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Thread: YRA Season Closer

  1. #61
    In a completely random stream of conciousness sort of way sure. Exactly how is an organization supposed to respond to that? Is that the way you run your own businesses? I suspect that you each expect, if not demand specific proposals.

    If you guys have ideas, by all means put them on the table. Be specific.

  2. #62
    Headed Offshore
    Join Date
    Jan 2012
    Location
    Santa Rosa
    Posts
    101
    When I first joined YRA in 1971 racing on SF Bay was very different. A "large" boat was 35' and there were two Cal 20 divisions, Gold and Silver, with 60 or so boats competing. About 600 boats participated in the annual YRA Opener, so many that they were divided with half going to Vallejo and half to Coyote Point in alternating years. The VYC marina was clogged with boats in the 20' - 29' range. In the Coronado 25 fleet we put 18 boats on the line for most YRA races. Clipper Yacht Harbor in Sausalito had "Triton Row"; there was "Tuna Row" up the Estuary; and when Gas House Cove was built most of the berths were for 30 foot or less boats as was the west end of the SF Municipal Harbor. MORA sent dozens of boats 30' and under out for 100+ mile races. Today about the only racing on the Bay that resembles "back when" are the Woodies, although the Bears and Birds have become very endangered species. The Tunas persist as well, but in much reduced numbers.

    Flash forward to the new Millennium when I became YRA Chairman. Very few boats under 30 feet sailed YRA races; Clipper YH kicked what was left of the small boats out of Basin 2 and put in 40' berths; HDA couldn't field the 5-boat minimum in any fleet save the Tunas and 1-36s. I was elected on a platform of change because YRA was withering on the vine. I made reducing expenses a major priority. YRA represents sailboat racing in USSA Area G, provides PHRF handicapping for hundreds of boats; coordinates Coast Guard Permits; and more -- on a shoestring. One full-time employee with minimum benefits and a tiny office in Alameda (the Fort Mason Office cost a bundle!) are the main expenses. Buoys are the other expensive category. "YRA" tophies are another cost - some will remember the "cheesy" trophies clubs provided when that was the practice. YRA hasn't made a "profit" for decades, hanging on by reducing costs (printing, postage; rent; pulling impossibly expensive buoys like Yellow Bluff that took a "walk about" every year or so at around $10,000 - ask Nick how many times he roamed the Richmond shoreline looking for lost buoys!) and all the while revenue declined. I'm a retired English Professor, not an MBA, but it was clear something had to be done. But cost cutting could only go so far since one employee and a minimal office seemed to be necessities, so other things were considered.

    One idea to improve participation was to create the Party Circuit Series using the existing Great Vallejo and 2nd Half Opener weekend and adding a YRA "Season Closer" for a 3-weekend series. Good idea? Never really worked. Vallejo remains a strong weekend. Saturday of the 2nd Half Opener does okay, but Sunday suffers. The Season Closer has never worked. Maybe Tiburon is too close to home berths? Maybe it's the parking? Maybe crews don't want to sleep overnight on the boat? Lots of Maybes. The idea of a 2nd "Vallejo Closer" was even kicked around. The weekend needs a club with a marina, but maybe a marina further away from Richmond, Berkeley, or the Estuary (where the majority of racing boats live). Any ideas?

    HDA became a PHRF series because only the Santana 22s managed to field 5 or more boats. OYRA was being revamped when the unfortunate "Daisy" incident occurred and suddenly OYRA was thrust into a defensive mode with the CG permit process and has taken a long time to begin to come back. The Woodies remain strong. The hard working all-volunteer PHRF Committee continues to be paid in "meeting pizzas" and provides handicaps for all those boats that have chosen to avoid YRA and race the new yacht club series that have largely replaced the old YRA model.

    I hear the voices calling for YRA's demise, some from YRA Board seats, but I wonder who will take over the important duties YRA provides to hundreds and hundreds of racers each year? Remember when each club filled out individual CG permits? Today CG permits total around 1,000 per year. Does your club want to take over maintaining the Fort Mason Buoy? Remember, clubs use YRA buoys for their club races. Even the SSS uses some YRA buoys (the upcoming SSS Vallejo 1-2 uses OC"G" for the Saturday start). Does your club want to deal with the CG for ocean races permits? Who will put together the OYRA Series? What will happen to the PHRF Committee? Which club will assume responsibility for organizing the Woodie Series? Each club will go back to providing trophies for the races they host. And so forth. I think YRA needs to continue doing what it does until someone comes up with a practical alternative.
    -- Pat "Wylieguy" Broderick

  3. #63
    Nice introspective Pat!

  4. #64
    If the situation is fewer, bigger, boats, does anyone know whether it's actually fewer people (more crew on big boats?). If my hunch is correct, and it's really the same number of participants, but with fewer people footing the bills, maybe the answer is to put the price up. I pay YRA a few bucks every year - it's a small amount and it's not even in the noise as far as boat budget is concerned - 30 minutes of Svendsen's yard work, a decent lunch or a handful of fasteners from West Marine. It's not even 1/4 the cost of a new halyard.

    Sometimes in business the answer is to increase the price and increase the value, rather than decrease the price and decrease the cost. Not advocating, just spinning up another idea for the masses to cogitate on. A few hundred bucks a year for a YRA membership that returned more fun for each of the precious weekend days would be just fine with me.

  5. #65
    One more comment - having re-read my prior post - "adding value" does not, in my opinion, mean more parties after racing. Most of the sailing/YC related parties that I have attended recently (other than the BBS) have not been well attended. Younger folks (crew) seem to have more options in evenings than hanging out at the YC eating BBQ and listening to a local garage band play Jimmy Buffet covers. In my opinion, more value means something to do with better racing, or more convenient racing, or more fun while racing. Perhaps more marks permanent outside The Gate - bigger boats have no problems playing there. Or crash boat coverage for the Farallons race (everyone wants to be challenged and excited, no-one wants to be uncomfortable or hurt or dead).

    Anyway - what I mean by saying "higher price, higher value" means increasing the value of the sailing experience, not adding cheese to the overcooked burgers and installing a 50 amp receptacle for the band's speaker systems.

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