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Championships - the future

Printed From: RYA National Hornet Association
Category: Public
Forum Name: Events - Championships
Forum Description: Discussion area for Championship topics
Printed Date: 19 December 2018 at 09:31
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Topic: Championships - the future
Posted By: John Shelton
Subject: Championships - the future
Date Posted: 19 June 2009 at 09:42

So, Abersoch is off, and we have to move on. We can dwell on why it didn't work, or we can move forward.

There's no doubt that there were a few things against it - expensive venue, full week, recession, distance - but we should at least thank Harry for setting it up, as I think it would have been a good one, if the numbers were right. But the class would have lost a lot of money with the purported numbers, and money is what we don't have.

I'd like to raise an issue which seems to be kicked around at AGMs, but nothing really seems to happen, and that is championships over a long weekend.

I sense the main resistance to this idea is a kind of loss of status for the class - somehow, breaking the tradition of a full week admits that we are a minority class.

Well, let's face it, we are a minority class, so let's get over it.

A championship over a long weekend has many positives:-

a) it gives us a MUCH wider selection of clubs, and we can include 'amateur' clubs who don't have full time staff to give up a week in the summer. I would include Shoreham in this - we would be happy to have a weekend champs, at a great venue - but you also open up possibilities like Lyme Regis, and I'm sure you could list many more

b) It makes it easier for sailors of other classes to attend. Several of us in the fleet also split time with big or sports boat sailing, or other dinghy classes, and finding ANOTHER week in the calendar in the summer is a challenge. The Hornet will probably get lowest priority

c) Similarly, it makes it easier to get the odd rock star to come, and although they probably end up winning, it forces us mere mortals to pull our socks up a bit. And it doesn't do any harm to be able to say someone like Mike Hart or Mike Macnamara is our champion

d) and one big consideration is expense. I think we are all sailing our Hornets on a budget - this is one of the attractions of the class, but also one of our potential weaknesses. It would certainly make it easier to find cheaper venues, and keep costs down.

Anyway, that's what I think about short championships, and I'm sure we voted in favour of that at the last AGM, but not much happened.

Another issue is also important I think. I've been away from the class for a while, and when we came back, I was surprised to see so many races making up a championship, and short ones at that. Now that might be the way it's gone over the years, but I really would like to see fewer and longer championship races. The beats can be more tactical, and if you stuff it in at the gybe mark, it's not the end of your race - there's a chance to catch up and get a decent result.

I think we were restricted for water at Stone last year, so it's understandable, but I'm sure some of the races were less than 45 minutes. My pulse has only just got above normal by then. OK, there were issues in trying to get through all the unsailed races in the time available, but to be honest, it wouldn't have done any harm dropping a couple to make them longer.

A shorter championship by definition reduces the number of races, so why not make them good long ones?

Finally, we shouldn't be afraid to share with other classes. Again, maybe it's a perceived status thing, but we have to cut our cloth accordingly. Clubs are much happier handling two small classes than one small class, as it makes the economics more sensible, and I'm sure we can form a good relationship with another class that could be a feeder for new blood in Hornets (Graduates?)

Anyway, a few ramblings, and I'll duck for cover now



Posted By: huey lewi
Date Posted: 19 June 2009 at 16:53

big classes like the 49ers, 29ers, musto skiffs etc all have long weekend nationals. im all for long weekend nationals.


Posted By: huey lewi
Date Posted: 19 June 2009 at 16:55
also recently National 12's have been struggling to get more than 30 boats for a weeks nationals, this year they changed to a long weekend event at Thorpe Bay and got 82 entries!

Posted By: Paul Jacobs
Date Posted: 19 June 2009 at 17:32
I would also be in favour of a long weekend champs. When I had an SB3
which is a newish, popular class, the format is long weekends and normally
gets big numbers.

Valuable holiday time is zapped up in a week long event and personally I
would find it easier to justify a long weekend.

Posted By: Brett
Date Posted: 22 June 2009 at 15:31

I would be in favour of a long wekend champs be it 3 or 4 days.

