After work today, I have to rush to 'Langweer' the venue for one of my clubs annual event. This year it is a special event, since we hope to celebrate our 150-year anniversary. The club was founded in 1859 on August 10. We already had a small celebration with a book presentation on the exact date in the same café the club was founded in.... (For those of you who can read a little Dutch, go and visit www.kwvlangweer.nl)
Anyway, weather permitting, we hope to sail two races this weekend and this evening the sailors can register and get there SI and program books. Because of this anniversary we have bought a small 'keepsake' for every competitor and we have special prizes because of it, as well.
Why am I telling you this, you might ask?
Well because of this, we are enforcing the cut-off date for entry - being Monday August 24th at 20:00 hours - very strict.
I have had several phone conversations with sailors or sailor’s parents, who were very disappointed and upset, that they could not participate, because they forgot to enter on time. (We always had a closing date in past years, but accepted late entries nevertheless - sometimes with an added late penalty fee.)
I even got a call from a regional level race-management committee-member.
So I'm explaining again and again to different people why we followed this policy. We talked about it in our regatta committee and weighed pros and cons.
For example, the number of prizes is related to the number of sailors. I.e. 5-7 entries = two prizes; 8-11 entries = 3 prizes; 12-17 entries = 4 prizes, etc. With late entries we sometimes go over to the next 'level' and then I have to disappoint someone who's winning the fourth place by not having the actual prize. If you are twelve, that's a big deal.
Even with a stiff late penalty fee, last year we had 25 to 30 latecomers. They did not blink and paid up. Even on Friday evening for some of them. Mind you, I was happy to get them, seeing the decline in numbers for a couple of years, but it is an impossible situation for organizers.
People deciding on the weather forecast for the next day if they are going racing, might sound perfect, but if you need to organize the race it is a nightmare. Not only the prizes, but almost everything is related to how many sailors will actually participate. From getting the scoring program up to date, to checking the licenses, to deciding how big the prize giving accommodation needs to be, to you name it.
Some of the comments I was getting this week:
- The class told us they would enter everybody together!
- Every club does this, why can't you?
- If I decline to receive any prize, can I sail?
- But we didn't get back from holiday until yesterday!
There's always a reason, always an excuse. Individually some of them even valid or - worse - heartbreaking.
Lately I'm beginning to think that accepting late entries so easily last couple of years was a big mistake. We should have made it harder to get in, not easier! Then participating is worth something, then if you sail you have made that decision on time and are prepared. Then you really want to do it!
No doubt, I will have to explain this a couple of more times, tonight.
Wish me patience....