One of the things that I enjoy about sailing is the sense of ‘tradition.’ After all, boats and water have been around for a very long time. In fact, I often remind new sailors that they are doing something that people have done for thousands of years. As far as I know, ours is the only sport that can make that claim! Of course, with thousands of years of tradition comes thousands of years of customs and habits.
It stands to reason that most yacht clubs also have a strong sense of ‘tradition.’ That is, certain rules, customs, and habits (both written and unwritten) that govern day-to-day life around the club. Tradition says that we help each other launch our boats, that we pitch in at the Potluck, and that we keep an eye on each other’s children. These traditions are a good thing!
On the other hand, traditions naturally change over time. I think back just a few years to when our monthly club newsletter arrived in the mail and maybe included a few black and white photos. Now we have a weekly emailed newsletter that is filled with color photos. A few years ago, most people learned about EYC by word of mouth. Today they can browse our website and even apply on line to join our club. Ten years ago, Sail School was open to EYC family members only. Today, nearly half of the students in Sail School will come from outside our club. Most of these people are “new” to the sport of sailing! I could go on to talk about the addition of kayaks, paddle boards, or club boats. Many of these changes are the direct result of our effort to reach out to a new generation of members. Because, let’s face it, if we want EYC to continue we need to attract younger people.
The Board of Trustees is in the process of implementing two changes which we believe will help us grow our membership. The first is a change to our Pet Policy. After taking comments over five months, and discussing the pet policy at several General Membership Meetings (including an advisory vote), the Board is moving to draft a revised pet policy that will allow members to transport their dogs from their car to their boat for the purpose of sailing. This will be a limited policy and will apply to 2018 only, after which we will evaluate whether to continue.
The second change involves a partnership with the City of Eugene to “co-locate” their Youth Sailing Program at EYC. The City would use the Youth Sailing Center and six of our Zuma Docks starting in July. Classes will have 10-12 young participants and meet Monday-Fridays at the club with parents visiting and sharing a sail on Fridays around noon. Again, the Board is in the process of working out the details, but this program will introduce 10-12 new families to EYC each week. From a business standpoint, this kind of advertising is priceless. We anticipate that our partnership will result in several new Junior Members as well as a few new Full Members. We are also blessed to have Chris Thomas and Michael Tieman as lead teachers with the City.
I recognize that change can be difficult. As I mentioned at the beginning, I am a “traditionalist” by nature. After all, as a minister, I work for a 2000 year old company! But we live in a changing world and EYC must continue to change and evolve to meet the future. Are we betting the farm on these changes? I don’t think so. We are betting on the flexibility and goodwill of our members to take some small steps that will potentially bring large dividends to our Club.
In closing, I want to again recognize the incredible spirit of volunteerism”that makes EYC what it is. In March, Matt Sprick accepted an appointment as our new 2nd Trustee. Matt is an active racer who brings a strong business and technical background to the Board. Please join me in welcoming Matt to the Board of Trustees. In just a few weeks we will gather for our annual Skippers and Mates dinner. Ken and Tina Hoffman have planned a delightful evening of food and fun for all. If you have not done so already, please get signed up to come and invite a friend to join you. Finally, thanks to the folks who have been on the grounds every weekend (and even weekdays) to help construct our new D Dock. We need all hands on deck March 24 & 25 to get these docks (and others) into place.
See you at the club!