I disagree with John on long races, I would prefer more and shorter races.

For me the best days at the champs have been when we have got 3 or more races in on one day.

Races are really about the start and the first 2 beats, after that it gets quite strung out.

Also there is quite a spread of boat speed across the fleet, so the longer the race, the more hanging about for the front runners and I know from experience it's no fun being last with the whole fleet waiting for you and no rest between races.




Posted By: CLINT
Date Posted: 22 June 2009 at 17:27

We have had weekend champs in the past. They were run as a National Champs over a Bank Holiday weekend when the Euros were in Holland. From memory they were well attended and good fun. There was one race Sat pm, 2 Sun and 2 Mon I think. (Ah John, the good old days of a few long races! GBR2081 is in agreement about long races but this is normally due a crap start and needing as much time a possible to catch up!). I think we did vote about the length of Champs at the last AGM but was it was just a general show of hands to get an idea? John does make some very valid points about the pros of a weekend champs and I must admit I did vote for this mainly because I cannot commit to a week every year.

As for week long champs I have noticed that generally, the best attended in recent years have been when the host club has an affiliation with Hornets (Thorpe Bay, Sandwich, Stone). Whether this is due to wanting to support the Hornet sailors at the club or knowing the venue, I don't know. I will admit that I have been to a few week long champs where at the end I have wondered if I was really worth it (can only cross the start line on one tack, spinnys up the 1st beat, no beats!) . Generally this has been down to poor race management and maybe people don't like to risk the time and money if they don't know a venue and how they run races. The problem is you can't keep asking Hornet clubs to put on week long champs in rotation every few years. Perhaps a long champs every 3 years might work?

Not sure if I've helped at all but though it important as many people comment as possible. Hope we manage a short champs later in the year and we would make every effort to be there.





Posted By: Jono
Date Posted: 22 June 2009 at 17:57
In terms of Clints comments on venue, i agree that those have worked really well, i think that part of that is because of what the venue offers e.g. great close social scene and free camping!! which reallys cuts the cost down and keeps everyone together. Thats the sort of thing i think of when someone mentions the hornet fleet anyway

Wizard 2186

Posted By: stevec
Date Posted: 23 June 2009 at 09:34

As has been implied earlier in the thread, although it would have been a fantastic venue for the actual sailing, the expense was going to be prohibitive to a class which seems to pride itself on being the inexpensive alternative to other symmetric boats eg Fireballs and Ospreys. Their development routes have taken them into serious money for a new boat, but the enthusiasm has been regenerated in their classes and they have had upturns in their attendances, possibly by attracting a new type of owner. If we are portraying ourselves as a cheap class, we have to align our venue expectations accordingly, and accept that we are not going to have week-long Nationals at prestigious places like Abersoch, Weymouth or Hayling. I am fortunately able to say I'll go to the Nationals wherever they are, (assuming I can get a crew!), but some in the class have chosen it because the boat is cheap to buy and run, and couldn't/wouldn't afford to go to an expensive venue, which is what has happened. Perhaps we have to approach the matter from a different angle; set a target cost overall/per boat for the event and then see which Clubs would be able to run it at that price? I don't know if that is a viable option but I'm trying to "think outside the box"! Perhaps also we need to look at the reasons why people are not attracted to our class; Mike the Lark tried to start a discussion on this a year or two back, talking about marketing etc., but do we even think what is our possible target sector? Fireballs have worked really hard in recent years to attract the young disaffected RYA Youth scheme dropouts from the 420s and 470s, the OK class, another small and up till recently dying class, have revitalised their youth champs by getting class members to loan boats for a weekend and give up their own sailing for  day or two, to attract the potential youth Laser sailors and so on. I know myself from my involvement in my hockey club that it sometimes seems a lot of trouble for so little gain but on the basis that we have one player converted from 12 starters isn't this some reward? This needs a high degree of effort from some and the willingness from all to try it, but is it not worth trying in some way? If we traded on the goodwill of Devon Composites for instance and had a trial boat at each open event with a prior effort to have a local non-hornet team to fill it, and forget the bit about being a member of the association (isn't that archaic in our struggling times?) it might convince a few that the boat is not a dinosaur. Ask the FD fleet how they have kept their class going and even investing in newer boats. As far as Nationals format is concerned, I think we have to consider clubs that can't necessarily run Olympic triangles but can put on a well-run event and would be venues with accommodation within walking distance including camping which seems to be popular now! Duration of four days seems to be the concensus format for most classes these days for good reasons of holiday time and cost to both participants and host members. Just as an example of once srtong classes that have suffered like us and are adjusting their expectations, the Graduates, another National class, had their Nationals at Chipstead, a small gravel pit reservoir, relatively long and narrow but still only a few acres overall, with trees all round and sheltered in all directions: they had 31 boats as the host club was 18-strong! What about Starcross for us?

