Stats don’t lie BUT they are what you make of them…!
There has been much said and written recently around the health of the flying 15 class and having looked at the results across all events over the past 4 years the trends do not appear to be too positive.
People still blame fuel costs and spending too many weekends away from families, among other reasons, but here is my rebuttal to these statements:
- Fuel prices are down 19% between September 2012 and 2015;
- They was a growing interest in ‘Sprint’ events like Draycote, yet this remains the only one;
- There are nearly 25 events annually, no wonder the number of sailors at each event is only 8 visitors when there are so many events to choose from;
- Key events such as Nationals seem to constantly be in School summer holidays and tend to be at venues which are not family friendly.
I am not here to criticise, but the numbers speak volumes. The class should be more concerned about the reduction in number of sailors competing on the circuit, in particular at the main UKFFA events. These statistics should be viewed as constructive, rather than pessimistic and below are a series of key themes:
- Total number of sailors down 16%;
- More concerning is that the average number of competitors at the Big 5 events is also down, almost 30%;
- While the average number of sailors at each non-Big 5 event is only 12, they only attract 5 visitors;
- The average number of events each sailor competes at each year is down from 2 to 1.5, down 15%;
- The number of people attending 2 or more events is down 35%.
- The class still has nearly 200 active sailors in the UK;
- There are still over 50 Female crews (around 25%) and the number of Female helms is flat;
- There are over 40 different clubs across the UK represented each year.
This is not aimed as a criticism of the Class but merely to illustrate a very real problem that needs addressing. I acknowledge that the solution is not so simple, yet one needs to be found. I do not want the Class to deteriorate any further, we have had some fantastic racing this year, and that should continue!
Key things that I think may make a difference:
- Restrict the number of Open meetings, some clubs should work together and host joint events, perhaps alternating venues;
- Actively promote the Nationals, Southerns, Northerns, Scottish, and Inlands to increase numbers as this will act as self-fulfilling cycle, further attracting more people to attend;
- First and foremost people go to events to sail! Nevertheless events should also consider families, there needs to something off the water for spouses and children. This is equally as important as the quality of the sailing venue itself.
- Think carefully about event locations and make them an attractive proposition!
Tom makes some valid points. I would also be interested in the stats over the last few years on the number of new boats registered. Is this growing/static/declining? It seems to me that the price of a new boat is increasing out of all proportion to recent inflation, which can only be down to the greater use of carbon fibre. Is the class pricing itself out of the market compared to what other sailing experience you can buy for similar money?