About the Classic Yacht Owners Association

The membership-driven, nonprofit Classic Yacht Owners Association was established in 2015 to encourage fellowship amongst owners within the classic yacht community. One of the organization’s goals is to help shape the future of the sport by influencing and cultivating long-term regional cooperation amongst those who are dedicated to owning, maintaining, and racing sailing vessels. CYOA also works to promote classic yacht ownership with the objective of attracting new members and creating new funding opportunities to support future classic yacht events.

CYOA Goals

t’s about spending time on the water. Time on the water in a boat that was built the way god intended it to be built – out of stuff he invented.

It’s about being the steward of a piece of history – or a piece of history in the making. Do no harm, and make sure she is passed to the next steward in decent shape, but for god’s sake, use her for the purpose for which she was intended. Go sailing. Or motoring. Or rowing. Or whatever. She’s happier when she’s on the water.

It’s about putting together a crew of friends, partly because they know their way around a boat, but mostly because we enjoy each other’s company. And it’s about spending time with like-minded fanatics, competing with class on the water and telling BS stories at the bar afterward.

We learn from each other. We bark at each other. We collaborate, we disagree, we hug, we share a bottle. We get wet, tired, grouchy and, in the end, exultant, because we have the pleasure and the privilege of doing something that Herreshoff, Burgess, Fife, Mylne and Watson never thought would happen – we’re going to sea in their creations in the 21st century, and we’re loving every minute of it.

“All for one and one for all” really goes without saying, doesn’t it? But let’s use that as a starting point – the organizing principle, if you will, for what we believe could be the best community of like-minded enthusiasts in the world of yachting – or the world of anything, really.

CYOA is a plaque on your boat, a sticker on your car, a tattoo on your ankle – it’s an indelible statement you make about who you are and what you believe in. It’s not an “owner’s association”, it’s a brotherhood. It’s a cult. It’s a movement. And you’re in. All in on classic yachts.

We’re crazy. We need a secret handshake.

While the longer-term goal of CYOA is to be an inclusive community that provides value for owners of all types of classic yachts, the short-term focus has been on increasing participation in and enjoyment of classic yacht regattas in New England.

To that end, in collaboration with our leadership, members and regatta organizers, we’ve developed the following guidelines designed to help improve and bring an increased level of consistency to the overall competitor experience. A PDF version of these guidelines can be viewed and downloaded here.


One of the many attractive features of Classic Yacht Racing is the diversity of the various events. The Organizing Authorities (OAs) can have different philosophies and traditions, but they all share a common interest in fair racing and increasing participation. Sailing under rules and regulations that are consistent and clear is critical to achieving these common goals. Recognizing the need for consistency and clarity, but also the unique characteristics of the various events, the CYOA Technical Committee recommends that OAs consider the following guidelines when drafting race documents that best suit their event:


1.1    The Racing Rules of Sailing (RRS) shall apply except as changed in the Notice of Race or Sailing Instructions.

1.2    All yachts competing in a race scored using CRF ratings must present a valid CRF MkII Certificate.

1.3    Yachts may have only one valid CRF MkII Certificate at a time, and are allowed to make just one configuration change during a calendar year. Corrections or minor updates to declared data need not be considered a configuration change.

1.4    CRF MkII ratings are applicable to monohulls only. CRF MkII ratings are not applicable to yachts with features deemed exotic, including, but not limited to, canting keels, lifting foils, and wing masts.


2.1    Yachts shall be assigned to divisions based on their original design date when they have been equipped and built with methods and materials consistent with that original design, or that are appropriate for their division. Variations from original equipment, materials and methods may be accepted at the discretion of the OA, and may also be addressed via CRF MkII rating formulae and factors.

