Monday, November 28, 2011

SLSA Director Candidates Interviews Part 2

SurfWatch conducts these in-depth interviews to help voters get a clear picture of the candidates that are running for the Board and gives candidates an opportunity to introduce themselves to the voters. All five candidates were sent the same interview, SurfWatch received four interviews back. See their interviews below. All interviews are posted in the order received. Voting opens on December 1st. Stay tuned for more details!

Candidate Name: Sally LaSalle

SW:  You are currently ranked #20 for SLSA surf rankings and you've been SL surfing for more than 4 years.  We understand you have announced your intent to run for SLSA Director this term.  What qualifications, skills, competencies, traits, etc. would you bring as a director and why are you running?  

SL:  I love SL surfing its fun and I have been involved in it ever since surf-able waves were invented back in 2007. I have been a director 3 times in the past, and in my first term helped to oversee the recovery of the SLSA from a deep crisis into its most successful period ever. I have great organizational skills, I keep my word, I follow through on actions, and I have 5 years of SL skills related to building, scripting, animation, clothing and video.I created and own the surf sims Chi and Tai, the most long lived surf sim in SL.

SW:  What areas of improvement do you currently see for the SLSA as an organization?

SL:  As an Organization I would love to see participation recover to its former peaks and beyond.  SL Surfing is an enjoyable way to spend time, and make life long friends and relationships, and I'd like to see as many people as possible have that opportunity.  I think that SL surfing has been effected by the general down turn in the SL economy and so needs a way to mitigate those effects and rebuild.

SW:  What do you see as the top issues facing SL surfing in general, and what would be your first priority as an SLSA director?

SL:  To me the top issue facing SL Surfing in general, is the financial viability of sims dedicated to surfing.  More successful surf sims, means more places for people to surf and to learn about surfing, and the spread of the sport by word of mouth and stability of the venues. More participation is the key to addressing all of the issues the SLSA faces. More participation means a larger pool of people to get event volunteers from, it means a large pool of resources to help support our sim and attract sponsors, and it means a larger pool of people to help our surf sims remain viable. I also believe that people would like to see some innovation, some new types of surfing, some new types of competition and participation to keep it fun and challenging, but also to allow new people to get a sense of achievement early on.

SW:  Why are you the best candidate for this job?

SL:  Each of the candudates is from a diffferent surf team background and I think this is a wonderful sign of strength in the organisation, any of the candidates would be great directors.  Personally, I have a strong track record in getting things organised and seeing things through into implementation within the SLSA, and helping to ensure all directors are consulted on major decisions.  I have a long record of continuity in the surf scene, so I bring knowledge of the past as well as a vision for the future.  Directors, while naturally needing to be in touch with members, also need to be able to make and support decisions, they also need to be able to change things that are found to not be working.

SW:  What were you most satisfied with as an SLSA member last season?  What were you most dissatisfied with?

SL:  The best part was to see good friends and to go out and enjoy surfing with them.  I was a little disappointed that participation has been falling off, and that we have been losing more surf sims to financial pressures.

SW:  Anything else you would like voters to know about you?

SL:  I have always been a strong sponsor of the sport, but I have personally never made any money from it so I'm not into it for financial reasons. I have my own views about things, I'm not afraid to support my views, but I am certainly open to be persuaded by a good idea and supporting argument from others.  One thing you can be certain of, is that if I am elected, i will be putting in the hours to help my fellow directors collectively achieve the best outcomes possible for all our members.

Give us a brief statement or opinion on some of the major issues the SLSA faced in 2011 and possible issues moving into Season 2 (listed below):

1.  Were you concerned with  the low number of competitors signed up for the recent Open comps and what do you foresee for the future of the two-round, two-weekend SLSA competition format?  If you are in favor of keeping the two round format, what are your thoughts on how to get more riders to participate in competitions? 

SL:  In essence the mission of the SLSA the reason it exists, is to spread the word to as many people about SL Surfing and to get as many people surfing and enjoying the sport as possible.  So any decline in participation is I believe a sign that we aren't really living up to our mission.  The two round event format was introduced back when participation was so great, that either people were missing out on the opportunity to compete, or surf comps would take so long to finish that it was a drain on the officials and the competitors.  When the two round system was introduced, limits were also set on how many surfers would be needed to justify two rounds, again based on limiting the comp to a reasonable amount of time for officials and participants especially in time zones outside the USA.  If participation was to increase again, then I would insist in a format that limited the time needed to hold an event. The time span of a single event is the crux of the issue, so the solution is either, to split the event up over multiple dates or, to find a way to cut down the time of a single day event.
I think that the best way to get more participation, is the friendly welcome of new surfers into the group and that the group is positive about itself and what we do. One rule of every successful business is to make a product of service that is easier to buy, or easier to use.  We need to find ways to achieve that simplification.
From a practical point of view, we also need to ensure that members are getting event notifications, in addition to in world group notices, I would advocate the purchase and operation of a subscriber service to ensure we are gettign as much communication with members as possible.

