Membership Idea. . .

Discussion in 'Laser Class Politics' started by sorosz, Dec 17, 2009.

  1. sorosz

    sorosz Member

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    No doubt everyone has noticed Gouvernail's tagline: "Still the last person to run a growing North American Sailing Association of over 3100 members." I'm kind of bored with seeing that time and again and got to thinking. . .

    As of December 9, there are 2344 class members. That means we only need to get 757 new members and Gouvernail will have to change his tag line. All of us current members only need to get 0.3229522 new members each! Getting only a third of a new member each has got to be doable. Get two of your Laser buddies together and tag team someone. Heck, there's 15,200 members on this forum (and they can't all be duplicates of the guys who keep getting suspended or foreign members), it should be even easier.

    At only $40 ($35 for Juniors) it makes for a pretty inexpensive X-mas present so sign up your favorite Laser sailor today! And make Gouvernail change his tagline to at least the "Second to the last person. . ."

    And for all you guys who make the argument that Class membership does nothing for you -- Go Sail Force 5s!!! You're dead to me.
     
  2. jeffers

    jeffers Active Member

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    Your thinking is flawed, you are assuming that everyone who is a member of your district comes here. Though a majority of people here are from the US there is a significant minority that comes from other countries round the world.

    My own personal view is that I have not join the UKLA because I could not see what benefit it bought me as a grass roots sailor. This year my hand is forced because I have been elected the class captain so I need to join. We shall see what happens! There are a lot of initiatives taking place in the UK to try and bouy up the club Laser sailing. I will eport back once I know more.....
     
  3. gouvernail

    gouvernail Active Member

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    I would love nothing more than to be caused to remove that signature line.


    Seriously, who of us would not be happy to know there is an available collection of the names and addresses of 700 more freshly found North American sailing friends?

    The solution is pretty simple.

    Find a super enthusistic fanatic who almost can't stand to go to bed before completing the job or wind yourselves up, split up the responsibilities, and make the next boom in sailing begin.


    Go guys go!! Let's cross that bridge as soon as possible!!!

    Bring a couple friends each to the Easter Laser Regatta and Eric Faust can sign them up right there on the spot and keep gains from the midwinters rolling!!!!!!


    I love huge fleets!!!!! Sailor buddies rock!!!

    [​IMG]
     
  4. SFBayLaser

    SFBayLaser Member

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    I'm always a bit taken aback when people offer up the "but what do I get out of it" excuse for not joining their class association.

    In my opinion, these sailors are already deriving the indirect benefits of a strong class association. For starters, a strong class association is typically the primary reason there is a local fleet to begin with. After that there are a whole host of ways that a strong class association impacts your local fleet... If many of the sailors in that fleet travel much, then its probably a very competitive fleet since the travelling sailors are going to be racing against even better competition. A strong class association means not only is it easy to find a boat so you can join the fleet, but you can also easily find retailers to provide parts and gear for you boat, clothing for you, etc. A strong class association also means that if you decide you need a brand new boat (or in the rare case that you erroneously determine that Laser sailing is not for you) that your old boat will command a relatively high resale value. A strong Class Association means that if you get tired of racing in your puddle you can throw the boat on the car/trailer and find another puddle near you. And in a class like the Laser Class it also means you can find regattas which cater to you specifically, e.g. youth, master, women, size/weight, olympic, etc. Finally, it also means you can easily find the highest level of sailing compeititon possible, especially as ILcA-NA makes a real effort to move its major championships around the region on a regular basis (as I bet is also true of UKLA) - for example see the 2010 Major Regatta Grid.

    But there is still the direct question of "what do I get out of it?" Here, I think a national/regional class association is probably offering a lot more than you realize. For example, the North American Class does publish a quarterly newsletter (check out back issues as far back as Winter '99 here) which, besides offering articles and advertising specifically for Laser sailors, often showcases fleets around the region and, in addition, has a section devoted to News From The Districts where the local fleets can offer reports on their activities. ILCA-NA can also offer local fleets a web presence in the sense of a dedicated page at www.laser.org to advertise their fleet, provide schedules, contact information, etc. (e.g. see Steve Orosz' Treasure Island Fleet page). And the Laser Class maintains an extensive online calendar which can be used to expose the local fleet's schedule to a wider audience, provide detailed information on the event and even display a map showing where the events are located and give driving directions on how to get there (e.g. see the District 7 page at www.laser.org). After that, ILCA-NA can (and does) provide support to the District Secretary to help further promote local fleets at the district level (I'm pretty sure UKLA has the same sort of thing). And let's also not forget that if your fleet's venue can handle large fleets then you can also throw your hat in the ring to host one of the plethora of ILCA-NA events, from a major event like a Nationals or NA's, to a regional event like an ACC's, PCC's, GLC's, NCC's, GCC's, to a District Championship, or one of the Masters' events, etc.

