Regional Grow Sailing Groups Making Great Headway
Sail America is supporting startup groups in the development and promotion of much-needed, regional-based Grow Sailing initiatives. According to Sail America Executive Director Jonathan Banks, the association’s role going forward will be to help start regional chapters, share ideas, create meeting agendas, and provide a discussion forum for groups. A dedicated section on the Sail America website will be developed for group access, to include presentations and details of various regional group initiatives, along with case studies.
“Our concept is to help regional action groups create their own local grow sailing initiatives,” said Banks. “In the absence of national marketing campaigns to promote boating, regional grassroots initiatives are the best way to promote sailing. We will help provide the structure and then will support ideas that are generated. This allows individuals and companies to be part of the solution.”
Two key California groups have already launched and are making major headway.
John Arndt of Latitude 38 founded a Bay Area Group that has hosted several meetings to date which have attracted more than 50 industry attendees from the local sailing community. In a Power Point presentation entitled, “Welcome to the Bay Area Sailing Renaissance – The New Age of Sail,” Arndt shared his vision of uniting the sailing community to grow participation in sailing (Click here to view presentation). His initiative includes creating a business roundtable to involve area sailing businesses to work together, with the goal to “turn ideas into action.” Ultimately, a task force/committee will be formed to focus on how to harness collective power in the areas of purchasing, participation in multiple events, and publicity.
Tom Schock of the W.D. Schock Corp and Bruce Brown of Bruce Brown and Associates followed Arndt’s lead and have applied the same industry teamwork concept in Southern California, where the momentum is building fast.
Schock, who serves as the chairman of the newly-organized Southern California Sailing Initiative, together with Brown, held their first lunch meeting hosted by the Southern California Marine Association (SCMA) at their Orange County offices. The meeting included a presentation by Arndt about the Bay Area initiative, followed by a discussion on improving the area’s Summer Wednesday night series, creating a major sailing event to gather interested sailors, addressing ways to better promote boat sales, and generating more press coverage for the sport and lifestyle.
Brown reports, “We have had some great things happen as a result of getting the industry talking and working on shared goals.”
Specific outcomes to date include the organization and execution of a sailboat show at a large new condo complex and marina, held just six weeks following the first meeting. The positive energy fueled from this first event led to the idea of a large raft-up and sailing event, including youth activities, to be held in conjunction with Summer Sailstice.
“These two events are the result of three local dealers talking about how they could, as a group, be stronger together than as individuals,” said Brown. “They did the work, without paying a staff or creating new groups or subcommittees. They each agreed to do the heavy lifting required to make events like this become a success.”
Future plans include a dedicated effort to create positive media exposure for sailing, plans for a single location mega sail-in for 2010, a Fall boat show educational and information initiative, demo areas and sailing seminars for the Long Beach Show, and hosting “the party of all parties” for local sailors.
“The most important element is getting everyone thinking about how to promote sailing,” Brown added. “It is also important to get those involved to understand that to move the needle we have to be willing to do the work ourselves.”
Another group just organizing is in the Annapolis, MD area, with Mary Ewenson of Spinsheet at the organizational helm. Additional target markets for regional Grow Sailing expansion include Chicago, Long Island, the Northwest, the Northeast, St. Pete/Tampa Bay and Miami/Ft. Lauderdale.
“We’re very impressed by the grassroots enthusiasm and progress of the California brainwave,” said Banks. “We love the energy and outcomes already that these two groups have produced, and we look forward to helping promote this concept throughout the country."
“Sail America in the process of creating a template for forming these regional groups and to help organizers understand how to launch the meetings,” he added. “Right now, we’re looking for sparkplugs in key regions that are willing to get involved and lead the charge to champion and promote this critically important Grow Sailing cause.”
For more information, or if you are interested in starting a local Grow Sailing group, please contact Jonathan Banks at email@example.com