Thoughts on NAMBA

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David Santistevan

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Joined
Aug 5, 2011
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1,272
First off these are just some of my personal thoughts.

Over the past 5 years, I have had the privilege of working with NAMBA at all levels. From the district level to the National level, I have helped in most aspects of the NAMBA operations.
I really wanted to share some thoughts I have had about NAMBA and to a large degree IMPBA, as they are both subject to the same types of challenges. Right now our hobby is facing some challenges, but I do believe that most of them are solvable with the right efforts and resources. We have some pretty impressive resources at our disposal in the aggregate as a group and we just need to leverage those resources in a focused way.

Over the past five years we have made some awesome changes to help the organization move forward. The efforts for our online presence have paid big dividends and we are really in our infancy with those efforts. Quite honestly, I believe the future of the organization depends on it, as we must recruit new, young members to keep us viable. This is where young people are getting their view of the world, so if we hope to attract them we have to go where they go.

When I started in model boating back in the late 1970s, model boating was growing at a very rapid rate. I could go into my local hobby store (where I saw my first model boat) and see and buy them. I could get fuel, props, the hull and engines all from the local store. Over the years the hobby has become much more diverse in the type of hulls and power plants, plus there are an infinite combination of them. For a new boater it is a daunting task to figure out what to buy and where to buy it, as the hobby stores cannot possibly carry so many different items where the volume for any one is so little.
Unfortunately, technology has made us an instant gratification society, so there are few builders anymore and a lot of folks want to take things out of the box and use them. While I don’t think this is bad, we need to recognize that this is a fact of life now. I think we need to consider this in trying to attract new boaters. This was so completely obvious when the ARF models made their way into the hobby stores. I had always been very interested in planes but never had any desire to build one. After the ARF revolution, I jumped in with both feet.

NAMBA as an organization also needs to change and evolve. We have been trying to do things the way we have always done them, with a focus on the very near term results. We have allowed the President of NAMBA to become a referee, where he should be the long term visionary of the organization. The three officers together should be working on the future of NAMBA and finding ways to increase the value of services NAMBA provides to its members. The Board of Directors that is made up of the officers and the District Directors should be the managing element of the day-to-day racing, dealing with conflicts and issues arising from the districts. Only in the most severe or serious situations should the President be involved in situations arising out of the districts. The NAMBA officers do not know all the people and nuances of situations in each district, therefore the District Directors need to be the primary face of NAMBA for these issues.
So here is my recipe for where we go from here:

1) We need to restructure the responsibilities of the officers so that the President and Vice President’s responsibilities are to move the organization forward. This includes recruiting new membership, determining the services that NAMBA needs to offer to its members, evaluating new ideas and evaluating and assessing NAMBA’s value to its members.

2) District Directors need to be a much more organized group managing the day-to-day conflict of the organization. They should talk regularly on a to discuss what is going on in the districts and share ideas of how things are being done and how problems are being handled.

3) NAMBA needs to formalize its safety program. Each district must appoint or elect a safety officer who is charged with making sure that the NAMBA safety rules are followed. Our national Safety Chairman must also coordinate and hold regular con calls with the district safety officers to keep everyone on the same page as to ESTABLISH A CONSISTENT safety policy and procedures across all districts. This is paramount to making sure we can control our insurance costs and keep and acquire new ponds.

4) NAMBA needs to establish a Race CD development and support program. This will allow us to develop a pool of race CDs that will be able provide a consistent, competent calling of races and a program to mentor and develop new Race CDs. The result of this effort will be a pool of available scored CDs on their abilities to handle races of various sizes and complexity. I can see this group being very important in interpreting and applying rules consistently across all districts.

5) The NAMBA Nationals Event needs some real help. I think the NATS are one of the most impressive things NAMBA does for its membership. NAMBA needs to form a Nationals Committee that will handle the administration and production of the NAMBA Nationals. This will allow us to have a consistent offering where resources such as sponsors, activities, and registration are identified and managed to relieve the local clubs and districts of those hardships in putting on the event. Now clubs and districts may be much more inclined to sponsor an event knowing that a lot of planning and preparation are already done. Contracts with vendors can be negotiated for years in advance with better guarantee of the consistency of representation for the vendor and support for NAMBA. The costs of producing the events will significantly drop as we formalize and make processes more efficient. An experienced nationals team will be much better equipped to negotiate for accommodations, food and amenities. In the end we will have a much richer and consistent offering wherever the NAMBA Nationals go.

