Thoughts On the One Design Survey
Hugh Hutchison, 2020 and 2021 Lightning Class President
It’s clear that Debbie, Abby and the rest of the OD Class Committee did a great job in putting together this survey. A survey is of little consequence, however, if its results are not turned into action. The Lightning Class can be justly proud of how the results reflect on the Class but the most important take-away is that we have a strong foundation to be a leader among one-designs going forward.
So what did we learn from the survey?
We learned that we have work to do to attract and maintain young adult and female participants. The good news is that the Lightning Class is particularly well positioned to address this issue. Unlike most one design classes, the Lighting Class already has in place programs like the Boat Grant Program, Lightning Labs, the Youth World and regional championships as well as the Women’s North American Championship. The Class is a well-known commodity with a high “favorability rating” already in place. We have an efficient administration, regular publications and a long history of attracting some of the “best of the best” of one design sailors who have a reputation for being willing to share their knowledge with all who inquire. It’s a pretty unbeatable combination.
So how do we make it work to support one-design sailing?
My own observation is that one of the most frequently voiced concerns is the “inability to attract capable crew.“ I suggest that rather than viewing that issue as a hurdle we look at it as an opportunity. There are certainly women and youth in each of our communities that would like to become involved in sailing if asked. So ask. Put together a mid-week program to introduce non-sailors to the sport. Set up a series of races specifically intended to include less-proficient sailors as crew.
It isn’t really rocket science, A little time and attention will go a long way to easily address the issues that are fundamental to supporting one design sailing. The Lightning Class is uniquely suited to do just that.