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Minutes of the 2011 Competition Meeting

November 12, 2011
12:00 – 2:30 pm
Home of Shawn Burke and Monica Schnitger in Andover, MA

Minutes by Jack Beusmans

Present: Priscilla Reinertsen (President); Mike Ripple; Bob Allen, Dan Rabinkin, Ted Van Dusen, Shawn Burke, Peter Heed, Ted Kenyon, John Kazimierczyk, Steve Miller, Mark Wendolowski, Jack Beusmans. Francisco Urena joined at Agenda item #9.

1. Lunch

Excellent lunch provided by NECKRA with lots of homemade goodies by Monica and Shawn. 

2. Race Packet for 2012

A.   Attendance. Shawn Burke summarized attendance and participation data he compiled for 2011 Flatwater point series. Average attendance was 53 paddlers per race, without including Run of the Charles, which is an outlier with 278 participants. 60% of participants are NECKRA members. 28% of paddlers are kayakers, with big variation from race to race; most kayakers are not NECKRA members.  Participation by recreational and youth paddlers clustered in top six races.

There was a brief discussion about ways to increase attendance. Bob Allen commented that many participants are “one-timers” who have no intention of doing more racers.  Mark Wendolowski commented that there was a general lack of awareness of NECKRA. It was pointed out that big races also have huge advertising.

It was suggested that, if the race participant lists (email addresses if available) from the largest races could be obtained (Hockanam, Great Stone Dam, Scantic, 4th of July, Mystic River, etc.), then non-NECKRA members on this list could be sent a NECKRA recruiting letter and membership form.

B.     Number of point series races.  Priscilla Reinertsen: 22 – 24 Flatwater races for 2012; Nayaug not sure yet; Lighthouse-to-Lighthouse set for Sept 15.  3 additional Downriver races are planned; all 3 are Class 2 – 3 ½ water and more challenging than any of the current races. The difficulty of these races will need to be made clear in race promotions.

C.     Race scheduling. Ted Kenyon reported that attendance to the Pachaug had dropped a lot in recent years; they lost money this year because only 24 paddlers attended.  Plans to hold race at a different location in 2012 (Connecticut River, north of Hartford near the Farmington River) and the date will be after USCA Nationals, on August 18th. Name of the race is still to be determined.
Holyoke and Miller’s River are currently both scheduled for Saturday, Oct 6, 2012. Mark Wendolowski will coordinate with Shelley St. Cyr to make sure one race will be on Saturday, Oct 6, and the other on Sunday, Oct 7.

D.    Other considerations. Steve Miller commented that necanoe.org domain name will expire in 4/2012; suggested letting it expire as it is hardly used. NECKRA’s main domain name, neckra.org, is good until 12/2014.

Shawn Burke encouraged others to use social media such as Facebook and twitter.  Shawn will compile guidelines for their use by race directors.

Ted Van Dusen suggested that we standardize racing registration forms, racing classes and rules to combine boats/classes.  These suggestions will be included in the guidelines and manual for race directors being compiled by Priscilla Reinertsen.

3. NECKRA grants and budgeting process

Priscilla Reinertsen reports that NECKRA gave $350 each to Holyoke Rows and Lawrence Boat Club (supports summer program for seven kids).  Process needs to be formalized, with a brief report expected from the grant recipients. Shawn has suggested that a NECKRA member be a “sponsor” for each grant request.  (Post-meeting note:  Priscilla will work on a form for grant applications and recipient report on how the grant was used.)

Bob Allen commented that local clubs are the way to grow NECKRA. Mark Wendolowski commented that it has proven hard to get kids to races. Ideas were thrown out about a rebate for non-NECKRA members who join at a race or a discount for new members, but no action was determined. Race directors were urged to use their local newspapers for race promotion.

4. Membership

Discussed ways to increase membership.  Mike Ripple will forward membership database of past 4 years to Priscilla Reinertsen to identify lapsed members. To increase renewal rate it was suggested that email reminders be sent to all current and lapsed members with the offer of a membership discount if they renew by 3/1/2012 (after which date membership will increase by $5).  As membership fees cannot be increased at the Competition Meeting, this idea will need to be proposed at the next Annual Meeting.

John Kazimierczyk mentioned that slalom racers were able to grow their organization by having existing members commit to bring in one new member per year.

Shawn Burke commented that there is a general lack of knowledge of the benefits offered by NECKRA membership.

5. NECKRA hosting of USCA Annual Meeting or USCA Nationals

Peter Heed mentioned that NECKRA hosted the 1988 and 2002 Nationals and that it would be good if they came to New England again.   He also pointed out that it is a lot of work, requiring about 100 volunteers.  Possible sites would be Connecticut River, Concord, NH on the Merrimack Rivers. Mark Wendolowski mentioned that the Holyoke Chamber of Commerce had expressed an interest.

Priscilla Reinertsen expressed concern that NECKRA may not be up for it right now.

A USCA Nationals can expect 300-500 participants, with events from Tuesday to Sunday for adults and youth.  Requires large start area; large parking; indoor facilities, computer expertise, and much more.

Peter Heed, Shawn Burke, John Kazimierczyk and Jack Beusmans will explore feasibility of hosting USCA Nationals.

6. NECKRA newsletter to be referred to as a NECKRA publication.

Priscilla Reinertsen said that the scope of NECKRA’s newsletter has increased so that it should now be properly called a ‘NECKRA publication.’  Shawn Burke commented that each issue has over 1000 downloads.

7. Recreational Committee.

The current members of the Recreational Committee are too busy to be effective. A new person to take on the responsibility for the committee is being explored.

Shawn Burke mentioned plans to organize informal weeknight races and clinics in Lawrence at the site of the Great Stone Dam Classic.

8. Downriver racing support and promotion

Charlie Brackett and Eric Jones are being contacted regarding downriver promotion.  Mark is active in this regard. Following the high winds and water from hurricane Irene, there are significant downed tree problems for both the Scantic and Sturbridge Races. In an email sent before the meeting, Rosemary Longo-Nutt expressed her concerns about liability.

9. Kayak classes – clarification of hulls as a guide for race directors

Discussion took place about the proper classification of the Wavehopper downriver kayak.  Lou Carrier’s emails and those of Rosemary and Tim Nutt were read.  It was resolved that Mark Wendolowski will place disputed kayak hulls in appropriate categories and this will be done according to size only. Mark will check with the Sound Rowers group.  Surfski, ICF and Unlimited kayaks should be placed in the same Flatwater category.  For purposes of the Points Series, kayaks will be categorized as either recreational, touring or racing.  Race directors can decide on the categories of kayaks they offer for their races. 

Canoes that are 16% or more at the 4” waterline are categorized as rec canoes.  For Flatwater, C-2 Stock includes USCA Standard canoes and the 15% canoes recognized by NYMCRA.  Tandem 4 x 32 and 3 x 27 canoes are in the C-2 Racing category.  C-1 Racing canoes are the familiar USCA 4 x 32 solo hulls, while C-1 Stock includes those canoes recognized by NYMCRA.

10. Clarification for Point Series regarding races where a NECKRA member may enter more than one race at a given event; scoring of tandem canoes and kayaks.

Shawn Burke indicated that there had been some confusion regarding the awarding of points for a NECKRA member who enters more than one race during a race event. It was determined that only one race per event can be counted for the Points Series. It was further clarified that tandem partners get the same number of points.

11. Other

Bob Allen wants suggestions for the prizes for Points series winners for next year’s Annual Meeting/Awards.