Giving Our Club a Welcoming Face

By Tom Winskell

I wanted to write an article to explain to everyone who reads Flotilla why our club website is so crucial. The club has grown and flourished for 40 years without a website. So, why are we putting any effort into social media and the web? Is it really necessary?

To start, not a reason but a coincidence. I was listening to BBC Radio 2 just the other day. They were discussing the question; ‘should an organization have a website?’ At OHCC, we’re past this debate. We’ve already designed and published a website. Now we have to ask what that website can do for the club or even what it might do for sailing in Canada.

Sailing is in decline in Canada and across the world. I think this should inform our thinking and give us perspective when we talk about any club issue. The decline of our sport is well documented by a number of blogs, websites, and associations: just spend some time on savingsailing.com, a website devoted to the issues that surround the decline of sailing.

Ireland and the USA have taken initiatives to reverse this decline. Ontario Sailing is making huge efforts to do the same with their ‘Get Out On The Water’ initiative. National and Provincial leadership is important but means nothing unless we recognize the problem at a club level and follow their lead.

And why should you be part of the fight to combat the decline of sailing? There are many reasons. For me, it’s all about the reason I got hooked on sailing: the club atmosphere, the community, and the racing. That’s probably the main reasons why we all keep coming back for more. A club needs a continual supply of new members to develop into sailors that want to race against you! They provide you with a challenge on the start line, interesting conversation on the deck, and a community to be part of.

How does a website help? Why does a website help? A website is part of the face of our club. Our physical club is part of that face as well. Inside the club there are other elements that must work to encourage members into the club and crucially keep them coming back for more. One of these elements is the amazing Tuesday night feasts, a showcase of what OHCC is about.

The OHCC website is a showcase of our club as well. It’s the face that everyone sees first. Whether we like it or not, young and old, the internet is a central part in our lives. The internet informs our views, helps us make decisions, and allows us to communicate. In order to be able to show people what’s inside our club, we have to get them through the door. The website will bring people to our door and get them inside if we invest our time in making it great. We need to communicate our strengths, leave a lasting impression, keep it current, and make it a priority.

A website should not be a one-man job. I see the job of the webmaster as one of co-ordinating and managing. The content has to come from the experts, from those at the front line of what we do at the club. Without this content, without the details and photographs (people love photographs!) of the many events, gatherings, projects and initiatives, we fall short of showing potential members what OHCC is all about. My message is that the contributions that you as members make, and only you as members can make, will bring new members to our club and new people into sailing.

I’m asking that everyone looks for an opportunity to create and bring content to the website. If you are on a powerboat on a Tuesday night, take a camera. Race officers or participants in a regatta, can write short articles. Just want to contribute? Why not use your wealth of experience to write something for the website about what to wear when you go sailing, what it’s like to be a member at OHCC, or how racing works. These are the kind of things that make our website unique and leave a lasting impression.

I hope that I have stirred something in everyone. OHCC is a fantastic club with brilliant members. People deserve to know all about us and what we do! If you have any questions or want to talk about an idea then you can e-mail me at any time at tomwinskell@gmail.com


The April 2015 Flotilla Newsletter is also available as a PDF. Learn more about the Flotilla Newsletter.

Published by

Tom Winskell

OHCC member and 2015 Webmaster. Sailing Fanatics lead.