All those who sail Fireballs know what a great class we have. The boat is a joy to sail, the people love to have fun on and off the water and we get to attend regattas in some pretty amazing places.
The purpose of this section on the web site is to provide material and ideas from members and NCA's that can be used around the globe to promote the class.
The methods used will vary from country to country and will depend on the target audience.
It is hoped that by sharing these methods we can get new ideas on how to grow our local fleets and make the class stronger as a whole.
If you have some information that you would like to share or even some questions please email the class Marketing Representative -
Ben Schulz - firstname.lastname@example.org
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Come and Try Days
One of the major ways Fireball has encouraged youth to enter the Fireball fleet in South Australia has been the regular running of "Come and Try" days.
Invitations are sent to all you classes seen as feeder classes such as the 420, International Cadet and 125s.
The day is held on the morning of a State Championship heat when the fleet is visting the target club.
One sailor from the boat takes out numerous people throughout the morning for a joyride and a few short races.
The age of the youth isn't important. It is often found that children as young as eight turn up. What is important is to introduce the youth to the class and give them the opportunity to try a Fireball. After a number of years of coming to the "Come and Try" sessions we find that the youth become dedicated followers of the class and eventually find a ride in a boat when they are old enough.
The mornings sailing is usually finished with a free barbeque lunch for all those who attended. This gives a chance to meet the Fireball sailors and ask prenty of questions.
Mandurah Fleet Project
In the lead up to the Mandurah Worlds Fireball Australia saw the opportunity to build a new fleet in Mandurah. This would not have been possible without the enthusiasm of a couple of locals in Mandurah and the hard work of members of the Fireball fleet.
Fireball Australia sought out two old boats, one for $500 and one for a carton of beer. From there the hard work began restoring these boats so they were race ready. There were plenty of long nights of sanding, glassing and bogging before the boats could be repainted. Fittings, sails and spars were donated by members of the fleet from their spares.
The two boats were then shipped to Mandurah where they were made available to sailors to try out the class. The boats were put up for sale and within a few months both had been sold to locals.
With the proceeds, plus the encouragement that the class could be established, Fireball Australia went out and bought another four boats. At the same time it helped three more locals purchase good second hand boats. These seven boats, again after a bit of love and tenderness were shipped to Mandurah in time for their largest dinghy regatta of the year.
Three Fireball sailors flew in to Mandurah for the regatta, setting up the new fleet - now totalling nine. A weekend of on and off the water coaching was supplied to anyone who wanted to give the boats a go.
Over the space of the weekend three of the four Fireball Australia boats were sold to members with the last boat transferred to the local club to help promote the class further.
A bit of vision by a couple of Fireball members coupled with plenty of enthusiasm has resulted in a state with no Fireballs having 11 boats at the time of the worlds.
To maintain these numbers after the worlds a number of coaching clinics have been held through the winter with top Fireball sailors flying in from Adelaide and passing on their knowledge.
A travel assistance program has also been put in place to encourage the new fleet to travel to the upcoming Nationals in South Australia.
UK Association Boat
The UK Fireball Association has put together a brand new Fireball with the help of sponosrs.
Applicants were invited to apply for use of the boat for the 2012 season with the aim of attraction good sailors to the class.
Once the sailors are lured in for the year the hope is that they will be hooked and buy a boat. On top of this they encourage their friends to look at Fireballs too.
Applicants must be under 26 years of age and are expected to race the boat in the 7 Open Meetings which make up the Golden Dolphin Series, and the National Championships. The boat is made available to sail in any other Fireball Event including the European and World Championships.
Gold, Siver and Bronze Fleets
In the UK the fleet races as one but a second set of results are produced with the fleet broken into Gold, Silver and Bronze fleets.
At the beginning of the regatta each boat is assigned to a fleet based on their experience and past performance.
By running the fleets in this manner it provides boats in the middle and tail of the fleet prizes to race for.
In Australia they do a simlar thing using handicaps assigned to each boat based on past performance.
Direct Marketing to Feeder Classes
Advertising to and having a presence around the feeder classes.
Running Fireball racing at major youth regattas with banners up promoting the fleet.
Mail outs, emails and phone calls to target youth.
In Class Coaching
In the United Kingdom coaching weekends are held throughout the year for the middle and back ends of the fleet. These weekends are run by top Fireball Sailors such as Tim Rush and Adam Bowers. They pass on their knowledge and insight helping improve the standard of the fleet.
The effect of these weekends is two fold. Firstly it provides encouragement to these sailors increasing retention rates. Secondly it can be seen by others looking to enter the fleet as a drawcard.
Feeder Class Coaching
In Adelaide the Fireball class has been the preferred next step after youth classes in clubs where the Fireball sailors run the youth coaching programs. Generally youth want to race in the class where they see their coaches - the people they look up to, racing and winning. They feel comfortable entering the class as they know some of the sailors and more naturally intergrate into the class.
This has been emphasised at Adelaide Sailing Club in recent years where a different senior class has taken over the coaching and now they are getting the youth. By contast at Largs Bay Sailing Club, Fireball has taken on the coaching and won over the youth.
It is clear that to get the youth Fireball needs to be running the coaching at club level.
Youth Incentive Schemes
These can be as simple as free membership for the first year or free entry to the national championchips.
Another is the provision of youth travel grants to help cover costs of getting to regattas.
"Team Fireball" - Development Squads
Based on the concept of "Team P & B".
Fireball set up a team of youth sailors from all different classes who are showing high potential.
Team members would be provided with kit labelled as "Team Fireball" and a small level of sponsorship per annum.
Team members would also be invited to a special Fireball coaching clinic with top Fireball sailors as coaches.
The "Team Fireball" approach while costing a little provides a very powerful level of marketing. We can publicise to the sailing magazines when team members do well at events.
Youth sailors will see the team members in their "Team Fireball" kit and the benefits they get and aspire to become members of "Team Fireball".
This again gets our foot in the door with the youth classes and make Fireball the class youth want to be involved in.
Sailing Promotional days Run by Fireball
Thinking a bit ouside the box, this concept is to put on days that promote sailing at it's best. The example put forward was to organise a day of match racing on ex Americals Cup Yachts. Youth / target sailors would be invited along to participate in the day, going away with a memory that would last. Where Fireball benefits is as the host of the event - placing the seed in the sailor's minds that Fireball is outgoing, adventurous and a class that provides a great experience.
Another example would be to organise a day sailing 18 foot skiffs.
The actual day doesn't necessarily need to be a sailing experience. It is more about the wow factor. The thought that Fireball did this for me. A day driving racing cars for instance.