Extend to Under-30s but Increase Fleets Motivation on Supporting Under-22s
by Marco D’Ambrosio
I have switched to Snipe sailing not too many years ago, after a long period in Laser and some years in 470. Your article (written by Cesar Travado) has catched my attention and I would like to add some thoughts that perhaps are not fully mature yet but maybe they can add some different viewpoints and raise a brainstorming.
It’s certainly true what you have highlighted, I refer to the troubles that under 22 sailors normally face with the present conditions: coaches’ focus on pre-Olympic classes, Star is outside the Olympic Games so interest on Snipe is even less today than years ago, sense of abandonment for youngers, etc. These factors, combined with the lack of autonomy, school timetable, etc., are producing the present depletion of junior athletes. I would even add that after the high school, university period contributes to even reduce the commitment of the youngers, and to weaken any possible Snipe seed that could have been sowed in their brains during the high school years.
Ok, that’s a fact and we can do very little to change this. Of course we can move our attention to under- 30s, that could be easier, but I think we cannot forget about youngers, we cannot leave them to whatever their sailing destiny will bring them and focus on the under-30s. I say this because in the recent past, trying to face the “permanent” problem of finding a steady bowman, with which make a fruitful plan for the season, I’ve tried also among 28-35 people, those that I met in the past in other regattas, those I knew that have been enjoying doing races (although in other classes), but I have not been lucky, even in this range of ages. My personal thought is that they have experienced other classes (often single-handed ones), they have missed their opportunity to reach high levels, so somehow have been disillusioned and most probably they don’t want to repeat that. But they have not experienced Snipe when they were younger. I think we cannot afford to miss this opportunity. I’m sure it’s not a “one cure for all”, I know that many of Snipe sailors, many of the fleets all around the world have plenty of experiences in the past years doing juniors promotion and I can imagine it is something that can bring oscillating results (some seasons can be good, some normal, some other catastrophic), but this comes from statistics, and we shall live with it.
On the other hand, there is the problem of a de-facto reduction of the Juniores athletes and the risk is to stop organizing Juniores national championships because of lack of participation. Here is where the extension to under-30s can come in help. The fact that a new category exist (the under-30 one), can push ex-juniores, to keep sailing during the university period and maybe regain momentum when they reach their degree and finally start working gaining autonomy.
Under-30 is good, but we should not quit trying to engage under-22s. Today there are plenty of dinghies, foil, no-foil, surf, kite, even more than before. We have to ride the spread mantra of “polyfunctional experience for youngers”, and give them a Snipe as one of their options among the others, just to put a seed in their memories of their early experiences. We cannot miss this opportunity.
Of course we are not clubs, we have not the strength of clubs. But we are organized in fleets, which can do (and normally do) many things through volunteering of the components, borrowing boats, carrying two or three boats instead of just one with a single trailer, growing youngers since the entry point of the bowman role, which is too much simpler than on a 470. But you will say: “ok this is volunteering, but what can we do in a more systematic and coordinated way?”. I could suggest: let’s put the fleet in competition to reach objectives better than the others, let’s route these potential energies, that today are exploited occasionly, into a more steady flow. How? Let’s think about a specific ranking for the fleets, similar to what we have already (in Italy we have the “Beccaccino d’oro”) but now focused on the under-22s, those that need our help. Any fleet will have a reward (points) any time they carry juniors at a competition, up to the end of the season when they will receive a prize (we have called it the “Beccaccino d’argento”) if they will result as the first fleet in the nation, after a number of official regattas. We have set up rules to include even crews made of a mix of a senior and a junior, just to reward fleets from the very beginning of their efforts. With the aim to push fleets to form full juniors crews, the senior-junior crews are accounted with lower coefficients in their points, but they are anyway considered and rewarded. We are at our first year for this project, it might be too early to assess the results, but it could be the time to improve its mechanisms, regulation and prize system to motivate our fleets, with the contribution given by whoever would like to.
In conclusion I hope to have passed these ideas:
- – Let’s not abandon the under-22s category;
- – Let’s create a under-30s and put them together with the under-22s at “Juniors” events, like themasters, with overall placements and category ones
- – Let’s try to put fleets (which are our local engines) in competition to push them to do more in thepromotion of the under-22s, through national specific rankings.I hope to have caught the spirit of the “Exchange of Views and Reading” section and I’m grateful having had the chance to give some thought contributions.
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