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  Topic Review (Newest First)
02-22-2013 05:16 PM
Re: race participation

As SolSailor mentioned, Hoofers Sailing has introduced a lot of people in Madison, WI to racing. One thing that makes it more accessible is that there is a Wed night newbie race and a Friday race for more experienced sailors. The courses were very short, so we could run 4-5 short races in a night. Could work for cruisers as well.
02-22-2013 04:22 PM
Re: race participation

Over the years my clubs have tried most of the ideas that have been brought up. The obvious things like giving cruisers their own "no flying sails" class are the most practical, but the fact of the matter is that even if you bend over backwards to accomodate them, most will not show up consistently, and the ones that do quickly get bored from lack of competition and either gear uo to get into the main fleet, or more likely just quit racing.

The most success in getting cruisers out racing comes from special events, not part of the regular racing series. Charity races where boats are encouraged to dress up their boats and crews in costumes for prizes, and layover races with good parties always attract non racers. Another popular event locally is a "scramble" where there are a number of marks laid out, but skippers can round the marks in any order they wish.

Don't fall in to the trap of "dumbing down" the existing racing series, leave those to the serious races. Instead come up with new events that cater to cruisers.
02-22-2013 10:18 AM
Re: race participation

Another event that we do that gets some non-racers racing is we combine it with a tennis tournament. Tennis in the morning and non-spin race in the afternoon. Each boat competes against each boat with equal weight given to the tennis and the sailing. Gets the tennis players to race and the racers to play tennis and is great fun.
02-22-2013 10:14 AM
Re: race participation

I only started racing a few years ago and am now addicted. Some things that helped me get started: Mandatory non-spin events can make it less daunting. Pursuit races (with staggered starts based on your rating) can make the start a lot less intimidating. Also, if you can do anything to facilitate getting more experienced racers on the new racers' boats for a race or two that can help make the whole thing less intimidating. Also, they can't help but improve with the help of some more experienced racers.
02-22-2013 09:56 AM
Re: race participation

zz - to summarize, you propose

an overnight raft up w/ a member of the opposite sex
That will be sure to increase participation. Sounds like a fun club you have. How does one join?
02-22-2013 09:10 AM
Re: race participation

Adopt a cruiser is a good start. Get seasoned racers out and put one of them on each cruising boat. Weds night series we get a great turnout but the weekend races are weekk. One of the best turnouts we have is a "mixed couples" race. You double hand your boat w/ a member of the opposite sex and it's an informal race w/ an overnight raft up at the end. You can bring as many people as you'd like but only 2 can sail. I'm sure you could modify the rules to 3 or 4 people crewing. The start is up to the boat. You can start between 1000 and 1030. Take your own finish time and then someone from RC reads the results.

It's a lot of fun and families, kids, etc. are encouraged to swim, drink, eat, and be merry. No one really cares who wins.
02-21-2013 11:38 PM
Re: race participation

For our club's Weds. night racing series they have 1 spinnaker class, 2 non-spinnaker classes and a 'fun' class. This entails at least 2 starts which reduces the number of boats 'on the line' which makes the start a bit less stressful - usually. A little more work for the RC but we seem to think it is all worth the effort.

Re., the water balloon idea. While it sounds fun, the idea of leaving all those tiny bits of rubber in your water does not. They make those mega squirt gun toys which can shoot pretty far and will not leave litter around your waters.

Also, try to get 1 person on each boat to take pictures of their competitors while racing and share them with each other after the races. It is really impossible to get a good, complete picture of your own boat while you are sailing on it but pretty easy for someone passing you or whom you pass.
02-21-2013 11:23 PM
Re: race participation

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.
02-21-2013 11:05 PM
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.
02-21-2013 08:52 PM
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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