The Central California Division of the United States Fencing Association (USFA) remains one of the largest and fastest growing Divisions when measured by the number of local and regional fencer-events generated by members of the Division¹. Stretching from San Luis Obispo in the south to Palo Alto in the north, the Division covers the counties of Santa Clara, Santa Cruz, San Benito, San Luis Obispo and Monterey in the State of California. The Division’s clubs are actively involved in The Bay Cup, a non-profit organization that coordinates a circuit of fencing tournaments within the greater San Francisco Bay Area.
The Division is home to foil powerhouse, Silicon Valley Fencing Center, a 2016-2017 “Fencing Club of the Year” for its #1 Top 8 Medal Points in Youth Women’s Foil. It also ranks #1 in Junior International Men’s Foil among U.S. fencing clubs. The Academy of Fencing Masters, winner of our National Fencing Club Youth Championships in 2016-2017 is also located in the Division in downtown Campbell. The Division is also home to another four “Best Fencing Clubs” for 2016-2017; California Fencing Academy (Foil), Cardinal Fencing Club (Saber), Le Club Touche (Foil) and The Fencing Center of San Jose (Foil/Epee).
In 2016-2017 the Division was ranked 3rd out of 68 in terms of the number of local and regional fencer-events generated by members of the Division. It ranked behind New Jersey and New England, but ahead 0f Illinois, Metro NYC, Southern California, Virginia, Northern California, Gulf Coast and Georgia to make the Top 10 list of the most active fencing Divisions in the nation. The number of local and regional fencer-events generated by members of the Division has grown at the compound annual rate of 12.4% per year since 2008-2009, compared to the national average of 4.4% per year over the same period. As a consequence, the Division was the 6th fastest growing Division in the nation over the period 2008-2009 through 2016-2017.
The significant growth in fencer-events has been underwritten by the explosive growth in foil which has grown at the compound annual rate of 19.2% per year since 2010-2011. Not to be outdone, epee has also enjoyed significant growth at 14.3% per year over the same period. The number of saber fencer-events has declined by 3.9% per year as illustrated in the accompanying graph.
The number of local and regional fencer-events generated by a club is related to the number and profile of competitive members in the club, the approach taken by the club’s coaches regarding competitive tournaments and the quality and distance of nearby fencing competitions. Local tournament events include events that are organized by clubs, consortia of clubs and USFA Divisions. They do not include ROCs, RJCCs, SYCs, RYCs and Divisional Qualifiers which are all classified as regional tournaments. National tournaments include NACs, Championships, and the July Challenge.
The composition of fencer-events generated by the active clubs in 2016-2017 is illustrated in the accompanying graph. Fencers from the Silicon Valley Fencing Center generated 781 fencer-events in 2016-2017, almost all were foil. Almost two-thirds of the fencer-events generated by members of the Academy of Fencing Masters were epee and one-third foil. The Cardinal Fencing Club generated the bulk of saber fencer-events generated in the Division.
The following graph shows the growth in foil fencer-events generated by the largest clubs with foil programs in Central California over the past five years. Located in Los Altos, the Silicon Valley Fencing Center generated about 28% more foil fencer-events compared to the California Fencing Academy in 2016-2017, 769 compared to 600. Le Club Touche has doubled its generated foil fencer-events over the past five years.
The following graph clearly demonstrates that the Cardinal Fencing Club, located at Stanford, is the dominant saber club in Central California. It accounts for about 70% of all the local and regional saber fencer-events generated in the Division.
The Academy of Fencing Masters and The Fencing Center account for almost 73% of the epee fencer-events generated in Central California as illustrated in the chart below. The Academy of Fencing Masters opened in 2013-2014 and now dominates the epee market in Central California.
The momentum established in recent years and the depth of fencing expertise as illustrated by the number of “Best Fencing Clubs” in the region, augurs well for the future of fencing in Central California.
¹ Source: askFred.net
We recognize that askFRED.net data includes non-sanctioned USFA tournaments such as high school tournaments, private club tournaments, and a few tournaments associated with fencing camps. While the data is not perfect, it nevertheless allows for a comparison of medium to long term growth rates in fencer-activity across States, Divisions, and clubs. Provided the inconsistencies are consistent over time we are able to get a trend, and therefore an average growth rate. Despite the data limitations, we are able to make valid comparisons on the performance of States, Divisions, and clubs. For strategic decision making, timely, consistent, and directionally correct information is more important than data that is one hundred percent accurate.