Wednesday, April 01, 2009

Why Have A Class Association?

I don't read the Laser Forum much these days.

About the only guy posting there with anything much of interest to say is the North American Laser Class Association's former Executive Secretary Fred Schroth, who writes under the nickname of "gouvernail". Every few weeks gouvernail posts some provocative challenge on the forum, usually questioning why the current leadership of the class is not doing as good a job as he thinks they should be doing. He usually triggers a good discussion but nothing much changes. Life goes on. The same folk run the class in the same old way. But what the hell, we all have a good time sailing our boats and hanging out with our Lasering friends so most of us don't get too excited thinking about class politics.

But this week something earth-shattering happened.

It started when gouvernail initiated a thread on the forum entitled Why Have an Association? philosophical discussion?? His main beef seemed to be that a Laser regatta he organizes every year was not included in the schedule of regattas in the latest issue of the class newsletter...

My regatta; the Easter Laser Regatta; the regatta which I have personally financed and hosted for 25 consecutive years, was not included in the Winter Laser Sailor. It was left out of the 2009 districts schedule which was published on page 37.

Last year the Vice President of the Class showed up at the event and demanded that we all pay dues to the Laser Class Association. Each of us paid annual dues to that associtaion. A year later, a schedule has been published and the 26th annual version of the event where each of us paid our dues is not included.

I feel not only slapped in the face but I feel I let a person come in to my registration area and rip off my friends.

After calming down for a few weeks, I am attempting for the second time to start a thread about this matter without violating the "friendly love and kisses" nature of this forum.

The philosophical question upon which I would like to read feedback and discussion:

Is it the responsability of our paid employees to gather information and publish that information or is it the duty of our sailors to get that information to the office?

There followed a spirited discussion on the role of the class newsletter in publishing regatta schedules, whether the web was a better place for such information, the role of the class's paid staff in chasing down regatta information from district secretaries, whether it was worth paying membership dues to the class etc. etc. etc. (Yawn.) All good stuff if you're into that kind of thing I suppose.

But then yesterday this bombshell arrived in my email.

To: All North American Laser Class Association Members
From: North American Laser Class Executive Committee

An emergency meeting of the Executive Committee was held by conference call on Monday 30th March. All members of the committee attended. The purpose of the meeting was to discuss the question raised by Mr. Fred Schroth (gouvernail) on the Laser Forum "Why Have an Association?"

After length discussion the committee concluded...
  • The primary purpose of the Class Association is to promote Laser sailing in North America. Historically the main vehicle for achieving this has been to publish information about Laser fleets and regattas in a quarterly class newsletter.

  • In the last few years, regatta organizers and District Secretaries have, almost universally, moved to using electronic methods to publish this information via district websites, email, social networking services etc. In fact, very few district secretaries are now bothering to provide the class office with timely regatta information for the North American class newsletter.

  • As a result, the newsletter, like many other print publications, is becoming obsolete. And the role of the North America Class organization in publishing information about Laser activity in the region is becoming marginalized.

  • We therefore conclude that in the very near future the need for a North American Class Association will disappear, with the role of promoting the sport being taken over entirely by the Districts.

At the conclusion of this discussion, a motion was proposed, seconded and unanimously passed by the Executive Committee to the effect that "This committee recognizes the diminishing role of the North American Laser Class Association and recommends to the membership that the NALCA be disbanded."

We are submitting this recommendation to the membership for approval (by a simple majority). Please go to the class website to vote on the recommendation by May 31. If approved, the class will be wound up, all class dues for 2009 will be refunded,and the assets will be distributed equally among all current members. We would like to thank you for your support in the past and to express our appreciation to Mr. Schroth for raising this important issue.

Wow! Has anyone heard of any other class doing this? Is it a wise move? How do you think I should vote?


Tony said...

Wow indeed.

I don't think the ILCA would want to deal individually with every district in NA, so I'm sure they'll have something to say. In fact, I would have thought that this would be outside the constitution of the ILCA. Even if the current organisation disbanded, ILCA would probably recreate a new one the next day.

Still a very interesting game of brinkpersonship. Who will blink first?

Ricky Bobby said...

You just about got me ;-) Good April Fools

Anonymous said...

The much more important news is that due to a merger between Laser Performance and Tata, we can look forward to an all carbon Laser, to be sold at Walmart in the not too distant future.

This info comes right from the horse's mouth (The Laser Forum of course).

Mal's Team Gherkin said...

Talk about a knee-jerk reaction?!?

Mal's Team Gherkin said...

Then, of course, you could all just start sailing cats instead? [happy April 1st] ;)

Brian said...

You know, you're not entirely off-base, even given the date.

The international office wants to split NALCA into national parts.

William Shakespeare said...

'Jesters do oft prove prophets'

Tony said...

April Fools across time zones aren't fair! It's tomorrow for me!

I switched off my prank radar too early...

tillerman said...

Good excuse Tony.

David said...

Maybe the nice folks over at the Force 5 class could run things for you guys.

Pat said...

Underneath the fun 'n fooling are serious issues for most classes. What do the rank and file members get for their dues? I suspect that most of the money and effort in most classes is spent on organizing high-end events that a more or less small minority attend. And, dead-trees newsletters are falling by the wayside, so, theoretically that should be saving moneyed.

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