6) We need to work with our vendors/providers to come up with standard out-of-the-box offerings. NAMBA needs a website where we can advertise our vendor and their offering to our members. We just need to get folks into the hobby with their first boat. Once they are there then they are engaged and can determine what other interests they may have.

7) We need to advertise. We are invisible to the world a lot of times. We are not really represented in the hobby store and in most cases we are not where folks can see how much fun this hobby is. I believe that we need to go to car racing events and set up kiosks to showcase the boats and talk with car guys about boating. This is a kindred sport with the same type of mechanical and competitive glitter. Like all organizations, the car guys often times get tired of the politics of their group and may look for other ways to express their competitive spirits. We need a solid online advertising campaign using all the social media tools at our disposal. Remember that with a single boat I can reach three thousand people interested in model boating today.

8) Lastly, and probably the most contentious of the ideas, is that NAMBA and IMPBA need to work together. I know there are long standing cultural differences between the organizations but in reality it’s not that complicated. I have raced IMPBA and I really did not have any trouble adapting to their rules. In fact, a lot of D3 runs in a very hybrid way of running races. I have raced all over the country and it’s not all that different. NAMBA is currently around 1500 members and I believe that IMPBA is somewhere around 1000 members. By working together, we are a group of 2500 members and have a much bigger group when negotiating insurance contracts and providing services to our members.

JMHO
Happy Thanksgiving

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Jerry Dunlap

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Joined
Apr 1, 2002
Messages
4,036
Well, that's a Thanksgiving platter that stuffed with many courses.

A few observations from someone who has been actively involved for 51 years.

I believe a "trained pool of CDs" exists in both NAMBA and the IMPBA. The IMPBA actually has a CD certification program. That being said, judging model boating events will never reach a point where there is consistency. I base this on what is currently happening in professional football and baseball. There are many instances in both sports where a ruling on the field has been overturned by, "upon further review ruling on the field is reversed." And, you have highly skilled referees and umpires making calls that get overturned. I certainly don't see either model boating organization having the financial capability to obtain replay equipment. In many model boating "incidents," too much happens too fast to render what might be considered a fair judgement.

"Standard out of the box offerings" for nitro are still expensive. As an example, 20 Tunnel: VS 1 hull is Tower priced at $160, O.S. 21 Outboard is $400, radio and servos somewhere around $150 or more, starting equipment, some basic tools, 50% fuel at least $100 probably more. That's like $850 which you could get $60 off by joining the Super Savers. Sure, someone getting out of the hobby would sell this for probably 1/3 of the cost. But that isn't a vendor.

I agree with your comments regarding safety issues. That would be much easier to implement than the Nationals topic. The reality of NAMBA Nationals is attendance is based on how many model boaters reside within the District hosting the event. Sure, there are the "die hard" participants. I would suspect the 2017 NAMBA Nats will be well attended. It is going to be in Las Vegas and there's lots of model boaters in District 19 and 9. It is also expensive to attend a Nationals.

Anyway, with a sufficient amount of Rolaids we can digest your well written post.

JD
 

Hydro Junkie

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Joined
Oct 2, 2006
Messages
5,336
This may sound argumentative and, if so, I do apologize up front.

I see some things in David's post that are in the realm of feasible goals. At the same time, JD made some very valid points. Let me address some of these.

1) We need to restructure the responsibilities of the officers so that the President and Vice President’s responsibilities are to move the organization forward. This includes recruiting new membership, determining the services that NAMBA needs to offer to its members, evaluating new ideas and evaluating and assessing NAMBA’s value to its members.

This sounds very similar to what the AMA is doing in the aircraft community. That said, the AMA is also having to deal with the FAA and Congress over the multirotored "drones", something that is the latest "fad". While we don't have to worry about national politics, looking at how the AMA operates might give us some ideas on how to go about the task of rewriting the the job descriptions of the officers we elect.

2) District Directors need to be a much more organized group managing the day-to-day conflict of the organization. They should talk regularly on a to discuss what is going on in the districts and share ideas of how things are being done and how problems are being handled.

Nothing that can't be accomplished with a good set of "rules" governing how the meetings are conducted and what is "out of bounds" to bring into the discussion.

3) NAMBA needs to formalize its safety program. Each district must appoint or elect a safety officer who is charged with making sure that the NAMBA safety rules are followed. Our national Safety Chairman must also coordinate and hold regular con calls with the district safety officers to keep everyone on the same page as to ESTABLISH A CONSISTENT safety policy and procedures across all districts. This is paramount to making sure we can control our insurance costs and keep and acquire new ponds.

