Bruce J. Burton

Friday, 17 January 2014 /

Hometown: Grosse Pointe Farms, MIBruce

Education: Tufts University (1977), BS, Mechanical Engineering


Building successful companies, serving as a volunteer in thriving organizations, and sailing with and against the best sailors in the world is what Bruce has focused his non-family life on for the past 40 years.

As the founder and president of a successful 400+ employee company, Bruce learned, and now knows, what is required as a leader to achieve the results necessary for an organization to prosper. As a volunteer, Bruce finds great satisfaction in dedicating himself to the governance and growth of US Sailing, the Etchells Class, his church and his yacht club. Bruce believes that hard work, correctness of vision and collaboration with talented teammates are the formula for winning on and off of the race course.

  • Commodore, Bayview Yacht Club
  • President, US Etchells Class
  • President, US Flying Dutchman Class
  • Senior Warden, St. John’s Church
  • Member, US Olympic Yachting Committee
  • World, North American, and National Champion skipper
  • President, Burtek, Inc.

Words from Bruce Burton

“US Sailing must serve two roles: 1) provider of services that the members utilize with gratification and; 2) as the leader/promoter of our sport. We must accelerate the improvement of both. As the governing body, we must reconnect with those people who were our “middle class” of sailing, those who participated in all of the regattas that are now busy with other priorities. US Sailing must provide high impact visibility of our sport to people who may want to become a part of our great sport. We must promote to others and include our friends in the fun!”

An Interview with Bruce Burton

1. Collaboration was a popular theme for the attendees at the Sailing Leadership Forum earlier this year. How can community sailing centers, yacht clubs and other sailing organizations collaborate with each other more on key initiatives to grow sailing?

US Sailing has an excellent vehicle for collaboration at the local, regional and national level. At the local level our various Regional Sailing Associations (RSAs) coordinate regattas and events regularly and efficiently. Coordination of RSA within a US Sailing Area (there are 11 Areas) can be done through our Area Coordinators (one coordinator per Area). At the national level the Chairman of the RSA and Venues Division can coordinate and collaborate.

– How can these organizations and other sailing industries integrate with their local communities to provide more awareness for prospective new sailors?

The Leadership Forum and National Conference had a lot of discussion about involving the community that is not traditionally involved with sailing and yacht clubs. There appeared to be a common theme that you had to change what you are doing and reach out to the local community. Summer Sailstice is a perfect example of a national theme that translates to the local level. Community Sailing Centers are very good at reaching out to the local community and yacht clubs are well served to learn from their success.

– What can US Sailing do to help facilitate these partnerships?

US Sailing must continue to promote attendance at meetings to local, regional and national levels where discussion of growing sailing takes place. As sailors we must invite our friends to join us on our boats and our organizations. US Sailing must continue to promote best practices and share what is working in various parts of the country.

2. How has US Sailing’s programs and services impacted your overall sailing experience?

US Sailing programs and services impact my sailing every time I compete. The overall experience and quality of racing today is so much better than it was 30 years ago. Race officers and judges make fewer mistakes on and off the water and as result there can be more racing in less time at a higher quality. The proficiency of race administration has improved significantly and I am very grateful for that.

Safety is a key issue in our sport for both near shore and offshore sailing. The safety record for those who have taken a Safety at Sea course is spectacular and anyone who spends time offshore should take and be certified for the benefit of themselves, their families, teammates and boat.

3. Is it important for sailors to be members of US Sailing?

I feel strongly that if one loves their sport, then they should support the organization that is the national governing body of that sport. The vast majority of sports require mandatory registration with the NGB.  Sailing does not.  In addition to safety, as I mentioned above, US Sailing has greatly improved the quality of racing over the past 30 years and that alone, to me, makes it worth $60 per year to continue to have great racing provided by super people. I support my sport. Everyone should if they love it.