2.2    Yachts shall be grouped into divisions based on the following guidelines:

  • Vintage: Yachts designed before January 1, 1950 and built, maintained, and restored with materials and methods reasonably consistent with the original design.
  • Classic: Yachts designed on or after January 1, 1950 whose rudders are attached to the trailing edge of the keel with at least one pivot point on the sternpost, and that are rated by CRF MkII with Keel Type 5 or Type 6.
  • Modern Classic: Yachts designed on or after January 1, 1950 and typically before January 1, 1975, whose rudders are separated from the trailing edge of the keel and that are rated by CRF MkII as Keel Type 3 or Type 4.
  • Spirit of Tradition: Yachts typically designed on or after January 1, 1975 whose rudders are separated from the trailing edge of the keel and that are rated by CRF MkII as Keel Type 1,2,3,or 4, and whose design embodies an appreciation of classic yacht or traditional workboat shapes and aesthetics. There are no restrictions on rigging, equipment, or construction materials and methods for Spirit of Tradition (SoT) yachts.

2.3    The resolution of uncertainties or disputes regarding division assignments shall be at the sole discretion of the OA.

2.4    Any yacht that does not fit within any of the above divisions shall not be eligible for Classic Yacht racing under CRF MkII.


3.1    When reasonable and practical, the minimum number of yachts in a class should be four. If the number of registered yachts in any division or class is less than four, the OA shall consider combining that division or class with another division or class as appropriate.

3.2.   In making class assignments the OA shall make every effort to:

  • Group yachts so that they are scored against others of similar division, size, and rating.
  • Group yachts so that they are scored against others of similar rig type, i.e. schooners with schooners, gaffs with gaffs, sloops with sloops, yawls and ketches with yawls and ketches.
  • Score SoT yachts separately from Vintage and Classic yachts when it is reasonable and practical to do so.
  • Score yachts rated with spinnakers separately from yachts rated without spinnakers when it is reasonable and practical to do so.

3.3    All yachts shall declare whether they will race with either their ‘spinnaker’ or their ‘non-spinnaker’ rating well in advance of a regatta, and no yacht shall be permitted to change that declaration during that event.


4.1    The CRF MkII formulae and factors have been developed to suit a course configuration that is approximately 1/3 VMG upwind, 1/3 reaching, and 1/3 VMG downwind, and that is scored with 60% multiplier applied to a ‘Herreshoff’ time allowance calculation. In order to offer fair racing across a range of yacht sizes and types, OA’s shall make every effort to set courses that adhere closely to this intended configuration. This is especially critical if yachts racing with ‘spinnaker’ and ‘non-spinnaker’ ratings are scored together.

4.2    If an OA chooses to set a course that diverges substantially from this strongly-recommended 1/3, 1/3, 1/3 configuration, it can, at its own discretion and sole responsibility, choose to use a different multiplier for the Time Allowance Table in scoring that race. The multiplier would be smaller than the standard 60% for a largely off wind course configuration, or larger for a largely upwind course configuration. The Technical Committee may provide guidance on alternative multipliers if requested by an OA in advance of a regatta.


5.1      Rigging and Equipment details that are deemed to significantly affect performance potential may be addressed through CRF MkII formulae and factors that will affect ratings. These details may include non-original spar and standing rigging materials, as well as structural materials or methods.

5.2      Under these guidelines, a stay is defined as a permanently-secured and taut cable that supports a headsail. A removable stay shall be considered permanent if it is secured and kept in a taut condition for the duration of an event. This definition includes luff-ropes that allow a sail to be rolled on the rope.

5.3      Forestays and headsail tacks, except those of spinnaker staysails when the boat is not close-hauled, shall be attached approximately on a boat’s centerline, in accordance with RRS 54.

5.4      The length of a spinnaker pole when used to pole out a spinnaker must be no longer than the SPL declared on the CRF Certificate. When in use, a spinnaker pole or whisker pole must be attached to the foremost mast in accordance with RRS 50.2.

5.5      Shifting ballast of any kind during a race, other than shifting crew weight, is not permitted. All ballast must be fixed in place against shifting. Other temporary means of augmenting stability are prohibited, including the use of trapezes. All crew must keep their torsos within the perimeter of the yacht except as allowed by RRS 49.

