25th April 2012, 08:26 PM #1
Is Regional Racing the Way Forward?
It seems to me that with the cost of petrol going the way it's going, travelling long distances to national events is getting prohibitive (my electric car won't make the coast and back either!). Coupled with the fact that an event isn't cheap to enter (including annual membership fees) and you have a recipe for not encouraging new folk to the joy of competitive racing.
So how about this - put more emphasis on Regional Racing?
At the London Region (and I think all other regions) if you haven't raced before you can get a regional membership for something like twenty five quid (basically gives you third party insurance), if you get in contact with them a couple of days before you can arrange the loan of a raceboard (bring you own sail though - don't wory about sail numbers!). The cost of an event is usually a tenner, five quid for youths. The event may only be a day long but that means you get to spend Sunday with the trouble and strife!
To top it all, the quality of racing is up there with national events - all the top national sailors support their regions so you will always have someone to compete with. The London Region gets as many competitors as national events.
So, if you're interested in racing but are put off by cost/distance/time get in contact with your region - it's where the best racers started out!
We're at Fishers Green, just north of London this weekend if you're interested?
Last edited by Natural Born Raceboarder; 25th April 2012 at 08:34 PM.
25th April 2012, 10:29 PM #2
The thing that holds back racing now is the sail size, because it is 9.8 you have to have two or more, Racing prospered when it was 7.5 and it was pretty much one board one sail, and the mast you used could also serve for recreational use. Now I'm not advocating going back to that, but 8.5 would give a better range. Or reduce the mast size to something sensible, so th expense of it meant less of your entire budget being either/or (You race or you recreate but can't afford both, the hey day was when you did both from the one set of kit).
Then it's the encouragement of clubs and sailing board at Sailing Clubs rather than y'all going pikey camps where no-one sails or even knows you've been there, I dare say the success of the London series is because it is club based.
Everyone hates the Raceboard circuit the way it is now (Those that have known better) those that do attend do so because of their kids.
It should also be opened up to small builders the way it used to be, to encourage local companies to build one or two, having a one manufacturer domination with a few pros on free kit ruling the roost when better sailors that could trounce them don't get a look in because of the kit difference.
Sort all those issues and you maybe have a prayer, sort them not and it goes on declining.
25th April 2012, 10:52 PM #3
- Join Date
- Apr 2004
I agree with both.
Petrol and other rising costs mean that travelling to regattas each weekend is not accessible for most.
So local racing and local fleets are the way to go.
But you have to push a class which is affordable and fun.
Any sail bigger than 8.5m is just silly. No fun to pump and turn with. Just backbreakingly silly.
If it's 10m weather then you should be in a dinghy. But dinghies are too expensive, right?
So keep windsurfing affordable and you'll get good fleet sizes.
What's the price of a carbon 5m mast again? A 5.20 mast? I rest my case.
Successful racing is about getting a competitive fleet on the water, not about who can afford what.
Doesn't matter what people are actually using, as long as it's reasonably seaworthy and fun to use.
PS. That opening post was a bit sexist.
Last edited by basher; 25th April 2012 at 10:57 PM.Off games with bad back. And a bit crabby.
26th April 2012, 07:40 AM #4
26th April 2012, 07:49 AM #5
Oh and there is one more thing, an answer needs to be found to the conundrum within this thread which contains the lonely struggle of a fella who actually wanted to try his hand at racing, ask him what went wrong and you have your answer as to how you improve participation at even Regional meetings.
26th April 2012, 08:10 AM #6
- Join Date
- Oct 2009
yes local and regional racing is important.
Im inclined to think all uk racing should be local/regional with perhaps 2 "national" events a year, an inland nationals and an open water nationals.
How to get back to a thriving local racing scene tho?
re sail size- im inclined to agree, but one problem is the significant investment people have made in large sails- we have sold a lot of 9.5 raceboard sails with masts (580's) so if you change the rules on these people and now get rid of the big sails they will be mightily pissed off. Having said that nearly everyone i speak to agrees that 9.5(actually 9.8 under the rules) is larger than necessary and would be happier with 8.5 as max.
Probably the better idea is to adopt variable sail size, which will maintain the market for the current larger sails for the heavy weights.
If we were starting from scratch i would advocate a max sail size of no more than 7.5m for longboard racing, possibly less!
26th April 2012, 10:58 AM #7
- Join Date
- Aug 2006
It's an interesting discussion, one quite close to my heart as up until relatively recently I've always travelled around the country a bit to take part in dinghy racing. Even as a student I spent most weekends away sailing for my uni team forgoing the legendary college bar crawls through the cobbled streets of a good university city to drink Fosters-based snakebite in an(other) ugly, purpose-built 1960's block with fellow sailors from other universities in our respective Fat Face team sweatshirts.
Now for me, I'm fortunate that the petrol cost isn't too much of an issue- I don't smoke, rarely drink excessively these days and to be frank, getting to do what I want at the weekend is an essential part of my work/life balance to maintain a happy, healthy mental attitude and I'll be damned if I'm giving it up. However before the Nadines start moaning, I'm not totally unaware that petrol prices are becoming a major issue for all national, even regional sports participation, and this is certainly true of dinghy sailing events- we call them 'open meetings'.
