fleets (see fleet captains below).
  5. Cruising Captain. Takes charge of our nonracing sailing events.
  6. Membership Directors. Two directors – elected for two years each in alternating years. Oversee membership, including renewals, roster, and new member recruiting.
  7. 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) often becomes the Birthday Regatta Chair and organizer.
  8. Secretary. Keeps the minutes.
  9. 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 and pay prorated dues. Annual dues renewal money is due 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. 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 club’s educational subsidiary, the Arizona Sailing Foundation (ASF).

Entry fees don’t begin to cover the expenses of Lake Pleasant racing because it’s expensive to maintain and store the boats. Since racing is at the heart of AYC activities, the club makes it a top priority to invest to keep the racing program running at a very high level.

The Birthday Regatta and Leukemia Cup regattas traditionally have made money for the club. (In addition, over its life the regatta has produced about $600,000 in contributions for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society.)

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. Chief among these is the annual Commodore’s Celebration, which is the major social event of the year. The club underwrites some of the cost of this event to encourage people to come. 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.

Fleet Captains
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 having 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 group fluctuates and changes. Right now, there are 9 active fleets. The Racing Captain is one of the 9 elected members of the AYC board and presides over meetings of the Fleet Captains (called the Rules Committee).

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 Racing 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 an eight-person board of directors.

As you’ll see from the Education section on this website, ASF’s core programs are spring and fall offerings of these basic programs: Adult Learn to Sail, Youth program, and a racing/performance class 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 almost 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 and most are AYC members, including all the US Sailing-certified instructors. At one time, ASF had about three dozen volunteer instructors, but that number has diminished somewhat. (If you’re interested in teaching, contact the ASF President to learn about the next US Sailing Instructor class.)

—Mike Ferring
Updated September 2023