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Matt Jackson View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Quote Matt Jackson Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 01 Dec 04 at 4:48pm
It'll also completely bugger up the dinghy 'Top Trumps' Game - protests galore
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sailnick View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Quote sailnick Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 01 Dec 04 at 8:34pm

I am amused to read the complete thread of this post.  And jealous.  I now live in southern California, where we have much better weather but organized dinghy racing that "just plain sucks!"

How exciting to read the empassioned arguments to something as simple as inaccurate figures in Y&Y (for which I always have to wait thanks to my sister, still in England, who hogs each issue!).  Over here we have more fudamental battles such as actually finding dinghies against which to race, in an area noted for its Farr 40s, Corel 45s, Maxis etc.  I have gone through two Lasers, a Contender, a Skate (Canadian design, like an RS600), a Tempest, an ISO and a RS600 to try to find the right boat to get competition for the western US (OK, the ISO and 600 were not intelligent moves!), and I am now playing in a 20' keelboat...Aaaaarrrrrggggghhhhh!

I too have noted errors in Y&Ys figures over the past years, but I always assumed they were caused by over - on under - zealous class associations.  Until someone else gathers and publishes better figures (will never happen), we will have to enjoy Y&Y's efforts to keep us informed.

British dinghy sailors just don't know how lucky they are to have the volume and diversity of classes open to them; my nearest Albacore fleet is 2200 miles away in Canada (Toronto); the same for the nearest Wayfarer fleet; the nearest Int. Canoe Fleet is 355 miles in San Francisco, etc, etc, etc.  As for the RS series, the Laser series (except the Laser itself) and 90% of the other classes you all enjoy, there just simply aren't any over here!

Y&Y should produce an annual Dinghy Classes review for the US - the 'new boats' category for most classes would be monotonously familiar - zero.

I was also pleased to note that the discussion switched briefly to relying on people to help promote classes.  Having had to start a class association, generate a website through a friend and track down boats all by myself in order to breathe new life into a dormant small keelboat class (www.hotfoot20.com), I can attest to the fact that many people, although enthusiastic about their class, are not prepared to put their time into the organizational side of it; merely invest time in the fun sailing side.

Thank you Y&Y for making an excellent effort to inform us about all aspects of our sport.  I will take any typos or erros in your magazine in good humour, and thank all members of this forum for reminding me that there are other passionate dinghy sailors in this world...something I was starting to forget.

Enjoy your winter weather, and I'll enjoy my dinghy-starved-but-sunny CA existence!

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Post Options Post Options   Quote Stefan Lloyd Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 01 Dec 04 at 9:29pm
Originally posted by sailnick

I am amused to read the complete thread of this post.  And jealous.  I now live in southern California, where we have much better weather but organized dinghy racing that "just plain sucks!"

I keep reading in Scuttlebutt that racing is in the decline in the USA and dinghy racing in particular. Obviously one reason for people racing Farr 40s etc is because they have the money to do so, but other than that, why the difference versus the UK? Just curious.

 

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Post Options Post Options   Quote sailnick Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 02 Dec 04 at 12:00am

These are my opinions only, but having been born and bred in the UK and then having lived the second half of my almost-40-year life here in the US, I feel that my observations are fairly educated...

At the risk of offending any US readers of this forum, Americans are by nature, competitive...in ALL aspects of life.  This one-up-manship is clearly evident in their toys.  While we, in the UK dinghy world, seem to be impressed by speed (hence the success - or introduction, at least -  of the 59er, 49er, 29er, RS800, RS700, RS600, Laser 5000, Laser 4000, Boss, ISO, Int. 14, Int Canoe, Osprey, Javelin, FD, B14, 505, Spice, Fireball, Hornet, 470, Vortex, Int. Moth etc...in what other country can you find such a selection of lively boats?), the Americans in general have a mantra of 'bigger is better'.

