Tuesday, July 16, 2013

How to Persuade Sailors to Come to Your Regatta

Sailing is dying.

Regatta numbers are down.

Young adults are leaving the sport after they get out of college.

That's the conventional wisdom. And maybe there's some truth in it.

So, if you are running a regatta how do you persuade masses of people to come to it?

These days, simply putting out a NOR saying that there will be 5 races with the first gun at 11am just isn't enough.

You have to offer some things that will make people excited to come to your regatta instead of staying home to mow the lawn. You need some carrots.

I was impressed with what the folks at Wequaquet Lake are doing to attract people to their Sunfish regatta later this month. Check out their website....

1. They are raffling off a 60th Anniversary Sunfish Sail donated by LaserPerformance.

2. They are hosting a free clinic by former North American Champ Bill Brangiforte.

3.  They are having a carnival with a bouncy house, cotton candy, popcorn, face painting and games.

4.  And on Saturday night they will be running something called "Adult Bingo" whatever that is! The mind boggles!

Something to win, something to learn, entertainment for the kids (maybe to attract back some of those sailors with young kids who aren't allowed to leave them every weekend to go sailing?) - and "adult" entertainment too.

What's not to like?

OK. OK. OK. Maybe a bouncy house and adult bingo are not the right things to attract sailors in your class to your regatta.

But at least they are trying some novel things.

How are you going to persuade sailors to come to your next regatta?

How big are your carrots?


Keep Reaching said...

Is it really a hard choice between mowing the lawn and going to a regatta, with or without adult bingo?

Tillerman said...

My comment about mowing the lawn was somewhat tongue-in-cheek, partly triggered by a photo posted to Facebook today by a sailing friend of his lawn with the grass about 2 feet high. I think he's probably been sailing every weekend for the last 3 months!

Tillerman said...

I looked up Adult Bingo. Apparently it's a real game and you can buy it here.

The Product Description says, "This sexy, sultry and enticing NAUGHTY remake of the classic game bingo is the must have edition to start or add to your existing collection. With never before seen images on a bingo card expect to create everlasting memories while taking your relationship on an adventure. Playing for positions and incorporating sensual food and novelty items is sure to bring excitement while enhancing a pleasurable experience. Winner takes all, loser performs all but in this game, EVERYONE IS A WINNER!!!"

I never knew those Sunfish sailors were so wild!

Pandabonium said...

Got your big carrot right here....

Unknown said...

One thing not to do - they do it at BBR. Please don't give me a cheap tote bag filled with advertising from your sponsors and a minuscule tube of some nondescript sunscreen. I just paid 100.00 bucks for cheaps sake!

Keep Reaching said...

Your friend definitely has his priorities right.

Tillerman said...

Good point. But I suspect the sponsors paid a lot more than $100 and they were probably told that their flyers and samples would be distributed to all competitors in return.

But it is annoying, I agree when regattas do this. A bit like email spam or those annoying telemarketing calls.

Although I don't mind so much if they give me a coupon for a discount off their product or at their store. Or if it's a really nice tote bag that I can use.

Jon Deutsch said...

To get sailors to come out to our regattas we've:
1) reduced the number of race days to make them more special, and reduce competition with either other priorities or in my case other racing.
2) Between myself and my fleet members we sail a number of district and regional events and recruit the sailors there to visit us for our bigger events.

George A said...

I figure that a sport or an activity will live or die based on whether guys want to do it. As the organizer of a regatta (the annual June regatta for Classic Moth Boats at Brigantine YC) I just do your opening thing: publish an NoR and see who comes. If at some future date nobody comes I'll just save myself the bother the following year and stay home and read the newspaper. If an organizer has to nag or bribe potential participants to come have a little harmless fun then I'm not your guy. Bottom line: if an activity, without a bunch of embellishments, is fun it will live on and if not it'll die and I ain't gonna get too wrapped around the axle either way. All those guys who don't want to come race their boat can go play tennis or bridge or whatever and stop annoying guys like me.

Tillerman said...

I think a lot of regatta organizers have the same feelings George.

And, in spite of my examples of extracurricular activities, the on-the-water fun is the main thing for most of us.

Tillerman said...

Great points Jon.

I like your last point especially. Personal contact and invitations probably work best of all.

Anonymous said...

Dave Dellenbaugh just confirmed he will be there!

Tillerman said...

Yeah, I saw that. I guess having a sailing celebrity there is another carrot.

Gary Jobson showed up at a Laser Masters regatta in Virginia a few years back. I will never forget the dirty look he gave me when I (accidentally) tacked on his air on a beat in one race. I'm not sure if he was more upset with me, or with himself for actually being behind a bozo like me. He was a lot heavier then than he is now, so I am sure that was why he was so slow.

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