Pride & Prejudice

I am sitting at my desk editing the video of the last race of our season on Turbulence and what a glorious weather we had for our last day out together, certainly for this year.

It was an unusual start to the day as our race start was delayed due to there being a seminar at the Royal Southern Yacht Club, more of an open forum really, to find out ‘Where have all the Dayboats gone?’. The crux of the problem being that the fleets are diminishing and race entries are at an all time low, so a solution to the problem is needed.

An expert panel was assembled to provide us with some opinion on the problem; Andrew Webster : MD Mercator Media, Jerry Hill : Sportsboat World, Paul Heys : J Boats, Peter Poland : Hunter Boats, Martin Wadhams : RS Sailing.

It was frustrating to listen to so many people pontificate about how great their class or their club was and how they had the best fleets in the South Coast etc. To me the problem is as simple as this… Price! It is widely accepted that there is a Hamble Tax. As a resident of Hamble (I have lived in the Square for almost 5 years now), I am all too aware of the inflated prices here. The parking restrictions in the Square and surrounding streets along with parking charges have made it almost impossible for crews to find somewhere to park on a Sunday Morning and Marinas and Yacht Clubs don’t make it simple or cost effective to leave your car on site either.

Jerry Hill of Sportsboat World summed it all up pretty well to a huge round of applause.
He cited the problems as being the combined costs of moorings/boat parks, of lifting the boats in and out of the water, race entry fees and parking. And then there is the subject of the Yacht Clubs as well; unwelcoming places where crew can’t relax & socialise, where there are rules about use of mobile phones or wearing hats. Its all too stuffy and outdated.

There was talk of designing a new type of Dayboat to entice sailors to come back, something which excited the boat manufacturers and designers present,  but I don’t believe that this is the answer. If the visitor numbers which I witnessed at this years Southampton Boat Show were anything to go by, there just won’t be enough demand for these proposed new boats. And besides, people are choosing not to sail the boats they already have due to rising costs, so splashing out £20-£30k on a new yacht is not realistic.

What about the quality of racing, encouraging women sailors, social media, youth squad sailing, syndicates? These points were all raised and discussed but I think that they are a sideline to, if not indirectly as a result of what I believe to be the main problem, money!

It was interesting to see the reaction of the club. An excellent topic has been raised by the RSrnYC but somehow I don’t think that the answer was what they wanted to hear and time will tell whether they have taken on board any of the remarks made on the day. For the sake of their members, I hope so.