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Arresting the Decline and Fall of our Sport.

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tink View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Quote tink Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 17 Nov 19 at 7:18am
Fair points, with Strava etc you can go out and see improvements, harder but not impossible to do sailing. The DCA have a round Hayling Island challenge but I doubt many clubs could accommodate similar. 

Yes location is everything, I used to spend the weekend at Ullswater  and my would happily cruise my IC on Saturday. Visiting my first concrete bowl this weekend and unless you are racing not very interesting.


Tink
https://tinkboats.wordpress.com/

http://proasail.blogspot.com
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fleaberto View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Quote fleaberto Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 18 Nov 19 at 1:12pm
Originally posted by tink

Originally posted by fleaberto

Originally posted by ian.r.mcdonald

Let's change the title and direction of this thread

" How we are growing and improving dinghy racing and club sailing"


At one of my clubs we did this by getting rid of racing. Yep, we removed racing from the agenda.

Firstly we noticed that, actually, it was only a small percentage of our members that actually wanted to race - yet the vast majority of our club focus was spent on this.
I bet if you were to look at membership Vs Racing participation many clubs would find this same correlation too.

Secondly we then noticed that racing numbers started to dwindle due to some particularly 'shouty' sailors that thought that they were on Olympic courses with Gold medals at stake. That's certainly not what this club is about.

Now, once numbers started to dwindle into single figure turnouts (at a very picturesque and relaxing Inland club) these uber-competitive people (who always seemed to get out of doing duties) were obviously winning everything - which they enjoyed despite the, by now, lack of competition...with others thinking "Well, Dave wins everything so there's no point"

Meanwhile, our Junior sailing and adult training was on an opposite trajectory - 40 kids on a Saturday morning, 10 Adults enjoying training / sailing on a Saturday afternoon and whole families starting to enjoy the club all day long.

Our racing was on Sundays and, despite single figure turnouts, seemed to be where the focus still went..... until someone that could see the obvious decided to say: "Well this is a bit crap don't you think?" and made some changes.
These changes weren't massively popular with the shouty ones that remained and it was these that drove away the more 'recreational' racers and - more importantly - the kids from racing. 

We decided that making these efforts in terms of duties etc it was just too much work to cater to the three boats that might turnout - so we canned racing.

In turn, this saw the shouty types leave (Obviously in massive huffs commenting on how this would destroy the club......)

Now? Well, over the last two years we've been running very gentle racing on Saturday afternoons - no 'series' no 'champions' (apart from one big race of which *cough* I won this year LOL) and what do you think has happened?

Racing has seen a nice takeup to where we're seeing double-figure handicap fleets, newbies are going out and buying old bangers to have a go with - and, thus, investing in sailing and the club.
Membership is on the up - particularly amongst adults and families as people chat to their friends about Sailing and the club itself - with most people willing to pitch in with helping out in some capacity or another.

We have huge turnouts to randomly organised social events and even clean-up days see more than we need.

In short, ditching 'Racing' has been the best thing for this club in years.

Now, we see people using the racing as an extension of their day's sailing and, every month, our training team brings all of the kids and novice adults into the fleet as well - and it's a right laugh!
We don't discourage anyone - if you want to have a go then come on down. Junior/Trainee/Novice/Expert all are welcome - but just don't be a dick!

All of this has come from changing the short-sighted focus that 'Racing' is what makes a club. 
Maybe for some it is, but for us it wasn't and as soon as we recognised and acknowledged that, we set on a path to move this focus to bringing people into sailing and, importantly, retaining them.

We now have kids that started at 7yrs old undertaking AI, DI and even SI training. Some have been out for seasons at the beach clubs, some have been out to the U.S at Summer Camps teaching sailing.......all from making "Lets just go sailing" the focus of our club.

We're now thriving again, have a lovely social, inclusive atmosphere and can now have some great racing without the fear of a couple of Jobby-heads ruining things for everyone.

I'm not saying that this is the way to go for every club - but a bit of self analysis did us the world of good and allowed us to discover what it actually was / is that people want from our club.



Sounds fantastic, are you allowed to sail without safety cover? Perhaps buddy sailing? One of the issue with racing is the tying you down to a specific time. A more flexible and always open arrangement means you can fit sailing in when your time and the weather suits. 

Must also be great for retaining newbies as they donít see all the shouty behaviour and club members must be more willing to take them out. 

Also none of the top gear fast boat, PY bandits etc 

When the decline of sailing is mentioned the rise of cycling always comes up, I imagine the percentage of cyclist that race is low. 

Looking at participant canoeing is 8 times more popular than dinghy racing, again I imagine a low percentage are competitive. Yes they have white water but much must be casual.