The relatively decent junior club programs, high school programs and University programs, in which American kids race Optimists, Flying Juniors, 420s and Lasers are simply not supported by the club's own racing schedules.  Once the kids have graduated from these junior programs they step up into what's available - J22s, J24s and bigger.  And why are there no dinghy classes racing at these clubs?  Because to be 'cool' in America you need as big a boat as you can afford.

And afford them they can.  America is a rich country, especially along the coasts, and Americans also live their life on credit.  It doesn't matter to them that they own nothing; that their houses, cars, boats, summer houses etc are all owned by the banks and that they are mortgaged to the hilt.  Americans like to work hard and play hard (many have 2 or even 3 jobs), and their relatively comfortable salaries are made to stretch to cover all their luxury requirements.  This means that they are more than happy to take a loan for $75,000 (GBP50,000 at a standard exchange rate) or more simply to finance a new keelboat.  Believe me, I have seen it time and time again.  Of course, because America runs on credit, the rates are good to encourage more borrowing...

While US sales of dinghies may be pathetic, their sales of keelboats is still pretty strong (even if "Scuttlebutt" states that racing in on the decline).

There is one caveat to this dying dinghy discussion: some of their own national classes are very strong here - the 3-man Lightning has over 15,200 boats (including in South America, Greece, Switzerland and Finland) and regularly attracts 100+ boats to its Nationals; the 3-man Thistle has 4,000 boats, but likewise attracts 100+ to its Nats; and other classes such as the Vanguard 15, Snipe, JY15, Sunfish (yuk!) and the weird scow classes in the mid west also do well.

Perhaps things are starting to change.  The 505 class, that has been weak here for the past 20 years, has had an amazing resurgence of life, especially on the west coast (where the US builder - Waterat - is located).  And if the Canadian sailing has any influence, the Byte, Albacore, Contender and Wayfarer classes might stand a chance for growth in the near future.  Only time will tell.

So, bottom line and IN GENERAL(!), I think that the Americans favour keelboats over dinghies because of their inherent wealth, their contentment to live totally on credit, their view that 'bigger is better' and thus the lack of appropriate dinghy fleets into which the sailing juniors can graduate (did you note that Samuel Kahn, at 15, was racing a Melges 24 keelboat to a Worlds win?).

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Matt Jackson View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Quote Matt Jackson Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 02 Dec 04 at 5:23pm

Hi Nick

Various classes around the world and regionally are suffering from declining support and apathy and your experience would be useful for those trying to promote their class. Is there any chance you could write something about your experience that would be beneficial to these people (essentially me). If you’re shy about publishing it (which judging from your postings so far I doubt) you could PM or email me direct as I’d be interested.

Some time ago I posted a couple of threads on the Y&Y forum on this subject with some useful responses but the more the better.

PS – I was amused to see a Hotfoot 20 on the website called Chupacabra. If it’s what I’m thinking it means ‘Goat Sucker’ and it’s a South American mythical (?) beast a bit like a werewolf which attacks goats. Now that’s a top name for a boat!

 

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Post Options Post Options   Quote sailnick Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 02 Dec 04 at 9:15pm

Hello Matt,

If ever there was a person who had picked up the gauntlet and had undertaken to promote a class against all odds, then it has to be your very own International Class Secretary of the Contender Class, Gil Woolley.

Consider this: he spends his time trying to steer misguided Americans away from their lead-bottomed bricks (like mine!) and into your beautiful sleek trapezing class here in California (bear in mind that there is no US builder and no US fleet); he fields all US enquiries; he fields many Canadian enquiries (as the Int Secretary, I suspect that he fields world-wide enquiries); he develops and maintains the Int. Contender website; he tracks and monitors the 200+ US Contenders (don't forget that the US is geographically huge, with a population of some 170,000,000); he sits on the Contender board; and at least once a year he flies to Europe to compete with the likes of you.

Committed?  He should be!  He owns, I believe, three Contenders here in the US and a beautiful Bonnezzi (is there any other sort of Bonnezzi than beautiful?!) that is stored in Europe...and no, he is not a multi-millionaire!

