The Cruising Club of America, formed in 1922 to help mariners who are passionate about offshore sailing, named James Binch of New Canaan, Conn., as commodore and W. Bradford Willauer of Prouts Neck, Maine, as vice commodore.
“I am keenly interested in the broadest possible connotation of seamanship and having the CCA at the forefront of education, including online and hands-on training relating to that,” Binch said in a statement.
Binch learned to sail at the Royal Canadian Yacht Club in his hometown of Toronto, Canada, before venturing south to attend Princeton and Wharton for his master’s degree.
He has been sailing offshore since the 1969 Miami-Montego Bay Race, and in 19 Newport Bermuda Races he has achieved a division win, as well as second overall. He also has sailed four doublehanded races and has cruised in Croatia, Greece, Thailand, Turkey, New Zealand, the Great Lakes and the Caribbean.
“On my watch we also will significantly broaden our technical committee so that it includes the most prominent of our navigators, designers and naval architects, who can meaningfully address the topics of modern materials and designs, for monohulls and multihulls from an offshore passaging safety perspective,” Binch said.
“Similarly, as a leader in the advancement of rating rules, we will continue to move forward the dialogue concerning what is the most equitable VPP-based (Velocity Prediction Program) handicapping rule for our members and the North American sailing community, especially as it relates to Corinthian racing in modest-sized boats offshore,” he said.
Of the 1,300 international CCA members, 68 percent own a sailboat larger than 30 feet.
“To be a member you have to have sailed several thousand miles offshore as either a watch captain, navigator or skipper,” said Binch, who joined the organization in 1991. “But we are not just an organization of cruising sailors, as our name might imply. There are hardcore racers, too: 25 percent of the skippers in the Transatlantic Race 2015 were CCA members.”
Willauer, the vice commodore, is also a veteran Newport Bermuda race participant (18 times) and prize winner, including podium finishes in the last three editions. He learned to sail at Prouts Neck Yacht Club in Maine, where he has been commodore as well as a fleet champion in the Yngling and Sonar classes.