Developing a Fleet of 2000 Friends @ Thorney Island
7 Mar 2021 - by Jonathan Dannatt, Fleet Captain at Thorney Island SC
From 2 to 20 2000’s in 2020! OK, and 2019 but it doesn’t have quite the same ring. How? I hear you ask….
Thorney Island Sailing Club (TISC) has always had a few 2000’s within its ranks but I’m sure, as is common with many clubs, some have languished in the dinghy park unloved. So when asked if I would like to take on the position of 2000 Class Captain at TISC I was at first apprehensive as I also run the dinghy park which can absorb a surprising amount of my time.
But despite this I, along with the help of Simon Horsfield and Katie Burridge (whom I’m sure you’re all aware of) began what I thought was going to be a long term project to get as many 2000’s at TISC and on the water as possible.
Initially I rather selfishly thought, at least I’ll have more 2000’s to race against. I quickly realised that there was more to this though, as the fleet built and a ”fleet mentality” within the club also started to form and with that a feeling of something special possibly taking place.
My approach to trying to recruit more 2000 sailors was to firstly identify the people who were looking to either move up from smaller boats or were looking to maybe change class.
The second approach as the fleet built was to try and persuade existing sailors who weren’t intending to change boats that they should because we now had
a fleet building with all the associated benefits that it carries.
This I did by slowly “prodding” people metaphorically in the ribs (and sometimes literally) either by just chatting in the dinghy park or on the slipway or by plying them with beer in the bar until they said they would consider it! It was a fine balance between gentle persuasion and what some might have called coercion!
I also offered to go and look at second hand 2000’s with members if they wished me too and even offered to tow them back to TISC if they had no way of collecting them, unless of course this involved an overnight stop in Yorkshire or the Isle of Man, there are limits to a Class Captains generosity!
To help people identify a good 2000 I put together a list of all the things one should check on a second hand boat, some which could be asked in advance to avoid an unnecessary trip and other points to be visually checked on the day.
Once the ball was rolling it became to some degree self-perpetuating as we gathered more boats and had more 2000’s out sailing and racing. On one Sunday in between lockdowns we had 10 2000’s out racing in a fleet of
30 dinghies. It was a sight to behold that nearly brought a tear to my eye, although only nearly of course!
By now we were starting to build our own “little club” within the club and other sailors were taking note of how the fleet was growing. Once we had enough members I started a WhatsApp group to allow us to chat
and exchange ideas and information. I believe at the last count every 2000 owner in the club is part of the group and some who are yet to buy one but are looking to.
Running alongside this we had Simon & Katie not only offering general advice on and off the water but also setting up (in 2019) a session one evening where we invited people to bring their 2000’s to the clubhouse lawn where set up advice was offered and a coaching session relating to set up was held. All topped off with drinks in the bar afterwards of course. We have also during lockdown held a few Zoom online sessions covering various aspects, all helping to keep the TISC fleet camaraderie going during difficult times for all.
So to conclude, the hard work is in getting the ball rolling, once this is achieved it’s then just a matter of keeping everyone’s interest.
Forming a fleet community that everyone from families and new comers to the mid fleet sailors and national champions can feel a part of and welcome to has
been down to TISC ‘s members enthusiasm and friendliness and not me as Fleet Captain.
Beware the consequences of your success! You may well drop down your clubs fleet rankings as better sailors join…..as we have! But it’s well worth it as wherever you end up on the race course there’s always another 2000 to compete against! And that can’t be a bad thing…