You’re invited to a sailing party

February 1, 2012 § Leave a comment

Saving Sailing isn’t about Saving Sailing Clubs. But this email from a friend in the Pacific Northwest includes terrific ideas about how racing fleets and their clubs can work together to share, teach and strengthen sailing. It starts simply, by opening the gates and inviting guests… to a party. A SAILING party, where the fun is in the game. 

Nicholas, I personally regard racing as an excuse to go sailing (and a very good one!). And as a product of a community sailing program, I am strong on learn-to-sail programs. However, at my club, racing is an established existence and a recognized identity. Probably many clubs are in the same situation.

The following is my reaction to the club’s decision to go “wider” with intro-level and tangentially sailing-related clubhouse activities in marketing the club to attempt to reinvigorate membership. My objection is that such programs require investment of volunteers and money that may not exist or may not persevere, while funneling newcomers directly onto boats in the club’s existing racing programs efficiently puts all the effort where the available strengths are.

The club has a strong history of top-notch racing. The clubhouse itself (need I say it is a financial drain?) is somewhat remote from its one-design fleets, and even from its nearest neighbors . And the fleets themselves are stronger than the club.

———- Forwarded message ———-

From: Philip

To: The Club

Subject: Make It A Party

Let me relate my guiding business/management quote from Akio Morita, CEO of Sony at the time the breakthrough Walkman was created:

“The public does not know what is possible, but we do. So instead of doing a lot of market research, we refine our thinking on a product and its use and try to create a market for it by educating and communicating with the public. I do not believe that any amount of market research could have told us that the Sony Walkman would be successful.”
Now apply that to Saving Sailing and Saving our club:

The public does not know anything about sailboat racing, or anything about our club.

But we do.

We know that sailboat racing is the most enduring and most frequently practiced aspect of recreational sailing. We know that sailboat racing becomes a lifetime sport, while daysailing usually does not.

We passionate racers are the club’s distinctive competence. We racers set the club apart from all other sailing programs and venues.

We can easily promote the sport of sailboat racing to as-yet-non-sailors. Guess what? The science and art of sailboat racing are only a small step past introductory sailing. And none of it is rocket science. (AC excluded)

We can create the infrastructure to funnel every living area resident who wants to sail into an appropriate sailboat that races, or should be (will be) racing.

The club can facilitate everyone’s effort and desire to introduce enough of sailing theory to make new sailors useful and comfortable crew members.

We can transform the process into a party.

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