CYC Foundation

The Chicago Yacht Club Foundation is the cornerstone of Chicago Yacht Club's community outreach. Promoting awareness and appreciation of the nautical arts and traditions to the Chicagoland community through education and activities, as well as through the support of like-minded charitable organizations, has been the mission of the Chicago Yacht Club Foundation since its founding in 1990.

The Foundation's outreach to the Chicago community at large includes educational presentations on maritime topics, Tall Ship training for select Chicago public high school women, need-based grants for sailing lessons, and support for the Rickover Naval Academy sailing team. The Foundation also assists the Chicago area sailing community by sponsoring the Neill Advanced Sailing Clinic to help young sailors sharpen their skills, and by offering grants for youth competitors for participation in regattas and clinics

To find out more about these and other programs/organizations assisted by the Chicago Yacht Club Foundation, navigate the website and read all about it. 

Member annual support program

Click here for article and authorization form (members must log in to read) 

Make a donation


Would you like to make a tax-deductible donation to the Chicago Yacht Club Foundation?

If so, click here to make a donation using your credit card through a secure Pay Pal site. (Please note you do not need to log into Pay Pal to make a payment. Look to the lower left side for the credit card option.)


The CYC Foundation has been registered in a program run by Amazon called Amazon Smile. This program gives back to a designated non profit a 0.5% return on purchases made by Amazon customers who are registered in the Amazon Smile program. If you are an Amazon shopper you can help our CYC Foundation by simply being registered in the program. It is a simple process. Go to: Once registered, then each time you want to purchase something through Amazon, go to rather than to the traditional If you are an Amazon Prime member, your benefits will not be affected. Your participation will be appreciated.
W G Vartan
President CYC Foundation


The Chicago Yacht Club Foundation’s Maritime Education Program to deliver presentations at Strictly Sail:


Shipwrecks of Lake Michigan and the Great Lakes

Thursday, January 23, 1:00 PM Room #305

The stories of maritime mishaps and disasters on the inland waters and their connections to famous wrecks throughout history


The True History of Pirates

Friday, January 24, 2014, 4:45 PM Room #307

The surprising influence and reach of piracy from ancient times to the present, and how human societies advanced in response to the pirate threat

Heroes of the High Seas

Saturday January 25, 2014, 11:45 AM Room #307

For the whole family, the story from mythic ancient mariners to real modern adventurers, this is a look at the brilliant, tricky, funny and always heroic characters of the worlds waters 

How to Speak Pirate 
(or 18th Century Mariner)

Saturday, January 25, 2014, 1:00 PM Room #309

For the whole family, a crash course in the lingo of the high seas,  where the Royal Navy’s formal shipboard language was adopted and corrupted in the archenemy pirate fleets – learn the vocabulary of the age of sail, as well as the surprising influences on modern English

Logistics in the Age of Sail

Sunday, January 26, 2014, 3:30 PM Room #305

The scientific and physical limitations of naval architecture, as well as sail and human propulsion that hindered global discovery and commerce

The Christmas Tree Ship


The Chicago Yacht Club Foundation contributes to various area organizations whose missions are similar to the Foundation’s.  The Christmas Tree Ship is one of these.  In this case not only does the Foundation give from its financial resources but it also assists with the helping hands of its human resources.  Pictured here is Ann Rundle, Secretary of the Foundation, as she scales a mountain of trees to help with the electrical connection for the lights used in decorating the ship.


rickover academy students at the 105th Chicago Yacht club race to mackinac awards

Foundation Trustee James Armstrong introduces cadets from the Rickover Naval Academy at the Mac Awards. The cadets did a wonderful job telling about their adventures on the tall ship Unicorn and all the skills they learned that will serve them well in life. 


