View Full Version : What would YOU do?
12-30-2007, 08:04 AM
I am about to form a steering committee to help us chart a course for growth and development in the Dragon class in North America (presumptuous, I know, but it has to be done). I have also made some good friends among the guys who sail 30 square metres here in the US and in Canada and they are interested in many of the same things. We are beginning to share ideas and information with one another, and that is a big help to me, but what about the community here at the WBF?
Anyone here have any experience with class promotion and long range planning? Anyone got any ideas to help us get the word out that we feel strongly that these are classes worth talking about?
In both of our cases (the Dragon and the 30 square metre), the European fleets are thriving. New boats are being delivered all the time and there is a long lead time on getting a new boat delivered. Even as far away as Australia there has been an influx of newer Dragons brought out from Europe and their fleets are growing at a solid pace. But not here. Not in North America. Like any true believer, I have always felt that if people could just see the boats and see what they were, that they would just HAVE to have one. Naive, I know, but it's just being honest in my case.
So, what would you do to get the word out? I would appreciate any ideas coming from any angle. For more information on both the Dragon class and the 30 square class in North America take a look at www.usdragons.org and www.squareskerryyachts.net. There are some pretty cool photos at both sites and you can get a feel for where we are by taking a look around.
A couple of ideas in the spirit of throwing spaghetti at the wall to see if it sticks.
30 years ago in Wales, I instituted a travellers trophy for open meetings, there was no weighting between clubs, it had the effect ofof causing the hot racers to congregate at the less attended events, because it was easier to score high at those. There was a little bit of negativity at the start, because there was complacency at some of the small clubs, one particular club all the prizes were donated by the local hardware store (first prize was a bathroom scale) and there were disgruntled remarks at all the stuff going to visitors. It's still going on and participants claim it's always happened, it did raise the lesser clubs, however I get no credit at all, which in many ways is the ultimate credit.
I've noticed that the boat builders here in Maine get focused on one design, at the moment it seems to be the Coquina, in the past it's been the Handy Billy, the 12 1/2 and the Nutshell. If you could somehow get one entity interested in the Dragon, the others might follow. To this, you might get someone to sponsor the building of one at , say, the Landing School. I know they like to mix their building methods, so it could be cold moulded with epoxy on the bottom, with a traditionally laid deck. Not sure if you have someone who could afford to do that. I'm sure there are tax circumvention methods.
I hope you were looking for random thoughts.
12-30-2007, 10:03 AM
Random thoughts are indeed welcome. Your idea of trying to tempt a builder into doing a new woodie is interesting, especially in a school format. There are two new builders of plank-on-frame Dragons in Europe now, one in St. Petersburg and the other in the Ukraine. No word as of yet as to what kind of pricing they will have but you'd have to believe that it would be competitive or they wouldn't bother. My 30 square friends tell me that there is a pretty healthy market for traditionally built 30's in Hungary, Germany, and in Scandinavia.
You mention a traveling trophy and I smile because if we did have one of those I would have won it the last three years running :), but it's a great idea to award such a trophy to a particular fleet. Think of a trophy that has Seattle and Vancouver competing to see who could get the most boats to a particular event, or Cleveland and Toronto. It's really a neat idea, and it wouldn't have to be an extravagant award, just something memorable. I awarded an 'unofficial fleet of the year' prize to Vancouver this year (in my job as US National Secretary. Of course, I am aware that Vancouver is not a part of the US, but that never stopped me before), and I think that they got a kick out of it.
Thanks. If you have any more spaghetti, just throw it.
12-30-2007, 03:08 PM
In the regattas here, all small Open Keelboats race in the one division. Dragons, Diamonds, Stars, Flying Fifteens, Solings, Etchells and Yinglings, all race in the dinghy and Open Keelboat Division. If six boats of the same class register for a regatta they then race as a stand alone Class, if the other classes in the group aren't left as orphans.
Within some regattas are held Traveller's Association races which encourage boats from the same Divisions, around the regions to get together. It also means out of the way Regattas are noticed and get a stronger participation. In a six race regatta or at a National or State Title often two races, the first race and the last race of the regatta are Yachting Australia Traveller's Association races. It also means that those who follow the Traveller's Association events are more likely to turn up when their own Class has just a handful of members racing, if the Class Association even exists at all.
Often the Traveller's Association races guarantee a good roll up at State Titles not just at any out of the way regatta that includes TA events. Winning the TA for many sailors holds the same prestige as winning State Titles, if not more so.
The Traveller's Association Races, we mark down on our calender as being the special events ... when a TA event is happening, the ring-around starts within the groups.
If Regattas held races for individual classes like the Dragon or the Flying Fifteen only, without grouping the small open keelboats as a combined division, many regattas outside of the major regions would get very little participation here.
Don't stand allone as a Class if the Class is small, become part of a larger group, that is how participation is guaranteed here.
Off the beach catamarans group their Classes as do Yachts and Trailable Yachts. All Class Associations need to be practical ... and have their boats fit within the right group. Dragons have a dinghy Class yardstick as do the other small open keelboats that I mentioned, linking the Dragon to these Class Associations would be appropriate?
We might be thought of as being a strong sailing nation but our Class Associations when standing alone, are often very small ... where as our combined Divisions are much stronger. The Sydney to Hobart Classic is a perfect example. None of the Divisions in the IRC, PHS or Cruising Division except for IRC Division D had more than a handful of boats and if broken into Class Association ... nothing basically. The Sydney to Hobart Classic had 83 starters.
12-31-2007, 01:05 PM
a mixed bag fleet of Dragons, T-birds, and hopefully 30 squares will converge on Lake Union in Seattle to sail the Norm Blanchard regatta. I can't wait.
In a similiar vein, the Port Huron 6mR's and 30 squares sail together every week in one fleet. I agree with your point, Warren. I actually like that kind of sailing and have had some of my most fun racing in big handicap fleets.
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