Thursday, March 27, 2008

All that's wrong with the sport

The idea of community sailing centers seems like such a magic potion for instilling growth in the sport. Void of the exclusivity that keeps the public from enjoying the sailing facilities of private clubs, these municipal facilities seemingly provide the bridge to fulfill the interest of potential participants.

So when the city of Clearwater, FL, which operates the Clearwater Community Sailing Association, assigned a construction company to build a two-story, 3,300-square-foot addition, you think that good just got better, right? Well, a quote from the City Council justifying the expansion is less than encouraging:

“This addition is the minimum necessary to meet the space demand of our Sailing Center’s many community programs and will significantly enhance their ability to increase revenues by providing a larger rental area for weddings and corporate meetings.”


Original story

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At 8:22 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Ugh!" Hey, I don't think you get it. For centuries, or at least for a long long time, all sorts of sailing centers and Yacht Clubs have been renting out their facilities to hold weddings, wakes, company launch parties, you name it, so long as the check doesn't bounce. Years ago, when I first began to understand what it took to keep a Yacht Club going, I learned that it's the Bar and the Parties that pay the freight. The sailing is ALWAYS supported by "other stuff". That way, we get to sail for free.

So, rather than moan and whine about the guys in Florida using your precious Sailing Center for other things, use it as an opportunity to recruit folks to go sailing. After all, what could be better than stealing the bride's maids for a sail in those crazy dresses they wear!

Beau Vrolyk

At 3:35 PM, Anonymous Gary Edelman said...

As someone who was the executive director of a community sailing center, was co-commodore of another, and was part of the architectural and design team of others, I can tell you that you are clueless.

On more than 10 occassions I've heard people who have never been near the water, or never sailed, exclaim how wonderful the facility was that they were enjoying, and how great it would be to try the sport. And actually came out and did so.

Instead of walling our sport off, and limiting it to the exclusive and often exclusionary enclaves, community sailing seeks to be inclusive and invite people in to our great sport.

Get a clue, or watch sailing die

Gary Edelman

At 10:09 AM, Blogger Sailwriter said...

Like Gary Edelman, I have been involved in community sailing for decades. The St. Petersburg Sailing Center, run by the St. Petersburg Yacht Club for the City of St. Petersburg introduces great numbers of kids and adults to the sport. They have no wedding receptions, etc.

Clearwater Community Sailing Center, however, has had these other activities since its inception. The neighbors on the beach were part of the original board and had great influence. For some time the social activities overshadowed the sailing group. No longer. Through a reorganization by the City of Clearwater this is a very active sailing center. As long as it keeps strong leadership such as Al Humphers the present manager, having other functions can only help expose more people to the sport of sailing.
Dave Ellis

At 11:10 AM, Blogger Tillerman said...

Having just spent four days attending a clinic at the Clearwater Sailing Center I can attest that all is well with the world and the center is indeed fulfilling its mission of providing access to the public for all sorts of sailing activity.

In the short time I was there I observed among other things... sailing lessons for kids in Optimists, a ladies' Sunfish group, various families taking out boats for an hour or two, the local youth team training, and a major one-design regatta in progress. In addition there seemed to be a steady stream of visitors stopping by the center to ask about sailing lessons, hiring boats, or becoming amembers of the center.

Expanding the facility, increasing its revenue stream, and exposing our sport to more people who visit the center can only be good things, in my view.


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