To play the Rod Favela webcast, click here or click on the YouTube image at the end of this post. And for a little different approach to the question, click here and take a few minutes to read Craig Leweck’s commentary on Scuttlebutt..
It might be a stretch, but I’d say Rod Favela’s prescription for getting more boats on the race course is this: Get better. Put on better races and sail better.
During a half hour Zoom webcast for our April monthly meeting (4/14), Rod shared his enthusiasm for a strong, well-run racing program, suggesting that’s the way to build participation.
“Remember we are marketing a product, which is the quality of the racing.”
It starts with practicing, he says. “Practice the right way will make your program better. Making your program better is going to make finding crew easier. Everything is interconnected. Having a better race committee is going to make you a better sailor and make a better product for the new crew.”
Rod has won championships in everything from Sunfish to VX-1 to the US Sailing Championship of Champions. He runs Vela Sailing Supply out of Dallas and coaches sailing all over the country.
What kind of racing? He favors the familiar windward-leeward buoy racing. While Rod sails long-distance races and recently raced across the Atlantic, he believes more, shorter races are better.
“You keep the heart pumping if you have buoy racing. I think 80% of the racing should be around the cans,” he says. “When we push hard, we have the most fun.” He thinks longer races are a time to invite your non-sailing friends and have a beer.
Short races mean more starts. “Starts are the most exciting part of a race,” Rod points out, “so let’s have lots of starts. If you have a bad start, you know you have another chance in half an hour.”
He champions well-run race committees and enforcing the Racing Rules of Sailing. “We need to use them; we need to enforce them,” he says. He compares the RRS with the rules of chess, which are the same for beginners or master players. Unless they’re playing to the rules, it’s chaos.
“Learn the rules and use them,” he preaches.
The more you sail, the better you’ll be, and don’t be afraid to sail with and against the very best. Bring on the talent. As Rod says, “Put me with the lions, because that’s the only way to get better.”
One of the barriers to racing is matching crew and boats. Rod’s advice to skippers is to make the experience pleasant, with no yelling and screaming. And for crew: don’t be afraid to volunteer yourself. Say, if you need crew, I’m available, “and be completely honest about your skill level.”
What if you don’t have a boat? Aside from crewing, what about sharing boats? His club in the Dallas area has what they call the 900 Club, which is a little like our Adopt-a-Boat program. They charter club-owned IC-24s for $900/year. “Do not make it free,” he says. “Unfortunately, we do not value what is free.”
You can watch Rod’s entire conversation with me by clicking below.