Class Layers - Part 7 - Where we agree!

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Class Layers - Part 7 - Where we agree!

Post by ROBERT ALPE » Tue Feb 27, 2007 8:44 am

For those who review this Forum, this is the seventh in a series of papers. While the proposer/writer is an IDA Officer, the contents are his notions/observations and are not necessarily those of the IDA or fellow IDA Officers.

If you wish to join into this discussion. please read and comment on Part One - Class Layers Forum, Part Two ASPIRATIONAL Class Layer, Part Three ENTHUSIASTIC Class Layer, Part Four AFFLUENT and PROFESSIONAL Class Layer and Part Five SWOT Analysis and Part Six - Time for Change topics before reading this paper. And please feel free to post your responses to each paper on this Forum. Thank you!

Part Seven

Class Layers - Agreed Class Layers

I have purposefully stayed away from finalising this discussion over the past few months in the hope that more, and varied contribution would be posted on the Forum. This has not occurred, but considerable 'off forum' eMail traffic on the subject continues. Overall I am encouraged by the quality responses to these papers and now offer some emerging conclusions for your comment, this before Final Conclusions are attempted.

Class Layers - Generally there was agreement that our class is layered. Not all contributions to the discussion agreed with the actual layers as proposed, some suggesting one or two more and other proposing one or two less. Of particular note were two reasonable observations:

1. A Sleeping Class or the Social Sailor was omitted from my papers as I felt the IDA could do little for a group who rarely race in formally organised, one design club, state, national or international events. I assumed they did not fit comfortably into the Aspirational Class Layer and were therefore outside our sphere of contact, influence and interest. I was wrong. There are many things the IDA can, and should do to involve the Cruising Class Layer. As a group, they are by far the largest in numbers of any Class Layer, possibly greater than all the other layers combined.

I am thankful to Michael Reinert [D-301 Undine] for reminding us that the 'glue' that binds us together as a class is simply that we each love the same beautiful lady. This common love is easily and gleefully shared amongst all Dragon Sailors no matter what Class Layer we belong to. Not language, not boarders, nor differing cultures inhibit us when it comes time to socialise, party, and share our Dragon experiences. We work hard on the water and play hard off, and would not have it any other way. If one has an old wooden Dragon that one spent years restoring, or the latest Petticrows fibreglass model, we will talk about it to anyone with the same interest.

It is to the Social and Practical side of the Dragon Culture that the IDA can, and should do more to 'include' the Cruising Class Layer.

For example, I would wager there are 1000+ used Dragon Sails laying in lofts throughout the world that will never be used again by their owners. Many of these sails will be in reasonable condition and could be reused on Aspirational or Cruising Class Layer Dragons. If the IDA organised central drop-off points for these sails in various parts of Europe and the UK, wrote to each National Dragon Association promoting an International Dragon Fair, where Used Sails, Used Parts, a variety of Educational Seminars and a Forum or two, including several large 'social events' were to occur over a winter weekend, ... such an event could attract many Aspriational and Cruising Class sailors. The benefit s to all attending would be enormous and tangable. Perhaps such an activity should be annexed to one of the major International Regattas, once each year. [If this idea is to bold, a similar program could be instigated at a national level with support from the IDA.]

I am also reminded that the St Tropez regatta was a major success at every level, not the least of which was the Social level. It included ALL class layers including the Cruising Layer.

2. Some clarification of what constitutes membership criteria of the each Class Layer.

In Paper Two I stated:

• PROFESSIONAL - any two or more of the following:
_a sponsored boat [either fully or partially] usually less that 2 years old,
_a paid crew [either fully or partially],
_are the very best sailors available,
_a sophisticated off water rig consisting of vehicles et al,
_a coach boat for on-water activities,
_sophisticated communications and weather measurement equipment,
_new suites of sails for most regattas,
_will race at all major regattas, often to the exclusion of club racing
_always pays others to work on the boat,
_are very aggressive on course.

