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Message from the Commodore
March 27th, 2015 @ 12:51 PM EST by Newsletter Author

Yesterday was the first day of spring as I write this. I’m sure everyone was as glad to see it finally arrive. And now we can start seriously thinking about launch.Neill MacMillan

It’s been a busy month, and I’ll use this space to update you on several topics of interest to NYC members. I attended a Council of Commodores meeting in early March co/hosted by Whitby Yacht Club and RCYC who graciously opened their facilities to our group.

Key topics of discussion included a presentation by Roger Harris and Blake Heald from Disabled Sailing Association of Ontario. Roger Harris specifically thanked the NYC for its consistent support for disabled sailing on Lake Ontario and especially the great work done by our club volunteers at last year’s 2.4M World Championships hosted by NYC.


Pan Am & Para Pan Am

There followed an update on this summer’s PanAm and ParaPanAm Games presented by Bob Greenhalgh, liaison between the CofC and the Games. He advised that all sailing events will be based out of RCYC with a course set in the harbour and two additional courses set south of Gibraltar.


Sailing Education Regulations

The topic of the federal government Department of Transport’s new sailing education regulations, the Recreational Boating Schools (RBS), was raised and Ontario Sailing Executive Director Glenn Lethbridge spoke on the matter. There are still some uncertainties around how the new regulations will be monitored and enforced this coming season. More information will be forthcoming. Glenn also spoke about some of the rules associated with eligibility for racing in Ontario Sailing sanctioned races and suggested a review of the rules on the Ontario Sailing website (


Advisory Council Meet and Greet

Many thanks to Ed McCormack for arranging for me to meet with the NYC Advisory Council in mid-March.  While some were away enjoying warmer weather, I was very pleased to spend time with immediate Past Commodore Denys Jones along with Past Commodores Wayne Mullins, Henry Piersig, Doug Thompson, Paul Bond, Ed McCormack, Keith Morley and Nick de Munnik (who was celebrating his birthday on that very day!).

Our meeting covered a wide range of club-related topics. I found the meeting very valuable in that it provided me with insights and knowledge stored in the heads of NYC’s “wise men”

One topic on the agenda was our new approach to Adult Learn to Sail programming. Due to the major changes in the regulations for Recreational Boating Schools (RBS), NYC has engaged the National One Design Sailing Academy (1D) to offer a range of sailing education programs to NYC members. We discussed the implications of this relationship and concluded that the 1D programs have the potential to offer very high quality sailing courses to NYC members both old and new. Stay tuned for more information about these courses in the weeks to come.

And it was at the Advisory Council meeting that we learned a piece of astonishing news about our club through the continuing efforts of our club Archivist Wayne Mullins. Wayne’s research has determined that NYC was actually first established in 1890, not 1894 as stated on our website. That makes our club 125 years old this year! More to come about this as well.


March Open House

Our March Open House was held on March 26, and we welcomed new and potential new members for an evening of information and refreshments. NYC membership across all categories is strong despite what you might have read in a recent Ontario Sailing magazine article. Even with our challenges with the potential island airport expansion, NYC remains a top choice for those looking for a vibrant downtown Toronto yacht club experience. We look forward to welcoming many new members at Sailpast this year!

Finally, I had lunch with a long term NYC member last week, and the conversation turned to the customs and traditions we keep as a Yacht Club. We talked about how the Yacht Club experience is far different that a marina. For our members, NYC isn’t just a place to tie up their boat. It’s a community of like-minded individuals who love the nautical lifestyle – be it sailing or power – and make Club activities a big part of their lives year round. We talked about the tradition of Sailpast. Here’s a little history.



The Sailpast tradition began at the first Yacht Club that was formed at Cowes in England nearly 200 years ago. 

The actual “review of the fleet” is steeped in more than 600 years of Royal Navy tradition and history and was introduced in Yacht clubs as a continuation of the naval habit of having Admirals (and/or Royalty) review the fleet on special occasions.

Protocol demanded that a flagship be anchored with the Admiral and staff on the quarterdeck to receive and return the salute. Vessels sailed past, dipping their colours in salute, and with their captain also saluting with the ship’s company standing at attention. The Vice Admiral would lead the fleet passing in review, and the final vessel in the line would carry the Rear Admiral

Our Yacht Club tradition is almost identical, except that the salute is received by the Commodore instead of the Admiral and the salute is delivered by the passing boat, if under sail, by luffing its jib, or, if under power, by dipping its ensign. All of the crew on the saluting boat stands at attention facing the Commodore, who is the only one to salute by hand. If there is insufficient wind, sailboats should have their engines on.

Protocol dictates that until the Sailpast is completed, only the flagship may be dressed (strung with bunting and flags). However, after the Sailpast, participating yachts are encouraged to dress on returning to their dock.

By precedent, Sailpast is a formal event that officially opens the boating season. The Navy and many yacht clubs also follow the Sailpast with a “Blessing of the Fleet”, a long standing European tradition, first practiced in Portugal, of seeking divine providence to those who laboured or ventured on the sea to assure good harvest, safe passage and safe return. (Thanks to the BroadReach website for the history.)

Sailpast at NYC this year is being held on Saturday, May 30. Please help us maintain the tradition of this event by setting aside this day in your calendar right now. A reception will be held in the clubhouse, and it’s always a good party!

That’s it for now.  Forty days to launch and counting!


Neill MacMillan, Commodore