The Metrics of Participation

Published on November 19th, 2015

by Frederic Berg
The many conversations on increasing participation in the sport we so cherish have been enlightening. We hear of programs that inject fun in junior sailing or inner city sailing programs that improve kids learning in general or how the changes in Americas Cup may or may not be good for the sport. It’s healthy and important to have this dialogue and certainly all of us have carried away practical tips to apply in the management of our varying sailing venues.

One area that seems to have escaped attention is how our yacht clubs are doing. What are the metrics we should use to measure a clubs success? What should the boards be focusing on? Which Clubs are doing well and which clubs are the low hanging fruit for improvement and why or how? I wonder why since most of us are members of a yacht club and the experience is in our back yard.

Should the metrics focus on the core issue, which is participation in the clubs racing events? Should we look at other variables such as diversity in the racing venues, courses or variability along the spectrum of serious to fun? Is hosting outside events important and does that impact participation at the local level and if so how? Is the number of races held annually a factor? Should we be holding more races or fewer races to increase participation? Is there a ratio of races to members that works? Is supporting cruising important and how are cruising and racing related? Do they belong together and if so why and how? How important is it to maintain a culture of yachting at the club? Should there be other activities unrelated to sailing hosted at the club?

Would those clubs that are considered to be doing well consider mentoring others in the day-to-day minutiae that makes their clubs tick? What role do the area associations and national sailing authority (ie, US Sailing) have in creating these metrics? They are in a position of possibly generating data that no one club could generate alone.

If we were to have a national or even international database to measure all the clubs performance there would likely be trends that emerge none of us would have guessed at and some that are so obvious we pay no attention to.

Maybe this can start a dialogue which could lead to a set of metrics that the national and international sailing authorities could begin to track that would add real value to yacht club management.

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