Like John I'll now stop ranting and duck!

more power, more prizes!

Posted By: stevec
Date Posted: 23 June 2009 at 09:41
Just as an alternative un-nationals, Stone Week is being held in the same week as the aborted Nationals, so for those of you who had booked time off with the intention of sailing for a whole week with or without the family in attendance, you still can at Stone SC; £70 gets you a race and a meal a day and entertainment in the evenings - free camping as well if you can find a space! If we have 6+ boats we get a class start, and there are 6 club boats so there's a good chance, so come and sulk away the lack of a Nationals with us. How about it Mudmen?

more power, more prizes!

Posted By: iain marshall
Date Posted: 30 June 2009 at 21:46

I sail Snipes as well as having a hornet and we have had long weekend nationals for as long as I can remember and they have always been a success.  Our other money saving tip is that we always try to utilise venues that are able to offer camping facilities.  Having gone to Abersoch last year, I found it to be a very expensive long weekend !!

We have combined our nationals with torbay week this year which as i understand has resulted in substantially reduced cost entries due to the event being subsidised.


Posted By: NED-154
Date Posted: 17 July 2009 at 11:18

Dutch FD-class also does long weekend for nationals.
Preferably multiple short races.

For us, having to come cross-channel, it would be much easier to join for a long weekend nationals. A week turns automatically into 10 days and that makes either the holdays short or requires the nationals to be incorperated in the holidays.

no power no glory

Posted By: Eric Marchbanks
Date Posted: 11 August 2009 at 19:12

Sorry, this is going to be a long one, but it all adds up towards why we are suffering as a class and thus Championship numbers are down:

There are quite a lot of good ideas coming from the Forum, but that hasn't transferred into many people putting their heads over the parapet and joining the committee.

There is a dire need for some new blood in the committee and some radical thinking, I for one haven't been able to give as much time as in the past to the Hornets or committee work, and I think most others on the committee are in the same boat. 

I remember resurrecting main sheet after it died a death maybe 15 years or so ago, printing it and distributing it at my cost (albeit the content was not as good or as well set out as when they appear now, but at least there was something by the breakfast table that focused the mind on the Hornet once a month or once every two months. Now we actually expect members or prospective members to be pro-active as they must log onto the forum and get the information even maybe printing it off. I certainly think the forum is a useful tool, but we shouldn’t consider it the be all and end all of everything and should ensure that other avenues and media are used in our promotion. The same applies with Championships and there was not enough promotion for this years Championship and still isn't, years ago I took over as Chairman just as we had what was then our smallest championship ever at Pwllhelli – it was a promotional disaster and nearly bankrupted the class (yet it was one of the best Championships ever, it was well organised and well run – thanks to Julian Bridges and the strong support I had from the rest of the committee) we learnt from that, we wrote to every Hornet sailor both past and present and chased up to find where as many boats were as possible and kept pushing stuff at them until they came and joined in and by the time I stood down as Chairman we had re attained Championships heading towards the 50 mark and also had a new product to sell – a lot of credit for that with Tom Guy. This was done with a lot of paper flying about, a lot of telephone calls and a lot of individual effort.

