What is the Academy and where did it come from?

By P/C Joseph A. Tringali

Over a decade ago I created something I called the “P.O.R.T.S. Program – Prospective Officers Round Table Seminars” and tried to get a nationwide yachting association to sign on to the idea of hosting regular, structured officers’ training programs. The response was ‘underwhelming.’

I continued to work on the P.O.R.T.S. idea for a number of years, and slowly found a few past commodores who believed in the concept. We eventually came up with the idea of an “International Commodores Association.” We envisioned a group of former yacht club commodores who would be selected based on individual merit. They would meet in local chapters, perhaps hold social events, and in so doing share their knowledge with new officers who were coming up through the chairs. I designed and copyrighted an ICA flag, insignia; the whole works. Soon we had everything except members! It seems that people who have served as commodores are pretty busy folks; the one thing they don’t need is another organization. So the I.C.A. idea went back to the drawing board.

The third time should have been the charm, and it was-almost. The I.C.A. morphed into the Academy of Yachting where a select few “Senior Fellows” could share their hard-earned knowledge with anyone interested in the yachting lifestyle. Academy programs were led by trained professionals and intentionally kept small (25 to 30 attendees) to keep them seminar-style, where questions and interactive discussion could be promoted. Those who completed the two-day program would be given the title “Fellow of the Academy” and would be entitled to fly a special burgee and wear special insignia.

The Academy was clearly the right idea, but to make it work our staff Senior Fellows would need to be on the road visiting yacht clubs almost every weekend of their lives. That’s a lot to ask of volunteers.

One more piece of the puzzle had to fall into place: an invitation to Certified Clubs to become sustaining members of the Academy. Through the Internet, newsletters, the existing two-day seminars, and publications offered to members at substantial discounts, the Academy’s goal of preserving the customs and courtesies of the yachting lifestyle could finally be achieved.

Sometimes even the best of ideas like the P.O.R.T.S. Program take a while to develop.