    Still, "what do I get out of it?" Ok, what is it that the local sailors want their regional class association to do for them directly?

    One way to get what you want is to Join the Laser Class and start asking for it!
     
  5. gouvernail

    gouvernail Active Member

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    You read the above post and your reaction is>>>


    blah blah blah. I couldn't give a rats patoot about international or world competition. The newsletter never has squat in it abouyt what we do around here. I just want to play locally about 25 times a year and don't see how sending money to San Diego impacts that...

    So you are still asking>>>

    Why should I join?

    or as a current member who probably isn't planning on renewiong that membership.

    What am I getting out of it??

    As I have already beed reading your mind. I shall now answer your question with a scintilla of the information anyone who loves to play on a Laser needs.

    Fact is, the resale value of your Laser is, depending on it's age, somewhere between $1000 and $5000 more elevated than any other similar dinghy in similar age and in similar condition.

    There is only one reason Lasers have this higher value.


    The Laser is THE piece of equipment a person must own to play the singlehanded sailing game.

    Sure there are little pockets of Sunfish sailing and Force Five sailing and Finn sailing but overall, there realy is no other choice for singlehanded sailing.

    The real sailing is the weekly local stuff with your local gang of sailing buddies. Regattas are candy for the few. You can find a local bunch in many places all over the world and because there is a paid staff sitting in the NA Laser Class Association office, you can call and get information about who has owned Lasers in your local area pretty much ever. If there is no organized fleet today, you can easily set up a get together of a bunch of Laser owners and form a sailing group...because the NA Laser class knows where those sailors live and usually even has phone numbers and email addresses for those soon to be best friends of yours.
    You cannot do that with ANY other singlehanded sailing toy.

    The fact is, in North America, where all this started, The Designer and builders knew right from the get go that Class Associations are what make the sailing game function.

    For the first 30 years, every time a Laser rolled off the Assembly line, the Laser builder sent the cost of one year of membership to the North American Laser Class office. The Class printed up flyers to be included with each boat that said. "Hey. You have a new Laser. There are thousand of otehr Laser owners who love their Lasers and love to play with other Laser sailors. We want to know who you are and where you live so we can invite you to come play with us." Sometimes the new owners found the cards and mailed those cards to the NA Office. Savvy Laser dealers made filling out those cards part of the closing of the sale. Savvy boat dealers know there is no better salesman than an infatuated new owner.

    I have stood in the room at anual dealer shows and taken the time to explain the financial benefits of making certain new purchasers of sailboats are made members of the class association. dealers who help their purchasers meet the other owners sell more boats than dealers who waste that sales resource.

    ( You can go visit your local dealer and help make certain everybody who hes ever bought a boat there has sent in the fee one year of membership card. if theeh purchaser still has the boat, the class will be happy to add that owner to the invitation to play with us list.
    And whie you are there, use the dealer's phone and the new owner's phone number to call and invite that potential friend out to play Lasers or to a local Laser gang's dinner.)

    One membership per boat was a critical game building tool. It was a very effective sales tool for teh builders. dealers, association and even the aftermarket parts and equipment folks. The new boat production guaranteed a certain amount of funding to the class and the class guaranteed a certain amount of extra value to every Laser sold.


    That most successful plan was , "When you bought a Laser, the builder paid the class to introduce you to friends and tell you where and when those friends would be going out to play. The builder got to build and sell more boats when everybody else saw how much fun you were having."
    The very successful Class' job was and will always be to make certain the information is readily available about where and when and how and maybe even a tad of why.