5.6      The use of stored-energy equipment, including powered winches and hydraulics, may be permitted in all Divisions aboard yachts whose declared displacement is greater than 50,000 lbs., at the discretion of the OA. This changes RRS 52, ‘Manual Power’.


6.1      Sail guidelines below are intended to encourage the use of sails that are cost efficient and that are aesthetically appropriate for Classic racing. (Note: These sail guidelines may be changed for the 2020 season based on input to be solicited from sail makers and Classic yacht owners.)

6.2      Yachts in the Vintage and Classic Divisions shall race with sails of paneled construction where the panels are made of woven fabric that utilize fibers limited to polyester (e.g. Dacron), Nylon, Vectran, or Ultra-PE (e.g. Spectra, Dyneema, UHMWPE, etc.).

6.3      Yachts in the Vintage and Classic Divisions shall race with upwind sails (e.g. those that are attached to masts or stays) built of a traditional or classic light-colored fabric. Resolution of uncertainties or disputes regarding upwind sail fabric color shall be at the discretion of the OA.

6.4      Yachts in a Spirit of Tradition and Modern Classic Divisions may race with upwind sails built with any fiber via any sailmaking technique. (Note: OA’s may require traditional or classic-light colored sails in SoT classes at their sole discretion).

7. SETTING AND SHEETING SAILS (Spinnaker and non-spinnaker)

7.1      Setting and Sheeting Sails guidelines below are intended to fit the way Classic boats are traditionally sailed with the Rigging, Equipment and Sails outlined in the above sections.

7.2      In accordance with RRS 50.4, a headsail is defined as a sail whose width, measured between the midpoints of its luff and leech, is less than 75% of the length of its foot. A sail whose width measured between the midpoints of its luff and leech is equal to or greater than 75% is a spinnaker. A sail tacked down behind the foremost mast is not a headsail.

7.3.     All headsails and staysails, except spinnaker staysails, shall be fully attached to stays, except while being set or struck. A sail is defined as “fully attached” to a stay when it is secured to the stay by at least four evenly-spaced hanks or other attachments, or is continuously secured to the stay by a luff-rope in a groove or other continuous attachment.

7.4      Only one headsail may be flown on each stay in the fore-triangle at a time. This requires that when sail changes are made, the sail to be replaced must be dropped to the deck before its replacement is set on the same stay. This changes RRS 50.1.

7.5      In accordance to RRS 50.3 (c), A headsail may be sheeted or attached at its clew to a spinnaker pole or whisker pole, provided that a spinnaker is not set. When a pole is used to wing out a jib, its length can be up to 110% of ‘J’ without affecting CRF MkII rating. (Regulations on spinnaker pole materials may be considered for the 2020 season based on input to be solicited from Classic yacht owners.)

7.6      A yawl or ketch racing under a non-spinnaker rating shall not fly a mizzen spinnaker, but may fly a mizzen staysail. Any yacht that flies a mizzen spinnaker must race under a spinnaker rating. A mizzen staysail is an off wind sail hoisted from the mizzen mast whose mid-girth is less than 75% of its foot length. A mizzen spinnaker is an off wind sail hoisted from the mizzen mast whose mid-girth is equal to or greater than 75% of its foot length.

7.7      On schooners, a fisherman or gollywobbler is permitted.

7.8      A yacht shall not fly any sail whose dimensions exceed those shown on her CRF MkII Certificate, and no headsail may be flown outside the limits defined by the IG (P2), J, and LP% shown on that certificate.

