By Gregory Scott


(June 9, 2008) With the US SAILING is presenting a proposal to change their membership system,  I decided to do some research on the Canadian system for collecting fees for our national sailing body, the CYA (Canadian Yachting Association). What came to mind immediately was that in Canada, yacht club membership also meant being a CYA member. That is the Canadian system. However, as I am no longer a yacht club member, and therefore not a member of CYA, I wondered how I could become a member again. I still have a boat, and had previously benefited from many years of CYA affiliation. To get the answer, I went to the source and spoke to the CYA, asking what I thought was simple question. Ha!


The short answer is, I can't be a member of the CYA without an affiliation to a club through a provincial sailing association ... full stop! However, as a work around for many people like me (who sail/ race and have no interest or opportunity to be with a club), we can be part of the CYA through the Ontario Sailing Association (OSA) by paying a fee to OSA as a member of "The Maple Leaf Club",  a non-asset organization (not unlike Scuttlebutt Sailing Club). That facility provides me access to CYA membership benefits.


But learning this led to the next set of questions:  Apparently, CYA gets their fees through a provincial body that collects fees from the "member clubs" (local yacht/sailing clubs) and then forwards the CYA portion of what they collect from the local clubs. As an example, OSA collects $20.00 per "reported individual", keeps $10.00 for their organization and sends $10.00 to CYA. Now here is where the rubber hits the road. Do "member clubs" pay what they should? Drawing a real comparative to the current debate regarding US Sailing, are Canadians in the same position as Americans in regard to funding our national body? Yep! We do the same thing, as it appears as though we don't pay either.


What I have learned is; It is common knowledge that many clubs have "creative" ways of reporting. Clubs apparently often reduce the fees paid (not owing in the opinion of the club's board) by "choosing" individuals to include or "not report" such as, non-racing members, out-of-town members, tennis members, and so on, leaving a considerable amount of potential revenue off the ledgers for CYA, OSA & other provincial organizations. From my own perspective, I don't recall seeing a line item on my yacht club bill that said OSA $10.00/CYA $10.00 and I think that is quite common across the country. The practice then is for clubs to collect membership fees and then "choose" how much to send on to CYA by simply telling OSA "we have X many members, here's what we owe". Quite an interesting situation when you consider our on-water self-policing ethics? With no "policing" of these reporting numbers, clubs decide the amount CYA gets and not the individual members.


CYA has data that would indicate that under reporting occurs across the country. By looking at Sport Canada and Canadian Census data, sailing isn't in the top 30 sports in Canada. Snow shoeing is - sailing isn’t!!!!!!! This under reporting may seem "clever" at the time of paying CYA through the provincial body, but in reality it hurts every sailor in Canada. By under reporting, the CYA is diminished in status as far as Sport Canada and other parts of the Canadian Government are concerned. Because of this, we simply don't rate and that is really dumb math.


If this situation is true, the boards of Canadian clubs using that model are harming sailing in Canada. It's a situation many sailors likely aren't aware of and indicates that we, here in Canada, are in parallel with many of the letters in ‘Butt  - both those for and against paying - and what do we get for the money. The difference seems to be, in the US, individuals are making the decision and statements while here in Canada, the Executives at yacht clubs are doing it for us. Very Canadian, eh!!


At the present time, as far as I understand, there is no change planned by CYA. In my conversation with the CYA, I suggested this situation should be addressed and was told they would welcome new ideas.  It is my belief that most of us would like to know that our provincial and national organizations are being funded properly. I for one am quite disappointed to learn of this suggested "under reporting" and would like to know if my former club reports every member or selectively edited the list. Members of "member clubs" obtaining access to this information is critical to the long term viability of organized sailing in Canada. Letting the "board" decide on your behalf is like saying "only people with kids should pay for education". We all benefit from an educated population and as sailors, all benefit from a well run CYA.


Until we have evidence they don't deserve to be funded, let's make sure our clubs are paying what they should ... even if that means a line item increase in club fees. Clubs that have racing programs benefit from CYA and at the bar, so pay up. Not because you have to but because we all benefit. Sailing club members, ask your club board for their reporting numbers compared to actual membership numbers.  And CYA, do a better job of getting the message out.  I think all sailing club members are willing to pay, but you have to do a better job of asking. 


Here is the CYA web address to view and to direct your comments.


* From Timothy Brown CFRE, Executive Director, Canadian Yachting Association: Greg, what you stated is not incorrect. Currently we are communicating directly with the clubs - rather than wait for their individual members to reach us, then gain momentum, then convince the clubs, then relay information or money back to CYA. I'd acknowledge that this is not ideal, but under the current circumstances we have to operate, that's as good as I can get, for now.