    If you own a Laser , you are already in possesion that $1000 to $5000 of pure cash that resides in the value of your boat. if you don't pay your share to the association, you are simply stealing that extra money without chipping in to fund the process. In fact, your membership funding really isn't the issue. The issue is your name and address. The fact is, the Class spends way over $50 per year per member. revenue comes from a number of sources including the builder and the members, but also funding comes from those who want access to the members to tell those members, "Hey look at all the great stuff I have for sale."
    The more members the class has, the more advertising money is available to help fund our ,"Hey Look at all the fun we are having!! and here's where you can come join us next time" operation.

    In fact, the class haas always had a policy of refusing to bother our members with those "Hey! Look at my stuff" ads unless those adversisers have something to offer that can be used while competing in sanctioned Laser Class events. The class might take an ad from GM but it better be about towing capacity and places for wet gear or we don't care.

    The value of sending in your dues is quite simply, you will be paying your fair share and increasing those very important bragging statistics about who is biggest and best.

    Your individual payment actually does a teeny bit to increase the value of your boat and helps maintain that critical mass necessary to sustain the "forever" nature of that largest class that keeps your boat's value.

    Oh , and while all that is going on?? You also get invited to come play and you get to read an occasional article that interests you, and you might even get a bumper sticker that you may wish to use to tell other sailors...Hey look, I chip in to this Laser class deal because I think it is a whole lot of fun to sail Lasers and if you ask me I will tell you how to get involved meet a whole lot of new fun friuends and generall enjoy life a lot more....But nobody as figured out how to put that on a bumper sticker.

    So when somebody asks, "What's in it for me." Tell that person the truth. "You're already receiving the payback without bothering to pay your fair share. The only reason you need to join the class is so we can keep our information current and keep inviting you out to play when we have events here in town, around the area and even all over the planet. Even if you think it is OK to leech off those of us who do pay and even if you think you will be able to find out events by looking on line or similar, there will be a time this year when there will be a race or even a dinner party whose invitations will be sent out to everybody for whom we have an address. if you don't pay your fifty bucks you will miss out on that fun and there is simply no way you would give up a great time with your friends for only $50. So, hand me the dough right now and I will send it in for you...No Dough?? OK then lets use my little hand held device and go on line right here in the parkling lot and use your credit card to sign you up. In fact, let's do two years while we are at it."

    It really is that simple. And when enough of you do it I will gleefully change the signature line below.
     
  6. Beachcomber

    Beachcomber Member

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    Since I was about to start a thread in the main sailing forum called "Why should I join the Class Association?" this thread caught my attention.

    The best reason I can think of for joining the association is to have some influence over governance of the class. My motivation is that I think the situation with better foils being made only in Oz needs to be sorted out, as does the hefty premium over costs that the sail makers are allowed to get away with.

    However, I strenously object to the implication that as a Laser sailor who isn't currently a member of the class that I'm freeloading in some way. Quite the opposite - I think anybody who sails a Laser is strengthening the class. There are about 8 Lasers at my lake, but I'm the only one who sails theirs on a regular basis. Just being out there, sailing the boat, and answering questions about it from interested people, and travelling to the occasional regatta elsewhere, I'm promoting the boat.

    I think the distinction needs to be made between the class, and the Class Association. The reason it's easy to find parts for the Laser, and other Laser Sailors to race against is because there are tens of thousands of people actively sailing their Lasers. In this day and age, that's independent of whether there are 3100, 2500 or 25 members of the Class Association. The reasons for the Class Association's existence today are different from the reasons in the 1970s when the class's success wasn't assured, and before the internet assured easy means of communicating and of buying things.

    I'm sure there is a good answer to this question, but I do wonder what the NALCA does with it's ~$90,000 annual budget?

    As I see it, the main function of the Class Assoc. these days is to govern the class, ie maintain the rules, builder/sailmaker relationships, and to promote regattas. The newsletter really isn't a selling point for me.

    Maybe the way forward is for $5 or $10 of the entry fee for any District or higher level regatta to go to the Class until, say 3 regattas in a season have be sailed at which point the sailor has earned membership. As an alternative the membership could be paid for outright at the beginning of the season, which then effectively earns a discount at regattas that year.

    I look forward to hearing people's ideas, and I kinda wish this thread was in the main forum where it would reach a wider audience.
     
