Club sailors – what would make you interested in attending Grand Prix events??

GP14 Sailing Forums Forum Club sailors – what would make you interested in attending Grand Prix events??

This topic contains 10 replies, has 3 voices, and was last updated by  Mike Senior 6 years, 5 months ago.

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  • #1810

    Mike Senior
    Participant

    Generally, GP14 Grand Prix events (i.e. Areas & Inlands) are attended by similar people each year. As long as the timing, format and venue are fairly good I think the GP14 product is good enough to always attract a good number of sailors. However, we can do better at getting people who generally don’t sail grand prix events to attend/qualify, but what should we be promoting or doing extra to make it compelling for people to attend? My initial thoughts are that we need to share experience better and transfer knowledge of the gold fleet sailors down the fleet more effectively, which will ultimately help the sailors when they go back and club sail. Discussions recently have been around:

    – Gold fleet sailor pre and post-race briefings at all grand prix events (Not an OOD style briefing, but a briefing by one of the top sailors to talk about what you need to concentrate on considering the conditions of the day and then a briefing later about what worked and what didn’t).

    – Alternative social activities? (Not really my area of expertise but I really liked the rules briefing at the Inlands. Should we be bringing in more things like this for just half an hour at the start of the evening?)

    – Buddy groups at smaller events?

     

  • #1942

    I generally attend Grand Prix events when I can, but for me, people have to be eased into it. At the moment, the events are run by the people who have been in the class for years, and basically know what they’re doing. This means high standards of racing, good courses, and square lines. All very good if you’re challenging for the lead, or even scrapping in mid fleet.

    However, I remember from my early days starting out in mirrors that there is nothing more demoralising than slowly getting spat out the exhaust, and watching the fleet disappear into the distance in almost every race. The starts would be exciting, but after a short while, you would end up sailing around the course on your own, which got boring very quickly. Especially when certain race officers seemed to view it as a point of honour that no race would take less than 80 minutes to complete, which could lead to over an hour of boredom for back markers.

    So what can we do to make their experience less tiresome? I have two suggestions. Either try and bulk out the bottom end of the fleet with huge amounts of incentives, cheaper entry if it’s your first season, reasonably priced charter boats to save people the hassle of towing their own, especially if they don’t have a trailer, a proper crew and boat finder forum that’s well-publicised to get bodies at events, the promise of a buddy system so they can meet new people and improve their skills, and so on.

    The second is to shorten the length of the races, or at least some of the races, so that the back markers can feel like they’re really a part of the race for a longer period of time, and can even hang on to the odd decent result every now and again. If the odd sprint race is good enough for the Tour de France, why not us?!

    It’s all about hanging onto them until they’re hooked, and are ready to play properly with the big boys.

     

    That’s what we could be doing from an event organisation point of view, but I think the real key to all of this lies at club level. Any club that has any decent number (5+) GP14s sitting around should be getting a visit from the association at least once every two seasons, whether that’s a traveller event, or even better, an open coaching session. GPs should be brought to clubs that don’t traditionally have them, and shown off. The association should be actively canvassing every club and sailing school to get them to allow demonstrations to the members at club racing or open days. There are plenty of GPs for sale online in basically decent shape for <£800, the association could perhaps act as an intermediary in the sale of these, paying the original seller, and selling them on into clubs that need a fleet kick-started. It’s all about achieving a critical mass of people actively sailing and racing in as many clubs as possible, and everything else will kick off from there. We’re in competition with boats like the RS200 and 400, and the Laser 2000. They’re always advertising themselves, and so should we be, even if it’s just a nice poster plastered everywhere there’s water.

  • #2001

    Mike Senior
    Participant

    Some really good points here. It is worth noting however, in most championship races the target time for the first finisher is 50 mins. I would personally prefer 40mins with more races but realise this is not everyone’s cup of tea so I think 50 mins is a good compromise.

    I think adding more incentives to the bottom end of the fleet is a great idea and I will suggest such things as discounts when the championship committee next meets. I like the idea of charter boats but how could this be managed? Would the association organise it or would the boat finder forum work? I can’t see how the association could organise it as it would require an immense amount of effort from individuals to make it work effectively. It is very easy to add another forum to the website, but is there enough interest in this?

