Three bold moves breathe new life into the “fun” regatta

September 13, 2013 § 1 Comment

About once a week, we get an email from someone who is tired of the sailing status quo and is looking for ideas to make their next event better. In this case, a club on the West Coast struggled with declining participation in a so-called “fun” youth regatta.

——— Reply ———–

Sorry your regatta didn’t go as well as you hoped. In the larger picture, there is no scarcity of kids in sailing. The missing ingredient in sailing is the parent, who, as you have said, is usually relegated to volunteering.

Here are three bold moves that I have seen work miracles in many cities and clubs:

1.) Don’t use the words regatta or fun. One is off-putting. The other is self-evident. “Games” is a good alternative word and solid footing for innovation, but you might think of another. New and different games are the most fun and engaging. Assemble your team to invent new games and try new flavors. Have the players weigh in. Give credit to the inventors and keep refining. Everything is on the table.

2.) Don’t exclude the parent, in fact, make the event family centric, that is, everyone, every age, every skill level, every gender sails. If the kids end up teaching the parents, you’ve just doubled your numbers and created the most lasting memories (and dedicated sailors.) Might you have to try different boats? Sure. Is it hard to get them? Never.

3.) Rethink every outcome. Old social statuses don’t matter anymore. Trophies and podium visits pale in comparison to youtube action clips and personal facebook albums and sailing tweets. The opportunity that sailing organizers have today is mind-blowing: every person sailing can star in their own movie! Some will be funny. Others heroic. Others inspiring. This is the point of ignition for viral marketing and leads to massive gains in interest, participants and more innovation.

Recent research shows that millennials like and want to be with their parents. Studies of adults 30-55 shows that they want to engage their kids and not waste time in cubicles, behind windshelds or screens. The new family unit is ready to trade money for time and purchases for experiences. Sailing is an ideal environment to accomplish both. Design your event to make it possible.

Best of luck to you!

Get ready to #gosailing

Imagine: Open Source Laser Sailing

September 6, 2013 § 2 Comments

Laser Regatta

Anyone who has sailed a Laser will tell you that it is first and always a nimble sportboat—responsive, sized right, intuitive, thrilling to sail on a reach and the magnet at the center of a modern social network. Laser fleets are usually age, ability and gender agnostic, and Laser sailors are generally welcoming and helpful to each other.

But legal battles regarding the license to build the Laser may kill this masterpiece of sailing couture and culture. So thousands of Laser sailors are wondering about their investment. They have a lot to be worried about.

Here’s an idea. Go Open Source.

Read more in the September 2013 issue of Sailing Magazine.

SailingMag

New sailing course: How to Race Offshore

September 29, 2012 § 3 Comments

New sailing course: How to Race Offshore

I’ve proposed and am working on a new course for the Milwaukee Community Sailing Center (MCSC). It will be one of the winter classes in 2012/13, debuting in early March (approximately). Check back here for schedule information, and if you have ideas, things you’d like to hear, or want the presentation file (when it is available), email me at nickhayes@savingsailing.com.

Here is the abstract:

How to Race Offshore
Entering and competing in a serious offshore race like the Queen’s Cup, Hook or Mac Race, is not for the faint of heart. It’s a serious commitment of time and money, demanding thoughtful planning, rigorous attention to detail and safety, and a multifaceted strategy that considers weather, competitors and the strengths and weaknesses of the boat and its team.
This new course is designed to help you decide if you want to pursue offshore racing, what to expect if you do, how to set realistic goals, and how to give you and your team the best chance of doing well while having fun and staying safe.
We will touch on many of the key offshore subjects: team selection, boat preparations, provisioning, navigation, watches, roles and responsibilities, nutrition and hydration, safety racing strategies and tactics, weather routing, and preparing for and handling emergencies.

Presentation files from other courses that I teach as an MCSC volunteer are linked below. Feel free to download, use and share them as you see fit. And if you have edits or corrections, please let me know.

Olympians need you to #GoSailing

August 9, 2012 § 1 Comment

Olympic sailing success depends on a robust intergenerational recreational sailing population. Period. These data confirm it.

Recreational Sailing and Olympic Medals

After popularity grows, we earn more medals. Soon after popularity falls, we earn fewer.

If you compare the number of recreational sailors in the US to the number of medals earned per recreational sailor, you learn that one short generation (15-25 years) after sailing was at its peak popularity in the US, the US was fielding its most talented Olympic sailing teams. Soon after sailing began to fall in popularity, we began to perform more inconsistently, and eventually, we struggled to represent in international competition. Sure, some individuals have been stand-outs, but broadly, our Olympic team needs a much stronger foundation. And sadly, these data confirm that success takes a longer time to cultivate than failure.

Medals vs sailors

It’s a bit easier to see the relationship by using polynomial trend lines to smooth the data.

Granted, we outperformed between 2000 and 2008 in terms of medals earned per recreational sailor, due, in part, to hangover effects: many Olympians take part in more than one of the games and modern professional training got more from some athletes. But this also means that in those odd years, we were effectively concentrating the most skill in the fewest people. If you had to invent a formula for eventual collapse of a team, that would be it.

So this year’s medal shut-out was to be expected.

The way to earn more Olympic sailing medals is to build at the base; to share sailing broadly with as many people at the local level as we can reach. #GoSailing.

Passion…

March 28, 2012 § 2 Comments

First published on SailingAnarchy – March 2012

It’s what we all have for sailing, right?

Well, not compared to walking, or dancing, or playing cricket, or even bushwalking. Yes, I said bushwalking.

In fact, according to one of the most comprehensive research studies on recreational sailing ever conducted, sailing ranks 37th out of 46 sports tracked, with only 5% of the population calling themselves fanatics. Three and a half times as many bushwalkers (hikers, in Aussie) are fanatics about what they do.

Credit Yachting Australia (YA), the Australian version of US Sailing, for investing in the future of sailing by listening to sailors and aspiring sailors of all ages. The organization commissioned a massive study, talked to thousands of people, and are using what they’ve learned to develop new ideas to grow sailing and make it better in the down under.

The report is a treasure-trove of terrific insights and ideas. Since the Australian recreational sailing experience and Australia’s population and economic development essentially parallel the rest of the developed world, sailing advocates everywhere should thank the folks at YA for putting it out there and then grab all of YA’s good ideas for their own use.

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