There was some discussion about dividing this into 2 layers, namely:

1. All-professional crews paid for by an organisation. These are still rare, and may not get more numerous except perhaps where an employee or owner of a business is involved. It is felt the promotional benefits are not significant, though they might be greater if ISAF permitted advertising in the future.
... and
2. Boats with professionals on board, probably paid by the owner. Is it important to distinguish this from the affluent amateur crew? It is widely understood that the paid professional definitely exists in Europe and that there is a perception that it is increasingly necessary to have at least one professional on board in order to do well.

Personally I think it over complicates the discussion to divide this group into two, albeit I agree with the notion and the potential for greater Professionalism in Dragon Racing. To compromise, I restate their member criteria slightly:

• PROFESSIONAL - at least one paid crew member or helmsman, plus any two or more of the following:
_a sponsored boat [either fully or partially] usually less that 2 years old,
_are the very best sailors available,
_a sophisticated off water rig consisting of vehicles et al,
_a coach boat for on-water activities,
_sophisticated communications and weather measurement equipment,
_new suites of sails for most regattas,
_will race at all major regattas, often to the exclusion of club racing
_always pays others to work on the boat,
_are very aggressive on course.

The change is subtle, but simply draws the line at paying someone to race. The strict definition of Professional is:

_a person engaged in a specified activity, esp. a sport or branch of the performing arts, as a main paid occupation rather than as a pastime.

_a professional player paid, salaried. antonym amateur.
_a thoroughly professional performance expert, accomplished, skillful, masterly, masterful, fine, polished, skilled, proficient, competent, able, experienced, practiced, trained, seasoned, businesslike, deft; informal ace, crack, top-notch. antonym amateurish.

I would argue that if a sailor is PAID to race on a Dragon, that makes the boat a PROFESSIONAL entry into a Regatta.

• AFFLUENT - any two or more of the following
_a near new boat
_are very good sailors
_new suites of sails for most regattas, or at least the removal of sales from their racing wardrobe after one to 3 regattas
_desire to races at most if not all major regattas, particularly where event proximity, weather, race conditions and the social scene are ideal,
_will regularly race in club one design races when they are not attending major regattas,
_usually, but not always, pay others to work on the boat,
_are not really concerned with the cost of racing a Dragon
_are somewhat aggressive on course.

This group also races to win, but not any cost. They take their racing very seriously as they have invested considerable sums of money to minimise poor results. This group is also aggressive on-water but retain a sportsmanlike approach to the sport. They are usually in the top 20% of the fleet and often on the podium. Their numbers are not large, but are increasing.

Sometimes called Affluent regular regatta-going amateurs there was some suggestion that this group attended fewer regattas and more club sailing than the median example I provided.

Otherwise there was general agreement with the AFFLUENT Layer summary.

In Paper Three I stated:

• ENTHUSIASTIC - most of the following
_the regular club racer, always there every weekend,
_are very good to average sailors
_own a 5 - 50 year old boat, maybe a genuine woody,
_buy a new Genoa each year and try's to get 3 years out of a Main and a Spinnaker,
_contributes to the local fleet by supporting club socially and via local association activities,
_performs most of the upkeep on own boat,
_are very concerned with the cost of racing his dragon,
_are usually courteous on the water and displays aggression only when appropriate,
_if one had the money, would prefer to be in the AFFLUIENT group
_are the backbone of the local fleet

This group races to win but only as much as they race to race. The very act of being in the thick of it, finishing in any position is reward enough. The better the result, the more gratified the sailor. ENTHUSIASTIC sailors are regularly in the top 10 positions, although they make up almost all of the bottom 50% of a Regatta fleet. They are more likely to wave one through when you are on port with a half a boat length advantage. They are the vast majority of the sailors and are rarely aggressive to others on the water.

There were those who felt these people can be defined as attending at least one "event" per year, though that may well be at a national, not international, event.