    With regard to the buddy system, we are running this at the nationals this year and have made a few changes to encourage people to share best ideas. I have always been keen to expand this outside of the nationals, but ideas to how this could work?

    I like the club points, but is easier said than done. How do you propose this could work, considering members of the committee are all voluntary and have limited time. I think it could be done but I also suspect we would need more people to get on board to make this work effectively.

    I can’t see how the association could act as a brokerage for selling boats. There could be issues around liability, however offering some form of guidance could help.

  • #2002

    Some really good points here. It is worth noting however, in most championship races the target time for the first finisher is 50 mins. I would personally prefer 40mins with more races but realise this is not everyone’s cup of tea so I think 50 mins is a good compromise.

    Well I’m not going to name names (Partly because I’m an ungrateful sod and sometimes don’t even do the race officers who give up their time so we can enjoy ourselves the courtesy of finding out who they are! :S ), but I have been at events where the shortest race was well over an hour. I think I’d prefer a few “sprint races” at every event. Say the first two races of a day are targeted to take 30 minutes, then subsequent races are full-length ones. With discards, then the more casual sailors whose cup of tea really isn’t a 7 hour day on the water will still feel like they’re getting their money’s worth, and won’t be counting a long string of DNFs or DNCs.

    I think it might be similar to the entry fee issue, in that a conflict will exist between encouraging casual sailors and providing the best racing for the top guys. Largs will put on a superb event, but charge us an arm and a leg for it. Another club might have been cheaper, but run a less professional event, encouraging less committed sailors, but putting off the Ian Dobsons of this world. Same with running a few shorter races, but maybe the concept is something that could be brought up with the class at the AGM.

    I think adding more incentives to the bottom end of the fleet is a great idea and I will suggest such things as discounts when the championship committee next meets. I like the idea of charter boats but how could this be managed? Would the association organise it or would the boat finder forum work? I can’t see how the association could organise it as it would require an immense amount of effort from individuals to make it work effectively. It is very easy to add another forum to the website, but is there enough interest in this?

    The challenge is always going to be how exactly to give an incentive to new people without ticking off the backbone of the fleet. Maybe a discount for your first five events or something, or discounts for students (not that I’d have an ulterior motive here at all!), and sailors from the home club.

    For charter boats, I was thinking specifically of my own club, Castle Semple, where we have 5 decent GP hulls in the dinghy park for club use, just a 25 minute drive from Largs. The sails aren’t in the best nick, but there must be hundreds of sets of sails in good condition in the garages of top GP sailors. Put them together, pay everyone a fair rate for the week, and you have five reasonably competitive charter boats ready to go. I do appreciate that would be quite a lot of work, but if it got us five extra boats at the nationals, it might be worth it.

    With regard to the buddy system, we are running this at the nationals this year and have made a few changes to encourage people to share best ideas. I have always been keen to expand this outside of the nationals, but ideas to how this could work?

    Unfortunately, I’ve never seen a buddy system work effectively. I know I’ve been at loads of events where it’s been in place, but I can’t remember who my buddy was for a single one of them. Maybe it could somehow be tied to the socials in the evening, but I think buddies kind of need to be smashed together, because from what I’ve seen they don’t usually seek out their buddies on their own.

    I like the club points, but is easier said than done. How do you propose this could work, considering members of the committee are all voluntary and have limited time. I think it could be done but I also suspect we would need more people to get on board to make this work effectively.

    Well getting more people on the board would certainly be one way of going about it. If there were regional club development officers to assist the regional reps in their jobs it might help lighten the work load.

    The other way would be a strategy I suggested when I was on the mirror class committee in Ireland, and essentially involves close contact with the GP class captain in each club (and if they don’t have a class captain, we try and get someone to be a GP representative). They’d talk to the association, tell them how the club was doing, what they needed, how the members felt about travelling to events, how they could be encouraged, etc. They could do a lot of the organising on a local scale, encouraging club members to get GPs, and trying to keep existing GP sailors active and interested. Essentially be an extension of the committee without the need to travel all over the country, they’d liaise with the area reps instead of coming to committee meetings.

