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.


It’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 straightforward and actionable guidelines designed to help improve the overall competitor experience.

Action Steps

  • Give competitors a voice in shaping the on-the-water experience at regattas.
  • Take responsibility for our sport (owners association), and demonstrate a fundamental understanding of the intricacies of classic racing by adopting a rating and a sailing approach that isn’t just more like that used in the Mediterranean, but simply more reflective of what makes sailing and racing classic yachts so compelling and fun!
  • Partner with OAs to increase participation and financial support for their events.
  • Expand and engage regattas which feature classic classes to make the customer experience more inclusive, more sustainable, and more consistent.
  • Develop programs that can foster intellectual and experiential exchange as a means to encourage ownership, active participation, and sharing of these functional pieces of art.
  • Use digital media to share experiences in order to attract new owners and programs, as well as to educate and engage casual fans about the history and importance of preservation.
  • Increase communications and engagement with classic sailing yacht communities around the world with a eye toward encouraging owners tobring their boats and programs to the USA for a season or more.

Guiding Principles

  • Continue to improve the rating system which will encourage more people to get involved in classic yacht racing and will also encourage classic yachts from around the globe to travel and compete on an even and known playing field, regardless of the geographic location.
  • CYOA must provide support and assistance for local race committees.
  • General members of CYOA, who must actively own a yacht, each have a vote – one per yacht.
  • Yachts will only be eligible to compete in their class, and overall.
  • Sponsors must agree to reward all classes, and overall equally, while recognizing the diversity of fleet, whether competing in overall series or just locally.
  • Diversity of fleet should be celebrated. One positive step could be the use of class distinctions similar to those seen in the Mediterranean:

– Vintage A – pre 1940
– Vintage B – 1941-1955
– Classic A – 1956-1970
– Classic B – 1971-1980
– Spirit of Tradition
– Gaff
– Gaff Cutter/Yawl
– Schooners
– Marconi
– Marconi Ketch/Yawl
– Bermudan Yawl
– 12 Metres/all meter classes

  • The rating rule will include both Spinnaker and Non-Spinnaker ratings which can be applied/chosen on a regatta-by-regatta, but not day-by-day basis.
  • 3 boats make a class. Rigs will determine class assignment – not length or displacement – however, no classes will have yachts more than 10-15 feet in difference on waterline unless over 80 feet.
  • Participating regattas can, and should, have different length courses for classes of different size/speed. This can include large yachts 65 feet and larger as well as all unique performance classes like 12 meters.
  • Participating regattas should set courses that feature a variety of sailing angles – in as near equal proportion as possibleto maximize balance and fairness of performance attributes. An additional leg of less than one mile can be added for transition purposes.
  • Spirit of Tradition class entries should start first in order to clear the fleet.
  • Boats less than 30 feet LOA should sail modified course to stay clear of larger yachts.
  • Boats of larger than 65 feet LOA should sail modified course to stay clear of other yachts.
  • All yachts should eventually be trackable for greater viewing participation.
  • Title sponsor should work with each participating regatta to provide dockage, either temporary or existing, that can med-style moor at least 30 boats or 600 feet of beam. Each boat could have history plaque and proper sponsor identification. All boats competing for an overall award would be required to med-style moor in at least 80 percent of the regattas including 4 sponsored “must attend” regattas. Sponsor retains the right to choose boats if space is limited or circumstances dictate.
  • Association will have:
      • general membership with active yacht ownership
      • regatta voting members must race at least two sanctioned regattas a year
      • general members will also be broken into classes consistent with their rigs and elect rig representative to sit on race committee
      • general members will elect overall association steering committee members once every three years and racing committee members once every two years with eligibility based on ownership and race activity
      • advisory and class committees will elect rules committee
      • Builders/Restoration representatives (one per yard) will create advisory committee to sit with general membership, rules, and advisory committees in non-voting capacity
      • Two general meetings per year, committee members must attend 3 meetings per two-year period in person
      • Three member board of directors elected every three years and initial board of directors appointed by founding chairman will serve two year term
      • Additional committees will be set up to work with yacht clubs for participation/collaboration; set up cruises; social activities; race committees; race village set up, etc
      • Annual meetings will be held at rotating regatta participating yacht clubs
      • Title sponsor will having non-voting seat on board
  • All key sponsors should be encouraged to support regattas with specified dollar amount plus matching race village dollar.  Local “Community” sponsors are encouraged to give a specified dollar amount plus matching race village dollar activity effort.
  • CYOA should support owners in coordinating travel and logistics for multiple classic yachts from regatta to regatta. This will help encourage and ensure participation from as many yachts as possible.

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
Giovanni Carestia
Shelia Plaisance
Suma Plowden
Gerald Rainer
Greg Stewart
Jim Taylor
Donald Tofias
Steve White
Paul Zabetakis

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

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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