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Midland District Skipper Survey March 2020 Results.

This survey was created before the country wide “lock down” due to Coronavirus which has had a dramatic effect on the future of racing in our district for the rest of 2020.

At this moment there is no organised sailing and going forward we expect a dramatic change to the published list of events. Initially when we do get back to action, I anticipate that the focus will be on club sailing. This could mean cancellation of the District series for the 6m, RM & IOM for 2020 due to the lack of dates available.

The Midland District committee will obviously be working on a sailing program with the Midland clubs as soon as we can.

So, what was the reason for the survey?

The Midland District committee along with a couple of the series event race organisers have noticed that the series events have seen falling numbers over the last two or three years, and as there is no one thing that we can put a finger on we decided to ask the Midland skippers their views.

To this end Phil Watkins created a short online survey with 7 questions.

Now that the survey closing date has passed, we would like to thank the 40 skippers who responded, and we offer the results of the survey here Midland Skipper Survey Answers for you all to see. Firstly, let me assure you that even though it says “view respondents answers” there is no personal data and it anonymous.

Here are some observations from the results:

Q1. Firstly, we appear to be communicating with the skippers who attend these events effectively via the Midland District website, MYA race calendar and direct email. Looking at the MD website statistics when a new posting or NOR goes up it get read quickly by a fairly large audience which is positive. The race reports are eagerly awaited and the numbers who read it are far greater than the number of skippers who take part.

For those of you who miss out to ensure you get the latest news when it goes up you should “subscribe to news by email” on the website home page.

Q2. Are the Midland District series events for advanced skippers only?

It appears that just over a quarter of respondents said it was.

It is certainly not our intention that this is the case, and short explanation gives a little background.

When the Midland District IOM series was started in 1992 it was intended as a stepping stone in race quality, up from the Sunday morning club race but below MYA sanctioned events like Ranking and Nationals and to introduce the club skipper to the racing rules and race management systems.

 So perhaps we need a supplementary question,

What, does the club skipper need to feel this is an event for them? Perhaps we can review this later.

Q3. Interestingly it appears that if you are prepared to travel then 80% of you prefer a full days sailing, i.e. 10:00am to around 16:00.

We are also aware that as the demographic gets older a full day becomes more difficult, so perhaps the event tempo needs to be reviewed.

Q4. Event distance.

This appears to be 50/50. One of the reasons for the establishing a Midland District series was to cut down on the MYA national event travelling, whilst also supporting the efforts of our District clubs’.

The Midland District is quite geographically large from Lincoln RSC in the north to Watermead MBC in the south, and this is why all the series were structured with discards. This allows for a skipper to miss an event due to ill health or travelling problems and still have a good chance of placing high up in the series overall. We do however need to support our clubs in the whole of the district by taking an event to them so that their club skipper sees what they are like. These events also help with club finances by bringing income via race entry fee’s etc.

Q5. Facilities.

This is an over whelming consideration for those who support the series.

When sorting the calendar for the following year and which clubs could hold an event, we like to spread it around evenly as possible, with sometimes a club that runs a winter event not getting one in the summer, and we rely heavily on a few skippers who are prepared to offer their services as the race committee to give up their time so that others may race.

We do look at club facilities so that we can provide the best standard of racing we can. A lot of our District clubs have improved their facilities, but a few cannot improve what is available as it is outside their control. I think a good way forward on this is to include a list of facilities available on site or nearby when we post a Notice of Race.

Q6. Racing rules.

The answer to this is like Question 2 and obviously we need to help the club skipper with more training.

Previously Birmingham MYC are the only ones who have had a program, and this has been well attended with some positive feedback. The problem being that it is easy for the club skipper to think this is again only for the advanced skipper.

So, a supplementary question how do we reach the beginner, and do they want it or are they happy with the informal club sail in? Perhaps we can come back to this.

Q7. What do you need to make attending a Midland District series event attractive and make you want to come along?

We had 36 replies to this question and obviously they cannot be structured as a Yes/No answer, so below is the answers we got. These are in the order they were received.

The last reply came back by email.

I missed completing the MD survey as I did not realise it had such a short shelf life. There is one major point I would like to make about MD events, and it relates to the setting of courses. In my view, we should be seeking to encourage skilful sailing and not a lottery. Whilst people insist on setting courses which are an eyesight test, the element of luck will prevail. Given that no enhancement is allowed under MYA rules, this does not allow that people with poor eyesight are disadvantaged and enhancement for them would mean parity not advantage. We need to determine a maximum distance of any buoy from the control point. I suggest that this should be a distance at which people can read a sail number. If it is not possible to read the sail number, any proper protest becomes impossible and therefore the lawless will prevail.

All the other answers are on the survey return.

As you can see there is wide range of answers, and this is something that we will take a little time to consider before making any recommendations.

The Midland District committee have arranged an online meeting and when we have discussed the answers to question 7 and any recommendations/thoughts on them, we will publish some notes.

With the Coronavirus stopping all events currently it is perhaps an ideal opportunity to review the future of Midland District series sailing.

Thanks once again to all those who took the time to review and reply to our first ever online survey.

The 2020 Midland District Committee.

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