For many clubs, autumn can be a time for concluding race series, preparing boats for over-wintering and holding formal laying-up dinners while others have established winter series. In 2020 the shortened sailing opportunity resulting from lockdown has shifted thinking to ways the sailing season can be extended to benefit members.
Beyond on-water sailing, clubs know the social context is essential to retaining members between main seasons but the increased incidence of Covid -19 and new restrictions are challenging.What are the other possibilities?
Just as families are using virtual platforms to keep in touch, so are some clubs. Ullswater Yacht Club with many members living in the North East and virus-hit zones of the North West have already been holding informal Zoom meetings for groups of members to share a beer and chat.
They have also made extensive use of eSailing for racing and plan to continue this for the winter. The club have combined racing via Virtual Regatta Inshore1 with Zoom so sailors can chat and rib each other, creating a convivial atmosphere around on-screen events. They have challenged other clubs to team races and find the chat useful in discussing tactics.
Anther useful chat programme is Discord2 which West Lancashire Yacht Club employed to run their famous 24 Hour Race in virtual form, using multiple channel messaging and live voice feeds to convey race information across multiple heats.
Getting started with club racing on Virtual Regatta involves either a member or the club paying for a VIP account enabling them to create custom races. These events can be protected by an access code, perhaps shared via WhatsApp or Messenger. Other members can sign up for a free VR account, and it is a good ideal to fill in the profile to take part in eSailing World Championships.
After that the player needs to complete 'Sailing School' to understand the controls and workings of the game (and earn a barrel of points). There are apps to play via phones or tablets or using a web browser on laptop or desktop. There are excellent tutorial and tips videos on our eSailing YouTube Channel.3 Sailors can gain 'green points' by competing in featured races and spend them on 'helpers' when racing with their club. They can also buy points.
Adam McGovern, RDO in the North West, has been discovering the opportunities available with eSailing and says the best assistant is VMG which keeps the boat at the optimum angle to the wind. An important feature in virtual sailing is all boats (in the class chosen for a race) being created equal: No tired sails, broken fitments or high performance kickers.
There's also instant travel across the world by choosing a racecourse in France, Australia, USA or many other destinations from a drop-down menu. There are some small rule differences but nothing too concerning. What the game really helps with in real world sailing is strategy and tactics, particularly on the start line where it is easy to force or incur a penalty that shows a boat for ten seconds.
The game really teaches the player the speed cost of getting in another craft's wind shadow and just how extensive that performance-hitting area can be. Adam says the game also teaches a vital awareness of wind shifts and areas of pressure.
For those in their early days of sailing training is reinforced by features like getting slightly too close to the wind producing flapping sails: "It's a really good training aid."
For more information about eSailing and how to get involved visit www.rya.org.uk/go/esailing
Club Development Forum
The Maintaining Member Engagement club development forum will be an opportunity to explore why this is important, what other clubs are doing to address this challenge and to share ideas with other clubs.
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