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  #1  
Old 02-21-2013
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race participation

I have the new job of being Race Commodore for our yacht club on a lake near Minneapolis. We have have laid back club with just 6 Sunday races over the season. While we have 90 sailboats, less than 10 ever particpate in racing. We would like to encourage more people to join in. We have thought about including some race education with each race or racing to a restaurant on the other side of the lake. Does anyone have experience with creating more particpation in a racing program among while keeping things laid back.
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Old 02-21-2013
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Re: race participation

From personal experience some thoughts toward a laid back approach focused on getting the other 80 boats to the starting line:

1. Make it easy for people to show up. Offer to rate their boat and be generous.
2. be very liberal on sail numbers and placement.
3. Relaxed rules... anyone who lodges a protest has to buy a round (or 3) for the opponent.
4. No one likes coming in last. Consider reverse starts where the start is staggered by PHRF rating. Slowest boat starts first and the fastest goes last. Makes for an interesting finish.
5. If someone comes in last often enough, they'll stop showing up. Offer a post race review of any individual boat's performance. Make it a round table where more experienced racers can tell the slower boats what they did wrong.
6. Discourage sport boats or exotic sails (Code 0, etc.). Encourage pummeling with water balloons anyone with laminate sails.
7. Party doesn't start until the last boat is tied up.
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Old 02-21-2013
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Re: race participation

A race experienced skipper crewing for the beginner on the beginner's own boat is a great way to get the newby going. Spread the word and hold a couple of special "beginner's only" races. You'll be surprised how that will bring them out. You just need to have a way to get the word out.
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Old 02-21-2013
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Re: race participation

Quote:
Originally Posted by Sabreman View Post
From personal experience some thoughts toward a laid back approach focused on getting the other 80 boats to the starting line:

1. Make it easy for people to show up. Offer to rate their boat and be generous.
2. be very liberal on sail numbers and placement.
3. Relaxed rules... anyone who lodges a protest has to buy a round (or 3) for the opponent.
4. No one likes coming in last. Consider reverse starts where the start is staggered by PHRF rating. Slowest boat starts first and the fastest goes last. Makes for an interesting finish.
5. If someone comes in last often enough, they'll stop showing up. Offer a post race review of any individual boat's performance. Make it a round table where more experienced racers can tell the slower boats what they did wrong.
6. Discourage sport boats or exotic sails (Code 0, etc.). Encourage pummeling with water balloons anyone with laminate sails.
7. Party doesn't start until the last boat is tied up.
Our club has a very successful Friday evening series which incorporates a pursuit start where each boat's start time after the gun is based on their assigned PHRF rating. The objective is to have everybody finish relatively close together. Races typically finish by 9pm after which everybody enjoys champagne (each boat provides a bottle) and finger foods. It's very low key, eliminates starting line phobia, and is a great social event as well. Other clubs have held 'adopt-a-cruiser' events where they have taken non-racers on as crew, or have co-skippered non-racer's boats in more casual regattas.
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Old 02-21-2013
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Pursuit races are fun. Also consider having races for singlehanders or couples (Jack and Jill race in our club)
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Old 02-21-2013
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Re: race participation

I have never been in a race. Sitting on a rail looking like a moron is absolutely not my kind of fun either. So my experience in how to attract more boats to join is limited. However, I do know what makes the world turn.

Providing some eye candy will help. If the club is to provide two young babes for each captain, I am sure you will plenty of boats will join. For me, I probably will move to MN and buy a boat to race in your club.

Even in this most conservative sailnet forum, members often flock to the thread that are originated by a member with a female name or picture. They offer lot of answer, discussion, help, phone number, and meets. LOL. Not sure why, but it happens all the time. Unfortunately, most these member are married, but I guess that they can still look, read the menu without ordering the candy.

