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Old 22-02-2013, 11:32   #1
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Increasing race participation

I have recently become Race Commodore for our yacht club on a lake outside Minneapolis. Our club has more of a cruiser than racing mentality. We only have 6 races each season. While we have 90 sailboats, only about 10 of us race. We would like more participation and are thinking about ways to make it more educational and to make it easier to start racing. Does anyone have experience with increasing race participation among a group of cruisers?
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Old 22-02-2013, 11:48   #2
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I don't have much experience achieving that goal as I haven't been in your particular position. However I would suggest doing a number of cruise related races that are for fun and not too serious. We have a race each year where the start has boats surrounding the committee boat and at the gun the captains have to swim out to their crews before going and boats are expected to hose competitors with water cannons etc. it's a great time and they are racing. This is just one example of ways to dress racing up as a good time win or lose.

I'm not sure of your members' mindset or what you do already so I'm just putting that out there...

PS swimming out to boats at the start requires no motoring rules ;-)
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Old 22-02-2013, 11:55   #3
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Re: Increasing race participation

I would say to have an intro to racing race.

I dont race. I have sailed my entire life.

I would race if it were more informal.

just kind of a for fun thing. make an intro....here would be an example i would participate if.

leave marina
get to starting point. (just outside of marina)
race to small island.
first one to have sails doused and anchor down gets a case of beer

swimming and bbq on beach. that would be really fun if you ask me!

if i did something like that and got to know the others racing, i might get into the next more official rule following race. also, it would let me build rappor with others who race so I would feel comfortable asking all of the dumb questions .
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Old 22-02-2013, 13:46   #4
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Re: Increasing race participation

Boatsail, you sound like the kind of person I am trying to recruit.
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Old 22-02-2013, 14:37   #5
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Re: Increasing race participation

A lot of skippers shy away from racing because of the starting line.

While for some of us, the thrill of close quarters maneuvering and the chess game at the line is fun, for some it is daunting and scary, at least at first.

The Pursuit Race is a great remedy. The Pursuit format gives the handicap up front, such that each boat has an individual start time to meet at the line, the slowest go first. No hectic start with people yelling and panicking!

The slowest are even benefited by starting in the cleanest air.

Experience in racing is gained, as the fast boats have to pass the slow boats instead of running away.

Lots of fun and a good intro,
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Old 22-02-2013, 14:46   #6
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Re: Increasing race participation

My club also has the same problem.

I agree that the starting line is a big part of the problem. I wonder if a distance rule to keep a minimum 2 or 3 boat lengths seperation would calm things down for short crewed boats?

We have had some luck by calculating the start times so that the first boat to the finish wins. ( Pursuit Race )

Also full moon nights have worked for us.

But in the end it has to be fun.
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Old 22-02-2013, 15:09   #7
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Re: Increasing race participation

Our Wednesday night races used to be a lot of fun years ago. Not real serious, and lots of beer (I once charged a boat a beer to allow them to pass me). The past 5 years it has gotten serious with protests and other BS. Not as much fun.

Try putting strippers on the race committee boat, or how about a refreshment runabout (like they have girls delivering beer on the golf course).
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Old 22-02-2013, 16:02   #8
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Re: Increasing race participation

Beads bikini's
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Old 22-02-2013, 16:23   #9
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Re: Increasing race participation

I hate to say it, but the main problem with getting us cruisers racing are the other racers. In other words, racing inevitably brings out the competitive instincts in people, as it should, but in some people that means doing anything it takes to win, even on a Wednesday night beer can race. It is no fun for the cruisers who don't know all the silly little rules of racing to constantly be shouted at and then beaten and then have the macho racers gloat about it. Cruisers are more laid back, want to enjoy themselves, not beat someone. I say let the racers race and cruisers cruise.
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Old 22-02-2013, 16:47   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Kettlewell View Post
Cruisers are more laid back, want to enjoy themselves, not beat someone. I say let the racers race and cruisers cruise.
Reality, is it?
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Old 22-02-2013, 17:12   #11
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Re: Increasing race participation

1) Make it fun.

2) Make it loud.

3) Try to organize a weekend rally-race to a cool destination a day's sail away that is popular with your cruisers.

Last but not least, give prizes.

b.
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Old 12-03-2013, 21:46   #12
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Re: Increasing race participation

Quote:
Originally Posted by Kettlewell View Post
Cruisers are more laid back, want to enjoy themselves, not beat someone. I say let the racers race and cruisers cruise.
I agree with this sentiment, but do not want to accept the conclusion. I would like to develop a race program that caters to cruisers, which does not push people out and instead pays attention to the bottom half of the fleet. Hopefully the faster sailors will keep coming, too. I would rather attract the people who will make these races fun than the people who want to be competitive. There is another yacht club on our lake that holds competitive races and I participate in those races, but want to create something different here.

Thank you all for the input. I am going back to my race committee tomorrow with many of your suggestions.
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Old 12-03-2013, 22:19   #13
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Re: Increasing race participation

Are you in a position to offer to put a person on board any prospective newbie racer, as "tactician"? It has been our Club's experience that some potential racers are put off by the fact that they are not sufficiently familiar with the rules (and to some extent, process / etiquette) of racing. We have a bunch of experienced knowledgable sailors who will go on board and provide as much advice as is needed... especially pre-start / at start, at buoy roundings etc. We have got a few non-racers gradually into the racing scene in this way...
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Old 13-03-2013, 00:39   #14
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Re: Increasing race participation

Hi, I'm not a boat owner/skipper but I am a member of the local yacht club and crew on a boat. Our club runs the 'serious' racing on Sundays split into three divisions - 1,2 and commodores (with no spinnaker). It caters to the serious racers being Div1 boats down to the more casual/new comer in commodores. Also during day light savings, we have a more casual Friday night race with no spinnakers at all. These Friday nights are where I started crewing before moving to a regular position in the Sunday events. I know a number of Sunday regulars got a taste for racing after joining someone else’s boat on a Friday.
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Old 13-03-2013, 01:11   #15
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Re: Increasing race participation

For a race that attracts a huge number of sailors -- hardcore racers, casual, and first-time -- take a look at San Francisco's "Three Bridge Fiasco". This is the best-attended race of the year, and is a real blast. This is a pursuit race, but given that there are usually around 300 boats signed up, the starting line can be extremely crowded. This race is restricted to single and doublehanders (it's sponsored by the Singlehanded Sailing Society).

The rules are fun, the conditions unpredictable, and it's a great way to see a bunch of your sailing friends on the water. Here are some links for the 3BF:

A nice video: three bridge fiasco
Some of my own blog entries: Three Bridge Fiasco 2012 VALIS, Three Bridge Fiasco, 2010 VALIS, Three Bridge Fiasco Report VALIS
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