    I can’t see how the association could act as a brokerage for selling boats. There could be issues around liability, however offering some form of guidance could help.

    I wouldn’t know, but I think other classes maintain demonstration boats, so there must be some way of doing it, although it could involve a lot of money, and peoples’ time, which isn’t ideal. The GP class does suffer somewhat from not having a manufacturer pushing it.

    Another option is to use traveller events to showcase the class in clubs where it doesn’t traditionally have a strong base. At the Scottish Champs in Loch Ryan this year, there were 6 Scottish entries, representing 3 clubs. If the series was to be moved to another club, and boats were dug up from everywhere to charter to local sailors, be they spare boats, club boats, or whatever, to get 5 or 6 helms from the home club on the water, at worst you’d have put in the effort to get a good turnout, and at best, you’d have a few converts to the class.

     

    Sorry if I’ve rambled a bit, I’m mainly just thinking out loud. It would be great if we got more people out to events though.

  • #2055

    After the nationals (congratulations everyone, superb event!), and chatting to people there, I’ve had a few more thoughts, so here they are, without any particular logic or order to them:

    -It was very disappointing to see no entries from the home club, and doubly disappointing that I counted 3 or 4 GPs in the dinghy park, unused. I think every single event, especially the nationals and worlds, is a chance to grow the class. I don’t know what was done to encourage local sailors to take part, but I think at the very least, a significant discount on entry fees should be the norm for the nationals. We have a fantastic product, people will come back for it, I think the biggest step is getting them in in the first place. A nationals on your own doorstep should be an opportunity that the association make too good to miss.

     

    -With that in mind, I think having the worlds in Barbados is a wasted opportunity if there are no Barbadian GPs, and no plans to grow the class out there. As far as I can tell, the motivation for having the worlds in the Caribbean is a warm weather jolly for those who can afford it (which definitely doesn’t include younger sailors, people just dipping their toes into the class, or social sailors, who are the very groups we should be targeting to get membership numbers up).

    If we want warm-weather sailing, we should either go to Sri Lanka, South Africa or Australia, somewhere where there is an active class to encourage and grow, or have an event specifically to encourage the growth of the class in a new region. License a boat builder in the Netherlands, or Brittany, or New Zealand or the Algarve, get them to sponsor the event, find an interested club, get volunteers promoting the event and the class at boat shows, and try and actually kick-start a racing fleet. Anyway, that’s a bit off-topic for this discussion.

     

    -From what I saw, the buddy system worked well. Having people forced together early in the week for the quiz was a good idea.

     

    -The event ran really smoothly, the courses were great, the facilities on shore were fantastic, but I still think the entry fee was far, far too high. A quick scout around the internet shows that the Mirrors have charged £100 for 4 days of racing, RS200s charged £147 for 5, RS400s: £112 for 5 days, Fireballs: £159 for 5 days. 505s, £120 for 4 days, Lasers: £155 for 6 days.

    How are other classes able to offer national championships so much cheaper than ours? Most have similar numbers attending, we have the same clubs at our disposal, presumably the same necessary expenses. The class should be trying to get people in who are coming out of junior classes, Mirrors, Fevas, Toppers. If I was an 18-year-old looking at getting into a new fleet, or someone looking to take up fleet racing again after University, I’d look at those entry fees, and cross the £220 nationals straight off the list.

  • #2059

    Mike Senior
    Participant

    Hi Peter,Good feedback, which I will take to the next championship meeting for discussion. I’ll put some of my personal views below to your comments:

    Home club participation – Very good point. I didn’t personally notice the GPs in the dinghy park, but this has made me think that as a championship committee we need to work more closely with the relevant area rep in the area where the nationals are being held as there is only so much that can be done from afar without knowledge of the local fleet.

