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knobblyoldjimbo

Fleets for Nationals

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Someone posted on FB that sailing was drifting off so I wondered about fleet sizes. 

The article  on FB had a video of National 12's racing in the 50's.  I think it must have been a National Championship because of the video production involved.

I've sailed in the 70's in big fleets, GP14 ~120, Fireball ~100, Mirror ~140.

What size are the fleets now?  Have we seen a massive falloff in numbers.

I would guess that there is, partly because of safety requirements (capped fleet size) and partly because of the fragmentation (lots more classes).

 

Anyone?

 

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In the 60's and 70's in AUS it was not uncommon to get 120 boats for a Victorian Championships for BOTH Mirrors and Herons, ON THE SAME WEEKEND!

Both classes died here and coincidentally it was just after the move to fibreglass boats.

These days people dont have a carport let alone a garage/shed to build a boat in. And talk about getting the time to do it.

The decline in AUS also seemed to coincide with the move by the State and National bodies to force bureacracy on to us. Registering trainers and coaches etc

So yes, the numbers have dropped dramatically here.

Interesting that there are still healthy classes surviving and that the Optimist has probably the largest fleets in the country now.

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Two main problems: shortage of time and access to water - both are getting worse by the day. Not a pretty picture.

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Yachts and Yachting publishes a table of attendance at national championships in the UK by class for every year going back to 2000.

You can see which classes are growing, declining or holding their own.

As an RS Aero owner I was pleased to see the RS Aero in the top 5 with 117 boats at the UK Nationals in 2017. (Although the naysayers might claim that it is really 3 classes and should have been reported as such.)

2017_RSAeroNats2-1.jpg

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Is it? Most Aero owners I know have two rigs and some have all three.

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So do many Laser and Topper sailors, but you couldn't fairly combine Radial, 4.7 and standard rigs to claim a Laser Nationals attendance (and indeed Y&Y don't). Aero figures are already excellent without having to massage them.

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8 minutes ago, sosoomii said:

Not really naysaying is it, just a fact.

As Bill Clinton might have said, "It depends on what the meaning of the word 'class' is."

There is one RS Aero Class Association. The one class held one UK National Championship.

But the RS Aero has 3 rigs (which is one reason it is appealing to such a wide range of sailors weighing from 75 to 220lbs) and at larger championships like this one they are scored as three separate fleets. At small events the three rigs often race together and are scored as one class on handicap.

You could count it either way, depending on your point of view.

I see the Lasers have been split by rig in the table,  so there is certainly a case for being consistent.


 

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17 hours ago, knobblyoldjimbo said:

Someone posted on FB that sailing was drifting off so I wondered about fleet sizes. 

I've sailed in the 70's in big fleets, GP14 ~120, Fireball ~100, Mirror ~140.

What size are the fleets now?  Have we seen a massive falloff in numbers.

I would guess that there is, partly because of safety requirements (capped fleet size) and partly because of the fragmentation (lots more classes).

 

Anyone?

 

yes there has been a massive falloff. Dunno about the other two fleets you mentioned but I have some experience in the Fireball. There were 8 Fireballs at the US national championship this past year in Clearwater. And I think 3 of them were Canadians. As I think has been stated before on this site, the class really started to die off once homebuilt boats lost competitive potential on a national/international level. Those Winder plastic-fantastic boats are able to be so much stiffer and lighter in the ends than any homebuilt woody could be. I'm sure there are plenty of other reasons, too. Americans seem to have lose interest in the class, which is unfortunate because I think they're awesome boats. For contrast, there 53 boats at the UK nats in 2017 and 85 at the European champs. Still pretty popular in Europe it seems!

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It's always interesting to look at the Y&Y numbers, but success in the UK doesn't translate to success anywhere else. For kids - you won't find decent Topper or Feva fleets anywhere else. For grownups there are no Solos or Supernovas anywhere else either - and these two boats would be the largest "single rig" fleets in the UK by a wide margin (note the combined rig count for 2017 Laser Nats in the UK was 144). Like it or not, if you want large(r) competitive single-handed fleet racing in NA the Laser is still your only choice. Double handed dinghies in North America are scattered all over the place. 

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11 minutes ago, bill4 said:

It's always interesting to look at the Y&Y numbers, but success in the UK doesn't translate to success anywhere else. For kids - you won't find decent Topper or Feva fleets anywhere else. For grownups there are no Solos or Supernovas anywhere else either - and these two boats would be the largest "single rig" fleets in the UK by a wide margin (note the combined rig count for 2017 Laser Nats in the UK was 144). Like it or not, if you want large(r) competitive single-handed fleet racing in NA the Laser is still your only choice. Double handed dinghies in North America are scattered all over the place. 

