Thursday, April 22, 2010

Recruiting, baby, recruiting

Growing the sport is a reoccurring theme, but it could be argued that in some areas of the U.S. the sport is not even being sustained. New people must be brought in to replace those people who move, or move on. But this should be easy. By all accounts, youth sailing has never been bigger. If sailing was a business, how could it fail with such a huge pool of prospects?

The reality is the sport of sailing is failing big time when it comes to converting youth sailors into life sailors. If youth sailing was education, our graduation rate is abysmal. In most developed sailing centers, youth sailing is in youth boats. When the sailor ages out of the youth boat - Optimist, Club 420s, etc - the trail too often ends. Why? Well, why do colleges seek out high school students? Why do businesses seek out college students? Recruiting, baby, recruiting.

Here is an excerpt from an effort to seek some change by Eric Woodman, New England Representative to the U.S. Sunfish Class Association:

“As you may know by now we have an exciting and full Sunfish racing calendar this summer in the region. We'll have events in five states (we need to get Maine on board!) for every level of skipper - from never been in a race all the way up to top International competition. We'll also have the North Americans/Junior North Americans as close as they have been in years (Long Island) and the 2011 NAs/JR NAs in Barrington RI the following summer.

“As most of us are well aware, we have a noticeable lack of junior sailors who travel to regattas in the region. I think it's time we did something about that and I'm asking for everyone's help in turning this trend around. Carson Turowski, manager of the Vanguard Sailing Center in RI, has agreed to help as needed, too.

“If you see a junior on the race course, encourage him/her. Tell them about the other events. Help them rig the boat (especially show them how to de-power the rig). Meet their parents. Tell them about the JR. NAs in 2011 (and 2010, for that matter). Talk amongst yourselves after racing about how to get juniors out on the water, etc.

“As for the JR NAs in 2011, it's my hope that as a region we can use this summer as a chance to groom (for lack of a better word) some juniors to compete. Again, Vanguard Sailing Center is eager to support this effort, perhaps even providing charter boats, or other incentives. By the way, I don't mean we need to find the next champion (although that would be nice). I just want to get kids out on the boat so that we can have an active and strong future for the class in this region.”

Click here for the complete correspondance from Eric Woodman.

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