October 2007



On Oct. 30, 1897, founding members from the Inter-Lake Yachting Association, the New York Racing Association, the Pacific Inter-Club Yacht Association, the Yacht Racing Association of Long Island Sound, the Yacht Racing Association in Massachusetts, and the Royal St. Lawrence Yacht Club organized the North American Yacht Racing Union (NAYRU).

This was the ancestor of the US SAILING we know today. Encouraging and promoting yacht racing and unifying the racing and rating rules in the United States and Canada was its original purpose.

 In 1898, NAYRU asked Aemilius Jarvis of Toronto and Joseph M. MacDonough of San Francisco to confer with the Yacht Racing Association of the U.K. "upon the measurement rule question and other subjects of interest to yachtsmen." When their efforts were not successful, NAYRU apparently became dormant until Clifford D. Mallory revived it in 1925.

According to the original constitution, NAYRU's authority stemmed from consent of its members and member associations over which it exercised jurisdiction in an advisory capacity. Today, its authority comes instead from an act of Congress (the Ted Stevens Olympic and Amateur Sports Act of 1978) and a much broader charter to serve America's sailors directly.

Rules Changed, Simplified
To consider International Rule (measurement) changes with the International Yacht Racing Union (IYRU), now known as the International Sailing Federation — ISAF), President Mallory and Clinton H. Crane attended an IYRU conference in 1927.

 Two years later NAYRU sent delegates to another IYRU conference, at which a uniform code of right-of-way rules for racing was adopted. Those racing rules prevailed until 1948, when NAYRU adopted a new code conceived by Harold S. Vanderbilt.

Long associations among NAYRU, IYRU, and the Offshore Racing Council have resulted in such accomplishments as initiating unified racing rules in 1960 and simplified racing rules for 1997, creating offshore rating rules such as the IOR and IMS, and developing strong one-design class organizations.
In 1931, NAYRU inaugurated the Junior Sailing Championship for the Sears Cup, and today, US SAILING administers 17 national championships for juniors, adult men and women, and sailors with disabilities, in various forms of fleet racing, match racing, and team racing.

Originally part of NAYRU, Canada formed its own Canadian Yachting Association (CYA) in 1931. By 1974, it had become apparent that American sailors too were in need of their own national sports federation. That need was also dramatically highlighted by the reorganization of the U.S. Olympic Committee at the end of that year.

United States Yacht Racing Union (USYRU)
After conferring with officials of the CYA, NAYRU unanimously resolved at its January 1975 annual meeting that it would change its name to the United States Yacht Racing Union, and would restructure to better fulfill its new role as the national governing body for sailing in the United States.

Although the USYRU was already an "umbrella" organization dealing with governance throughout the sport, with the appointment came the support of the United States Olympic Committee (USOC).

Additionally, the Amateur Sports Act required Olympic sports to govern and provide an infrastructure to support the future of the sport.  The efforts of the USYRU to invigorate and improve the quality of sailing include the following.

Early in the 1980s, USYRU established a network of certified instructors to train young sailors.  In 1988, the training committee developed an introductory handbook; it became the standard for teaching beginning sailing, and other sail training publications followed.

Later, in the early ‘90s a number of commercial sailing schools asked for an instruction program for adults who wanted to learn to sail in keelboats. As a result, the US SAILING Keelboat Certification System was created.

By 1997, the organization's training materials were recognized as a national standard for "learn-to-sail" and "learn-to-race" teaching and student curricula.

Race Administration

In the mid-1970s, USYRU recognized the need to improve the quality, consistency, and fairness of decisions by protest committees that interpreted the racing rules at a local level.  In 1977, USYRU created a program to certify judges.

In the early 1980s the Race Management Committee created the Race Management Handbook to assist local race officers in the procedures for conducting races.  It has since become the definitive treatise in the management of sailboat races in the United States.

Following the model developed for judges, USYRU instituted a national recognition program for experienced race officers in 1982.

In 1987 on-the-water umpiring began, so the judges committee expanded its role to include umpire certification.

At the October 1991 annual meeting, USYRU voted to change its name to the United States Sailing Association, Inc. and to do business as US SAILING. The new name more adequately described the broader activity of the organization and clarified the administration's intention to fulfill every aspect of the responsibilities of a national governing body under the auspices of the Amateur Sports Act.

In recent years, US SAILING has created and maintained the definitive national standards for sailing instruction and continues to develop highly successful training programs for young and adult sailors.

The organization has embraced and supported the rapidly expanding public access programs known as “Community Sailing,”continues to create high-quality instructional and reference materials for race officials, and field successful Olympic and Pan American Games teams.