Maintaining a Healthy Class Culture

Published on May 6th, 2018

by Craig Leweck, Scuttlebutt
In 2016, I wrote a column for Sailing World magazine which addressed the issue of professional sailors in our amateur sport, and its impact on competitive sailing’s changing landscape.

I said in the final paragraph, “If you are a sailor still unaffected by the impact of professionalism, note now that the genie is out of the bottle, and it’s not going back in. Strengthen your culture and tighten your rules, because change is far more difficult to grow once the true sailors start abandoning their ships.”

But this requires leadership, and following the recently held E-Scow National Championship, Class Commodore Brett Hatton is gripping the reins. In a letter to the Class membership he states:

“Many of us follow what has been going on in other one-design classes elsewhere worldwide and, due to lack of foresight, for a host of reasons, their event and participation numbers are waning. As a class, we need to be cognizant of that. We need to protect and nurture what we have – the best boats, sailed at some of the most spectacular locations anywhere on earth, with people that we care about.”

Hatton lists a number of items the Executive Board of the E Scow Class will be reviewing, among which includes:

Paid Pro’s on the racecourse
The real effect or cost to the fleet – and what to do about it, if anything. As I stated to another competitor when the topic has come up before, I don’t mind getting my ass stomped by the best – it is a good barometer to measure you and your teams sailing skills by. However, when people are racing for paychecks in any class, it can bring a host of other challenges to the regatta scene.

I will venture to assert that the lengths to which paid pros will go to earn their pay checks from whomever has hired them – based upon final results – has had a negative effect on other classes. Again, the PROOF I point my admittedly subjective assertion to is the challenges of the decline of other sport boat classes that were all “pro’d up”.

This is a very emotional topic and point of contention for many who understand the fragility of the game we play and the equally important social aspect we all invest in. There are many schools of thought on this topic. Feedback and comments from the class will be shared and posted once accumulated, discussed, and ruled upon.

Coaches boats on the water, versus support/spectator boats on the race course
Look for updates on the Regatta Sailing Instructions. This is under review, and I am confident changes will be coming based upon feedback to the board since the Charleston event.

We all love when family and friends come onto the water to spectate in the Corinthian Spirit of the experience as a whole – and don’t want to do anything to undermine that – but rules have been put in place to keep on-the-water coaches away from competitors in other classes.

This needs some work and clarification by your Board of Directors of the expectations to what is fair and proper, or a rules violation.

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