Unfortunately time these days is at a premium and it is a struggle for Harry as his committee just doesn’t have the sort of spare time that was available then and he hasn’t the advantage of a company behind him picking up the loose ends. He needs help from all of us - not just the committee. 

So first and foremost, how do we pick ourselves off the floor? We really can’t go down any further so the only way is up so I have put some bullet points for consideration:-

·         We need more volunteers to help run the association

·         We need to locate the old membership lists and ring/write to everyone and locate these missing boats. Again the forum will be a good place to keep track of them, but it won’t find them and again you are asking people to be proactive to list their boats – we need someone to take on the duty of locating all these boats again and believe me, this will be a thankless task.

·         We need regular mainsheet to go out – but without copy that is almost impossible – Strangler does a good job of editing it, but maybe there should be designated “reporters” from each area, details of what’s going on in each area. If you go off in your Hornet and race it somewhere unusual then you will know who to tell and we need to make sure that people realise their copy is important however small – even if it is just cruising up the Blackwater and getting stuck on a mud bank with your best beloved it is still copy and would make Mainsheet more varied and interesting and, makes the all important copy. The editors’ job is easy once he has enough copy falling at his doorstep.

·         We need better advertising – great we have a website and okay, probably it may now be due for some tweaking, Barry Miller has put an enormous amount of work into this and probably would like some help, but help is the operative word, please don’t criticise – none of the committee is paid and I suspect that most are out of pocket for what they do – certainly the Chairman and Championship organiser are usually well out of pocket. THERE IS A “BUT” HERE and it is a big “BUT” websites are a useful advertising tool, but they don’t work really well as an advert unless you have lots of dosh to keep them optimised or someone has lots of free time to make them work – from my point of view with my company we find that most useful leads have seen our website details somewhere else rather than just loosely searching for it. So, maybe we should be looking at getting some more of the Hornet stickers made for the back of cars and for sticking on signposts (I see the Merlin’s still do that in North Wales) but then if you don’t know the logo what good will it do, as that is confined to letting other sailors know the class is still alive, but what about us all having stickers on the back of our car which show the logo and web site address – would that help or is it too expensive? What about bringing back the little booklet we once did – only A4 bent three ways, looked okay and was cheap enough to produce – send some of these to every sailing club and every RYA training establishment? Any one able to do something like this for free or at little cost? 

·         Product to sell – Devon composite hasn’t been entirely successful – what do I mean – well it has put another 1/2 dozen new boats on the water but then faltered. Why was that? partly I fear that neither Ivor who represented the builder and the committee could totally see each others point of view. Ivor wanted to get on and produce a boat so that Devon Composite gave his all to building it and he needed to keep Devon Composites active working on it, but the committee has various rules and can only travel so fast in getting changes ratified in order to be equitable to the existing boats as well. This was not quick enough for either Ivor nor Devon Composites to leave them wishing to promote the boat. In fact I suspect that the development cost Ivor quite a fair amount of money and the class association I believe has had to write off some revenue that it might have received for the use of its moulds. So maybe too much water under the bridge to continue and certainly there is nothing coming from the builder in terms of promotion of the boat at the moment. To grow, we must have the option of offering a variety of packages to buy, from a bare hull to complete boat, so I am sure Ivor had his marketing strategy correct in that instance, however unless a builder is prepared to offer promotion as well as a good build standard and options the product will not grow. I suspect the builder must also be able to offer various financial packages as well.  I understand that there may now be another builder prepared to offer to do this promotion, but wishes to adjust a few things on the boat to make it (in his words) more saleable. I understand that he sees the rig as needing a little tweaking to make it look more modern and maybe a few other items. Unless the class actually takes the bull by the horns and accepts a few changes to make it more marketable I suspect few if any builders will put any money into promotion. If the class is to survive it must realise that it is a restricted development class and that over the years it has evolved, however it has always suffered from a fear of wrecking the class by evolution. Revolution was one of the early evolutions and everyone who had Rigden boats said this would wreck the class, well it did give it a hard jolt, but without that the class would not still be here, without the drops in weight and the increase in rig size it is likely the class would not be here either - well not a least as an alternative to any “proper” racing fleet. We now need to alter again. The new Devon composite hull was a step forward and we have reasonably good looking hulls and deck moulds and I assume the option to offer both the Speed decking or the Devon Composite decking options but we are still a trifle heavy as is our rig, and our sail plan was borne out of a series of alterations and could do with being redesigned to bring it bang up to date. I can hear everyone screaming about being out of class and not being able to compete – all I can say is if we don’t move forward you won’t have anything to compete against, and maybe we will go on seeing dwindeling Championships.