Ummmm........what about the Aero?

 

Also, I think it is a bit bold to say you wont find Fevas anywhere else outside the UK. 

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I don't believe there any large competitive Aero fleets in NA. And I guess I just haven't read anything about decent Feva fleets. And if there are I stand corrected.

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Sorry all. I was thinking NA.

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 And I inadvertently drifted into (another) kids boats discussion - I don't think that was OP's question. EXCLUDING kids boats, there are large fleets of boats in the UK that you don't see elsewhere, notably, the Solo and the Supernova. There. all cleared up.

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Part of the problem, I think, is that as the sport has matured the good guys have gotten very, very good whilst the typical fair weather sailor is at no higher a standard than in the 1960's. The gap between front and back has grown to such an extent that the back drops out.  Those with a chance of winning will always enter, but events need to be worthwhile for the majority with no chance.  

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Interesting, I like the Y&Y chart.  There is a drop off but not too bad (based on a visual scan).

Hopefully the huge youth fleets will translate into better attendance later on (and I'm thinking in twenty years after puberty (girl/boyfriends, study, work, family etc).

Here in Oz I sail a 14ft cat, mine must be around 30 years old and, provided I get the one minute handicap benefit I can sail with the brand new foam sandwich boats.  Not always the case of course.  Our fleet sizes are quite small now.

The Paper Tiger has a great attendance possibly because the home build ply is still competitive with the vastly expensive carbon versions. 

 

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3 hours ago, sosoomii said:

 The gap between front and back has grown to such an extent that the back drops out.  

Geeze - I hope that's not the case. What a depressing way to look at the reasons why people race sailboats.

At most of the regattas I have ever entered in nearly 40 years of racing in 3 different classes, I knew going in that I had no chance of "winning." And that's probably true for 80-90% of sailors in every regatta. If people give up racing because they can't win then our sport certainly will die. 

But let's look on the bright side. 114 RS Aero sailors and 90 Solo sailors and 89 Supernova sailors went to the 2017 UK Nationals in their classes. The vast majority knew they had no chance of "winning" but they entered anyway. Perhaps racing in those classes has all sorts of rewards and benefits that are nothing to do with "winning?"

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"Sailing in company, racing with purpose" Frank Bethwaite (quoted from memory, hope it's right).

The numbers in the A class are testament to that.  Most know they've no chance but they still go (in large numbers for a very exy development class).

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2 hours ago, knobblyoldjimbo said:

"Sailing in company, racing with purpose" Frank Bethwaite (quoted from memory, hope it's right).

The numbers in the A class are testament to that.  Most know they've no chance but they still go (in large numbers for a very exy development class).

“Winning is the object of the game, but it is not the object of playing the game”  - Stuart Walker

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It is still a mugs game to compare the US (or Canada) with the U.K. For Nationals numbers. The main reason is simply distance. It takes at least a couple days to drive coast to coast in North America and there aren't as many people willing to do that anymore. However, there are still some decent Laser fleets at larger regionals (East Coast had some good March events in Florida). And the Scows draw well in the Midwest. Lightnings had 70 at their NAs in North Carolina last year. And, if the Aero can count three rigs, then the Lightnings should be able to count sailors. So that's 210! :P

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505's regularly get 50 boats at our NA's Much of that is due to fleet organized and sometimes subsidized shipping from the coast not hosting the race. For a couple grand or less your boat gear dolly etc. get shipped to the location and back. You fly race fly home. I have heard other fleets looking to do the same. Vipers i think used that system successfully last year and had good turn out.

Thistles also get a solid turnout. Don't know the actual numbers, but since they run a summer long travel regatta that is family friendly and well organized and supported they get solid turnout. IT includes the NA.

So it comes down to the fleet support as well as individual desire to attend.

BTW how many of the Aeros at the NA's were charters? Also a good fleet strategy to attract numbers. 

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15 hours ago, dogwatch said:

Topper Worlds 2018 entry is heavily funded by China, boats provided, etc. I'm not sure that entry statistics from that event tell us much about Nationals Fleets...