We're able to sail without safety cover and without buddy boats, 365 days a year.
We do say to novices/newbies that it is probably wise to have someone else on the water and we do find that whilst we are allowed to sail solo, as it were, most choose to arrange a time with others to go sailing together anyway.
Lack of 'Top Gear' fast boats? - not sure about that, I'm always on the lookout for something eminently unsuitable....... the EBay Moth? The RS600? the couple of Catamarans?  LOL
We sail for fun, and where's life without fun?  Clap 
Lightning368 'All the Gear' (409), Lightning368 'Sprite' (101), Intl 420 ('Little Minx'),Contender 'Mild Oats' (620)
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ian.r.mcdonald View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Quote ian.r.mcdonald Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 18 Nov 19 at 1:29pm
The reality is that "buddy" sailing adds a limited amount to rescue support anyway. Ok, they can phone for help but in the case of a medical crisis or entrapment etc they are not going to be able to offer cover to a safety boat level.

And in this crazy H&S mad world, as long as cruisers are aware of the situation it's fine.

The reverse is madness of the BBC TV presenter having to wear a life jacket when interviewing someone next to a paddling pool!

Being aware of risks and accepting some is ok in my view
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A2Z View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Quote A2Z Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 18 Nov 19 at 1:38pm
Originally posted by fleaberto


We sail for fun, and where's life without fun?† Clap


Sorry to pick up on this, but I see this "it's meant to be fun" thing all the time and it has begun to irk.

There are many reasons for doing any unpaid activity. No one watches a horror film or Romeo & Juliet because it is fun. Few run a marathon because it is fun. Fewer still man a rescue boat on a cold winter's day because it is fun. We do these things because they are "enjoyable".

Enjoyment comes in many forms - learning new things, improving skills, being challenged emotionally and physically and because they are fun. But only doing "fun" things is shallow and childlike.

I sail because it is enjoyable. That enjoyment comes because trying to win is challenging and requires learning and improving mentally, physically and emotionally. And because boats are beautiful blends of art and science that can be appreciated on many levels. And because the people I meet enrich my life. And because planing is fun!

But please remember there are more ways to make something enjoyable than to make it fun.
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ian.r.mcdonald View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Quote ian.r.mcdonald Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 18 Nov 19 at 4:30pm
The 1960s fisherman Fred J Taylor provided his most famous quote after standing in torrential rain for 3 hours when fishing in winter

" I will be glad when I have had enough of this"

I wont use the F word, but we all enjoy in different ways
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Mark Aged 42 View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Quote Mark Aged 42 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 19 Nov 19 at 12:50pm
During the week, I work in IT. I sit on my backside and have very little face time with other humans. I race because it is a totally absorbing physical and mental exercise against like minded souls. I think about nothing else when racing, be it in 4 mph as on Sunday, or 30mph.
So many factors to be considered while racing - has the tide turned?, has the wind shifted enough to make a tack worthwhile?, why has that other boat got better wind than me? Can I make that mark? Should I cover those boats over there? Do I need more kicker? Can I dive through that gap at the mark?, Which end of the start line? Must I really hike harder - I only have 1 ab  Smile And more.
When its over, I feel great, mind and body are refreshed. I'm no great racer, just an aging mid fleet weekend warrior (Essex Yacht Club plus Leigh-on-Sea Sailing Club). But the intensity of those few hours each week is priceless to me.
This is why I race, and why I gently encourage others to do so as well.
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Gordon 1430 View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Quote Gordon 1430 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 19 Nov 19 at 1:08pm
Great Post Mark that's why many of us go racing, I am not convinced non competitive racing or pottering would be the same it wouldn't matter if you didn't make the mark and lost a few places.
I know both Essex and Leigh well from my youth.
Gordon
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Sam.Spoons View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Quote Sam.Spoons Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 19 Nov 19 at 1:08pm
Brilliant post @Mark Aged 42  Clap Clap Clap

Edited by Sam.Spoons - 19 Nov 19 at 1:09pm
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eric_c View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Quote eric_c Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 19 Nov 19 at 1:37pm
I'm completely with Mark on why we go racing.
I very rarely put a dinghy on the water for any other purpose.
If I'm not racing, I want to be going somewhere, even if it's just a trip to the Isle of Wight for a beer or to drop the anchor and stop for lunch.
Unless you've got a really big lake, I don't see a huge attraction to 'pottering' inland beyond training, trying different boats and blasting around when it's probably too windy for the boat you're in.
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ian.r.mcdonald View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Quote ian.r.mcdonald Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 19 Nov 19 at 1:49pm
Well said Mark. And in Leigh we have the perfect example in how a club can improve the racing with their extra support and efforts in racing older Solos and lowering the price point for entry of new sailors.

My first Open event was in a Mirror at Southend in the 60s.

And I own up to being sad to see the pier in its post fire mode, but glad it still there.
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