Alberg 30: the Association

You're not just buying a boat, you're joining a family.

The Chesapeake Bay Alberg 30 One-Design Association is open to all owners of Alberg 30s. Yes, you do have to own one to join. You do not have to live or sail in the Chesapeake Bay area, however. Our membership stretches around the coast from Maine to Texas, along the shores of the Great Lakes, on the West Coast from California to British Columbia, a boat in the Virgin Islands and even a few landlocked in the middle of the continent. The current membership also includes a couple residents of England and one in Moscow, though their Alberg 30s are not located overseas.

The organization is run strictly by volunteers, keeping the costs low. In practice, Alberg 30 sailors are great for pitching in and helping out wherever needed. This communal labor helps cement the bonds between members.

There are three foundations to the association: racing, cruising and a love for the boat. The racing is strictly one-design. When you're ahead of another boat, you know you're winning. When you're behind, you know you're losing. You don't have to wait for a week after the race to read the results. It's also family-style racing. The bylaws limit sail and other equipment to keep boats competitive without requiring a heavy expenditure on new equipment each year. Of course, new sails help, but frequently the winner is the one with older sails, and a knack for sailing. Nor is it necessary to strip out the boat for racing. In fact, one of the bylaws requres that the boats "be maintained in cruising trim, with stores, fuel, water, etc. in reasonable quantity." In fact, many of the point-to-point races coincide with cruises. Cruising boats are encouraged especially to join in those races, and they do. In what other keelboat classes do you find husband-and-wife double-handed boats finishing well, with all the comforts needed for a weekend rendezvous onboard and perhaps even towing a dinghy!

In return, the racers are avid participants in the cruises. The A30 Association holds a two-week cruise each summer, a one-week Wild Goose Chase cruise in the fall, and numerous weekend jaunts throughout the season. Also, there are three big on-land rendezvous covering the Spring, Summer and Fall. These are reachable by car or boat. With racing and cruising, the Chesapeake Bay A30 sailors have a busy schedule.

What about the rest of the fleet scattered about the Western Hemisphere? (I've heard from one A30 sailor in Japan, but his boat was in Canada.) Well, I'll grant that there haven't been many organized events, but there could be. In 2003, some Alberg 30 owners and former Alberg 30 owners from Long Island Sound cruised to Bermuda. A few years back, a Pennsylvania A30 sailor was a big help and an active participant when the Summer Cruise went to Philadelphia. Others have made contact during cruises to New York, Maine, Florida and the Bahamas. Several A30's from the northeast US and at least one from Canada have joined up with Chesapeake Bay events. Other out-of-the-area A30 sailors have come to participate in the Canadian-American Friendship Races, even though they had to come without their boats. Some deep friendships have been formed that have persisted longer than the boat ownership.

And who's to say you can't organize an event in your own area? This is a volunteer-run organization. There was an all-Alberg event in Vancouver (organized by an Alberg 37 sailor) that included a couple of A30s. Even if you cruise by yourself, you should write up your experiences for the Mainsheet. We all want to hear it.

Do A30 sailors love their boats? Of course they do. Why shouldn't they? After all, it's one of the most beautiful boats on the water.

Their love for the boat goes far beyond the pride of ownership. They are always willing to give advice and even lend a hand to fellow owners, even if it's a rival racing skipper. A series of four seminars is held each February, on maintenance, racing, cruising and miscellaneous topics. (These also afford the opportunity for some conviviality in the off-season.) Members are quick to share their ideas for maintenance and improvement. There is nothing that can go wrong with your boat that hasn't happened before; others have already come up with fixes for common problems. Many times they write them up for the newsletter, the Mainsheet. In 1973, such articles were collected and added to other material to produce a ninety-page manual. This manual has recently been totally rewritten to bring it up to date and is available to members for a reasonable cost. Members organize group purchases from time to time, resulting in significant savings. Recently, we've added a couple of mailing lists, one just for members, to help include the A30 sailors who don't happen to live in the area.

The end result? The A30 Association really IS like a family.

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