Happinin' Fleets Don't Just Happen

(Appeared in The August 200 Flashes)

Editor's Note: This was written by a Laser sailor for a Laser fleet, but the same ideas can be applied by Lightning sailors to their Lightning fleet.

Some Thoughts on What it Takes to Have a Successful Fleet

Fred Schroth as seen in The Laser Sailor

If you want to play in a more active fleet next summer, now is the time to get the ball rolling. We have some truly successful Laser (Lightning) fleets around North America, and believe it or not, they all have a lot in common.  They may have weekly frostbite races in the winter, or race in the summer on that special weeknight, but all the fleets that stay together must make sure a lot of the same things happen regularly. A large number of these "gotta get somebody to do that" responsibilities that make successful fleets are listed here. Many more are left out. We'd like to hear about some of the special things your fleet does so we can help nurture our most valuable asset: the local fleet.

So, here's what you can do all by yourself, starting today, to make sure you have a bunch of Lasers (Lightnings) on the line for your next series:
  • Host a fleet Christmas party and ask everybody to bring something
  • Have a boat work party, make arrangements to host a regatta next summer
  • Find out what kind of group discount you can get on new boats
  • Road trip to Midwinters
  • Buy some new sailing item for yourself
  • Take a friend sailing
  • Offer help to someone on the water
  • Help a new sailor organize the purchase (the NA Class office will help you with this one)
  • Spend an entire weekend afternoon practicing your tacks and gybes
  • Put new carpet on your trailer
  • Carry your gear through the clubhouse wearing a huge grin on your face
  • Always have an article in the club newsletter
  • Hang a half model in the clubhouse
  • Man the phones as a fleet for the public TV fund-raiser
  • Give somebody a set of sail numbers
  • Build a multi-boat trailer
  • Put invitations to join your club in the personnel offices of the major employers in your community
  • Put perpetual trophies in your clubhouse
  • NEVER SAY ANYTHING BAD ABOUT ANOTHER FLEET (we are the biggest but we can always be outnumbered, fighting is stupid)
  • Help your local dealer stock proper clothing and gear and buy from that dealer
  • Do race committee duty
  • Print a fleet bumper sticker
  • Put puppies in your cockpit while you work on your boat
  • Sit at the sign up desk for a regatta
  • Help in the kitchen for a regatta
  • Get your fleet on TV
  • Do committee duty for some other fleet to avail your fleet some reciprocity
  • Bring a cooler of beer and soft drinks to the rigging area and give it all away
  • Set up a fleet boat at the boat show
  • Offer a kid a ride to the lake
  • Call or fax results to your local newspapers
  • Invent a cool fleet name
  • Send Laser (Lightning) Christmas and birthday cards
  • Supervise beginners so that they have fun
  • Challenge another fleet to a contest, any contest, sailing or not
  • Set up a fleet ski trip
  • Send a group photo to the Laser Sailor (Lightning Flashes)
  • Maintain a For Sale list
  • Ask keelboat sailors how much their new sail cost them
  • Clean and polish your boat in as public a manner as possible
  • Take a disposable waterproof camera sailing and leave the developed photos in the clubhouse labeled "take one"
  • Video the fleet for a day
  • Get a Laser (Lightning) tattoo
  • Create a fleet scrapbook and leave it in your clubhouse
  • Conduct a rules seminar
  • Publish a fleet newsletter
  • Loan out your boat when you do committee duty
  • Target the parents of the kids who sail in the fleet with endless sales pitches
  • Post the scores in a conspicuous place
  • Give out a lot of silly but useful trophies
  • Encourage a boat owner to polish his entire team's skills on five Lasers (Lightnings)
  • Sail backwards
  • if you usually win, start late and coach the others as you pass them
  • Create a fleet webpage
  • Invite sailors from other clubs to visit your club and welcome outsiders when they show up
  • Call the new guy by name
  • Ride on the wake of a keelboat
  • Give somebody else a new line for his Laser (Lightning)
  • Phone home answering machines when sailors are at work
  • Phone business voice mail when sailors are at home
  • Make sailors pay fleet dues to create a vested interest and give them value for the dollars
  • Get everybody to join the ILCA (ILCA) so they will get this great newsletter and be on our mailing list
  • Use a few sets of mailing labels from the North American office every year
  • Invite the juniors out to sail
  • Set up an e-mail list and remind everybody to come out every week
  • Show off on windy days
  • Invite others to join you whenever you go sail
  • Buy a new sail
  • Express personal disappointment every time a sailor misses an event
  • Buy your dad a new Laser (Lightning) part for his birthday
  • And finally, tell the truth - tell everybody how much fun it is to go out and sail all over the place on a Laser (Lightning)

Other Fleet Building Articles:
Fleet Building 101

Lightning Fleet Development - will you be 'Plus One' this year?

Riverton Yacht Club

Fleet Sailing