This falls into the realm of the AMA's "Safety Code". The "code" covers many of the things in the rule books we use now, at club, district and national level. Here is a link to a PDF version of their document:

https://www.modelaircraft.org/files/105.PDF

4) NAMBA needs to establish a Race CD development and support program. This will allow us to develop a pool of race CDs that will be able provide a consistent, competent calling of races and a program to mentor and develop new Race CDs. The result of this effort will be a pool of available scored CDs on their abilities to handle races of various sizes and complexity. I can see this group being very important in interpreting and applying rules consistently across all districts

JD pretty well covered this

5) The NAMBA Nationals Event needs some real help. I think the NATS are one of the most impressive things NAMBA does for its membership. NAMBA needs to form a Nationals Committee that will handle the administration and production of the NAMBA Nationals. This will allow us to have a consistent offering where resources such as sponsors, activities, and registration are identified and managed to relieve the local clubs and districts of those hardships in putting on the event. Now clubs and districts may be much more inclined to sponsor an event knowing that a lot of planning and preparation are already done. Contracts with vendors can be negotiated for years in advance with better guarantee of the consistency of representation for the vendor and support for NAMBA. The costs of producing the events will significantly drop as we formalize and make processes more efficient. An experienced nationals team will be much better equipped to negotiate for accommodations, food and amenities. In the end we will have a much richer and consistent offering wherever the NAMBA Nationals go.

This is something that is done in the square dance community. Yearly "National Conventions" are bid for, planned and carried out by the state federation but under the supervision of members of a National Executive Committee. The "NEC", as it's referred to, is made up of former convention chair-couples. Their job is select the state hosting a future convention and oversee the convention through the planning to post convention reports giving information on issues and solutions, financial profit/loss as well as attendance numbers and where those that attended came from. They are directly responsible in maintaining the integrity of the convention program and insuring the state hosting a convention follows the rules. This complex structure is due to the size of the conventions, ranging from between 3500 to over 20,000 dancers attending from all over the world

With this all said, is this really something we need to impose on those that volunteer to set up and run a national level event in our hobby when we are lucky to get maybe 150 at best?

6) We need to work with our vendors/providers to come up with standard out-of-the-box offerings. NAMBA needs a website where we can advertise our vendor and their offering to our members. We just need to get folks into the hobby with their first boat. Once they are there then they are engaged and can determine what other interests they may have.

Again, I defer to JD

7) We need to advertise. We are invisible to the world a lot of times. We are not really represented in the hobby store and in most cases we are not where folks can see how much fun this hobby is. I believe that we need to go to car racing events and set up kiosks to showcase the boats and talk with car guys about boating. This is a kindred sport with the same type of mechanical and competitive glitter. Like all organizations, the car guys often times get tired of the politics of their group and may look for other ways to express their competitive spirits. We need a solid online advertising campaign using all the social media tools at our disposal. Remember that with a single boat I can reach three thousand people interested in model boating today.

This is worth a shot but, putting out a word of caution, some of the officers in the car/buggy organizations might take offence to us showing up and trying to "steal" members from their ranks

8) Lastly, and probably the most contentious of the ideas, is that NAMBA and IMPBA need to work together. I know there are long standing cultural differences between the organizations but in reality it’s not that complicated. I have raced IMPBA and I really did not have any trouble adapting to their rules. In fact, a lot of D3 runs in a very hybrid way of running races. I have raced all over the country and it’s not all that different. NAMBA is currently around 1500 members and I believe that IMPBA is somewhere around 1000 members. By working together, we are a group of 2500 members and have a much bigger group when negotiating insurance contracts and providing services to our members.

This one is going to be the hardest to make work. Since NAMBA is, for the most part, a western US organization and IMPBA is east coast, operational issues one has may be non-issues for the other. For this to work, it's going to take members from both organizations sitting down and beating out a workable set of streamlined rules that both groups can agree with and get approved by the membership of both organizations. What will make this problematic is if some of the people involved are "hardline" members of their organizations. They would be a major roadblock in making any kind of agreement possible. I see this very issue in the AMA section in another modeling forum. What tends to happen is someone starts a thread and those, many times referred to as "AMA Cheerleaders", will do everything they can to make the one starting the thread look foolish, or worse, so the thread will die and the subject will be "swept under the rug". It would only take one "cheerleader" to destroy any chance of coming to any kind of agreement between the IMPBA and NAMBA.

