We Need Your Duck!

Dear Boat Owner

Apologies for the impersonal email, You are not the only one receiving this letter, I am contacting all the RIB owners I know in the local sailing community. I am addressing this to you because you are an active member in the South African sailing community and own a rubber duck.

As you may have heard, the Optimist Continental Championship will be held in Langebaan in September/October 2022. A bid was presented at the 2021 Class AGM in Riva del Garda and the event was awarded to South Africa. It will be held in Club Mykonos  from 24th September to 1st of October. We expect approximately 12 African countries to attend and no less than 3 Non-African countries have indicated interest to send a team. If the 2013 Africans (that were also held in Club Mykonos) are anything to measure by, we could attract as many as 60 sailors. It won’t be as crowded as a European Championship, but still an event worthy of note that requires some careful organizing by the committee that has been established.

My role in this organizing machine is to source, organize and manage the RIBs that will have to be used to run the event, and that is why I am writing to you.

This African Championship will require quite a few RIBs and they have to comply to certain standards set out by IODA. Each attending country will send a team of sailors and a coach. The coach will need a rubber duck to tow, coach and assist his/her sailors. Two nations share one support boat. If we have 16 Nations attending, we will need 8 rubber ducks for coaches alone. Two more rubber ducks are needed for the International Jury, umpiring on the racecourse, and another one is required for the measurers to perform spot checks on the finish line. For mark laying and Rescue (coaches are not allowed to enter the racing area) a further 6 rubberducks are needed, and for peace of mind, ferrying equipment, and to keep as spare, a further 2 rubberducks are required.

So, you see, I have to source no less than 19-20 rubber ducks to borrow for this event, and you are the proud owner of a RIB.

The event is run on a shoestring budget and breaking even is our main goal; we don’t think there will be any profit. The main motivation for Optimist SA to run the event is to renew the interest towards the class that has suffered a slow but progressive decline in number of sailors, and to bring into the country a number of newer Optimist dinghies to replace the current fleet that is becoming obsolete. We need to borrow these RIB, and they have to conform to minimum IODA standards (IODA is the International Optimist Association).

I draw your attention to the fact that we would like to borrow these RIBS; at the moment there is no monetary compensation involved. On the NoR of the event you will notice that competing countries will pay a charter fee for the use of the RIB and you may be wondering why I am not passing this income directly to you, the boat owner. The first reason is that only 6 or 7 of the 20 rubber ducks that I am looking for will attract a charter fee. The other two thirds of the fleet are not attracting a charter fee. I have to collect and deliver these RIBS, some may have to be recertified to go to sea, some may need insurance, and there are mooring fees and possibly some maintenance costs here and there that we may incur into. If, and only if, at the end of the regatta we can offer you something more than a bottle of wine and a T-Shirt, we will do so.

The next unpleasant item on the agenda is that we want to borrow your rubber duck, but we don’t necessarily need you to come along. Particularly with the coach boats, the rubberducks will be crewed by two coaches from different countries, they drive rubber ducks all year long and know how to drive, so your boat will be in safe hands. For the rescue crafts and mark laying boats we will rely on volunteers. If you would like to volunteer for this event, you could end up driving your own boat. In the unlikely event that the judges or the measurers will not have a skipper’s license, it is possible that we may ask one of the volunteers to be a designated driver, and therefore you may possibly be required to drive your own boat if it is assigned to them.

I need to know whether you could be interested in driving your rubber duck at the Championship as a volunteer. There is no guarantee that we will ask you, but it is important to know whether you are interested and available. In that case, the T-Shirt and wine deal can be upgraded to T-Shirt, wine and lunch packs on the water.

Rubber ducks must be RIB, no soft bottom, they are expected to be approximately 4.7 m long, must have kill switch, must be reliable and have current CoF for the country where they are being used.

If you are receiving this request to borrow your rubber duck it is because I have seen your rubber duck and I know it is suitable for our purposes. This email serves uniquely to assess your willingness to lend your rubber duck, should you indicate that you are willing to help us, a more detailed checklist will be sent to you, so that I can better organize the use of your boat and safeguard it.

For now, you need to know that the basic parameters of the loan will be as follows:

1      The loan is rental free, you will not receive any monetary compensation. The customary bottle of wine and a Event T-shirt will be all that you receive from us as thank you.

2      Although the boat will be skippered by experienced drivers, damage possibilities exist. Any damage will be repaired by the event organizers. You will receive the boat in the conditions you have provided it.

3      Should your boat have CoF for inland waterways, we will upgrade that to 1 mile seagoing at no cost to you

4      Should your boat require work to be made ready, we will endeavor to manage such work, but costs will be borne by you

5      Transport to and from the venue is for the organizers to take care of, that is me, Stefan.

6      You are not going to have the use of your boat during the event, nor are your driving services required during the championship; your boat will be skippered by a coach or an event volunteer. If you would like to be part of the volunteers team, there is a possibility that you may drive your boat after all, but lending us the boat does in no way guarantee that we will require your driving services.

7      The boat will be stored in a secure compound or at a secure mooring during the event

8      The boat will have to be insured. If you don’t have insurance, I will need to insure it for the duration of the event at cost to us, If you decide to retain the insurance afterwards you will take over the payments.

9      You will provide the RIB with a full tank and we will be returning it with a full tank.

The final agreement will be a little longer than the above 8 points, but won’t be too complicated. For now , as I said, I need to know whether you are willing to lend us your boat or not; a simple yes or no will suffice, but you are welcome to elaborate and comment. Please reply to my email even in the event of a negative response; it helps me tick off the list names without having to chase people for an answer. If you are unsure about something and need more details to commit, please ask me questions.

In the event of you replying yes, I thank you and will send you a more detailed checklist to help me organize the fleet and an agreement letter.

Thank you

Stefan Falcon

073 438 9086