 One thing that might be relevant is that the (UK) Topper Nationals used to be attended by a significant number of adults but that's tailed off as the boat has been adopted as a Pathway class for under-16s. There's a strong focus on Junior/Youth Progression in the Class, now. The Nationals is often perceived as the event that "counts", whereas the Worlds is more of a "fun" event... In most other classes the Worlds would probably be seen as the pinnacle, I think.

Cheers,

               W.

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Interesting, thanks. I wonder if the decline in adult participation is also related to the ever-decreasing number of adults light enough for a Topper?

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5 minutes ago, dogwatch said:

Interesting, thanks. I wonder if the decline in adult participation is also related to the ever-decreasing number of adults light enough for a Topper?

 It may be factor but I would guess that a changing ambiance at the event is probably more significant...

Cheers,

              W.

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6 hours ago, bill4 said:

It is still a mugs game to compare the US (or Canada) with the U.K. For Nationals numbers. The main reason is simply distance. It takes at least a couple days to drive coast to coast in North America and there aren't as many people willing to do that anymore. However, there are still some decent Laser fleets at larger regionals (East Coast had some good March events in Florida). And the Scows draw well in the Midwest. Lightnings had 70 at their NAs in North Carolina last year. And, if the Aero can count three rigs, then the Lightnings should be able to count sailors. So that's 210! :P

I think you can overstate the geographical challenge that North America has in achieving attendances at regattas comparable to the UK.

Sure it's a long drive from Seattle to Florida or from Boston to San Diego, but the north-east of the US is very comparable to the UK in population and geography, and ought to be able to (and sometimes does) attract large numbers of sailors to major regattas.

Population of UK = 65 million
Distance from Edinburgh to Weymouth = 460 miles

Population of NY, PA, NJ, MD, VA, MA and CT = 77 million
Distance from Boston to Annapolis = 430 miles

And having spent my sailing "career" partly in the UK and partly in the north-eastern US, I would say that there are parts of New England and the Mid-Atlantic states (Narragansett Bay and the Jersey shore for example) that have just as high a density of sailing clubs as the southern UK does.

Personally I remember sailing the 1995 Sunfish North Americans in Delaware which had more than 100 boats, and a North American Laser Masters at New York YC in Newport that had over 130. I am sure there are many other examples.

So are classes still getting large attendances when they hold their Nationals in the north-east US? If not, let's look for other factors to explain it rather than geography.
 

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Its not new news that the % of the adult population participating in sailboat racing has declined as other activities which didn't  exist 30 years ago provide recreational alternatives. The reasons for the decline have been debated endlessly here and elsewhere. However sailing is still one of the larger participation sports in a growing population, so dont get too depressed and get out into your boat.

However one of the reasons for smaller national events is that there are simply more dinghy classes.  In 1970 not many sailboat racers were not still sailing 50 year old dinghy designs. Yet, here in 2018,   we are still sailing most of the designs from the 1970s, and we have introduced dozens of classes since then.

 

 

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3 hours ago, tillerman said:

I think you can overstate the geographical challenge that North America has in achieving attendances at regattas comparable to the UK.

Sure it's a long drive from Seattle to Florida or from Boston to San Diego, but the north-east of the US is very comparable to the UK in population and geography, and ought to be able to (and sometimes does) attract large numbers of sailors to major regattas.

Population of UK = 65 million
Distance from Edinburgh to Weymouth = 460 miles

Population of NY, PA, NJ, MD, VA, MA and CT = 77 million
Distance from Boston to Annapolis = 430 miles

And having spent my sailing "career" partly in the UK and partly in the north-eastern US, I would say that there are parts of New England and the Mid-Atlantic states (Narragansett Bay and the Jersey shore for example) that have just as high a density of sailing clubs as the southern UK does.

Personally I remember sailing the 1995 Sunfish North Americans in Delaware which had more than 100 boats, and a North American Laser Masters at New York YC in Newport that had over 130. I am sure there are many other examples.

So are classes still getting large attendances when they hold their Nationals in the north-east US? If not, let's look for other factors to explain it rather than geography.
 

I don't think it is an overstatement at all when discussing the National Championship numbers, which is the Y&Y report.  I pointed out originally that there are still some good regional numbers.  But the spread of sailors across the US and Canada simply makes it more difficult to attract sailors from across the country to a National championship than in the U.K.. If I lived in Boston, I would travel to the Nationals in Annapolis. But if it was in San Diego, that would be a different story. I wonder how many of the U.K. Solo sailors would have travelled 48 hours to go to their Nationals?  London to Moscow is only half the distance of Boston to San Diego... Distance is not the only reason for decline in racing in general, but is certainly a major reason why the National Championship numbers are better in the U.K..