2.  With the continuing decline of full surf sims with supporting neighbor sims for spectators, and with more and more surf sims set up on Homesteads, what can be done to support the sim owners and ensure smooth running competitions?

SL:  This is a two pronged issue, I think that we as a group need to be a strong lobby to surf product vendors to increase the return on sales to sim owners. We could also investigate the sale of SLSA developed products and services through sims, where a large portion of the sale goes to the sim owners.  This benefit should only be avaialble to sims that provided a surf venue, and not to non-surf sims.  We currently spend US$100 per month to maintain an SLSA member owned sim.  We need to look at that very carefully, personally I feels its important for the future health of the SLSA to have a Hub where people can go to find out about all the other surf locations available and to learn about surfing and surf officiating.  Its also important in supporting our bid with the Lindens to have the Lindens provide us with protected surf sims around the grid. In the short term however, that $100 a month may be better used in hiring a spectator sim for two days next to a HS surf sim, with the re-acquisition of the SLSA sim based on a financial and participative minimum threshold.

3.  The SLSA put into place a stipulation that a rider could miss one comp each season and not have it count against their rank in order to allow more people to volunteer to work comps. Most riders who use it are not using it to volunteer but to do things in rl.  Should this stipulation go back to being for volunteers only or should all riders be able to use this?

SL:  I think that a modification  of this rule is in order given how difficult it is to get experienced judges to volunteer for Pro events.  I think that everyone should still get the chance to discard one event due to conflicts with RL commitments, but that Volunteers for Event Official positions should be given a "bonus" in the form of not a "Did Not Compete", but in the form of a "Volunteer Average" score.  So for instance, in the current system, if a surfer got 2, 3, 2, 5, DNC, there score for the season would be 12 (discarding the DNC which is recorded even if the volunteer). In my proposal in stead of the DNC a volunteer would get a 3 which is their average placing for the events they surfed in. So their scores would now be 2, 3, 2, 5, 3* and their score for the season would be 10 (discarding their now worst 5th).  Giving them an average score for their discard would give them the opportunity to discard another worst score as if they had actually surfed every event.

4. With all the recent tier shortage notices, do you feel it is necessary for the SLSA to keep a home sim. Why or why not?

SL:  I would like to see the retention of the SLSA sim,  but one of the problems with the current SLSA sim, is that it doesn't feel like an SLSA member benefit.  If I am a member of the SLSA, then having that sim should provide value to me.  As a general member I should be proud of it and feel like I as a member, am a part owner of it.  One of the ways to do that, is to open up general prim rezzing to SLSA members only, so that members can come along and rez a board to show their friends, maybe work on tweaking it, or they should be able to rez a cuddle pose for their sweety, and spend some time there really feeling like its a place they are privileged to use and that they can bring a friend to.  I think this change would help get more participation from more members when it comes to funding tier.  If we got 250L a month from just 100 of our 800 members there would be no tier issue at all.
From a practical persepctive, I have advocated and gotten approval form the directors to put Adboards on Archipelago to assist with regular income for the sim.  I will ensure that this gets implmented immediately, and that of course,  the sim is appropriately monitored and managed from a scritp lag point of view.

5. There has been some discussion on allowing other board types and wave types other than SSi.  What are your thoughts on allowing other scripts into the competition season?

SL: Well we have certainly already allowed wave types other than Surf Systems Inc (SSi), with both HP and LSD waves now having been used in official comps.
The question of board types is a different one.  The surfboard scripts from the different makers responds differently to keyboard input.  So surfing boards from different script makers, you have to (re)learn to surf each one.  I think though, that there has been little innovation from some script  makers lately, while new makers have been working hard to explore the new physics of mesh and to redefine the surfing experience.  I think that the SLSA again needs to embrace that diversity and innovation and competititon in some way.  If we don't then we face the possibility of becoming irrelevant and of stagnating as an organisation and as a sport.  I think that we should consider some events using different board types, I think that we should also consider some events using a board rezzer so that all boards perform the same and only the skill of the surfers is being compared.  I think at this stage I would not recommend mixed board script type events as it would be difficult to compare certainly in the tricks area as the board makers scripts have different capabilities.   Embracing new board types is also another way to tap in to a new stream of members, and to also give surf sims some options for different income streams.

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