He is also witty, pleasant, technically-minded and an all-around splendid fellow.  If ever there was a medal given to a person who had gone 'above and beyond' for his/her class (Y&Y, take note), Gil should be a prime candidate.

Matt it's not that I don't want to oblige, it's merely that with work (I should be doing that now!), family, Hotfoot Association commitments and the fact that the US premiere racing magazine (called "Sailing World") wants me to write an article and produce photos on how I rebuilt my Hotfoot and started the class association, I find the prospect of trying to write something intelligent for you (and perhaps others) to read to be a little daunting...

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Matt Jackson View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Quote Matt Jackson Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 03 Dec 04 at 8:11am
Fair enough. I've met Gil (at the Worlds in Plymouth) and he has as much energy and enthusiasm as your reply indicates. Maybe I'll bend his ear a bit.
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Post Options Post Options   Quote Javelin Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 11 Dec 04 at 3:08am

We’ve been discussing how best to promote our classes on a frequent basis on the Fastsail site over the last year or so.
Indeed that is what Fastsail was set up to do.

It’s a plain fact that seven Classes working together to promote and enjoy their sailing is far easier than it was when we were fending for ourselves.

 

We have muted elsewhere that maybe other classes could benefit from the model and indeed I know a few are thinking about partnering up.

However, why not go a step further, do what in many peoples eyes the RYA should be doing and create a UK Dinghy Association.

Cost savings to Class associations would be huge for example,
Shared printing costs for year books, leaflets etc

Reduced web site costs coupled with proper community based sites rather than the bland information sites you often see.
Shared costs on phone conferencing for committee meetings,
Help from those who are good at PR, finance, technical aspects etc
Also arranging events is made easier and more effective as similar classes attend a venue at the same time, no more sharing events with classes that are wholly inappropriate.
The buying power is transformed through such an organisation as we have found with Fastsail.
Sponsorship, cheaper rates and deals on gear equipment, insurance etc.
Dealing with the larger Clubs is now a breeze. Where in the past we would struggle to get an event at some Clubs they are now emailing us!!

And socially it’s been great and getting better.
For example a group of guys from across the classes are getting together this weekend down at Lee On Solent, for a few drinks and a blast around in each others boats.
Again a mix from all the classes are organising chartering three or four boats to do the round the Island race, another group are sorting out some Larks and GP14’s to do a 24hr race and the list continues.
And why? Well before we had 7 Class Associations of anywhere between 40 to 300 members.
We now have Fastsail with well over 800 members.
Just think what we could do with 8000 members.

Makes you think doesn’t it?
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Post Options Post Options   Quote Coolhand Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 13 Dec 04 at 9:03am

Javelin,

 

Whilst I can see where you are coming from I don’t think it would work.

 

The Fastsail concept is very powerful – common goals, common experiences, common problems and, surprisingly important, common enemies. All things that help form strong teams/organisations giving Fastsail focus and direction.

 

The groups that would make up UK Dingy Association would have very little common with each other and I feel it would be counter productive.

 

All of the benefits you outline are available by duplicating the Fastsail concept to form other groupings – there are even opportunities to counter some of the influence the manufactures have in the “modern classes” by forming cross brand groupings – e.g. "Very Fast Sail"  - Fast Trapezing Asymmetrics e.t.c.

 

IMHO and I’m no expert.

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Matt Jackson View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Quote Matt Jackson Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 13 Dec 04 at 12:40pm

Interesting points, both. I was thinking that Fastsail had made entry requirment too narrow - I see the Contender being part of the same club but barred by the symetric spinakers thing. Afterall the Contender is about the same speed as a Fireball and once stood out as an extreme but manageble racer.

I think it's a brave think that Fastsail has done 'combining' classes that traditionally compete for sailors. I wonder if any of the classes partaking have seen any growth that there wouldn't have been anyway.

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