I agree that for the smaller dinghy classes, the time drain is a significant deterrent to attendance at national events. I race in the Flying Scot class, at the local, regional (midwest) and sometimes at the North American Championships. I pick and choose which NACs and Midwinters I attend by weighing the time sucked vs the likely quality of the regatta. I'm willing to drive a day or three to get to a place which I know will probably be windy, well-attended and not boiling hot. Thus Dallas (2 days drive) in summer = no but Sarasota (3 days drive) in winter = yes.And there I think you have hit the nail on the head.Wow, look at where the Flying Scot is on that list.
They would very likely be the top boat on the list if they would be a little accommodating of people with day jobs. Their class always seems to schedule Nationals Tuesday through Friday, so any non-retiree or professional will have to take a week off of work.
I know that "50" in 2010 would have included another 20 or more if it had been a Fri-Sat-Sun event.
Many people think it is money - cash - that is the problem in declining participation. To some degree that is of course true, but to a larger extent it is time.
The concession of which you speak where the racing is all mid-week is likely to appease the host club who gets pressure from their members to keep "those sailors" away from the club on the weekend. I see this in many clubs. People, especially new members, fail to remember the only reason the club at which they enjoy their private waterfront dining experience is there only because long ago some people who raced sailboats got together and acquired some land on which to keep their boats as a waterfront econimic co-op for boat storage and waterfront access. To ignore that heritage is to doom the facility to eventually become condo's.
I probably have more flexibility than most with my schedule, but I am simply done going to a week long regatta and doing exactly the same thing, meaning W/L races, where the ENTIRE day is sucked up sitting in a boat, and most of the time is wasted waiting for "perfect" conditions.
Why on earth can't a championship regatta have a wide variety of courses? How about some downwind starts, some triangle courses, some distance races around government marks. And for boats that like to plane on a reach, why not some power reaches on occassion?
While interesting, I think this poll shows only the trends in people willing to travel to a championship regatta. It is one measure of a class, but all calsses are not created equal - some are travelling only classes, some have wide and active fleet distribution while also a big travelling component. Classes that want to up their numbers need to look at many factors, time being the biggest, both in terms of gross time to be involved in the regatta, and then how time is spent at the regatta. They need to ask members what they want; just hard core W/L racing as we have come to know it, or, will another format help to attract more people to the regatta?
It is evident that we are racing to attrition. Is the goal to be the last guy to win the class championship trophy because no one else wanted to come play any more?
For many national classes, scheduling the regatta on a Saturday-Sunday only would not necessarily result in better attendance. That's because there's significant driving time involved to get to the event. In Scots, for many sailors a national event is a full day or two full days drive. So, if you limit the racing to a Saturday and Sunday, and you still have to get there by Friday noonish in order to measure in and set up your boat, many attendees still have to miss 3, 4 or 5 weekdays at work because of travel time. And, all that driving seems hardly worth it if the event is only 2 days long, especially if some of those two days are lost to bad weather.
At least for classes who drive their own boats to regattas like Scots, it makes sense to schedule a 4 1/2 day event during the week for the big regattas like the NACs and Midwinters, because then competitors get 9 days off in a row by taking only 5 weekdays off work. That allows for travel time on each end and the length of the event makes it a satisfactory one, worth the drive.
For classes with more than 2 or 3 crew, where one or two people drive the boat to the event and the rest fly in the Friday evening before Saturday's race start, a weekend event can make sense. For a couples-heavy class like Scots, the weekday format can be the best compromise.
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