Jul 3, 2008, 8:40 AM
This was written by Ken Legler (college coach, event PRO, etc.), commenting on the issues that face the advancement of Team Racing:
US Team Racers,
This past Sunday I had the pleasure of watching and commentating on the finals of the Charles River Open Team Race. As expected, the level of competition was incredible. With an ESE wind, and a race committee squeezing a good course in right next to the dock, the view was fabulous.
On Monday I followed the link from Matt Lindblad's letter in Scuttlebutt to the results. Due to the random team names, the results were almost totally meaningless. In order to see how well the players did, and I know most of them, I had to go to the entry page and write down my own short hand version of what I would call the teams such that I could go back to the results and figure out who did what.
There are a couple of team names that are familiar not only to those in attendance, but to the world of team racing. We all know the reigning World Champs Silver Panda and the former champs WHishbone. Then there's Larchmont, an international contender for the last few years, just as New York Yacht Club has been at both dinghy and keelboat team racing for some time.
At the CRO, it seems every team except Panda made up a cute name just for the event. When I asked a player why they didn't keep their old name, they said they couldn't because they had a new player. Of course they had a new player; no team is going to use the same six sailors in every event, every year. Imagine if the Boston Red Sox changed their name every time they made a trade, acquired a free agent, or brought up a minor leaguer. Their marketing power wouldn't exist.
Where's your marketing power, or the marketing power of the sport in general, when no one has any idea who is racing? Not to pick on any particular team, but two excellent teams, Larchmont and Woonsocket Rockets, morphed their names into Larchbone and JoeLawLoe and the Rockettes to account for new players. What's wrong with the Wadlows sailing for Larchmont or Loe sailing for Woonsocket. I would think they would be honored to represent teams that have stood for excellence in the past, even if they sailed for other teams of equal or even greater stature before.
If you want to raise money for your team to compete abroad, or raise awareness for the sport in the general, you need to have team names that people can root for (and support). Team Pindar, Team Shosoloza, and ENNZ are making big money in match racing. Where's your team racing fame and fortune? It could happen if you make it happen.