Ship Hector bonspiel at capacity

Annual event has earliest sellout in years

Published on November 25, 2013
Stellar Curling Club will be the host club for the 42nd annual Ship Hector bonspiel this year. The weekend tournament runs Jan. 24-26. 

If you want to play in the Ship Hector bonspiel in January and you haven’t registered yet, you’re out of luck.

It’s not a surprise the 42nd annual event is at capacity, but how fast is has reached the cap of 56 teams for the three day event. Scott Maston, the committee member in charge of registration, said he added his final team on Nov. 23. Since then two teams have been added to a waiting list in case a team cancels.

Last year at that time there were only 25 teams registered and the event didn’t reach capacity until a week before Christmas.

“Every year the date we sell out seems to creep back a week or so,” said Maston. “This year we’re a full month before Christmas though. It just keeps nudging back as people realize the popularity of the event and that they want to get their name in the pot.

“We’ve been sold out at least eight of the years I’ve been involved or more, so we weren’t shocked it sold out this year, but just how fast it did.”

Technology has helped the event achieve these early capacity numbers according to Maston who has over 200 e-mail addresses in a group of potential Ship Hector participants. Once the dates are set for the event he updates the registration form and e-mails it to that list. In the past they would mail posters to the clubs around the province to be put up and then had to wait for forms to be mailed back, rather than more people confirming earlier in the registration period.

Of the 56 teams he expects to be in Pictou County for the Jan. 24-26 weekend, 39 teams (70 per cent) are from curling clubs outside of the county. The number is similar to years past, which is a major benefit financially for the county according to Maston.

“We did a poll at the end of spiel three years ago, just a quick questionnaire to everyone that came to get an idea what they spent outside registration on hotels, meals, gas and whatever else in the county,” he said. “The grand total number we got back was around $45,000 from all 56 teams. It’s definitely a good shot in the arm for the county in the middle of the winter.”

Another plus for the committee is they have roughly 85 to 90 per cent of the teams returning from last year, with the rest being new teams this year. He said it tells them they’re doing something right and to continue doing things similarly. If they didn’t see the return rate as high as it is they would look at changing things more often, but feel they have a successful event in place.

On Twitter: @NGNewsChris