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Google Goals and Development; the Resurgence of Whitby Yacht Club


When Stephen Brickell, Sailing School Director of the Whitby Yacht Club, speaks of a “google goal”, he refers to an unachievable goal; falling just short of an unachievable goal still means surpassing an achievable goal. Over the past few years, the Whitby Yacht Club had been experiencing declining enrolment. Brickell came on board as the club’s Director in 2014 and began immediately to implement massive changes to the club’s programs, introducing couples adult programs with childcare provided, and challenging instructors to do community outreach. Since then, the Whitby Yacht Club has seen tremendous growth. Not only did the sailing school grow by 20% in the first year of Brickell’s tenure, but when its membership completed a satisfaction survey, 95% indicated that the club “exceeded their expectations.”

For the current 2015 year, the aggressive “google goal” for the club’s sailing program was to enrol 200 people into its programs. Due to tremendous community-based marketing strategies and hard work, the Whitby Yacht Club has 189 people currently enrolled, and is expecting 100% of their goal. The sailing program is not the only field of growth that the Whitby Yacht Club is focusing on; the club is now considering adding a rowing program to its established roster of programs.

The Shells & Sails team visited the Whitby Yacht Club on June 24 and 25 in order to help the club better understand the local demand for a rowing program. The Shells & Sails the team joined the local sailing instructors in showing elementary school kids how to tie knots and rig sailboats in addition to teaching them basic sailing theory, and how to use the indoor rowing machine. Over the course of the week, approximately 500 kids visited the Whitby Yacht Club. In the afternoons, the Shells & Sails team worked with the club’s instructors and racers to get people out in some rowing and sail boats. There were a lot of participants that came specifically to try rowing, and the team had some local rowers come and volunteer their time to help build excitement about the sport.  These try it days were such a success that the Whitby Yacht Club is working with ROWONTARIO board member Jurgen Schubert to establish a rowing program. The goal for the Whitby Yacht Club is to develop a rowing membership next year.

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The Whitby Yacht Club is growing thanks to great goals, but also with hard, hands on work, by everyone at the club. Stephen Brickell will be speaking at the ROWONTARIO conference on November 28, 2015 about goal setting and local marketing tactics that were successfully employed to significantly increase the club’s membership. Stay tuned for more information about the conference!

In the meantime, if you or your club has equipment or boats that you are willing to loan or donate to the Whitby Yacht Club, this would go a long way to helping the club establish their rowing program.

Please contact Stephen Brickell at; any help would be much appreciated.