STEM Education

In conjunction with the United States Navy, the Foundation’s Maritime Education Program is an active participant in the national STEM program. An acronym for Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math, STEM is a nationwide initiative designed to improve high school graduates’ proficiency in these subjects. It has long-term implications for American technology and workforce development, as well as national security. Late in the summer, the first designated STEM camp came to the Monroe Station of the Yacht Club, under the leadership of LCDR Michael Kerley, USN, and Prof. LeRoy Jones of Chicago State University. Spending the day overlooking Lake Michigan, the high school students learned about the Navy’s logistical deployment systems that supports a three-ocean force, and sees to the mechanical and technological needs of several fleets operating at once – not to mention the needs of tens-of-thousands of sailors aboard those ships. After lunch in the Captains Cabin, the Maritime Education Program took over to discuss “Logistics in the Age of Sail.” This was a presentation on the technological limitations that first kept sailors close to shore, and the advances that made transoceanic travel possible; in addition, it was a consideration of the physical needs of maintaining ships and crews in the millennia before modern capabilities.
All the participants in the STEM camp were students at one of the Chicago Public Schools military academies. Chicago has more high school military academies than any other city in the country. Through the Maritime Education Program, the Foundation is a proud partner with these unique schools, bringing STEM subjects to life with dynamic presentations held directly on the waterfront at the Club’s stations. Todd Connor, Executive Director of Military Programs, wrote, “I would also like to take this opportunity to thank you for the support that the Chicago Yacht Club and the Chicago Yacht Club Foundation have provided for our students over the past several years. We are extremely grateful for the unique opportunities that the Club and the Foundation offer us through educational courses and other events at your facilities. We hope to continue to build on our partnership so we may offer these opportunities to even more students from across the City of Chicago. Your Support is immensely valuable, especially given the challenges we currently face in public education.”

To view more exciting photos of various Foundation and other Chicago area sailing events, visit photographer and New Trier sailor Patrick Scherer’s website:
 click here.

Congressman and Cadet

The Chicago Match Cup brought some of the best match racing sailors in the world to compete in the waters of Lake Michigan. But first they had to get by the Rickover Naval Academy Sea Dragons Sailing Team, sponsored by the Foundation. As part of the introductory festivities for the Chicago Match Cup, the Chicago Match Race Center hosted a charity Pro-Am, in which the professional sailors took on some familiar faces. Tony Esposito of the Blackhawks, Ron Kittle of the White Sox, and Coach Chris Collins from Northwestern University were just some of the Chicago sports stars racing sailboats for the first time. But they were not left entirely without some experienced – if still amateur – coaching. Rickover sailors Martin Heft, Liam Gorzen, Jared Gorzen, Carlos Lara, and Cassie Perez did their best to teach essential skills and provide solid leadership to their trainees both in practice and on the race course. Cadet Cassie Perez had a particularly eager junior sailor under her wing in the person of Congressman Aaron Schock, who represents Illinois’ 18th District in Washington, DC.. Cassie and Congressman Schock tore up the water off Navy Pier and gave the professionals from Australia and New Zealand a run for their money…all of which went to the charity recipient, World Sports Chicago. In the photo you can see that it was a beautiful day for sailing, and Cassie didn’t have too much trouble getting Congressman Schock to enjoy himself in his first match race.

To view more exciting action shots of the racing in the Chicago Sports Charity Pro-Am, visit photographer and New Trier sailor Patrick Scherer’s website: click here.

Sailing into the Past


History sailed into Monroe Harbor on August 6. The tall ship Madeline docked on the seawall in front of the Club to pick up a group of Chicago students for a cruise into the past. Madeline is a 92-foot, gaff-rigged, twin-masted Schooner, that is a replica of an 1845 Great Lakes freighter. She was painstakingly reconstructed from 1985 to 1990 by 165 volunteers of the Maritime Heritage Alliance of Traverse City, Michigan. Madeline’s cargo on this voyage was 17 young men and women and three chaperones from the Wade’s World Foundation Live to Dream program. Wade’s World is the youth educational foundation established by NBA all-star and Chicago native Dwyane Wade. Seventy Wade’s World students came to the Club to participate in the Maritime Education Program three times over the course of the summer. The final group (that was old enough to board the ship) learned about sailing in the Nineteenth Century firsthand, as they watched the crew of the Schooner Madeline pilot the great sailing vessel out of Monroe Harbor, around Navy Pier, and along the coast of Lake Michigan. They even fired the cannons. Tamika Price, program director at Wade’s World, wrote, “Thank you again for making the summer of 2013 one which the Live to Dream camp participants will never forget! In such a small span of time, the Chicago Yacht Club Foundation has infused a wealth of knowledge that they will carry with them for a lifetime. The tall ship experience was amazing for me as well!”

