A Closer Look at Sail America’s Future Direction
Sail America recently announced some significant changes to our organization
including a new partnership with NMMA and an
agreement with Show Management to create the
St. Petersburg Boat Show and Strictly Sail. These changes will help
us to focus our efforts on building a stronger and healthier sailing
market, bring financial stability to Sail America, and create greater
value for our members.
As many of you know, Sail America was created
back in the early 90's to provide autonomy
and a strong organization to focus solely on
the needs of the sailing industry and to ensure
the voice of the sailing industry was heard
above that of the boating industry as a whole.
As the sailing industry matured, Sail America
transitioned from a volunteer-based organization
to a professional infrastructure of staff to
run premier sailboat-only shows and support
sailing-centric marketing and association initiatives. The
organization enjoyed a number of successful
years during which we invested in new shows
and created a “rainy day” fund.
Unfortunately, some of the new shows were not
financially viable and existing shows struggled
to stay profitable. Over the past few years
boat shows became a financial drain on Sail
America and we had to keep dipping into our
rainy day fund to cover day-to-day operations.
It was clear that we couldn’t sit back
and watch our reserves depleted further, we
had to take action and make some changes.
After months of discussions and analysis,
the Sail America Board of Directors agreed
to a new affiliation with NMMA that builds
on the strengths of each organization and mitigates
some of the weaknesses with our old business
model – weaknesses that were hurting
The newly restructured partnership reduces
Sail America’s overhead and concentrates
our resources to promoting sailing, expanding
membership services, and creating a stronger
sailing presence at more boat shows. Under
the new affiliation, Sail America maintains
our STRENGTH and AUTONOMY, while outsourcing
boat show operations to NMMA. Under the new
affiliation, Sail America will:
- Continue to function as a separate legal
entity with its own Executive Director, dedicated
staff, board of directors, and committees.
- Maintain ownership of Strictly Sail Pacific
(all boat show operations will be managed
by NMMA’s sail-focused boat show team).
- Endorse and promote Strictly Sail Chicago
and Strictly Sail Miami as well as SailFest
- Run seminar programs at all Strictly Sail
shows and SailFests.
- Run Discover Sailing at all in-water Strictly
Sail shows and SailFest events, as well as
at other non NMMA-owned in-water shows.
- Partner with other Boat Show producers
to increase sailing’s presence at other
- Develop outreach programs to promote the
- Provide content and support for Discover
NMMA has created a dedicated sail-focused
show team consisting of Kevin Murphy and Lori
Gleason that will be responsible for managing
and producing Strictly Sail Chicago, Strictly
Sail Miami, Strictly Sail Pacific, and SailFest
events at the Virginia In-Water Boat Show,
the Liberty Boat Show, and the Baltimore Boat
Show, all of which will be endorsed and supported
by Sail America. Under the new agreement, NMMA
will pay Sail America a share of sailing-related
revenue from NMMA-owned boat shows and will
provide Sail America with access to its staff
and resources in the areas of membership support,
marketing communications and government relations.
The new affiliation allows Sail America to provide
a dedicated focus on the needs of the sailing
industry, while at the same time expanding our
reach. Our relationship with NMMA will be stronger
and more productive than ever and we can look
forward to improving the overall financial health
of Sail America and the well-being of the industry
as a whole.