Building Participation By Simplifying The Format
Published on January 12th, 2016
A challenge in the sport is how to build participation when the cost to compete continues to climb. This is a result of increased competition, which is a tricky variable to restrain. The harder the game is to play, fewer are willing to invest the time and money to participate.
So how do keep people from trying so hard? Simplify the format. As multi-race days of windward-leewards crush the casual racers, promoting a less taxing alternative can do the trick. Ken Quant is promoting a plan he hopes will loosen the dock lines next season on Lake Michigan…
We get approximately 80 boats out on any given Wednesday night, yet only 15 to 18 on weekends for our traditional three race per day Saturday “PHRF” fleet. That fleet use to have 50 boats racing just 15 years ago, so you can see the trend.
In an effort to reinvigorate weekend sailing in Milwaukee Bay, a new plan is being organized for 2016 to offer a racing alternative for the casual racers.
From June to September, the initial thought is to run one race each month on Saturday afternoons starting about 2 p.m., with a time limit of two hours. This should hopefully get everyone off the water no later than 4:30, getting everyone back to the club to encourage cross fleet socialization.
We want to provide a good option for sailors that do not, or cannot, earmark all day Saturday for racing. Starting after the usual sea breeze builds in the early afternoon, there’ll be no waiting for wind. Plus the simpler schedule will make it easier to get crew, no lunches are needed, and allows people to get something “else” done on Saturday.
We hope this will stimulate all those beer can racers to come out on the weekends by offering them a race format with similar commitment levels for both skipper and crew.
As for the race course, the current thought is to create a triangle using fixed marks. It could be sailed once or twice around based on wind conditions, but it would be run the same way around no matter which way the wind blows to keep things simple.
We recently had our first meeting and judging by the strong turnout, we should have no problem establishing a new fleet next season as long as the format stays simple and cost reasonable.