·         Racing circuits – I have been off the open meeting circuit for a few years due to personal reasons, but it seems that it has “withered” somewhat? We need a way to rejuvenate that as no open circuit looses the ties and friendships that have bought half of the fleet to the majority of Championships. In the past we considered the option of using regattas as our open meetings as 10 Hornets arriving at a Regatta is probably a better sales advert that 10 turning up to an open, you get better and more enjoyable entertainment as costs are split, people start enjoying themselves and turn up at the next meeting and then the Championships. Never loose sight of grass roots and the open meeting circuit is as our grass root.

Well I’ve banged on enough, stuck my head back over the parapet an await the howls of derision, all I would say is that years ago when the RYA honoured Jack Holt and Beecher Moore at the dinghy exhibition, the stand they wanted to see more than any of the many other boats that they designed and built was the Hornet, I met them on the stand and was berated by them both as the Hornet was no longer at the forefront of development, they both fervently believed that we hadn’t reached maximum hull speed by some way and I received a severe bollocking for not driving forward the necessary changes to keep it on pace.

Best regard


Best Regards

Eric Marchbanks

Hornet 2178

Posted By: roger
Date Posted: 11 August 2009 at 21:28

No howls of derision here. I think on the whole you have hit the nail on the head.

I as you know was a relative newcomer to the class with a very old boat.Although I did crew one in the 70s on the Isle of Wight. Unfortunately money and time have forced me to sell our revo but I still have the two old boats.

All associations and clubs seem to suffering the same malais with few people coming forward to run the clubs but plenty who wish for something to be done (as long as its not me).

As a restricted development class I feel the Hornets could learn from several other classes and try to bring some of the older boats out with an old or classic wing(call it what you like). The merlins have a very complicated system but then they have had many more changes but the Fireballs have very successfully brought youngsters into their fleet by appealing to the youth squad chuck outs with a cheap second hand boat in the classic fleet. They work on the change when the wide bowed Winder boats outclassed the older narrower boats.

I would happily try to set up an older boat wing maybe using the revolution as the cut off. You could use the same start just collect a seperate prize or have some kind of handicap advantage. If you can get two extra boats on a start line on a regular basis that can only be good. 

A slightly alchohol driven conversation at Netley last year had at least four sliding seat boats out and Mike the Larks boat must come under the pre revo badge.

As you may know I am very active in the CVRDA and would love to see more older Hornets out and I am sure we could try and do joint events to possibly share event costs.

I suppose what I am trying to say is that if you can provide me a list of previous owners I am happy to write to try to promote the class but we do need to provide a platform for the older boats to perform. If you feel that this is not the image the class is looking for then I will stand back but the Hornet has a great heritage and I feel we could use this to the fleets advantage.

 There are lots of classes looking to keep fleet numbers up by trying to include the older and maybe outdated boats. It all goes towards fleet numbers at opens and championships.

I have rambled and ranted long enough and have probably said a few things out of turn for which I hope you will forgive me but the Hornet is a great boat with a long history and I would hate to see it end here.




Posted By: John Shelton
Date Posted: 12 August 2009 at 10:54

Good comments Eric.

