by Craig Heydon
Australia’s recent triple Gold medal success at the London 2012 Olympic Games thrust sailing into the limelight across the country. For the first time our Olympic sailors were on the front page of every newspaper and leading every television and radio news broadcast.
Olympic Games Sailing at Weymouth, Dorset August 2012. Australia’s Nathan Outteridge (helmsman in baseball cap) and Ian Jensen celebrate winning gold in the 49er class at the London Olympics.
The success of the team isn’t measured in medals alone but how the sport can capitalise on London 2012 and increase participation across the country.
While our sailors were preparing to take on the world’s best on the water, Yachting Australia has been developing a new participation program to assist clubs to increase their membership base and get more people than ever before on the water.
Yachting Australia CEO Phil Jones said that Australia’s sailors did a great job of raising the profile of the sport and now it was up to sailing clubs to react and reap the benefits.
'Australia’s sailors were undoubtedly the success story of the London 2012 Olympic Games,' said Jones. 'The team performed incredibly well, not only topping the sailing medal tally but becoming Australia’s most successful sport in London.
'This has created a great opportunity for sailing in Australia to reach more people than ever before and introduce these people to our great sport,' he said. 'For some time now Yachting Australia has been working on a program to increase participation across the country and is now ready to introduce the Discover Sailing Program to Australian clubs.'
Discover Sailing launched to clubs
In June this year, Yachting Australia’s Sport Development Director Ross Kilborn launched the Discover Sailing Program to club officials through the State and Territory Associations. The State and Territory Associations are tasked with assisting clubs to understand, consider, and adopt the Discover Sailing Program.
'Discover Sailing has been put together following a detailed market research program conducted in 2011, with extensive collaboration from State Associations and Clubs,' said Kilborn. 'Improving the image, information and communication of Clubs was one of the imperatives identified and the Discover Sailing Program and brand aims to do just that.'
'For this coming season the emphasis is on helping clubs implement, and promote, the program,' he said. 'The two immediate targets are engaging members to ‘Invite a friend or family’ to the club, as well as people living in their local area, who have always been interested in sailing but have not tried it. This will be done through local club based marketing'.
The Discover Sailing Program is not a one off, it will be a long term Program to build brand recognition of sailing as a fun, friendly, accessible and affordable sport.
Details of the Discover Program
Yachting Australia launched a new website for those who have not been involved in sailing before, www.discoversailing.org.au. The site incorporates non-technical explanations and several videos about how to get into sailing and what clubs offer.
The Discover Sailing Program is managed by Yachting Australia’s Participation Manager, Dr. Daisy Brooke.
'Discover Sailing is more than a brand, it’s an entire Program that incorporates both changes at clubs and a number of core products and services to be delivered by clubs across Australia,' she said.
Discover Sailing Days and a National Discover Sailing Day, building on the success of current try, and go, sailing days in various states. Some States are conducting these this year, and all are aiming for a national day in 2013. Clubs can run them as often as they like.
Discover Sailing Experiences – a new product currently being developed to provide a three hour sailing and club experience to newcomers.
Learn to Sail Courses – in dinghies and keelboats. Yachting Australia has undertaken a major facelift for its two introductory learn to sail programs in dinghies and keelboats and rebranded the old Yachting Australia Training Centres as Discover Sailing Centres.
A Crew 'Matching' service – matching aspiring crew via the website with boat owners.
A range of promotional material for use by clubs.
Tackers - a fun based junior program, for 7-12 year olds. It’s been developed to give sailing the 'cool' factor that kids are looking for and to compete with other sports. It’s now being rolled out in all States.
Sailability- providing similar pathways for sailors of all abilities to be included in all club activities.
Sailing Pathways – the backbone of progressing and retaining people in sailing.
Besides the Discover Sailing website, www.discoversailing.org.au, for non-sailors, Yachting Australia has updated its own website, www.yachting.org.au. The Education and Training sections, along with a new Participation area, provide details of the Discover Sailing Program to club officials and people currently involved in sailing.
The website also features an extensive explanation of the Sailing Pathway, which underpins the Discover Sailing Program. Yachting Australia believes that the pathway is as important to success in participation, as the development and high performance pathway has been for gold medals.