survey says..

The 2012 One-Design Index and Class Survey: A New Floor

Before I get to the 2012 class rankings, which is a measure of relative class participation, I think it’s important to consider participation in sailboat racing over the last year more generally. A few years ago I created the One-Design Index to measure participation levels in the sport for each year. This year the index is the lowest since I started taking the data. The index is simply the sum of the attendance numbers for each year’s top 25 championships in North America by number of boats. Unlike the ranking, the index does not use three year averages.

What this means, in simpler terms, is that most National and North American championships had attendance levels around ten year lows last year. This information will not come as a surprise to most class officers and regatta organizers. Hopefully this index can be used in the future to measure how well we turn things around.

While I’m not the guy with the big idea that will reverse this trend, I can offer one simple idea that will be a step in the right direction.

Rule number 1: Never ever insult another man’s boat.

No mater how slow, out of date or otherwise un-cool you may think the X class is, the people who sail in that class love their boats and more importantly love sailing them. We need more of that. By all means, go out and promote your particular class, but don’t feel the need to tear down another class to do it. People choose the boat that fits their needs and desired. Respect their choice. It’s what gets them on the water and that is what the sport needs most.

The One Design Survey Results for 2012 are here with an explanation of how the ranking is calculated. I’ll post the top 40 classes and corrections in the forum.


Let me review the un-scientific method for determining this list of the top twenty five one-design classes in North America. What I have done is taken the number of boats competing in each class North American or National Championships for each year. The location of the championship is also included. I think this is a good measure of relative class size and activity. To rank the classes I use the average number of boats over the last three years. Classes don’t technically need to be strict one-design so long as all the boats are designed to a rule and not a handicap.

Many classes do not hold National or North American class championships in a year where there is a world championship in the country. These are the NA’s noted in the ranking year above. For these classes the three year average includes the 2009 number.

This list has some notable exceptions. The first is that there are no junior classes on the list. I define a junior class as a class that has a maximum age requirement in their rules. Both the 29er and the Butterfly slip under the bar on this one.

I have also not included ice boats. If I had the DN would be at the top of the list every year and is by far the world’s most popular ice boat.

I have excluded jr classes and ice boats not because I have any inherent prejudice against them but because you don’t need a survey to tell you what classes are at the top of these segments of the sport. As I mentioned the DN is the top ice boat every year and since it is sailed on a different surface than soft water boats they are not really in competition with the classes on this list. A similar thing is true with jr classes. There is a small number of them and it’s relatively easy to figure out what jr boats are most widely sailed. Jump in the thread….

Send comments, corrections and complaints to,
Roger Jolly
[email protected]