Responding to this question: "Any suggestions on how to get more Gulf area Viper sailors to sail in Gulf area events like SYC is hosting? Also thoughts on participation is a result of price, product and promotion. What to do to increase participation?"
I don't know enough yet about what makes Viper sailors in the Gulf tick. I can share things that have worked for when I've been fleet captain / event chair for successful fleets/events. None of this is rocket science, but it does take a fair amount of legwork:
1. Individual communication - whether phone, in-person meeting, or personalized emails. You need to know what makes someone tick - what are their motivations for sailing and what are their obstacles.
2. Remove the easy obstacles to sailing. When someone says they can't sail, reasons often boil down to the following. Some of them are fixable by a motivated fleet captain / event chair, some are not. Annotations below:
a. I don't have crew (EASY FIX - just need to know that in advance - we can help find crew)
b. Something on my boat is broken (OFTEN AN EASY FIX - folks have spares usually and can share knowledge to help put it back together - also requires advance notice)
c. I am frustrated that I don't do better at these events (EASY FIX - you need to show up though. We can find a more experienced sailor to jump in, do clinics / practice, have certain people tune up with you before / between races, and have post-race debriefs - we've done all of these things before and it's one of the main reasons people like showing up to these events, even if they are unlikely to finish on the podium)
d. These events are too expensive and money is tight (HARDER FIX but the conversation is helpful for event chairs to know how many people fall into this camp for future planning. Viper sailors are not fancy and it's the least spendy of the sportboat classes due to not paying crew, sail purchase limits, affordable used boats, etc., but sailing costs money. There are times we've helped people find inexpensive used sails / donated sails, helped set program goals for regattas to prioritize based on limited time/budgets, etc., but the feedback is very useful)
e. I / my team doesn't have time since work is really hectic (HARD FIX - do what you need to do there - sailing comes second and you need to pay the bills to be able to sail. The gutting of leisure time has been the main contributing factor in my opinion to the decline in sailing participation over the past 33 years)
f. Someone on our team / family is ill (HARDEST FIX - thoughts and prayers. Health and family come first).
3. Get the low hanging fruit to sign up first. Entries beget entries. People like signing up for events where a lot of other people have signed up early and often so they avoid FOMO when it turns out to be a large regatta.
4. To get people to sign up early, go back to # 1. It'd be nice if everyone signed up as soon as you send a blast email, but sadly for me and my free time, it rarely works that way. But I'd love to see that change.
5. Once you have a lot of entries, stay organized, know who your fence sitters are, and follow-up with them regularly.