Who answers questions about sailing?

by Chris Kameen on August 11, 2014

Sailing at the Sydney Boat ShowLast year I wrote a blog post about who was selling sailing at the Sydney Boat Show and commented that none of the major dinghy manufacturers were at the show. This year Hobie had an impressive stand, and the focus was on lifestyle boats and fishing, and  Sydney Sailing School was assisting on the Open Bic stand.

That BicSport and Hobie were the only two stands at the boatshow where potential sailors could come and speak to somebody about dinghy sailing is a real shame. If somebody asked if I had a bigger version of the Bic, I could say we teach in the Quba or Vision and show them a brochure. Not ideal, but better than last year and at least RS Sailboats had a presence!

What I really don’t understand though is why Yachting NSW were not at the show answering questions or pointing people in the direction of clubs or sailing schools or promoting the National Discover Sailing Day. I’m sure there are financial and logistical reasons for not being there and having worked the show for Yachting Australia for many years I understand the commitment that is involved and it is not my place to question an organisation committed to supporting their clubs. But non attendance though seems short sighted especially given the amount of money that has been invested by the BIA in YNSW and their Optimist programme and Discover Sailing Day.

As a small business promoting sailing, the boat show was a great opportunity to get people enthused, and we had some great support from a young sailor – check out our video.

We have had great feedback from club sailors that we met that were interested in our Sailing Club Packages for my take on how to increase participation. Being at the Show is one element of how we market sailing, Sailing clubs, YNSW, Class Associations all need to face up to the fact that there are fewer and fewer of us out there drumming up new business. I received an excellent document from Yachting Australia recently which detailed  the challenges for clubs. This really is a great document that I hope people read. Amongst other things it seemed to say that as a sport we don’t have a problem attracting people, the problem is we don’t keep them. I agree in part, but if we aren’t going to be at the show showcasing our sport then does the Sport have a plan B for marketing?

The plan B?

I understand that there are huge financial barriers to attending the show from an exhibitor point of view, which the BIA need to address very soon at the risk of alienating the dinghy industry forever. Having to sell  20 odd sailing dinghies just to cover the costs of attending is not a sensible risk for any dinghy importer or manufacturer to bare. That BicSport and Hobie do is an indication of their commitment to the sport. I’m excited that a more club and dinghy focused Sydney Sailboat Expo show is taking shape, but not certain that it will necessarily get the reach to get non sailors excited… I hope it does and will be doing my part to help, we’ll watch this space with super keen interest.



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