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Yachting Australia releases sailing research report

by Yachting Australia on 14 Mar 2012
Yachting Australia http://yachting.org.au/
Yachting Australia has released the findings of a research report into the perceptions of sailing in Australia.

Developed over six months the report will shape future Yachting Australia and yacht club programs to increase membership and participation. Funding for the research project was provided by the Australian Sports Commission (ASC) and was conducted between September and November last year and involved a quantitative survey sent to nearly 30,000 people, including club members, a series of focus group meetings, primarily with people not currently in the sport, and workshops with key stakeholders including Yachting Australia and the BIA.

In releasing the report Yachting Australia CEO Phil Jones said that the information will be used to shape a number of future programs and initiatives.

'In working with the ASC on the Participation initiatives in our Strategic Plan, we jointly identified the lack of solid data and evidence into the levels of participation in sailing, and what the drivers and barriers were to increasing it,' he said.

'Whilst there are plenty of opinions in the sailing community, we really needed solid and objective information about what club members and the Australian public think of our sport.

'Thanks to the Australian Sports Commission, and gemba’s report, we now have the basis for shaping future Yachting Australia programs, and for clubs to use in their own initiatives,' said Jones.

The project was managed by Yachting Australia Sport Development Director, Ross Kilborn, and Participation Manager Daisy Brooke.

With the report now available online, Yachting Australia’s priority now is working with the State and Territory Associations (MYA’s) to support them in communicating the insights in the report to the officials, and members, of the 390 clubs around Australia.

'There are no big surprises to what many people would have guessed, but there are lots of insights and identified priorities that will enable us to be much more effective in growing participation,' said Kilborn.

'The report identifies the roll out of a national junior program, targeting seven year olds as our highest priority, closely followed by the development of an entry brand and program to improve communication with all Australians.

'Both of these have existing funding from the Australian Sports Commission for delivery over the next two and a half years,' he said.

The top six insights in the Report Summary are:
- Australians generally have a low rate of both participation in, and passion for, sailing (we rank 34th and 37th respectively amongst all sports)
- Sailing is perceived as an ‘exclusive’ sport while not being seen as very ‘accessible’. Yacht Clubs are generally not welcoming, and are for older people only
- On average, the starting age of sailing is much higher than other sports with established junior programs
- Primary and Secondary school age children, and young families have the highest interest in participating in sailing in the future
- Relaxation is consistently the most important reason for participation in sailing among both current sailors and those interested in sailing. New participants are interested in a social, relaxed activity rather than competition, the later tending to be more important to current club members.
- The main barrier for future participation is the perceived cost of sailing. Boat ownership, maintenance, storage costs, and annual membership payment, are expensive, especially for a family.

The key considerations for clubs arising from the research and report are:
- Improve the image of Clubs – make them more welcoming and inclusive
- Help reduce the entry costs – providing club boats and promote crewing opportunities
- Help reduce the initial commitment – for example introductory, flexible, and concessional membership
- Increase the emphasis on relaxed social racing - rather than just competition. Engage new participants in club social and networking activities.
- Reduce the time commitment – Consumers want shorter forms of sailing activities
- Improve the information and communication – Consumers often don’t know where to go & whom to ask for information in a yacht club. Make sure the entry and retention pathways are clear
And the big positive messages that should always highlight above other considerations are the key attributes of the sport – sailing is adventurous, responsible, friendly and fun.

That’s well known to those in the sailing community and hopefully many more Australians will experience this in the future.

The report can be found at: http://www.yachting.org.au/?ID=54827.

The report was developed by leading sports and entertainment consultancy firm gemba.
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