  7. AlanD

    AlanD Former ISAF Laser Measurer

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    While I won't address why people should join the class, from my observation becoming an Olympic Class at least in Australia has resulted in a decrease in "club hack" sailors attending regattas for a weekend or even a week of fun, as a result they are less inclined to pay membership to the association if they aren't going to attend the regattas.

    Gone are the days where masters attended our national championships in decent numbers. District regatta fleet sizes are a fraction of the size they used to be. Our regattas are now run for the benefit of budding Olympians in youth squads, wannabe Olympians and internationals flying in to continue their Olympic campaigns, all there with their coach boats etc, stuff the class rules, stuff the sailing rules etc, because in the scheme of things this event is only a "practice" event and not the real thing. Forget the social events organised mid regatta, the food isn’t suitable the competitor’s diets set up by dieticians.

    Class events need to be run for the members of that district or region and should be there to encourage participation than cater for the demands of the internationals. Possibly ban coach boats from the water and course area, possibly reduce the entry fees, chose venues which are easy and inexpensive to attend and also drop the number of races back to the levels which you don’t need the fitness of a full time laser sailor.

    Much of the coaching is aimed at those who have the potential to make it to the top level, not those wanting to enjoy their sailing more by being closer to the top end of the fleet.

    People would like to attend regattas, but they aren't going to attend if they aren't going to have fun and be at least close to being on the pace. And if they don't attend regattas, there isn't much incentive to join the class association.
     
  8. 154537

    154537 Member

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    maybe if the back issues of the laser sailor were only available to members, that would give people 1 more reason to join? also, along these lines, why not throw up a password screen for members to log in, and then in the special "members only" section have some good premium content. maybe some laser drill videos with pro's, etc?
     
  9. torrid

    torrid Just sailing

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    That one has been tossed around several times. The prevailing wisdom is that having open access to information brings more people to the class, and they will eventually join.
     
  10. 154537

    154537 Member

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    well maybe the prevailing wisdom is wrong... the point is that the laser class is a huge organization and they could easily afford to pay a top guy to demo some manuevers for some vids that would be available on a members only site. the existing info that is free could be kept the same, how about offering a little more for your membership dollars?
     
  11. Kratos

    Kratos Member

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    Just because the class is large doesn't mean it has a ton of money.

    For videos, check YouTube. Scheidt, Ainslie, full Worlds races. What else could you need?

    The way I always saw it was like this: The Laser Class Association does something. I don't know and never did know exactly what. They send out a magazine, etc. Stuff that probably made my racing life/regattas a little better. I have to join to race in big events.

    They wanted $75 for two years (may have been less then), so I could race in big events, get the magazine and whatever else they do. Oh, don't forget catch-phrase stickers. Seventy-five dollars. For two years. You can't even get a two year magazine subscription for $75, period. You can't join many things, whatever they may be, for $75, period.

    If they wanted $75 from me for whatever it was they do, fine.

    I don't get it. What else do people want/think they're entitled to for $40/&75?
     
  12. Deimos

    Deimos Member

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    I suspect that there is quite a lot of variability between the class organisations in different countries. I can only speak from experience of two and there is a big big difference between those two. In one case you would be wasting your money joining the class and in the other there are the normal justifications (helps some and not so much for others).

    Thinking back, when I purchased my (new) Laser from PSC several years ago there was no mention of a Class Association (though having sailed for many years I was very aware of such things). Maybe just a flyer detailing advantages and an application form included with the paperwork supplied with new boats (in the UK - maybe relevant elsewhere, maybe not).

    I know in the "other country" I tried to contact the Class Association but had no joy. They did tell me where to send my cheque to and how much to make it payable for but I could get no other info from them. Local club said nobody bothered and regattas did not bother to require membership of the Class Association. Their attitude was more that they were a type of tax that you can decide not to pay !! I then tried to join the UK Association instead but they had to say "no" because you have to be a member of the national association of the country you are resident in (fair enough).

    Ian
     
  13. torrid

    torrid Just sailing

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    Shatty, I find myself agreeing with you on this one.

