This past weekend I had the opportunity to go to the One Design Sailing Symposium. The Symposium is a yearly conference put on by US Sailing to get together people involved in one design classes across the country including fleet leaders, class officers, sail makers, industry leaders and really anyone who is interested in coming. Many of the head honchos at US Sailing were there including several members of the Board of Directors. It was held at the Atlanta Yacht club, which was really neat club on lake Allatoona northwest of Atlanta. I really enjoyed the symposium and picked up a lot of good ideas to use in my own Jet 14 fleet here in Annapolis as well as making contacts with other classes that APS focuses on.
It was a pretty standard setup, a number of different sessions going on at the same time and you pick the one of interest to you then do it again an hour later. A few of the interesting sessions I heard were about the Lightning boat grant program, a good talk about sponsorship by the new Marketing Director at US Sailing and some interesting ideas about coaching from the Thistle class that they do at their Midwinters. The Lightning program is one of the most interesting class development programs out there. They basically give new boats to a team of young sailors (college or just out of college for the most part) for a year and pay for their registration fees and help with travel expenses. It's been going extremely well and I hope other classes adopt similar ideas so we can be sure to get more young people into OD classes.
Dave Perry was there and gave a talk about the new rule changes Sunday morning. Some of them are interesting but there aren't a lot of big changes. Everybody is aware I'm sure by now of the change from a 2 boat length circle to 3 boat lengths for determining overlap at mark roundings.They've also removed rule 18.4 when rounding at a gate and in general changed around some wording in section 18 in an effort to make it easier to understand (it's still not exactly light reading). Hopefully this will make mark roundings go more smoothly but I imagine we'll still have plenty of these:
Perry also gave a talk Saturday night that was pretty hilarious. Lots of jokes and poking fun at people and everyone really enjoyed it. This may have been related to the free rum drinks that had been served before the talk, but I'm sure it would have been very informative even without the booze.
Craig Leweck also spoke Saturday night. For those who don't know he's the guy who brings Scuttlebutt to your inbox every day. He gave a great talk and had some really good ideas to share with everyone about ways to market and grow one design classes. Craig focused on the importance of the internet and getting the relevant information about your regatta out to people quickly. He made a really great point that even if you have 100 boats at your class Nationals, there are likely still hundreds of other sailors from your class who aren't there. They are likely just as interested and involved in what is happening; and we need to provide them with information about what is happening at the event as quickly as possible. Scuttlebutt also has a great page about regatta press releases including an email list of major sailing publication editors for you to send your press release to.
Overall I had a really great time hearing about some of the ideas that other classes are implementing. There are a lot of great ideas out there for developing and improving your class and fleet and a whole lot of people willing to help you do it. It was great to see a group of people so motivated to growing one design sailing in the US.