To view more photos of the Schooner Madeline and the Wade’s World cruise, visit photographer and New Trier sailor Patrick Scherer’s website : click here

Rickover Sails at chicago match cup

Photo caption: Group shot of all the competitors. Cadet Cassie Perez is pictured in the pink top. Moving right are Cadets Martin Heft, Carlos Lara and Jared Gorzen. Kneeling, far right is Cadet Liam Gorzen.

On August 6, five cadets from the Rickover Sailing Team had the privilege of sailing with some of the world’s top match racers and some of Chicago’s sports legends. Liam and Jared Gorzen, Martin Heft, Carlos Lara and Cassie Perez teamed up with match race pros Don Wilson, Taylor Canfield, Ian Williams and Will Tiller and were assisted by Tony Esposito from the Blackhawks, Robin Earl from the Bears, Ron Kittle from the White Sox, and Chris Collins from Northwestern University. A beautiful sailing day off Navy Pier saw two fleet races and then the match racing. Ian Williams with Rickover cadet Martin Heft took first place.





Sisters Under Sail - Rickover students aboard the Tall Ship Unicorn

Chicago area Sea Scouts and students from Rickover Naval Academy in Chicago's Edgewater neighborhood arrived at Navy Pier this week after sailing aboard the Tall Ship Unicorn. The group - all girls - were awarded scholarships from the Chicago Yacht Club Foundation after writing winning essays. The Tall Ships Chicago 2013 runs from August 7 - 11 at Navy Pier. Sisters Under Sail is a nonprofit leadership program founded in 2005 by Dawn Parker Santamaria. The program empowers teenage girls, teaching them teamwork and responsibility through sailing. For more information on this program, click here.


Maritime Education

On Monday, July 29, 35 children, grades 5-6 from the Gary Comer Youth Center ( came to the Monroe Street Station of Chicago Yacht Club to participate in a presentation given by the Chicago Yacht Club Foundation’s Maritime Education program. Because the students summer curriculum was focused on super-heroes in myths and literature the presentation topic was “Heroes of the High Seas.” It covered Middle Eastern, Greek, Roman and Nordic sailor-heroes myths, epics and sagas.  It also covered the truth behind sea monsters, and real life heroes of the high seas. 

Gary Comer, founder of the Comer Foundation, was a long time Chicago Yacht Club member and Star sailor. He also made the Northwest Passage aboard his yacht Turmoil. Gary passed away in 2006.  

On Friday, May 24, a group of 5th through 8th grade students from St. Florian School, located on the far South side in the Hegewisch neighborhood, took the Metra Electric Line (the old South Shore) up to the Monroe St. Station for a presentation on Pirates.

St Florian’s became aware of the educational opportunities available to Chicago area students when a woman named Saira Bensett came to the Club for one of the Foundation’s presentations focused on adult continuing education about the ecology of Lake Michigan. Her children attend St. Florian’s and she took the word back to the school’s administration. The students sacrificed a day off to make the trek to the Loop and all felt the time was well spent.

The Chicago Yacht Club Foundation’s Educational Presentations are tailored to adults or children and are free. Any group looking for a unique and informative offering can contact Kevin Donohue,

Freshmen and Sophomores from Eric Solorio Academy High School visited Chicago Yacht Club, Monroe, to hear a trio of presentations given by the Chicago Yacht Club Foundation. Chicago’s Maritime History, the Environmental Science of Lake Michigan, and How to Talk like a Pirate gave the 60 students a full morning of learning about their city’s nautical connections and, well, Argh! To express their gratitude they created the signed sailboat that’s pictured.

The Chicago Yacht Club Foundation offers a variety of dynamic presentations to its membership as well as to groups simply wishing to know more about maritime topics. See program details and a course catalog click here. If you are interested in having the Foundation’s Maritime Education department create a presentation tailored to your group, or if you would like one of the existing course offerings, contact

Neill Advanced Sailing Clinic

In the 2012 US SAILING INDEPENDENT OLYMPIC REVIEW Report to US Sailing Board of Directors, among the recommendations made is to “Develop a 'Culture of Excellence’ in all aspects of our operation.” In order to implement this proposed plan, one of the suggestions is to: “Engage the regional clinics (CISA, Sail Newport, Neill-Chicago).” After only two years in operation, to have the Neill Advanced Sailing Clinic (NASC) mentioned along with the long established CISA and Sail Newport clinics, is an honor.  See the NASC website for further information, For the full US Sailing report, click here.