    Barbados Worlds – I disagree in part, but agree that we should do everything possible to encourage GP sailing wherever we may go for a world championship. It is a fantastic opportunity to showcase the class on the international stage and the potential to grow outside our normal areas should be explored. I disagree that holding an event which may attract some which only dip their toes into the class is a bad thing. If holding a world championship in a venue such as this raises the profile to such an extent that attracts these people, then there is a fair chance we can keep them in the class once they experience the first class close racing.  The deal that will be on offer to travel to barbados promises to be extremely attractive with substantial support from the Barbadian tourism authority. I attended the Fireball world champs there and it cost just over £200 to get the boat there and back and it was only gone for a little over a month I think. This is substantially cheaper than the cost of the previous Sri Lanka worlds.

    Entry fees – Following on from my previous response, I agree that entry fees should be as low possible, but I am not aware of how other associations budget for their champs so comparing like for like is difficult. The aim of setting the entry fee for the champs is not for profit but also not for loss as it would be unfair for the association to subside a loss making event. By comparison, it is worth noting the recent Optimist nationals held at Largs was costed at £180 per boat with a substantially bigger entry! The cost of running the nationals at Largs would however been substantially less could we have guaranteed more boats but following a worlds year and location considerations, costing around 50 boats was planned. It is worth noting, that for GP14 championship events there are substantial discounts already on offer for youth sailors. I have been lucky to experience many championship venues across the UK. This was my first time to Largs and personally I thought it was worth it given the first class facilities. Comments on entry fees will I am sure be discussed in detail for future nationals.

    Mike

  • #2068

    Barbados Worlds – I disagree in part, but agree that we should do everything possible to encourage GP sailing wherever we may go for a world championship. It is a fantastic opportunity to showcase the class on the international stage and the potential to grow outside our normal areas should be explored. I disagree that holding an event which may attract some which only dip their toes into the class is a bad thing. If holding a world championship in a venue such as this raises the profile to such an extent that attracts these people, then there is a fair chance we can keep them in the class once they experience the first class close racing. The deal that will be on offer to travel to barbados promises to be extremely attractive with substantial support from the Barbadian tourism authority. I attended the Fireball world champs there and it cost just over £200 to get the boat there and back and it was only gone for a little over a month I think. This is substantially cheaper than the cost of the previous Sri Lanka worlds.

    If the plan is to engage with local sailors and try and get a Barbados fleet going, that’s absolutely fantastic. If not, it’s a missed opportunity, so not the end of the world, but a little disappointing nonetheless. I don’t think anyone new from the UK or Ireland is going to be enticed into the class by it though. If they won’t race GPs here, they won’t go half way across the world to race them, and if they want to go sailing in the warm, I think they’d just go to Sunsail.

    Entry fees – Following on from my previous response, I agree that entry fees should be as low possible, but I am not aware of how other associations budget for their champs so comparing like for like is difficult. The aim of setting the entry fee for the champs is not for profit but also not for loss as it would be unfair for the association to subside a loss making event. By comparison, it is worth noting the recent Optimist nationals held at Largs was costed at £180 per boat with a substantially bigger entry! The cost of running the nationals at Largs would however been substantially less could we have guaranteed more boats but following a worlds year and location considerations, costing around 50 boats was planned. It is worth noting, that for GP14 championship events there are substantial discounts already on offer for youth sailors. I have been lucky to experience many championship venues across the UK. This was my first time to Largs and personally I thought it was worth it given the first class facilities. Comments on entry fees will I am sure be discussed in detail for future nationals.

    Perhaps Largs is the common factor here. Are they charging significantly more than other clubs? Or are other classes subsidising their events through membership? The fleets I mentioned are of similar or smaller sizes to the GP fleet, so size of fleet shouldn’t be an issue. It’d definitely worth looking into somehow, even if the answer is that other classes take money from their members to artificially deflate entry fees. Why other classes are able to offer events so much cheaper than us isn’t something the committee should be happy not knowing.

  • #2069

    dave young
    Participant

    I’ve got to say that I pretty well agree with everything Peter is saying here – makes complete sence to me.

  • #2070

    Mike Senior
    Participant

    “I don’t think anyone new from the UK or Ireland is going to be enticed into the class by it though. If they won’t race GPs here, they won’t go half way across the world to race them, and if they want to go sailing in the warm, I think they’d just go to Sunsail.”