Managing Director:   William Lynn

Executive Committee:
Charles Townsend – Chair
Timothy Rutter – Vice Chair
Matt Brooks – Secretary
Simon Davidson – Treasurer
Joseph Dockery
Harry Rein

Board of Directors:
Steve Benjamin
Donn Costanzo
Bill Druckemiller
Gary Jobson
Thorpe Leeson
Joe Loughborough
Shelia Plaisance
Suma Plowden
Gerald Rainer
Greg Stewart
Jim Taylor
Donald Tofias
Steve White
Paul Zabetakis

Technical Committee:
Simon Davidson – Chair
Adam Langerman
Joe Loughborough
Brad Read
Bob Stephens
Greg Stewart
Jim Taylor
Susan Wayne
Steve White
Chris Wick

Advisory Committee:  The 15 member advisory board is a collection of active owners of classic sailing yachts appointed in year one and elected in subsequent years to speak on behalf of the membership regarding all aspects of sailing, cruising, and racing classic sailing yachts. This board will meet as often as required by the demands of the classic sailing community.

The 8 member industry advisory board is a collection of leading captains, industry specialists, and related professionals dedicated to bringing the insights and information to the member advisory board relevant to insuring that the world outside the owners is being represented relative to their unique roles associated with all aspects of classic sailing. This board will meet quarterly with the member advisory board and then with the collective group of all boards.

The builder/restoration/trades advisory board is a collection of key boat and restoration yards, craftsmen-women, and associated trade school members dedicated to bringing the insights and information to the member advisory board relevant to insuring that the world outside the owners is being represented relative to their unique roles associated with all aspects of classic sailing. This board will meet quarterly with the member advisory board and then with the collective group of all boards.

The 8 member regatta/yacht club/sponsorship advisory board is a collection of representatives from the regattas and yacht clubs directly related to supporting and executing classic sailing regattas along with insuring critical sponsorship development and in-regatta activation along with providing a key bridge with local community relationships necessary to insure the entire series of activities surrounding and supporting the classic sailing events are inclusive, coordinated, and managed as professionally and personally as possible. This board will meet quarterly with the member advisory board and then with the collective group of all boards.

Non-Profit Status: The Classic Yacht Owners Association is an exempt organization as described in Section 501(C) (3) of the Internal Revenue Code. Contributions and membership fees are tax deductible. Employer Identification Number: 81-285925

What are the plans for the CYOA?

The plans for the CYOA are a long term commitment to continue to be a unifying catalyst for the entire classic yacht community. With an eye towards creating growth in the following areas: community participation, awareness, education, consistency, transparency, communication, yards and refit support, crew recruitments, regatta safety, regatta revenue growth (via sponsorship growth) to go to the communities, charities, sailing programs each regatta chooses to support, the CYOA aims to effectively communicate the value the entire community brings to the cities, states, and countries they are located within.

How will it be organized?

The Classic Yacht Owners Association is an exempt organization as described in Section 501(C) (3) of the Internal Revenue Code. Contributions and membership fees are tax deductible (Employer Identification Number: 81-285925). CYOA has a board of directors, a full time executive director, and full time staff of two. The general membership goal is 300, which includes owners, yards, suppliers, communities, regatta and host organizations, and other related entities. The members and the board of directors would also be served through a series of subcommittees, which would each reflect a specific aspect of the community, from regattas, to sponsorships, to ratings and measurements, to classes and definitions, to safety, to yards and suppliers, to name a few focuses.

Who will oversee it?

Currently, the objective is to name an apolitical full time executive director, who is well respected across all aspects of the classic yacht community. Master Shipwright Clark Poston, from the International Yacht Restoration School of Technology & Trades, IYRS, will fill this role.

Will the CYOA organize or sponsor a series of East Coast regattas?

The CYOA may be a catalyst to bring existing classic regattas, beyond the current three in the PNACYC series, into the fold to enhance and extend the overall unified series of possible events for programs to choose to participate in. The association will also assist in the encouragement of new events, such as the Camden Classic Cup, supported and run by Wayfarer Marine and Lyman Morse in Camden. The CYOA has no intention of organizing any event as the host authority. Regarding sponsorship, the CYOA and/or its individual members reserve the right to sponsor events in need of increased or enhanced revenue as a means of supporting the sport in general, creating awareness of the CYOA, or for any other reason associated with enhancing the community, the association, and/or its related causes.

If the regattas overlap with existing regattas, how will prizes, awards, ratings etc. be coordinated?

