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Private boats as dust collectors… What can we do about it?

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Almost all rowing clubs offer their club members the opportunity to store private boats. It’s a great service for active rowers who want to row their own boats. But what if the private boat only serves as a dust collector because there is little or no rowing. Do you know this situation? We have asked around f0r you in various clubs. Here are our results!

Privatboot als staubfänger - wer will das
Private boats as dust collectors…

Private boat as dust collectors: a common phenomenon

We spoke to 12 clubs. Everyone knows this phenomenon: The result is not representative, but interesting:

  • Almost 15% of the storage space in boathouses is used for private boats.
  • All spaces are paid for.
  • Costs per boat place / seat: 85-600 euros p.A. (about £75-£535/$100-$635).
  • about 45% of the boats row less than 500 km (about 310 miles) p.A.
  • the stored boats are on average> 25 years old, one even dates from 1972.
  • Wooden boats / skiffs from Stämpfli dominate.
  • Almost all boat owners are older than 55 years

There is often a conflict situation within the clubs. Eric from Germany says: “We have a really old boat of a member here. The boat has not been in the water for at least 7 years. The owner is 78 years old and will probably never row again. Nobody on the board dares to speak to this colleague because he was one of the most influential members in the 1990s. He donated a lot of money to the club.” Catherine from France reports something similar: “We have a boat that hasn’t been rowed since 2002. It belongs to an ex-U19 world champion. Despite several requests to take his boat off the shelf or donate it to the club, we don’t get an answer.”
 

Try to solve conflicts

If you look at the owners of the boats in the 12 clubs, they are mainly:

  • former board members
  • former top athletes
  • big financial supporters of the club
  • active mastersrowers
  • Coaches
  • Wealthy families

Strategies

Increase fees:
The cheapest, private boat place that we could find in Germany was 85€ per year. A real bargain. Disposing a boat is more expensive. Raising the price is a sensitive issue though. Many clubs try not to do it – especially when it comes to long-term members.
Introduce criteria:
Does it make sense for you to store boats that are no longer being rowed? Are there boats that are rowed by several club members? Can the club also use the stored boat? One can certainly think about criteria under which the club stores private boats.
Take your time: You do not have to find a perfect solution for the private boats instantly.
It makes sense to give the boat owners a period of time within which they can decide what they want to do. Why not 18 or 24 months? There is enough time to find a solution.

No general solution

There is no generally applicable solution. Every club must – if they want to change something – act appropriately to their situation. We think a combination of several elements makes sense. A board member of a rowing club at the Rhine came to the following solution for his club:
Change of private boat places:
From January 1st, 2022, all private boat places will be re-advertised. The private boat places are allocated for 3 years. From this period onwards, boat places cost an annual fee (currently 280.00 €). If the boats are rowed less than 300 km, the boat owners lose their boat place at the end of the respective calendar year.
So our recommendation is a mix of different elements:

    • Change of storage regulations within 18 months.
    • Cost of the boat place in the amount of a membership fee p.A.
    • Minimum number of rowed kilometres per year of something around 300km.
    • Variation in storage costs when using the boat by the club as well.
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