ILYA - Fair Sailing (#FAIRSAILING) Initiative

About a month ago all member clubs of the ILYA received a letter announcing the Fair Sailing Initiative.   The text of the letter follows.  Members are encouraged to visit the Fair Sailing page on the ILYA site by clicking the “#FAIRSAILING” tab on the ILYA main page (

“April 15th, 2018

Dear ILYA clubs and sailors,

Happy 2018 sailing season! As Commodore of the Inland Lake Yachting Association, it is a pleasure to look forward to another year of regatta and home lake sailing in our marvelous scows. Our regatta hosts for the Invitational and Championship events are ready. Our member clubs’ local regattas are posted on our website and in Scowlines, signaling that 2018 promises to be another year of successful home lake and ILYA racing. Our sister organizations – WYA, USODA and US Sailing – are equally prepared for the 2018 season. While sailing is reportedly on the decline in other regions, we are fortunate our numbers and enthusiasm remain high in all our classes.  Coming soon: Look for a new website design from the IL YA, with improvements to make it easier to post or find regatta information.

The main purpose of this letter is to announce an initiative which will impact all IL YA sailing in this and future seasons. Our region has taken pride in our adherence to the rules, our expectation of exceptional high standards due to role models such as Buddy Melges and Peter Barrett – in general, we value our consistent concern for the utmost in sportsmanship ideals. In recent years, there appears to have been a decline in our on-water execution of rules adherence, a change in focus in youth sports and teaching, a perceived “loosening” of penalties as we moved to the two-circle turns.  Our decision to launch this initiative is based on a seminar held at Harken last fall and on subsequent interviews with youth sailors and instructors. There was a consensus that ILYA racing was changing, showing a decline in sportsmanship. We believe it is time to re-calibrate our own compass. We want  nothing other than the finest and fairest sailing.

To that end, the ILYA is committed to a new venture – ILYA #FAIR SAILING. You will hear from the ILYA each Tuesday via Scowlines as we approach this problem with education, education, education. How will we do this? The IL YA will provide a rules video or live presentation to your club, just for the asking. We have developed a quiz which will signify an individual’s intent to learn, know and comply with the rules. This quiz may be taken until successfully passed, after which an individual will be identified as a “fair sailor”. And your club will have an incentive to join as a ‘1air sailing club”- a special pennant will be issued if many of your sailors commit to the initiative.

How will this look in 2018? We expect to see more sailors exonerating themselves on the water. We expect to see more use of the protest, arbitration and early “on-land” penalty alternative. To pique sailors’ interest or exposure to the process, in March the ILYA sponsored an advanced race committee course and a Dellenbaugh course for sailors; and we sponsored a course by Bruce Martinson on protest committee work in April. There will be one last race committee course at Harken the last weekend of April. In addition, Ed Eckert of Cedar Lake (Wis.) will lead a course for instructors June 7·8 where #FAIR SAILING will be a topic.

Look for the ILYA to:

  • Contact your sailing school directors and instructors individually about including education and adherence to the racing rules in their curriculums.
  • Contact your yacht club with either an offer to present a rules seminar or to send you our video of an explanation of Part 2 of the rulebook.
  • Supply a quiz for your sailors to take (repeatedly, ii needed) to indicate their desire to join the ILYA #Fair Sailing initiative.


Let me be very clear: as stated above, the ILYA is committed to this endeavor. We’re all in. We want all our sailors, young and old, new and experienced, to understand the rules and execute them to the best of their ability. We understand that learning rules on the water is different than learning in a classroom. Bottom line, we believe in sailing clean and fair. We are discarding any notion of “I owe you one”, “it’s OK, he’s my friend or teammate” or any other excuse. The IL YA believes sailors are more competent and CONFIDENT when they understand the rules of the game and are clearly encouraged to follow them.

ILYA races are sailed amongst the best of friends – it’s what sets us apart and also what holds us together. Join us in this most important initiative to make sure that all of that racing among friends, in all boats, at all levels is at the absolute highest level of fair play.


David Porter
ILYA Commodore”