A key goal of unifying the classic yacht community to have everyone involved come together to communicate, coordinate, and manage the series of events, to insure overlap would not happen. Instead, the aim is to create and coordinate a longer, stronger series of events, while creating increased value for sponsors, thereby creating enhanced revenue opportunities for each event.

What does being a member of the CYOA mean and entail for existing regattas?

It simply means that the regatta will become a key member on the ground floor of an association designed and focused on bringing unity and clarity to the Classic Sailing Yacht Community in the United States, and as such, will play a dynamic role in shaping the CYOA and its future. Regatta representatives (two reps per regatta organizing authority) will be a critical voice in bringing consistency, safety, transparency, and energy to the community on multiple levels, while being a catalyst and leader in driving exponential value to the series of classic yacht races, which currently number three (in terms of formal circuit) and the community’s desire to increase to 8 to 10 events. Additionally, one member of each regatta organizing authority associated with any classic yacht regatta will sit on the board of directors.

Are there specific costs?

No- Regatta organizing authorities associated with classic yacht regattas will be members at no cost, as these groups already bear the burden of putting on the events that the classic yacht community benefits from. The CYOA and the classic yachting community are grateful for the commitment already put forth by these groups.

Will regatta participation increase due to this relationship?

It is absolute a key goal of the CYOA to increase classic yacht participation in all classic yacht events.

What sponsor benefits might accrue to regattas and organizing authorities?

It is a fundamental goal of the CYOA to unify the USA’s classic yacht sailing community, and all of its members, including, and especially, the regattas that host classic yacht events and create leveragable value associated with unification of the community- both in the States and overseas. CYOA aims to help create a package of events and activities that provide exponentially more value for the sponsors to support and benefit from, thus increasing both the value of the price of sponsorship, as well as increasing the total number of sponsors who would participate (as an example, a regatta village such as they enjoy in the Med with 7-10 sponsors or more versus a single sponsor tent). The CYOA would serve as a catalyst, and members of the regatta and sponsorship committees would then be able to present an entire portfolio for sponsors to respond to and embrace, with revenue divided upon an agreed upon model, that would also come from those committees, and would likely be tied directly to the number of race days each regatta would activate.

Are there other measurable benefits?

It would certainly be a goal of the entire CYOA community to increase secondary and tertiary benefits associated with the enhanced value from extension and unification of the community, and the associated activities including, but not limited to, the following:

  • increased contributions to the communities that each regatta serves, in terms of programming or charitable support
  • increased level of interest from non-sailors in each community during the events to enhance tourism, tax receipts, overall commerce, and similar
  • increased media coverage over larger geographies to create enhanced value for the events (less advertising and out of pocket expense necessary), their communities, and increasing awareness of the role these events play in supporting worthy causes and programs, creating greater goodwill and potentially greater support for the charities and programs, through the enhanced awareness
  • increase in engagement and education regarding the role of classic yachting in the United States, and the potential to attract new crew and owners to the sport, which would have cascade affect for restoration yards, craftspeople, merchants, and related channels of job creation and economic growth
  • incremental revenue from party ticket sales, and associated events, as well as event merchandise sales
  • exponential interest and participation, and associated tourism and commerce, from Mediterranean based programs who have long wanted to participate in USA classic events.

If we were a member of the CYOA, would we retain the rights to our regatta?

This is correct, and is enthusiastically supported by the CYOA. This should not be directed by any other entity. As mentioned, it would be an inclusive goal and series of objectives of the CYOA that, through the process of community unification and communication, the organization could be a catalyst for transparently unifying the rules, the types of courses, and the rating system/systems across all events within the series, as well as within other communities which support classic yacht sailing in order to create, encourage, extend, and enhance the safety, understanding and participation by all classic programs worldwide.

The Classic Yacht Owners Association is an exempt organization as described in Section 501(C) (3) of the Internal Revenue Code. Contributions and membership fees are tax deductible. Employer Identification Number: 81-285925

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