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Bump's World - July 2022
July 27, 2022

IS YACHTING RACING ON THE DECLINE?

YES.... NO.... MAYBE....

Is yacht racing declining? What would be a good gauge? Most people I know would say yes because regatta numbers are down. If you are used to doing a regatta where 30 boats used to show up and now there are 15 or less that would be a good gauge. Take the Boston yacht Club Wednesday night racing for example. In the mid 1980s it was not unusual to get 50 to 60 boats. Now it's more like 20 to 25.

So there you go, racing is down. But in 1985 BYC Wednesday was the only evening race from Plymouth to Portsmouth, NH. Today there are at least 5 other evening races in that area that total way more than 60, closer to 100.

Marblehead used to dominate all racing. There was little anywhere else, so people came from as far north as Portsmouth and south from even Buzzards Bay, there were many boats from Boston and Beverly etc. They all came to Marblehead.

Now there are local fleets in those areas running their own races. Again on any weekend, if you added up the different races the total boats racing is up.

In 1983 there were about 4 PHRF fleets north of Newport. Now there are 18 fleets. In 1983 PHRFNE issued about 200 certificates, this week PHRFNE will issue about 1000 certificates.

Times have changed. It used to be that a schedule was published for the summer and the clubs running the races just sat back and waited for the entries to come in. This was the process for a long time.

Then some regattas were promoted and found thymes to attract racers. Liquor sponsorship, bands, free food etc. The events that were promoted did very well. The Figawi is very well promoted. They have 2 full time people working on it. It is well organized and a fun event. Remember only one boat wins so everyone else needs to feel good and be happy. Figawi is the number 1 biggest turn out for a single day race in the eastern United States, 275 boats wow!

Organizations running secret events will fail. You need promotion and a reason for the racers to come. An event is not a success by the first place boat; it is every boat behind that makes a success.

I just did Edgartown regatta, 65 boats. PHRFNE promoted it and so did the club. I always thought Edgartown was a little uppity, up they were super friendly and helpful. They even got me a free mooring. They sent out a follow-up questionnaire looking for improvements. They sound like they really want the event to get even better.

I sail on many different boats in many different areas. I have sailed in most major regattas. One thing that every boat in every class, including one design, the crew is sure that most other boats are cheating. J 111 one design racing in Key West. Our crew was convinced that boats had bent out stations to hike father out and crew was overweight. Every single boat I sailed on in every type of measurement or PHRF were convinced they had a bad rating. Measurement rule, there is no way that boat can rate that well. Under PHRF the other boats are liked by the rater and they all have favorable ratings. These complaints even come from boats that win regularly.

So everyone's cheating and everyone has a favorable rating except me.

So racing is down because of bad rating systems.

Racing is down in some areas because they are not well run and promoted. The days of posting a race on the calendar and waiting for the entries are over. The people running the race can do the same thing over and over. If an event was once a big hit is needs a makeover and it will continue to be a big hit.

Please mail comments to me at Bump@newwaveyachts.com

Bump Wilcox