Participation is falling to a point where only the very dedicated (or the divorced) seem to participate. This has created an effect of alienating the back of the fleet desk-jockey muppets like myself who do it for the love of the sport, rather than the competition itself. On a personal level I'm not too bothered, I've reached a stage in life where I really can't be arsed to go the sailing club to de-rig a boat on a Thursday night, only then to drag said boat halfway across the country through Friday evening traffic or on a dawn raid Saturday morning to get there to find there's not much wind or it's blown off on safety grounds- around 20 knots in my experience (some dinghies have 'rules' for acceptable windspeed sailing, usually 5-25 knots iirc).
There's other factors too- hanging around a start line for an hour while a race officer micro adjusts a 'perfect beat' and 'square line' in an oscillating wind pattern for fear of being 'protested' by an over eager competitor... a poor turnout because windguru put the rest of the nomads off... some arsehole chucking a rule book at you for 'breaching' class rules for have a bit of string in the wrong place or the sailing murder/death/kill of not using the 'official' (overpriced) sail... and finally, I certainly don't want to do all of this just to swap sailing at my local puddle, to pootle around at someone else's local puddle 100-200 miles away... if I'm going to drive then it'll be to the coast, where the actual sailing experience is different to the one on my doorstep. Yet a lot of dinghy events are run at inland locations, the same it appears with longboard racing... why???? I sail inland, it sucks, but it's better than NOT sailing, so I live with it given the rest of my life is located here.
Dinghy sailing's saving grace is that it still has a good network of sailing clubs. At the end of the day, dragging boat around the country has always been a big time pressure, irrespective of the oil trade. So we've got plenty of local sailors, the unheard voices of the sport who've kept sailing very much alive, if a little backward and jaundiced in its outlook. The yellow welly and wooly jumper types... you know the guys I mean, week in, week out, dodging garden duties and trips to John Lewis by going to the sailing club to ultimately stop it collapsing under the great weight of apathy 90% of the membership have towards it. They do more than their fair share of the organising and generally get little reward for it. Obviously it would help if their idea of social night wasn't karaoke in fancy dress with a good roast dinner, but it can't be helped, at least they doing something.
But for those stalwarts their reckoning is coming, circuit sailing at these 'open meetings' will shrink further and they will (hopefully) get the influx they deserve, with any luck enough footfall to enable them to go and enjoy their own sailing more, rather than running it for everyone else. This country's economic situation isn't changing for a while, less and less people will look to travel long distances for their dinghy sailing. Whilst the halcyon days of knocking-up a stitch and glue Mirror in your shed aren't coming back (thank god!) there will be more and more folks trading higher end dinghies for cheap club racers for a local fix. Not only does address the participation issue, but it hits a financial plus point and deals with one of the MAJOR headaches of dinghy racing that's been allowed to spread like a cancer through local sailing due to more manufacturers designing 'new' boats rather than working within a box-rule class system. FWIW after 30 years of racing dinghies I have firmly concluded PY / Handicap racing is a load of crap, racing against a spreadsheet and someone's ability to operate a timer might work in big yachts on the south coast, and I totally see the point for the odd 'festival sailing event', but for regular dinghy racing you just want to know how well you did on the water, not wait for the spreadsheet bod to upload your results to a website on Monday evening only to argue the toss over the handicapping system/values that are used when you're not happy with your results.
That's my prediction anyway and local evidence seems to support this- we've had up to 19 Laser dinghies participate in the evening races at Draycote this year so far- and the season's barely started and the forecasts crap. So not a bad start at all. Compare this to a couple of years ago when we had lots of folks lining up in all manner of weird and wonderful craft, only to follow each other around the course like a Christmas party conga, no tactics, no place changes, not unless someone really f*cks up and capsizes. I might detest the Laser dinghy, but those guys are at least properly racing- and with enough of them now, they have the critical mass to generate the micro-races in the top, middle and back end of the fleet that can make it a really special sailing experience.
So to conclude, where does this leave windsurf course racing? Well in my not-so extensive experience of trying to race a Kona against dinghies using a PY rating, well I don't know why you'd bother. Windsurfing's greatest asset is the freedom it provides away from the race course and dictated waypoints. If you want to race around the water in navigation-style course, especially inland, then use the appropriate tool for the job- a dinghy. Windsurfing has gained very little from looking to emulate dinghy sailing (forced by the RYA admittedly). If you want to add a further competitive element to the sport of windsurfing on a more local level, then sure, play on the desires to be faster than the guy next to you with more master blaster / slalom / Le Mans start stuff and ditch the ISAF rule book- you don't need it. It's more fun and more representative of the actual sport we participate in as recreational windsurfers. You might well find that if it's 'going off' on the beach anyway, you'd get a few folks having a crack at it, most of us like to 'belong', especially when welcomed into a non-threatening, 'having a laugh' circle. NWF proves the competitive bug isn't dead, you just need the right environment... which ISN'T an RYA dinghy style course race with starting sequences and 100 page rules manual.
As for kit, jesus I tried that Kona Exocet 380 thing… what a hulk. Totally unrewarding to sail, maybe the the new Div2 inspired one is nicer. Maybe the Phantom is easier to sail… whatever, I won't be buying one, that's not what windsurfing is about for me anymore. But if you think there's mileage in an elite category, then I guess it must work for you otherwise why flog a dead horse? I just fail to see where your feeders are, specifically at local level. And that, I'm afraid, is going to be ultimate death knell for windsurf course racing, especially once the RYA start focusing on kites for its under 18 olympic programmes.
Last edited by jwlbrace; 26th April 2012 at 11:09 AM.