One Design Fleet Building

Published on March 11th, 2013

By Craig Leweck, Scuttlebutt
The best part about one design sailing is the opportunity. The sailors come from all walks of life. Private schools or public schools. Self-employed or unemployed. It doesn’t matter who your family is or what kind of car you drive. Out on the water, when the Warning Signal is raised, all the boats have an equal chance on that start line.

But the strengths of one design sailing can also be its weakness.

Class rules control the equipment and manage the costs to promote close racing. Information on how best to prepare the boat is readily available. When the race has begun, the only glaring variable is the sailors.

There is one truth that resides in all one design classes: not everyone will win a prize. At the end of the regatta, the sun will only shine on a few, and it can get kind of cold in the shade. There needs to be more reasons for people to participate than the pursuit of a pickle dish.

People may choose one design sailing for the convenience, the simplicity. Or people may choose one design sailing for the honest test of their ability. But what ultimately keeps people engaged is the community of one design sailing. I often say the racing we do only keeps us busy between the parties. While the prominent championships require a sharp focus on the competition, the majority of our racing needs more balance. There needs to be more to a regatta than just the racing.

The community of one design sailing should be every class’ strength. Different classes attract different segments, but the commonality of the class is what connects its members. There are experiences that can be shared, that must be shared. Each class is its own fraternity, and each event is its reunion.

As much as every team has an equal chance at a good start, not every team has an equal chance at a good finish. Some teams are just better. Better gear, better training, better genetics. That is the test we take on the water, but it is not a score we carry over onshore.

To maintain the community of one design sailing, be concerned if the finishing order also reflects the social order. If top teams only hang out with top teams, then the community suffers. If there is a contingent that is only about the racing and nothing else, the community suffers.

The traveling events provide a unique reunion for each one design boat, attracting class members from wide range of sailing areas. Meet some new people, share your experiences, offer help where needed, and don’t forget to have a good time after the racing. You are a member of one design class, a fraternity. Embrace it!

Reprinted courtesy of Bacardi Sailing Week.


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