Okay, let the flaming begin
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lohring

Guest
Our little local club just held its annual meeting. We have attracted a great new group of racers, partly from the RC car ranks, but also from other boat clubs. We all love to race boats, but more important, we have a good time doing it. Relevant comments from my increasingly foggy memory were:

"You guys are fun"

"We'll figure out how to race any boat you bring"

We run nitro boats with electric boats, modified ready to run with semi scale classes, restricted to 26 cc but otherwise open gas classes, and fully open classes. We got to see a 140 mph rigger. We emphasize awards for the new guys (but I get a "0" candle). We had a safety discussion along with other issues for the coming season. There was some discussion about hosting a SAW event. It was all fun and informal but with a serious undertone. That basic formula has worked for close to 30 years. So far we have the largest paid membership of any club in District 8. Something must be working.

Lohring Miller
 

Tom Foley

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Oct 27, 2005
Messages
6,420
We need a like button for Loring
No kidding !! Not every area is going to be the same in terms of available talent to do the required tasks . Personally I have too much other stuff going on with shop , two houses , full size boats etc to really be a productive member of a club but I do enjoy racing when I can . Your outlined format is very complete and on point especially relevant to the online portion of exposure to the potential boaters. Flyers in hobby shops with an attractive photo might garner some interest for those new to the hobby .All good ideas that may help .
 

Jeffmaturo

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Joined
Jan 20, 2015
Messages
533
David,

I hope you and everyone on here had a nice thanksgiving. I read your post twice and firmly believe you were on point for each topic. As someone that has owned a hobby shop with several RC car tracks inside and out, a slot car track and I have a Bachelor degree in Marketing, a Bachelor of Business Administration and an MBA, I was extremely impressed with your insight. I have read numerous posts on the state of our hobby and what we need to do to increase participation. I have never chimed in until now because your post was well thought out and spot on.

I was very fortunate to have a mentor when I started who guided me on purchases, tuning, set up and driving. Without, him I never would have stayed with it or been successful. With that being said we as a collective group need to put our preferences aside and realize that without having someone help you out , electric ready to runs are the best way to get people started, hooked and racing. Why? Because they are relatively inexpensive, readily available and you can run it out of the box.

I know not everyone likes electric but you can purchase a pro boat or aquacraft that is race worthy without breaking the bank. Help from fellow club members and forums on prop choices and such will help get them close to where they need to be.

A race what you brung class would emphasize fun and teach milling and racing skills to newbies. Unfortunately we mostly get rc car recycles and rarely get anyone who is brand new to RC, but they are out there.

You will always have those that disagree with you and don't think that is what needs to be done, but it this case I believe you hit the nail on the head. Getting everyone on the same page is the challenge. We can start with one club at a time.................Jeff
 

Mark Poole ModVP

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Joined
Nov 30, 2005
Messages
1,300
I also like the idea of a run what ya brung class.

Control noise and put some teeth in enforcing it. (Both organizations) Big nitro and gas boats are not quiet enough and ponds will be lost.
 

Bradley Maglinger

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Joined
Sep 23, 2012
Messages
1,550
Noise is a problem which I feel falls under safety as well for kiddos ears. I love the sound of my motors with no mufflers but we need to be enforcing mufflers also for the sake of keeping neighbors happy. I believe this is a good thread and will bring many opinions and ideas which is great!

However, I hope someone doesn't doesn't drop a Warhammer in the pool.. on this thread.

Good time to step back even as a district or single club and really evaluate what is going on within and around you all..brainstorm as a team and build your district safe and fun. So ya I'm on the safety train
 
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lohring

Guest
Thanks guys. My talents are fairly modest, but I try to encourage the talented people in my area to accomplish more. I hope a few people read my technical articles where I try to pass on the knowledge of these people to the next generation. I'm following in the footsteps of a lot of great people in this hobby that were my mentors. I think that's the way we are going to perpetuate this hobby.

Lohring Miller
 

David Bryant

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Joined
Sep 7, 2011
Messages
2,256
NAMBA is currently around 1500 members and I believe that IMPBA is somewhere around 1000 members
Thanks for your thoughts here David.

interesting organization membership estimations. Makes me curious what these numbers were like back in RC Boating "Heyday"? Double? Triple?
 

David Santistevan

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Joined
Aug 5, 2011
Messages
1,272
I agree 100% with you about electric boats in regards to several of these points. It's cost effective, you purchase ARF boats that are as competitive as any others out there. Another reason to talk to the car guys since they already have the chargers, the know how about motors, batteries and speed controllers etc. I know it's a hard pill to swallow for a lot of the hard core boaters but it is the reality. I love my nitro, but it is very expensive and it takes some work to set one up and keep in tuned right. OSE is already there with the ARF kits on the electrics side..
 

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