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 Post subject: C Fleet Racing
PostPosted: Tue Jul 26, 2005 10:37 am 
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Site Rank - Deck Hand

Joined: Wed Jul 14, 2004 11:48 am
Posts: 9
I thought about not bothering to put these thoughts down mainly because I assume that they will be perceived as inexperienced, but here goes anyway. I am a long time ski instructor, PSIA Level III Master Teacher at Killington VT. The ski industry has had a revelation in the last decade, one it took them too long to learn, and I am suggesting that the sailing industry may be making the same mistakes the ski industry made.

Someone had me almost convinced that the format for the nationals was the right one. Reading about what is happening to the qualifiers has convinced me otherwise. I think that the Syracuse NA had the equation right. It allowed for maximum participation by everyone ambitious enough to attend. My wife and I are c Fleet in 204. We would have attended the Ca event if we were able to compete for the entire event rather than just the qualifier. Some one recently suggested to me what if the even was in the tropics, at least then if you didn’t qualify you could still enjoy a vacation. This doesn’t work either if I am planning on going on vacation to sail/compete that’s what I want to do I would never plan a vacation around something I might be able to do, especially since child care is an expense and an issue. If I went somewhere to sail that’s what I would want to do not lie on the beach. There are a number of people in my fleet who would have attended had the even been more inclusive. Now before the wheels start spinning about why someone might think I’m wrong let me tell you why I think I am right.

1. Growth of the sport.

The ski industry finally realized that it is the people that are new to the sport that are the most important. There money is new, their circle of friends are new to the sport. Bottom line this means new revenue, more boats more participation. Now I am simplifying of course, but it is never the less true. Excluding the newer sailors to make the championship more prestigious is one thing but I thought that the Syracuse NA accomplished both. There may not have been a lot of lower level sailors there, but take it from a lower level sailor we were not encouraged, but rather the opposite with even speaking about going there was the sense that somehow a lower level sailor shouldn’t participate. There should be a way to include the lesser sailors in the event. If people are told they have to wait until they are qualified to sail against elite sailors realistically the overwhelming majority will never make it to that level, just like they don’t in snow skiing. Participation equals growth equals more participation and more fun for the majority of sailors. If the NA cater to the elite, the sailboat industry will miss the majority of people and dollars who aren’t.

2. B and C Fleet development should be a priority to Hobie and to the Fleets.

Too often if you arent very good you are made to feel in the way or inconsequential to the races. At a recent race when I questioned the results I was told the scores really don’t matter because you are in C fleet. Yet I still buy equipment and still like to race, and what more important than anything else I raced and the results matter to me that why I participated. Many other sailor make an effort to help other less experienced sailors, but frankly the kindness of strangers is not enough. In the ski industry we conduct seminars and weeklong events for instructors and students that guess what…. pay to be there. How many boats does Hobie want to sell?


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PostPosted: Tue Jul 26, 2005 9:07 pm 
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Site Rank - Old Salt

Joined: Tue Jul 05, 2005 8:45 am
Posts: 759
Location: Clinton Lake Lawrence, KS
You know Petey, I like your attitude :!:

Being a power boater, I made the comment in the break room one day about seeing these relatively fast sailboats with cool, multicolored sails at the lake. The new hire from Dallas pipes up "Those are Hobie Cats!" and proceeded to describe their design and revealed he was a proud Hobie owner. So we hooked up the next weekend to do some water skiing and sailing. After explaining to me how to trapeze and seeing I was getting the hang of it he joined me on the rail. We're screaming along and (in retrospect I think on purpose) the leeward hull tip disappeared into the back side of a wave. I of course hit the water first and remember looking up, seeing his silhouette on the end of the wire missleing in on my left and the boat coming down on my right. I instinctively turned away, took a big breath and covered the back of my head with my hands. As I was floating face down, still in a fetal ball, I could here him saying "John! John! are you all right?" I lifted my head out of the water, turned to him and smiling said "That was a blast, let's do it again!". The next Tuesday he was with me at the boat store, advising me of all the extra goodies I should purchase along with our brand new 1982 Hobie 16 #59501. Then our new Hobie friend decided our next step was to race in a Regatta and I'm thinking what are you crazy? last week I didn't know how to sail! He walked us through what would happen and since he hadn't won a Regatta yet, we could watch and follow him around the race course. Three weeks later a co-worker crewed with us at a Regatta and...another brand new 16 was purchased from our local dealer. Most of the Regattas we went to were hosted and attended by very helpful folks who always would lend a hand or make a helpful suggestion. There were also Fleets/Regattas where the C Fleeter's were somewhat made fun of, and some participants that were too serious about "their" sailing to put up with us. Or so it seemed to me then. Oddly enough the Fleet closet to where we lived just didn't have the right personality mesh for my wife and me. Although we didn't have a family yet, we had mush more fun with a Fleet twice as far from our home that was more family oriented. There is always opinion out there and I'll often search for common threads.

Isn't that the addictiveness of these boats? We have the rookie, still on a pink cloud and trying to assimilate every ounce of info possible. Then there's the die hard, trying to squeeze every ounce of energy to get that slight advantage, not make that fatal mistake.

We went to our Division Championships that first summer just for the experience, and it was great experience. The host Fleet was very gracious and we treated it as a vacation, making it a long weekend, sleeping in a Motel (we always camped), enjoying and exploring this new venue. We finished like 32nd out of 35 in C Fleet. You know, ahead of all the people whos boats broke and heck, our boat could have broke but it didn't, we finished dead last, had a blast and were proud that it was printed in the Hobie Hotline.

There are some people that are going to expect you to "pay your dues", to earn your right to compete, that's the way they are. Go to some different venues, keep asking questions, keep reading, keep searching for the answers you want to hear, because the people are out there to encourage you and promote the Hobie Way of Life.

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hobiejohn at earthlink dot net
Fleet 297


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