I have to congratulate the bringing of this motion by Normal Lee and Bryan Armstrong as it is a debate I have often heard at events around the country over the last decade and it deserves to be thoroughly thrashed-out.
I also freely admit that I support their central argument that dropping log-book requirements from the Junior Training Programme effectively ended the youth dingy racing circuit that I so much enjoyed as a teenager, and while I know the requirement was there ostensibly to sharpen the trainee's racing skills I believe in hindsight that it had a FAR more important role to play:
By requiring trainees to partake in a certain number of races between stages (of which some had to be away from home waters) this encouraged the parents to bring them to at least one weekend regional event. In my personal experience it was usually the social scene around these events that made me want to keep going back rather than the requirement to fill my logbook, and as a tag-along at events my brother sailed at I can attest there was a busy social scene for the parents ashore too (in the days before mass rib-ownership). By the time I went to college this meant I had friends in clubs scattered all around the country, and wanted to stay involved in sailing because it was fun & social, surely the foundation for life-long involvement?
The other advantage of mass fleets, of which only the front 20% were truely competitive, was that anyone with a flare for racing could quickly progress up through the class while those like me who were more socially minded could have great fun towards the back of the fleet and didn't feel we were failing just because a podium finish was out of our reach. I still relish just being afloat, and surely this is also a key foundation for life-long involvement in our sport?
And to prove our view of the good-old-days isn't just rose-tinted nostalgia I was able to dig out my old log book...
| Date||Event||No of Boats |
| 11 - 12 July 1992||Optimist Leinsters||61 (main fleet)|
| 8 - 9 July 1995||Mirror Southerns ||104 |
| 15 - 16 July 1995||Mirror Easterns ||134 |
| 6 - 7 July 1996||Mirror Southerns ||99 |
| 27 - 28 July 1996||Mirror Easterns ||142 |
| 1 - 4 August 1996||Optimist Nationals||64 (main fleet)|
| 31 Aug - 1 Sept 1996||Mirror Westerns ||112 |
| 29 - 30 March 1997||Mirror Easterns ||96 |
I fully agree that a racing-only logbook wasn't sustainable as the scheme was opened up to include the diversity of levels and courses that now exist, but surely some sort of time-on-the-water requirement must be part of any syllabus to both reinforce the skills learnt and foster a love of our sport as a social activity?
LDYC / RStGYC