Benefits of increased membership rule

Published on February 18th, 2020

While the Racing Rules of Sailing have membership requirements within Rule 75.1 for entering a race, they pertain to only the person in charge. However, Australian Sailing, the national sailing authority in that country, has increased the requirement, which set off a blistering attack on the organization’s Facebook page.

The Australian rule will require that all crew are members of an affiliated club and registered with Australian Sailing, and in this report by Alistair Murray, Vice President of Australian Sailing, he details the benefits while bringing attention to the SailPass program which is integral to this shift:


Thank you for giving me the opportunity to put Australian Sailing’s (AS) point of view forward for why we have legislated to require membership for those racing, and how we are working to make this requirement as user-friendly as possible.

The Benefits:

SAFETY. In this day and age we don’t think it is acceptable for an organising authority of an event to not even know who is on the water. We have had races where people have died and there are no details, including contact for next of kin. It is just like the concept of signing on and off as I have done in every dinghy race I have done for the past fifty years, other than that I need to register more than two people.

INSURANCE. AS offers $75K of life insurance to all members, even day members. In a race two years ago where two people perished the family of one of them (a yacht club member) received a payout; the other didn’t.

USER PAYS PRINCIPLE. We don’t require people to sign up to sail, but we do to race in an official race. It is only fair that those who enjoy the facilities of the club, the equipment provided and the staff time involved in putting the event on should contribute, rather than it be subsidised by members only. I can’t think of any other sport where you can walk into a facility and use it, their equipment and people without paying.

CLUB STRENGTH. The clubs are the delivery mechanism of our sport and many are struggling. This is about helping clubs grow. As an example, my club, Sandringham Yacht Club (SYC), with 2800 members gets 40% of its new membership every year directly from the “SailPass” scheme, which is the scheme for daily, compulsory membership. We have been running it for over a decade, and the membership and management think it is a great idea.

In addition to the safety aspect, by capturing the contact details of participants the club can thank them for coming, send them offers on sailing lessons, etc, etc. It is a very welcoming environment.

INCREASED PARTICIPATION IN SAILING. AS has a marketing campaign advertising “SailPass” and inviting non-members to come and try sailing. Clubs here are getting on board with it enthusiastically, as it invites people and makes them welcome.

Not a Money Grab:

Now, you and your readers may or may not agree with the benefits I have put forward, but I would like to finish by addressing what I consider to be the biggest misconception around this change, which is that it is a money grab. It is not. A few points and I will also talk about how SailPass works at my club:

• Australian Sailing doesn’t make a cent from SailPass. We just hope to have stronger clubs.

• A club can charge whatever it wants for a daily SailPass, including offering it for free if it chooses.

• SYC charges $15 a sail for up to 30 times, at which point we expect you to upgrade to membership. If you do, every cent you have spent on SailPasses is credited against your membership fee.

• SYC gives out books of free SailPasses which the skipper can give to guests for a free sail.

• SYC charges nothing for all twilight sailing.

• We use an app called “Member Point”, and SailPass is also available through AS’s Rev Sport IT platform used by many clubs. To sign on is dead simple. I can do it on my phone on the way to the start line for a crew of seven in less than two minutes. Everyone who has sailed before is already on the system; those sailing for the first time simply check into the boating office first, although that can be done online too.

• It all works so well, the technology is easy to use, and boat owners are now all over it!

In closing:

As far as we are concerned it ticks so many boxes, with the two biggest being safety and the growing of the sport and clubs. It just takes a different way of looking at things than the “way it has always been”.

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