Monday, November 15, 2010

Exclusivity or inclusiveness in a sailing club?

A member of one of my sailing clubs, in an e-mail discussion that wasn't circulated to me for several days, proposed that sailors of smaller craft not be eligible for full membership in our sailing club. This seems silly, because we live in a region with few sailors, and are certainly not a wealthy or over-subscribed club. There is apparently also a proposal to increase club participation by cutting the number of race weekends nearly in half.

My reply to all of this was....

Hi ,
I was not included in this discussion until _ _ included me just now and do not know what the proposed schedule might be since I didn't got a copy and haven't been asked for any input.

Also United States Sailing/USSA does certainly still exist, and is the heir to the old USYRU. US Sailing is the body whose rules we are supposed to follow in accordance with our insurance and as part of the world community of sailors. US Sailing merely considers a boat as anything that could be entered in a US Sailing-sanctioned race or event and would be happy to consider a Laser or Sunfish or even an Optimist as a boat or "yacht".

Some of the best yacht and sailing clubs in the country are proud to sponsor and include outstanding dinghy and multihull sailing champions and sailors among their full members and leaders. Some other clubs have grown their membership by providing dinghies and instruction for club member use. High-performance dinghies provide exciting and concentrated sailing. And, although I am unaware of any hydrofoil sailors who would have any interest in joining the RGSC, I know that it takes elite, committed sailors to master these. I would think that a progressive, forward-looking club would be honored and thrilled to have them as members.

In a region with as few sailors as New Mexico and west Texas have, I believe we need every sailor we can get to stand with us in fighting for access to the water and fair treatment, and that we will need all the support we can get from the Hobie sailors, Windriders, dinghy sailors, and everyone who enjoys sailing and other low-impact water sports. Otherwise, the club's voice will be diminished in dealing with the State Parks and community and the club will be more vulnerable.

It would seem narrow-minded, unfriendly, and contrary to helping the club grow to start excluding people from membership just because they don't have the right size or type of boat. If the club starts down this path of exclusivity, where will it end? With squeezing groups of sailors out of the schedule and club? Certainly not with a growing club. Pat

Some of the comments in the thread that had elicited my response were

"I didn't understand that you were trying to squeeze the "pleasure" sailors into the schedule also. Shouldn't that be someone else's job?"

"The split between racing and cruising is about money because racing is the only thing the club spends money on."
[About a third of the club's gross income is used to maintain the mast-up storage lot, which is mostly utilized by non-racing boats. Additional funds are used for administrative expenses, insurance, and items such as donating to military youth sailing programs. Racing trophies have accounted for about another fifth of club income, with more spent on special events such as the women's Adams Cup.]

"The board needs to decide the type of sailboat a member needs to own, as USSA does not exist and does not define a "yacht". I think the club should not accept hydrofoilers or boats under 16' or dinghies that are not self-rescuing."

"The schedule has been trimmed a bit as you can see, only 3 spring series races and only 2 in the fall; with the thought being that it would attract more participation."


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