I will be available for further consultation..... LOL
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Old 02-21-2013
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Re: race participation

Often what intimidates reluctant 'racers' is the worry of flying a spinnaker, or the worry of not having a spinnaker (or knowing/wanting to use one) etc.. For that group a 'non flying sails' division keeps things simple, and you'll often get more professed cruisers willing to take part. Providing them a separate start (the other major intimidating feature of 'racing') helps too. The Pursuit style makes things a lot more fun for the slow boats, as mentioned already.

We've also, in the past, put 'better' sailors on other boats to speed them up and get them a taste of being in the thick of it. Lots of learning to go around, and finally a casual debriefing at the end of the day, a few suds and discussions about what he/she shoulda coulda done in that situation is always a lot of fun, adds to the social dimension and makes for closer friendships among the 'competitors'..
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Old 02-21-2013
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Re: race participation

Fecklessdolphin... I learned a little bit (stress on the little) about racing when I joined hoofers at UW-Madison over 20 years ago in grad school. Racing was on small Tech Dinghys and it was a blast! It was a great experience because many of the other racers were beginners also. I became hooked immediately. Unfortunately... Life, family, and my job got in the way and I had only sailed on other people's boats a handful of times over the past two decades. Then, last year I convinced my wife to buy our Catalina 320 and put it up on Leech Lake (hey, we have 4 kids and need the room... It's our weekend "cabin").

But to get to the question at hand... I was still dying to race, even if doing so from the RV division meant I'd get last place. A buddy of mine convinced me that the LLR Regatta would be perfect for us. He told me "It's a big 3 day party and other a few %^*holes, everybody is friendly and just there to have fun". I was sure he couldn't be right, because when racing is involved, people want to win... Or at least do well. I finally entered and had all the jitters talked about above. Especially the fact that I wouldn't be flying a spinnaker and was trying hard to remember starting rules from 20 yrs ago.

Turns out we didn't get last... Maybe about 65th out of 70 boats and that was mostly due to <3-5 kt winds on the last two days that definitely wasn't going to help out a spinnakerless, grill toting, 11,000lb RV masquerading as a boat!!

But it was the best time I've had on a boat ever. Key to me entering was my friends insistence that "everyone was just there to have fun!". I would urge you to keep a fun atmosphere... And even though its still a race, try to de-emphasize the competition part for the newbies. Maybe the first couple of weeks you can have separate starts for people who are seriously trying to "race" and those that just want to learn how to sail their boat better and have fun. I think that within a couple races, more of those boats will be itching to start with the real racers to test themselves.
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Old 02-21-2013
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Re: race participation

We have an annual event similar to CLucas', where we all sail to a harbor about 10 miles away. The pursuit start allows us to time it so everyone arrives in time for hors d'oeuvres, which are shared between boats on a big raft-up. Sometimes there is a prize for the best hors-d'oeuvres. (A cutting board? A chart placemat? An apron?...) To make the race more interesting, each boat is allowed to use their engine for a total of 20 minutes. We once surprised a competitor by sailing past him, to leeward, despite him running his engine full bore. To attract the interest of younger crew the prize for winning this race is a 3' long toy stuffed animal on a stand with engraved plaques showing the winning boats' names. They also enjoy the overnight aspect and the idea that there are other kids on the other boats who also want to swim or whatever together. We try very hard to come in second, so as not to disappoint someone else's crew.
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Old 02-21-2013
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Re: race participation

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We've also, in the past, put 'better' sailors on other boats to speed them up and get them a taste of being in the thick of it.
This is an excellent idea that works wonders. When we started racing again after a 25 yr break, we loaded Victoria with a bunch of stud and stud-ette racers. These are people who race 2-3 days /week on their own (mostly <30') boats. They descended on our boat and promptly deconstructed it (remove cowls, pull dodger & bimini, etc), making it more or less race ready. I was a little put off, but went with it. We came in near the back of the pack after 21 hours racing.

Five years later, the crew has rotated a bit but we still do one (very competitive) race and have managed to move into the top 50% (barely) of our class. Having them aboard has taught me a lot. And that's on top of 40 years experience. Truly... you don't know how to sail until you've raced.
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