RS Sailing
Premier Way, Abbey Park
Romsey Hampshire SO51 9DQ
01794 526760
RS Sailing
Premier Way, Abbey Park
Romsey Hampshire SO51 9DQ
01794 526760

In late 2019, Lakewood Yacht Club was the first club to buy a fleet of 12 club owned RS21s in the United States. The fleet was purchased to be used for their new pay-to-play model. Typically seen in college sailing, members are provided with the boats, the sails and the equipment. In a 2019 article past commodore Ashley Walker discussed the decision to create a pay-to-play model, “many young sailors fresh from college or building a family often have to choose between investing in either a club membership, purchase of a boat or both; we’d rather they join our club and let us provide them with a fleet to sail at a nominal cost compared to boat ownership.”

So, how has it worked? Former RS21 fleet captain Marie Wise has been thrilled with the response to the RS21 fleet and their pay-to-play model, “it has worked really well so far; LYC members can walk in and go sailing for a cost much less than the traditional costs of boat ownership.” For many yacht clubs, the idea of a pay-to-play model is foreign. Luckily Wise had lots of personal experience to draw on, “my husband and I both sailed in college and my son is currently a college sailor, so we wanted to try and capture that model.” However, creating this model for a yacht club was not without challenges, “at times it felt as though we were reinventing the wheel, we wrote the charter manual from scratch and invent how it would look and work at our club.”

The benefits have far outweighed the challenges. It has successfully engaged current members and attracted new members looking for an easy and affordable way to sail. Wise credits a lot of the success to the RS21, “it is comfortable for sailors of various shapes, sizes and athletic abilities. “Serious racers are able to tweak the boat and its controls to make it go fast while casual sailors are comfortable taking the boat for a leisure sail.”
Lakewood has taken full advantage of the adaptability of the RS21. “Last summer we hosted the RS21 North Americans and we are currently in the middle of our first ever Winter Series,” Wise says. “We also use the boats for more casual racing like weekly Wednesday night ladies racing.” Whereas in the past racing was limited to boat owners, the fleet of RS21s has increased member engagement and enthusiasm for other sailors that want to get involved, “people love going out and racing, having the goal of going around marks,” Wise says. “It is awesome to see so many new sailors get involved.”

Always looking for new ways to engage members and improve racing, Lakewood is not hesitant to try out new technology. They have started using MarkSetBot to help manage their race committee needs. MarkSetBot is the World’s first fully robotic, GPS-controlled sailing buoy. “Our fleet of RS21s allows us to have more events and MarkSetBot makes it easier to run those events.” For Wise and Lakewood Yacht Club they hope their success drives other clubs to follow their lead, “we definitely recommend the pay-to-play model and the RS21 to other clubs,” Wise says. “Don’t overthink it; it all works out in the end.”

 

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