Same-Old, Same-Old Won’t Cut It Any Longer
Published on April 23rd, 2014
by Don Finkle, RCR Yachts
They say old habits die hard and change is seldom easy. When you have people who are accustomed to doing things the same way, and “if it ain’t broke don’t fix it”, then you get the same thing year after year. This explains why races are typically run in the same place by the same people on the same courses year after year.
Often the organizers and volunteers think they are doing the right thing because it feels normal to them. What we have begun to see recently, however, is declining participation because the sailors themselves want change, and it isn’t necessarily because those running the races are doing anything wrong. On the contrary, the level of RC work is usually very good and those putting on the events are trying hard.
So what is the issue? Lifestyles have changed, sailors are busier than ever, and the whole family dynamic must be considered. Gone are the days when the head of the household (sorry about the term, could not think of a better way to put it) did whatever he/she wanted to on weekends. This puts pressure on those running races, series and regattas to create something that causes the sailor to make the time and financial commitment to sail instead of other choices.
When it is all viewed together it appears that many sailors want something that is different from what they have done in the past. Let’s face it, we are all so spoiled with the variety of choices we have today in every aspect of life and that certainly includes leisure time. Same-old, same-old won’t cut it any longer for many, especially younger sailors.
This topic has been bandied about and we are far from the only ones saying it; the real question is what to do about it? The challenge is to be constructive with the changes so that old relationships and competitive rivalries are not lost and we don’t have to give up going to places we love to visit. It seems that racers still enjoy racing, they simply want more variety, some new twists, maybe an opportunity for a better result.
Some things being tried are different closed course configurations other than strictly W-Ls, pursuit racing, rally racing, short-handed sailing, and gender or age specific helming and crewing. Distance racing is making a comeback too. The HPR is gaining a bit of traction in its small segment of the sport. Sportboats are gaining in popularity.
Is your club, fleet or organization trying new things this year?
Source: RCR Yachts Racer’s News #546