Saturday, April 30, 2011

my home club Davis Island YC

I sail out of the Sailingest Club in the South: Davis Island YC
In this day and age where sailing seems to be ailing and the sport is always being marked as a dying one unless we become nascarlike and primed for tv in color, stereo and dolby sound bytes, etc. I find very refreshing to be a member of the Sailingest club in the South.
What we hinge about is sailing, racing, promoting sailing, teaching sailing, having a great youth sailing/racing program, cruising the general area and did I mentioned sailing already?! Our Thursday night racing series goes from daylight savings start to finish (or thereabouts). Every Thursday night we have 5 starts for different classes from centerboard (where I enroll my Laser every week) with Lasers, Windmills, Flying Scots, Fireball, Snipe, etc. to Spin “A” with J120, J109, J35, etc. Yeah, we also have non-spin A & B, racer-cruiser, J24-Melges 24 starts, etc. Every night 30 to 50 racing sailboats on the water. An all volunteer race committee takes turns serving or racing, four co-captains share the responsibility, all racers take turns serving as race committee. On Thursday nights, we are open to the community, dinner and drink tickets. Around 300 or more folks visit our facilities to participate in the races. The truest lung for the city of Tampa and surrounding areas.
Every other Sunday we have races as well. A pursuit start format, all against all. A little less formal than Thursdays but equally competitive.
We sponsor several classes aside from my beloved SunCoast-DIYC Laser Fleet, we have a new Sunfish Fleet, J24 Fleet, Flying Scot Fleet, Melges 24 Fleet, all based out of DIYC. We have a fantastic youth sailing program 501c3 protected which teaches sailing to 200 kids every summer! Develops great kids who grow up racing optimists, Lasers, 420’s all the way into college. Our Dinghy Dames are very active ladies who are always cooperating with everything that has to do with the club, teach women how to sail, race their Clearwater Prams on Tuesdays and their Sunfish/Laser wing sails on Fridays.
On top of that, we sponsor tons of races through the year, ladder events, qualifiers for several classes, Pan Am trials, etc. Plus, our sailors participate actively in all the local West Coast PHRF big boat circuit.
All of that on the back of club volunteers that hold 3 or 4 work parties per year, attend board meetings, repair all sorts of facilities from loud speakers to planks on the docks. A true blue collar membership. Yeah, it takes a year to become a member!! We need your money but we need your involvement in our sailing community more.
So, the reason for all this rant has a dual purpose. Obviously, I am a proud member, DIYC is a fantastic sailing organization. DIYC may as well stand for do it yourself club. The other reason is that there are hundreds of clubs, sailing centers, sailing squadrons, etc . that provide similar enjoyment to their members and fellow sailors in those areas. I can mention several in my area that are similar in intent and efforts (DIYC still is the sailingest club in the south though). Plenty, that if I happened to live in their area, I would be a proud contributing member as well.
So, is sailing a dying sport?...I don’t think so. The grassroots are fine. Just look at our little SunCoast Laser Fleet. This year we are having a series of Saturday races, ten dollars entry fee, trinkets for trophies, tons of fun and visiting 4 other such sailing centers, clubs, squadrons, etc. to make our Laser Fleet grow and show our little boats all over the place. The folks of the Treasure Coast Series on the East coast are doing the same (we copied their format actually). Look around, your club is probably having tons of sailing activities that you can join up and make better.
Perhaps all the glitter needed for tv and for the sponsors has a place at some level and the measuring parameters for success are different at that level but do not let that vision cloud yours. Don’t just sit there, sail something!
You can find DIYC at the top of the picture, at the bottom South end of Davis Islands, that area is called Hillsborough Bay and it is located in the downtown area. The peninsula to the left is where I live and also home to the MacDill Air Force base, home of the Southern Command.

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