Keep an Eye Out for the New Kid

Published on February 23rd, 2017

Strong classes and fleets succeed because of the people involved. Art Rousmaniere, who is now the top volunteer leader for the US Snipe Class, offers simple and common sense advice on to grow participation.

I like to sail Snipes, but I love the greater sport and pastime of sailing, so I make a point to get in other boats when I can.

Like last year, when I crewed on a Thistle for the first time, and with a way-back-of-the fleet but eager skipper. Or getting back into Atlantics as a crew for a childhood friend after growing up racing in my father’s Atlantic in Cold Spring Harbor NY as a kid. Or sailing my and my wife’s college alumnae regattas this past fall (for those who do not know me, I have been out of college for a while). Or even cruising the New England coast with another childhood friend.

All these remind me of what it is like to be new to a class…. not knowing anybody…. not knowing the tricks to the boat…. not knowing the culture on the race course or at the parties. My resultant theorem is that it takes at least three separate and distinct engagements (i.e. regattas or separate days of fleet racing) before a sailor feels “at home” with a new fleet or class.

Yes, growing a fleet takes effort, but this does not have to be hard. Know that for most of us, we do this because we want to have fun. So start with this simple two-step process that focuses on the social stuff:

1. Reach out to non-Snipers, new-to-the-fleeters or those who are familiar but your paths do not cross much. Get to know them – you do not need to be an extrovert or comedian. Ask how you can help them improve as a sailor – you do not need to be the fleet champion.
2. Repeat step 1 at least three times

And just like Dorothy’s first step down the yellow brick road, we all need to take the initiative. So try any / all of these:

1. Invite a non-fleet member to sail with you or to your next sailing social event
2. Offer to help tune their boat
3. Buy a crew a class membership for $30 ($20 for juniors)
4. Use your imagination for other inclusion schemes

Then repeat at least three times.

Source: US Snipe Class

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