Tips For Starting A RC Sailing Club, Building A Fleet

I enjoyed building one of the largest one-design model sailing clubs (60 boats) in the country, and I did it in about 18 months in a rather unlikely location in Colorado.

There are certainly a number of ways to get the job done, but I my experience is proof that a little organization goes a long way.  Many think that you can just call a couple of sailors and go out and sail, and that is enough.  But the fact is, too informal just doesn’t work over the long term.

What follows are some simple ideas that work, and a few tips that will make your job easier.

Club/Fleet formation

Right from the get go, the organizer of the club should establish the structure of the club.  A non-profit entity is easy to set up and run, and it will give you the ability to have a bank account.  With a bank account, you can have a treasury, which you need for funding the supplies the club needs to be operational.  More on this later.

Forming a club right up front gives newcomers the confidence that you mean business and that buying into your club (getting a boat) is not going to end up being a lonely sail.  So just do it, and get it over with.

Establish a sailing schedule

Make a best effort at establishing a weekly sailing time.  There will be lots of opinions on this, but you must take the bull by the horns and make a decision.  You can always change the sailing time after a few months of trial.

I have seen many clubs ruined by everyone wanting to sail at a different time and trying to accommodate everyone.  The bottom line is – establish a schedule and stick to it.  Then everyone knows you will be sailing on Sat morning at 10 am, and if they are free, they know where to go and when.

Location, Location, Location

The most important requirement for your sailing venue is that it has steady wind that is down on the water.  This is a challenge, but check out a number of venues and sail there during your expected scheduled time to see what the wind is like.  Nothing ruins sailing fun more that poor wind conditions (light and swirling).

The second consideration is getting a shore line, or dock line, that is parallel to the dominent wind.  You need to sail up wind along the shore or dock if at all possible.  More on this when I discuss the race course.

Third, it is very helpful for the growth of your club to sail where there is lots of foot traffic.  Many lakes have exercise paths around them.  You will be amazed at the number of members that come from that exposure.

Necessary equipment

It is very important right off to purchase, or make, a set of buoys, and a battery operated CD player (for your start sequence).

Submitted by Steve Lang of