Survey and Big Race Week News!

The response to last week’s handicap racing survey have come in very strong, despite the fact it looks like I messed up (checked the wrong box) and made it available only to those with gmail accounts. So, for those of you who pointed out the difficulties to me (and those who just haven’t gotten round it yet) please take the survey! And get all the Northwest racers you know to do so as well. Some yacht clubs are already clamoring for the info, and the more responses the more relevant the info will be.

So far, about 200 people have responded to the survey. More importantly, it has people talking in positive ways, both in the comments section of the survey and on the waterfront. The response, and ideas being generated, blow me away. We sure do love our sport. I’ll give it a couple more days, then publish all the results, everyone’s comments and some of my own thoughts.

In the meantime….. One very interesting comment along with big news (from the blog) came from Schelleen Rathkopf, who has made some exciting changes to Whidbey Island Race Week and is unafraid to make more! Here’s Schelleen:

Thank you for opening up this conversation. It’s a topic being kicked around at most yacht and sailing clubs around the country as racing numbers continue to decline. Many of us remember participating at Whidbey Island Race Week, PSSC and PSSR back in the day when there were always over 100 PHRF boats (with many new rookies in the mix). At Race Week, we’ve definitely seen a decline in PHRF and a rise in OD participation, but have remained steady around 60 boats for the past few years now, (despite efforts to build participation by enhancing the post-race experience and making the event more family friendly.)

What I think it comes down to is time and money: People only have so much vacation (and personal) time and there is significantly more demands on people’s discretionary incomes – especially in Seattle.

Race Weeks across the country are all but gone. Many that are still afloat and attracting new sailors have adopted a shorter format that includes weekend dates. This is why we have shifted Race Week to a 4-day race event for 2018 that will run Thursday through Sunday in an effort to make it easier for people to participate. In addition to shifting from 5 days of racing M-F to 4 days of racing Th-Su, here are some other features in store for Whidbey Island Race Week in 2018: 

1. In addition to PHRF and OD racing options, we’re introducing a NFS/Jam Performance Cruising Class for people who want just one casual distance race per day. We’re hoping this attracts our cruising friends and people new to racing who want to be a part of the Race Week experience.

2.  We’ll be presenting the First Annual Molly Kool Cup trophy that will be a perpetual overall award available only to women skippers. 

3. We’re inviting sailors to tell us what THEY want to do. If 6 or more boats commit and come to us with a fleet idea (ie: fleet championships, a double handed class, etc), we’ll work with our PRO and Race Committee to give the fleet their own start. 

So, we keep tweaking things in an effort to build participation and are hoping that some of the changes above bring new players to the sport. I’ll be really interested to see the results of your survey and appreciate all the great work you do to enhance the local sailing community.

–Schelleen Rathkopf, Whidbey Island Race Week

Kurt grew up racing and cruising in the Midwest, and has raced Lasers since the late 1970s. He has been Assistant Editor at Sailing Magazine and a short stint as Editor of Northwest Yachting. Through Meadow Point Publishing he handles various marketing duties for smaller local companies. He currently is partners on a C&C 36 which he cruises throughout the Northwest. He's married to the amazing Abby and is father to Ian and Gabe.

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