Stepping Stones Toward Commitment

Published on April 25th, 2017

Using club-owned boats to grow and engage membership is proving to be a popular trend. This report comes from Rochester Yacht Club in Rochester, NY.


The sailing season got an early start in April when club member and Sonar booster Skip Shumway motivated the troops to hit the water before the racing kicks into gear in mid-May.

With six new club Sonars that joined the local fleet last fall, the hope was to engage some non-Sonar sailors and/or non-racer club members in some low-impact racing with existing fleet members helping as coaches.

Early summerlike conditions delivered a beautiful day, and with three of the new Sonars on the line with five newbies onboard, it proved to be a full and fruitful day of racing. Not bad for an idea that was hatched just a few snowy weeks earlier.

The club intends to offer the boats for charter during the season for its more competitive Tuesday night One-Design racing, and while Wednesday is the club’s Offshore night, the hope is to add a start for the Sonars as well. With a coach or two on each of the boats, members would be afforded a more casual racing experience and a chance to learn a new position.

The Club has made a commitment to adult sailing instruction, and envision the Sonars as the next step in their ‘On Ramp To Racing‘ program in which participants engage in two nights of classroom learning followed by a long weekend of coaching and drills.

The Club’s hope is for these boats to act as a stepping-stone for some club members to permanently join the fleet once they realize the positive virtues of the Sonar. But in the short term, it is all about getting them used on a regular basis alongside the fleet of privately-owned boats.

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