New memberships at the North Okanagan Sailing Association have seen some rough waters in the last few years.
The economy is partly to blame for the drop in numbers, but NOSA also believes the unfamiliarity of the sport plays a major role in the lack of new families joining.
“It’s getting people over the threshold of stepping into a boat and being dependant on the wind,” said Marc Reinarz, director of marketing at NOSA.
“That is why a bit of training is good, but once they get comfortable with it they take off, we can’t keep them off the boats.”
The decrease in numbers isn’t a result of members losing interest. The issue is attracting new members to the sport.
“Our problem lately is that we tend to get a lot of people who have been doing this for a long time, we’re not getting a lot of new families,” said commodore John Holmwood.
The result is a strong core of members who are passionate about the sport and love sailing, but in order to keep NOSA afloat it relies on new families, specifically younger families with children.
With the recent economy, getting younger families to join has proven difficult. However, the belief that sailing is expensive is a common misconception.
“Everyone uses it as an excuse, people don’t care for spending the money on sailing not realizing how cheap it really is to sail,” said Reinarz.
A yearly membership at NOSA is only $280 per family and only $250 if you register before the May deadline.
In addition, members can receive up to $100 in rebates with a few volunteering efforts, making sailing a relatively inexpensive summer activity.
Purchasing a boat can be expensive, but NOSA has a program in place that allows members the use of any of the club boats at a small yearly fee.
“You don’t have to put out the outlay of buying a boat for yourself, you can come down and use these ones. We’ve got small boats, big boats and the catamaran,” said Holmwood.
The program allows users to test each type of boat and help decide what type of sailing they might be interested in pursuing.
NOSA events include regattas, weekly races and the recently introduced armadas.
The first armada for this year is coming up on Sunday, with the second scheduled for mid-August.
The instructors are also hoping to draw attention to the possibility of a racing team.
“It’s hard to articulate all of the advantages, all of the things we have to offer,” said Holmwood.
“People see a note that says come join the sailing club and think, ‘I don’t have a sail,’ well that’s not necessarily an issue.”
For more information, or if you would like to become a member, visit www.nosa.bc.ca or call 250-260-4255.