Thursday, August 28, 2008

How Much?

How much should we pay to enter a sailing regatta?

It seems like this year I've been paying around $40 or so a day as regatta fees to enter Laser regattas around here. Sometimes it's hard to see what I'm getting for my money...

Yes, a race committee... I guess they need gas for their powerboats.

Maybe drinking water between races; maybe snacks before, after or between races. But not always. And sometimes I have to pay extra for food and drink.

The winners get trophies too; they have to be paid for too. I don't begrudge that even though they rarely end up on my shelf.

I've run regattas myself in the past and know the challenges of drawing up a regatta budget. You don't want to lose money. You don't want to overcharge and scare sailors away. And you have no idea how many folk will actually show up and pay their money on the day.

Still, 40 bucks seems a lot. Am I getting old? I don't want to turn into that old curmudgeon who got into a slanging match with his fleet captain over a $5 regatta fee.

Some organizers seem to run excellent regattas for much less. What do they do differently?

How much do you think you should pay to enter a sailing regatta?


Bob said...

Nyack Boat Club charges $25 and is hosting a great Labor Day regatta. We usually get around 25 boats on the line, and our RC is top notch.

Derek said...

SANJL has 4 open regattas that cost $15 per day. All of them include breakfast and awards.

This year we also had 2 junior regattas. The junior regattas were also $15. For that price we provided breakfast, lunch at one regatta, awards, t-shirts for every competitor and many other giveaways. There was also a clinic which was free.

The key for us is finding sponsors and volunteers. People are often willing to cook muffins for breakfast, donate shirts etc.

Christy ~ Central Air said...

$20 seems reasonable... or I'd go up to $30 if I get a cute, flattering t-shirt!

Pat said...

Normally our New Mexico clubs subsidize regattas, charging only $5 to $15. For a bigger once-a-year regatta with a bbq dinner and nice engraved trophies the NMSC charged $35, as did the RGSC for its biggest regatta of the year, which included a breakfast and a t-shirt.

We had one regatta that was more expensive, but that was the special case of a US Sailing ladder event (Mallory eliminations) for which we compensated an outside judge.

Much depends on the philosophy of the club ... is it willing to subsidize and encourage racers, or do they look upon dinghy racers as merely another income source? Does the club want to support racing, or does it want to use racing to make up for bad management or losses elsewhere in its operations? Some clubs and entities no doubt see racing as a profit center.

Some clubs may have had bad experiences that have curbed previously charitable impulses and made them more paranoid and less willing to spend any money on "outsiders".

From the club perspective:
Clubs do have some real expenses... $1000 gets basic insurance, including borrowed boat coverage, for a "paper club"; bigger clubs pay five figures for all of their insurance. Race committees go through air horn recharges, flags, boat propellers, and other assorted parts and gear, in addition to fuel. Rulebooks and other race committee books get torn up or beat up before their nominal four-year lifespan. Race marks can get blown away in storms, burst seams if overinflated and heated by the sun, or just wear out. Race committee equipment sometimes has a bad habit of disappearing and having to be replaced.

Sometimes bigger regattas have enough sponsors to pay for everything -- but for smaller, average clubs, more often the club loses money.

Volunteers (maybe with a club's help, more likely on their own) can pay hundreds of dollars for training and certification. Clubs pay dues to regional and national sailing associations.

Pat said...

Carol Anne reminds me I didn't answer your question. Opinion:

$10 one-day or less beer can regatta, nominal or no prizes, no frills

$35 two-day regatta with decent trophies, a t-shirt, light meal or reception, full race committee

$50-120 regatta with a dinner (for skipper and at least one crew member), nice trophies, t-shirt, goodies, door prizes, high-quality race management, evening entertainment, vehicle and boat parking.

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