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That video that Knobbly posted in the first post is a beauty!

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2 hours ago, bill4 said:

That video that Knobbly posted in the first post is a beauty!

Here's another British video from the good old days of 100 boat Nationals for the Mirror dinghies...
 

 

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Amazing, I didn't realise the Mirror dinghy was that old.  I sailed in their Nationals in Newquay, Cornwall in, must have been the 70's, around 140 boats then.  I did the single handed race, was awesome in that tiny boat out on what seemed to be endless ocean.  I think I came 15th but the single handed fleet was much smaller.

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1 hour ago, knobblyoldjimbo said:

Amazing, I didn't realise the Mirror dinghy was that old.  I sailed in their Nationals in Newquay, Cornwall in, must have been the 70's, around 140 boats then.  I did the single handed race, was awesome in that tiny boat out on what seemed to be endless ocean.  I think I came 15th but the single handed fleet was much smaller.

The Mirror Dinghy was designed in 1962 so they were doing pretty well to have a UK Nationals of almost 100 boats in 1964.

But then I guess there was no production bottleneck if everybody was building the boats themselves from Barry Bucknell's plans in their front rooms.

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well as long as we're posting old videos!

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18 hours ago, bill4 said:

I don't think it is an overstatement at all when discussing the National Championship numbers, which is the Y&Y report.  I pointed out originally that there are still some good regional numbers.  But the spread of sailors across the US and Canada simply makes it more difficult to attract sailors from across the country to a National championship than in the U.K.. If I lived in Boston, I would travel to the Nationals in Annapolis. But if it was in San Diego, that would be a different story. I wonder how many of the U.K. Solo sailors would have travelled 48 hours to go to their Nationals?  London to Moscow is only half the distance of Boston to San Diego... Distance is not the only reason for decline in racing in general, but is certainly a major reason why the National Championship numbers are better in the U.K..

Not an entirely convincing argument if you consider that, for example, the population of California alone is 2/3rds the population of the entire UK.

It's also perfectly possible to move dinghies in bulk. That's a common way for UK sailors to go to events in the Italian Lakes, for example. Not everyone drives with their own boat, it is more convenient to pay someone else to load up several boats and transport them together. 

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16 hours ago, tillerman said:

Here's another British video from the good old days of 100 boat Nationals for the Mirror dinghies...

 

I self taught to sail on a Mirror.   My father bought a kit . It came with a set of instructions on how to build the boat and how to sail.  We followed both sets of instructions and off we went. Our lives were changed in a good way for ever.  Its fair to say that a big box of plywood and a book of instructions shaped the course of my life and my brothers.  That boat represented our childhood, we took it everywhere.

My father now enjoys a well earned old age living in Chichester by the canal. I was over in the UK last year , visiting and went for a walk with my brother which took us past Dell Quay   Sailing Club.   There were a couple of Mirrors pulled up on the hard. One looked very familiar. We had misread the instructions in a couple of places and to the discerning eye, we recognized the same small errors. Either someone else had made the same mistakes or...we checked the hull number and yes  it was our boat .  50 years old and still going strong.  Damn near brought a tear to the eye.I hope the kids at Dell Quay who are sailing her today get as much joy out of sailing in their lives as I have in mine.

  

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5 hours ago, dogwatch said:

Not an entirely convincing argument if you consider that, for example, the population of California alone is 2/3rds the population of the entire UK.

It's also perfectly possible to move dinghies in bulk. That's a common way for UK sailors to go to events in the Italian Lakes, for example. Not everyone drives with their own boat, it is more convenient to pay someone else to load up several boats and transport them together. 

Why more people don't sail in California is a different question. Why those that do sail may not want to travel to Florida for National championships probably has something to do with the distance (IMHO). 

Being in the middle of nowhere, we move dinghies in bulk all the time - lots of multi boat trailers at the club. The closest club of any consequence is a 4 hour drive, and we travel up there 2 - 4 time per season. And our keeners load up a number of times over the season to travel to points afar. Nearest salt water is 12 hours. So, travel comes naturally to us. But - of the 30 odd active Laser sailors here, not many are going to travel 4800km to Nova Scotia for the Laser Nationals. And Nova Scotia is an absolutely beautiful spot. And when the Nationals are out West - very few from the east (generally) come out. London to Garda? A picnic drive for us! :P

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