    I guess it comes down to what you expect from a class association. I think these would be a bare minimum:

    - Organize the membership and distribute information on fleets
    - Maintain rules
    - Run regattas
    - Publish a newsletter

    This is all stuff that if the class association doesn't do, it just ain't gonna get done period. What is this worth to me on an annual basis? I think $20 would be a deal, but $40 seems practical and realistic.

    Now there are other things the association COULD do to promote the class, such as make an instructional DVD. But it would cost money to make such a DVD. But your $40 dues would now be $60 or $80.

    A class association has finite resources, namely volunteers. I think it is best to concentrate their efforts on the stuff and needs being done, and that only the class association can do.
     
  14. gouvernail

    gouvernail Active Member

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    FYI. The NA Class has a paid position called Executive Secretary. The last year I did the job the I sent to myself and the IRS 1099 said something well over $50,000.

    Of course my job related expenses exceeded that amount but nobody said I had to spend every penny I earned on organizing and promoting the game.

    The fact is the volunteers do a ton of work at every level of the organizational process.

    but the fact also remains, we have a paid position and should expect it to serve us well.

    Also understand. The current contract is not goping to inspire employee fanaticism. . We hardly pay a professional rate for much more than a 20 hour work week.

    The job when done properly consumes about 80 to 100 hours a week and would be better served by a staff of two or three who wqork well over 40 hours each...plus regattas, practice sailing, and travel time. .

    I have no criticisms to launch at the current staff.

    The staff is not the group with the wrong philosophy that is doomed to continued failure. .

    My criticism is toward those who would rather have a professionally run organization than a successfully run sport.

    The organization is nothing but a tool to make the game work better. As it is set up the organization is a financial obstacle designed to filter wannabe sailors participation.

    We need a young fanatic who simply is driven to make the game grow.

    We need to look for that person and give that person the reins .

    The tired out old realistic and practical people who are running sailingat every level are killing the sport.

    If the goal of the sailors is to have a great game, the design of the association should be to create and manage a great game.

    I am certain we could set up an incentive laden contract with some young sailing fanatic with a open ended top earnings potential and cause that fanatic to build us a super huge sailing game.

    Under the incentive laden contract I had with the class, I fully expected to build a 5000 member association by sometime in 2005 and to be taking home $100,000 per year for my efforts.

    By 2010 I was planning to cause 10,000 new Lasers to be purchased annually in North America and to be driving a sponsor supplied van with a trailer full of buoys, trophies, and party supplies that would tour the heavily sponsored North American Grand Prix events.

    My goal was to get the Laser class set up amnd running and then offer management of a few select other classes and with a ten or fifteen person office, build sailboat racing into a real sport with millions of participants..

    The game doesn't need an old man like me ...The game needs somebody who thinks my vision was conservative and who would come to Austin for a few weeks just to hang out and pick my brain so he / she could stand on my shoulders and take sailing game management well past my pathetically weak imaginations realm and into the next boom of sailboat racing.

    Small thinkers get what they imagine..
     
  15. 154537

    154537 Member

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    damn guv, that van sounds killer!:D

    is the class currently growing? stagnant, or shrinking???
     
  16. SFBayLaser

    SFBayLaser Member

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    The answer depends on your point of view, and how provincial you want to be.

    Worldwide the Laser is growing in many new markets, primarily due to the double Olympic status, and at this point there have been world championships on all continents save Antarctica. Laser Standard and Radial World Championships now draw more numbers of countries than any other class. Further, it was rumored that the Standard and Radial had more countries participating in the Olympics than any other sport! Well, I did not verify that personally, but is does sound good!

    I presume your focus is North America. Our major events, save CORK this year (which suffered from double bad scheduling), have seen a big increases in turnout the past few years, driven primarily by the Radial, and now starting to also get driven a bit by the 4.7. For example, the US Nationals this year drew 260 boats. And the North Americans in San Francisco in 2008 - on the West Coast - at 160 boats, drew almost double what it did when they were held there in 2001.

    As an aside, the Radial has become a huge success - how many other sports can you compete in fleets that are often 50-50 gender balanced and where the top 10 are also gender balanced (and often the women on top)? That's pretty amazing, I think. Even better, in the Radial you can compete against North Americans who have won Radial World Championships - including Men's, Women's, Youth Men and Youth Women.