    – Completely disagree. Sunsail type sailing is not racing. GP14 sailing in the main is all about racing whether that be at a club or international level (no offense intended to the cruisers out there). Barbados has the potential to be a very successful world championship with stable conditions and excellent facilities. I have spoken to many sailors who aren’t usual GP14 racers over here who are extremely excited about the prospect of racing in Barbados. I also know of sailors who went 505 sailing just to go to the recent worlds in Barbados just because it was in Barbabos. That was a fantastic opportunity for the 505 class to show these sailors who may initially of just intended to sail this 1 event to keep them in the class. Yes, Barbados may not appeal to everyone but from everyone I have spoken to about it, I have left the conversation thinking that person is seriously thinking about going.

    If as a class we display a positive message about what our racing provides, such as top quality close racing, quality competitive equipment at affordable prices, brilliant venues at a variety of places we will benefit from increased attendance, but by far the best way for our class to increase increase numbers at events and thus membership is for us sailors to shout about how good GP14 sailing is to everyone we know that sails.

    – Reducing entry fees can be done in 3 ways; 1. go to a cheaper venue based on what the club would charge per boat (generally, clubs ran on a voluntary basis will be cheaper. There are pros and cons for this). 2. provide less things during week (i.e. organised social acitivies) and 3. Gain monetary support from sponsors. Subsidising from association membership fees should never be factored in (my opinion). Gaining monetary support from sponsors has been difficult in recent years but if we did gain a significant monetary sponsor I would (personally) prefer it if the money was spent enhancing the event rather than reducing entry fees as I don’t think it would make that much difference to event entries but would potentially heighten the publicity of the event way beyond its normal boundaries. Also, if you base entry fee on monies gained sponsorship and then the sponsorship falls through the association would have to pick up the tab. The main reason why Largs was expensive was the host venue cost per boat based on the estimated number of entries (which ended up being fairly accurate). Probably a lesson to be taken from this could be that following a big worlds year a cheaper voluntary based club may be a better option.

    Back to original thread of making people attend, I think we need to be much better as a class at explaining how good value GP14 racing is and not focusing solely on price. Yes price is important but it is probably more important to stress that whilst price is what you pay, value is what you get. For some reason, we seem to get drawn into wanting to drive down the cost of everything all the time, whether that be the price of events or the price of new boats (please lets not go there again though!!). That does not give a positive external image of the class. I think overall my week in Largs was good value and will be saying so to anyone who asks me. On total price, my total cost of event versus Looe in 2012 was less. Based in the Midlands my travel time was similar, but accommodation was much cheaper compared to what I paid in the increased entry fee.

     

    • This reply was modified 6 years, 6 months ago by  Mike Senior. Reason: typo
  • #2148

    Completely disagree. Sunsail type sailing is not racing. GP14 sailing in the main is all about racing whether that be at a club or international level (no offense intended to the cruisers out there). Barbados has the potential to be a very successful world championship with stable conditions and excellent facilities. I have spoken to many sailors who aren’t usual GP14 racers over here who are extremely excited about the prospect of racing in Barbados. I also know of sailors who went 505 sailing just to go to the recent worlds in Barbados just because it was in Barbabos. That was a fantastic opportunity for the 505 class to show these sailors who may initially of just intended to sail this 1 event to keep them in the class. Yes, Barbados may not appeal to everyone but from everyone I have spoken to about it, I have left the conversation thinking that person is seriously thinking about going.

    If Barbados is a successful event I will be delighted, and I’ll happily eat my words, I’m just putting my opinion out there, which is that for every sailor who attends the worlds because they’re in Barbados and it’s nice, there will be several who are put off because it’s in Barbados and it’s expensive. I’d be fairly confident that many of the people who express interest now will change their minds once the event gets closer and the expense becomes a reality, and they won’t be compensated for with a high local turnout, as they would be were the event to be held in Australia or South Africa.

