Scuttlebutt Editor Craig Leweck regularly reads Snake Bytes reflecting his long-term interest with in the Class. In the last issue of Sailing World he did an article on Group 3 pros in one-design racing and incorporated some thinking the Class had shared with him about how we successfully manage…and welcome…Group 3s to sail with us…under our terms!
This morning he received Snake Bytes and picked-up on the Words from the Prez article from Dr. Jim Sears, outgoing Viper Class Prez. Craig added some interesting and compelling context to Jimbo’s comments boosting further the imagery of the Viper 640 as the sportboat to race. Here’s Craig’s posting:
by Craig Leweck, Scuttlebutt
When the Viper 640 Class gathers in Bermuda for its International Championship on November 16-19, there will be 46 teams representing five countries to compete for the title. But if all goes well for the class, the title for the event might get a new name: World Championship.
World Sailing controls awarding the title of World Championship to ensure that the highest of standards are met. And at World Sailing’s 2016 Annual Conference on November 5-13, among the items on the docket for the governing body will be the application by the Viper 640 Class to become an official World Sailing class.
This is the step needed for there to be a Viper 640 World Championship.
“As the Executive Committee and Governors went through the process of applying for World Sailing membership, we realized two things,” explained Class President Dr. Jim Sears. “First, being a recognized World Sailing Class will do a great deal in expanding the footprint of the Viper 640 around the world. That growth will mean more regattas, more destinations at which to race, and more Viper friends. Perhaps it’s this last point that is the most important.
“The second thing we discovered when going through the World Sailing process is that we recognized we aren’t just another ‘class of sailboats’, one that goes through the motions of racing and class management without a soul of the class. In fact, during one of the World Sailing discussions, one of us proclaimed that the Viper 640 Class Association is the garage band of sailing.
“Yes, we have great boats, hold world-class regattas, and have a working, viable class management structure. But what we also have is the soul that many classes lack: a passion for the boats, racing them and being with the others who race them against us. Just like an indie garage band can turn out great music, the Viper Class turns out great sailing. And, even if we get ‘signed’ by World Sailing, the music we make both on and off the water, will continue to have its tempo, sound, and bite!”
I wholeheartedly agree with Jim. It is those classes with soul, with a nurturing culture, filled with folks that fit well on bar stools, are those that flourish. When the focus is too narrow, and aims at only competition, than the stability of the class suffers. Make it hard for people to leave the class, and your class will have a strong future.