Cruising Club of America names new commodore, vice commodore

The Cruising Club of America (CCA) named James Binch of New Canaan, Conn., and W. Bradford Willauer of Prouts Neck, Maine, as commodore and vice commodore, respectively, at the CCA’s Annual Meeting on March 4 at the New York Yacht Club in Manhattan.

Binch has been a member of the CCA since 1991.

“I am keenly interested in the broadest possible connotation of seamanship and having the CCA at the forefront of education, including on-line and hands-on training relating to that,” said Binch.

“In 1975 I was invited to join CCA and began to enjoy the truly friendly camaraderie members share with each other,” said Willauer. “I get to meet the many other blue water sailors around North America who have had similar experiences and with whom I can share a yarn or two.  Sailing into an anchorage, I always look for CCA burgees on a masthead and find a way – if time permits – to say hello and share some grog.”

Binch discussed several key plans he has for his tenure as commodore.

“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.”

Binch explained that of the 1300 international CCA members, a significant 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. “But we are not just an organization of cruising sailors as our name might imply. There are hard core racers too: 25% of the skippers in the Transatlantic Race 2015 were CCA members.”

Willauer is also a veteran Newport Bermuda race participant (18 times) and prize winner, including podium finishes in the last three editions of the iconic race.  He learned to sail at Prouts Neck Yacht Club in Maine, where he has been Commodore (1973-75) as well as a fleet champion in the Yngling and Sonar classes.   His sailing resume includes the Marion Bermuda, Halifax and Transatlantic (Bermuda to Spain) Races, while his cruising itinerary has found him in Croatia, Greece, Thailand, Turkey, the Caribbean, British Columbia and the Thousand Islands.

Sharing information gleaned through personal experience is the lifeblood of the club’s international membership.  This fraternity of veteran sailors shares its experiential knowledge to promote cruising and racing by amateur sailors.  Among the 12 founding members were young naval veterans of World War I, as well as several boat designers who pushed for balance between performance and safety; through the years the CCA has been a leader in developing and supporting rating rules that promote safe and stable competitive boats.

The CCA and the Royal Bermuda Yacht Club are this year celebrating the 90th anniversary as co-organizers of the biennial Newport Bermuda Race, and will send roughly 190 boats off on the 635-nautical mile race for the 50th time on June 17.

For more about CCA programs, please visit:

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