Can I suggest that as many people as possible get their heads together at Herne Bay to discuss. The AGM is the obvious place, but I'm not sure anything gets done there - we need to get a groundswell going, for what we want the class to be. We are being swamped by other classes, and although we will never really compete with the Fireball (they have 15,000 boats worldwide and several promotional builders), we need to offer a real alternative. The Ospreys managed it but only by selling their soul to Hartley, and we may have to bite the bullet and do the same with another builder.

As it stands, the Hornet looks too heavy and 'traditional' when compared to other boats, and until we fix that, younger recruits will not see enough to interest them.

I'll put my cards on the table and say that I would like to see:-

1) a lighter epoxy Hornet down to 105/110kg sailing weight or less (I also happen to prefer the 'old' Speed/Hoare deck mould)

2) new fully battened rig (probably more roach on the main as a result)

3) As above with carbon spars option

I fully expect screams of horror at two of those suggestions, but there we are. I know for a fact that we could have an active promotional builder up and running in days if we allowed such developments. I would personally consider funding a development boat.

The main argument I hear against it is "but it would make our existing boats worthless overnight!". But I would counter by saying our boats are pretty much worthless anyway.

But, as Eric says, all this takes a lot of time and effort, and we're all amateurs with plenty of other things to do.

Maybe we need a new thread.....

Posted By: Eric Marchbanks
Date Posted: 12 August 2009 at 12:01

I have to say I agree with John, the idea of losing weight becomes even more appealing as I get older not just performance, but the very real issue of lugging the thing about - hence I feel that carbon masts would also help as far easier to lift in and out of the boat. Maybe there would be marginal benefit, but I am sure Mike Mac without touching his boat would still beat the majority of us after we changed our boats over.

For me, if the sailing weight comes down, I can car top the hornet and tow my caravan with rig on top of that behind which saves a second car for championships. I realise few would want to do that, but it still opens up options.

Finally, I have to agree with John that a new sail plan would take the boat forward - as fully battened mains are optional at the moment that bit isn't contentious - but I think we should be looking to consider options of a higher aspect rig with a bladed jib. If we get a builder in tow, they would probably come back with suggestions and trialling options.

Come what may, we must not get tied up like the Ospreys although as we own the moulds this is less likely and we must always be allowed to buy from the sail-maker of our choice rather than all through a single builder. Certainly I would not want to change from the Macs I have used for a long period

Best Regards

Eric Marchbanks

Hornet 2178

Posted By: Eric Marchbanks
Date Posted: 12 August 2009 at 12:03

PS I also think Rogers idea of a data base of pre Goodwins is worth going along with and starting a classic fleet (If I remember we did try this at one time) actually at the Stone Championships before last there was a separate prize of classics.

If Roger is prepared to put the time in on this I think we should push it forward.

Best Regards

Eric Marchbanks

Hornet 2178

Posted By: Tom Guy
Date Posted: 12 August 2009 at 13:28

I can't arguement for or against all these points in a single thread!!

I have taken the liberty of separate the points in three different threads:

Championships - the future (original thread)

New revolution - the way forward (carbon spars, weight reduction - no messing here!)

How to improve the class  - discussion on how to improve the class without the complication of modifying the boat

One word of warning as it has already been pointed out by Eric, the forum has only a limited membership....

Posted By: roger
Date Posted: 12 August 2009 at 17:01

John has commented about a discussion at the AGM. In my oppinion the discussion should ideallly take place before an AGM as this is usually held(I havent attended a Hornet one) after a long days sailing and during feeding ,drinking and relaxation time.

The cvrda AGM is held at the Nationals but topics for the AGM have to be posted online 28days before the meeting and all discussion goes on before the AGM so that a short precis and then a vote can take place on the day. This does mean that long boring discussion about minor details are carried out before the meeting and the AGM only lasts about 40 minutes leaving plenty of time for the other important things in life.

I dont totally agree with Eric about the limited use of the web site. The cvrda is totally online with no paper being mailed by anyone. We do have one very dedicated lady who runs the site but the system works and we are (at present) thriving.

I dont want to appear to be pushy but am willing to offer what help I can.

Does anyone have a most recent list of boats I can start to contact.

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