There was broad agreement on the ENTHUSIASTIC layer

In Paper Four I stated:

• ASPIRATIONAL - any of the following
_new to the fleet,
_own or crew on an old, usually un-competitive boat,
_rarely or never purchase new sails, preferring hand-me-downs or inexpensive well used sails,
_have dropped off the ENTHUSIASTIC group for some reason,
_love the Dragon, but cannot afford to race, yet!
_don't race or when they do, usually bring up the rear of the fleet,
_performs all of the upkeep on own boat.

This group consists of all other sailors who race dragons and cannot be counted in ENTHUSIASTIC. Given half the chance, more funds and or experience many would be in the ENTHUSIASTIC group, and many will over time.

There was broad agreement on the ASPIRATIONAL layer

So we have an overall agreement on FIVE Class Layers:
PROFESSIONAL, AFFLUENT, ENTHUSIASTIC, ASPIRATIONAL and now CRUISING. The next paper will begin to examine how the class can integrate these layers and seek a way forward accommodating the needs and aspirations of each.

If you have any final comments before this begins, now is the time to comment.

Robert Alpe

Mickey Lake
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Location: Spanish Fort, Alabama, USA

I am excited about this!

Post by Mickey Lake » Tue Feb 27, 2007 4:01 pm

Robert, my only comment on this part of the paper is to express once again how exciting it is to see the class having a dialogue addressing the needs and concerns of all Dragon sailors everywhere.

I have sailed many different kinds of boats, and this class has two things going for it that are unusual in my opinion: one thing is that at the highest levels the Dragon class has pretty well established itself (in Europe) as the elite class among the non-Olympic racing boats. I can think of no other small one-design that can boast of doing what this class does in Europe. The second thing is just what you have addressed, that there are no doubt hundreds of Dragons all over the world used as day sailors or handicap fleet racers, as well as those of us in small scattered fleets. How many Stars are daysailed? How many people use their Solings as pleasure boats? The absolute beauty of this design attracts people.

I have a friend in New Zealand who owns a classic racing boat and who sails in the CYA of New Zealand. He tells me that he will come upon a heretofore unknown Dragon from time to time, anchored in some cove and looking beautiful. This is what I keep in mind when I send out mailings asking different sailors to help track down these boats. The Dragon class went from no organized sailing in the Puget Sound area, to well on their way to an established and healthy fleet because of a few e-mails and the fact that a few people got interested all at once. The boats were always there, it was just a matter of someone deciding to get involved with other sailors.

The Dragon class is now doing one thing that in my experience is unusual. They are reaching out (through officers such as Robert and Peter, and through Jill and this forum) to ask people 'what can we do to help?' and 'what can we do better?'. Not too many classes will do this. For a long time this class didn't do it. I just hope that everyone and anyone with an opinion on how we can make this a class in which all the sailors feel needed and wanted will come forward and post those opinions. We need them desperately. This is our chance to speak up. I pray that we don't let it slip away without giving ourselves a chance.

Mickey Lake USA149
A disciple of the Norse God of aesthetically pleasing boats, Johan Anker.

Michael Reinert
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Joined: Thu Aug 03, 2006 10:40 pm

Post by Michael Reinert » Mon Mar 05, 2007 11:27 pm

To my opinion the IDA is on the right way with Roberts work to find out and define all the different types of dragon sailors. Only with this knowledge the international organisation is able to cover the interests of all members and ( which is very important) maybe also to cover the intersets of the dragon sailors who are not members up to now.

In the classic dragon chapter I described the classic week 2006 Flensburg to Kiel, they were quite successful in satisfying a lot of different interests, which was necessary because of the mixture of the participants. There were quite fierce races for those who want to race. For those who prefered to cruise they organised daysailing trips e.g. to some islands or an interesting bay. And for the nonsailing supporters ashore there was an interesting cultural programme offered. In the evening we all came together from our different sailing adventures and had some good parties. All that was very attractive.

I think this type of event would be interesting also for the dragon class. Surely not every club is able to do such an expense, but once or twice a year such a “multifunctionalâ€

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