    If as a class we display a positive message about what our racing provides, such as top quality close racing, quality competitive equipment at affordable prices, brilliant venues at a variety of places we will benefit from increased attendance, but by far the best way for our class to increase increase numbers at events and thus membership is for us sailors to shout about how good GP14 sailing is to everyone we know that sails.

    That’s a good way of going about it, but by the time people get to the stage when they can afford to drop £250 on the entry fee for an event, they’re likely to be already settled in a class. Most of the fleet racers I know are at this stage already. If the class is to thrive, it needs to be targeting the people moving out of junior classes, so uni students and school leavers. That will net far more prospective sailors into the class than trying to poach sailors from fireballs and 505s by throwing money at the hosting of events.

    – Reducing entry fees can be done in 3 ways; 1. go to a cheaper venue based on what the club would charge per boat (generally, clubs ran on a voluntary basis will be cheaper. There are pros and cons for this). 2. provide less things during week (i.e. organised social acitivies) and 3. Gain monetary support from sponsors. Subsidising from association membership fees should never be factored in (my opinion). Gaining monetary support from sponsors has been difficult in recent years but if we did gain a significant monetary sponsor I would (personally) prefer it if the money was spent enhancing the event rather than reducing entry fees as I don’t think it would make that much difference to event entries but would potentially heighten the publicity of the event way beyond its normal boundaries. Also, if you base entry fee on monies gained sponsorship and then the sponsorship falls through the association would have to pick up the tab. The main reason why Largs was expensive was the host venue cost per boat based on the estimated number of entries (which ended up being fairly accurate). Probably a lesson to be taken from this could be that following a big worlds year a cheaper voluntary based club may be a better option.

    I see where you’re coming from, but you’re somebody who’s already hooked on GPs. You’re going to the event anyway, so of course you’d prefer it if the money was spent enhancing it. I know from first hand experience that a lot of Irish people didn’t travel to Largs this year purely because of the entry fee (comfortably) breaking the £200 barrier. Would we have lost as many sailors from the entry if we’d tightened the budget for daily prizes, or scrapped the piper on the slipway?

    Back to original thread of making people attend, I think we need to be much better as a class at explaining how good value GP14 racing is and not focusing solely on price. Yes price is important but it is probably more important to stress that whilst price is what you pay, value is what you get. For some reason, we seem to get drawn into wanting to drive down the cost of everything all the time, whether that be the price of events or the price of new boats (please lets not go there again though!!). That does not give a positive external image of the class. I think overall my week in Largs was good value and will be saying so to anyone who asks me. On total price, my total cost of event versus Looe in 2012 was less. Based in the Midlands my travel time was similar, but accommodation was much cheaper compared to what I paid in the increased entry fee.

    I’m just giving the perspective of somebody who is on the fringes of the class. I’m a graduate student, I’m not earning big money, and for me, the price is the most important thing, as it is for the majority of the demographic I think the class should be targeting. Polling current GP14 stalwarts is only going to reveal so much, because by definition, they’re not the people we’re trying to get into the class.

    The image people have been given of the class at the moment is one that is fleecing its sailors with extortionate entry fees. However untrue we know that to be, it is something that I feel is going to be far more damaging than a reputation for doing things economically and running efficient, affordable events.

  • #2164

    Mike Senior
    Participant

    I agree with most you say apart from Barbados, but i’ll leave that one for now until full details of the event emerge so everyone can make there own opinion. I also disagree that the class has an image of fleecing its sailors with extortionate entry fees. The comments around Largs  have been discussed by the championship committee already. Overall our entry fees as a class for opens, areas and championships are well within average and in a lot cases below. The reasons why the Largs entry fee was what is was have been outlined, so I won’t reiterate that again.

    The entry fees for the last 2 championship events are as follows:

    • Northern Champs = £45 (includes evening meal on Sat)
    • End of Season Champs = £40 (includes evening meal on Sat)

     If the class is to thrive, it needs to be targeting the people moving out of junior classes, so uni students and school leavers. 

    Agree, but from an event organisation point of view youth boats already get a 50% discount on association events. Maybe this could be extended to uni leavers (exc mature students!) and/or first timers, but there comes a point where economics say you can’t discount everyone, otherwise the association or event would make a loss.

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