    After that, there is a lot of activity in fleets. Two examples: first, here within the limits of San Francisco Bay proper we have 4 active fleets: Shoreline, Treasure Island, Richmond and St Francis, where we had one only 4-5 years ago. Better, you can pick your conditions, from lake racing at Shoreline in flat water, less wind and warm temperatures, to TI with good breeze but flat water, to Richmond where they can choose what they want to sail in, to St Francis where we get the big wind and, often, the big waves too. After that, in the rest of District 24 we have sailing in Eureka, Shasta, Sacramento, a huge fleet in Tahoe, Huntington Lake, Santa Cruz, Monterey, Morro Bay and even in Half Moon Bay.

    Second example: Park City, Utah where in some 2 years an inactive fleet has resurged to boast some 60 active sailors. Maybe you saw them profile in Sailing World last November?

    And of course, if you are lucky enough to live near Cedar Point or Newport you have some of the best winter racing there is to have. From my point of view, going out in those temperatures takes some dedication!

    Take a look near you, I bet you have a highly active fleet close by.

    Still, if you are a pundit your litmus test is paid membership. Some might argue its falling, I'd argue is hovering around the 2400 level, a bit more some years, a bit less this year (with 2009 ending at around 2350). If you dig deeper, somewhere around 1600-1700 are "regulars" who renew each year, though it may take them until the Spring to do so. After that, the rest are in the category described in this thread: they join when they "have to" at a big event - that being the moment that they feel they "get something" for their $40.

    I'm interested in what people want for their money, though one does need to recognize that $40 does not leave much leeway to give you something to put in your hands. What little "extra" money there is goes into more of that indirect stuff that people don't see, like more website enhancements (in the pipeline), or District support, or...

    Anyway, to answer your question I think the Laser is growing and a healthy rate, though it has been slowed down this past year by the recession (like everything else).
     
  17. Kratos

    Kratos Member

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    The way I always looked at paying my membership fees was this: Even if my $75 was donation to the Class, used to buy printer paper, so what, I still got the interesting magazine haha.

    I haven't read all the posts in this thread, but if people are complaining about $40/$75, how often do they drink or eat fast food? Do they smoke? A pack of cigarettes here is $15. How much is the coffee they buy every morning?

    40/12 = $3.33 a month
    75/24 = $3.13 a month
     
  18. AlanD

    AlanD Former ISAF Laser Measurer

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    A different situation doh under Tracy. Our nationals entries are pretty steady for the radials, maybe growing slightly, 4.7 are definity growing, but the standard rig fleet has been halved. We rotate around the country each year, so each state gets the Nationals every 6 years and from memory we're down this year compared to 6 years ago from 110 to 55 standards, radials from 90 to 95 and 4.7 from probably 10 up to now 46. South Australia tends to be a moderate size nationals, it will be interesting to see the numbers at the next NSW ones 1993 (170 standard, 75 radials) 1999 (112 standard, 79 radials), 2005 I think I measured 310 boats, To some extent the numbers are being influenced by an increase in international competitors.

    However at our district (NSW) events, numbers seem to be in the decline in the open competitions down from 70 standard/60 radial to 40 standed /50 radials/15 4.7. And long gone are the days of 100+ full rigs of the 80's. However the strength of the Masters events seem to be growing.

    At club levels, in Sydney area we have at least 5 clubs fielding 20-30 boats each weekend and at least another 10 with fleets in the 10-20 boat range. The trouble is getting these boats to regattas, people just aren't interested. I believe it's because the regattas are taken so seriously, to often you hear some master coming in pissed off that some youn bloke has infringed them or watched them clearly hit a mark and then ignored any request to do penalty turns. People aren't interested in competing against cheats.
     
  19. Kratos

    Kratos Member

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    That's what protests are for.

    If the people don't want to protest, or alert the race committee, then they shouldn't complain.

    Also, sometimes just talking to the offending competitor can do a world of good. Maybe they simply don't know (regarding other rules, not so much hitting marks). There doesn't always have to be the assumption of maliciousness.
     
  20. AlanD

    AlanD Former ISAF Laser Measurer

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    Or they can walk away from the situation and not attend open regattas.

    It seems that the coaches are delibrately coaching their charges to ignore the protest calls unless that individual is at the "same level".
     

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