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golf sucks, so does sailing

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Ostensibly about the lamest sport ever, it nonetheless illustrates many of the same issues facing the second lamest sport ever, sailing. Lifted from the hideous WSJ...


golf-sucks.jpg


American golf should be growing rapidly. The sport is attracting more new players in the U.S. now than at any time since the early 2000s.


And yet, when the National Golf Foundation releases its annual participation report on Tuesday, it will show another decline in the number of people who played the game at least once in the last year.



These two contradictory trends may be the most telling indication of the state of the industry: Plenty of people are taking up the game for the first time, but very few of them are sticking with it. And according to the NGF, a leading research and consulting group, that is less an indictment of the game itself than of the operators of the country’s more than 15,000 courses.



“Golf needs to be more beginner-friendly,” said NGF chief executive Joe Beditz. “It’s like we’re running a gas station. ‘Come or don’t come. Here’s the price.’”


Roughly 2.2 million Americans aged 6 and older played golf for the first time in 2015, according to the NGF, the most since 2002. That is up from a post-recession low of 1.5 million beginners in 2011.



Yet the overall number of participants still fell to 24.1 million, a marginal drop from 24.7 million in 2014 and down from a peak of 30 million in 2005.



The leak isn’t coming from the core of the industry: a group of nearly 20 million people who play golf regularly and say in surveys they are likely to continue doing so. It’s coming from the people who never make it into that group.


Nearly 90% of the people who left the game in 2015 never became regular golfers, which the NGF defines as playing at least eight times per year. Taken together, the numbers portray a business that is being handed new customers, through the sheer allure of the game, and which lacks either the ability or the interest to turn them into devoted regulars.



In an interview last week, the world’s most famous golfer echoed the NGF’s call for courses to be more welcoming to beginners.



“How do you keep them still interested in it?” Tiger Woods said. “How do you keep it fun? That’s one of the things we’re running into right now with the game of golf. It’s just stagnant. We have people come into the game but they exit the game. There’s no sustainability.”



In what seems like annual obituaries written about golf, two factors often cited are time and money. Fewer people have the time and patience to slog through a five-hour round. And a shrinking middle class doesn’t help a sport that can be expensive.



But the reality is that if golf could retain even a slight majority of the beginners it attracts each year, the sport would be growing. And in its surveys of people who quit the game, the NGF found that what really drives retention are two factors less often discussed.



One is comfort—how comfortable a beginner is both on the course and around other golfers—which is mostly a function of atmosphere. The assumption at most courses is that a person walking in is familiar with everything from the pre-round routine to the countless unspoken rules of etiquette. In fact, beginners understand little of it. People who quit often never get past feeling like an outsider in a club for insiders.


The other factor is competence. Most beginners who don’t get hooked say they never felt “shot euphoria”—the thrill of the one great shot, however rare, that keeps even the most casual duffers coming back. By contrast, they almost surely felt the humiliation of hitting their first tee shot 10 feet while the starter watches on.



“When people say, ‘Yeah, I used to golf. It costs too much. It takes too long,’ those are convenient excuses,” Beditz said. “What they can’t admit is that they failed. So they never became comfortable and they never really became competent to the point where they can enjoy it.”



Part of the problem is the way people are introduced to the game, typically through a relative or friend. New golfers are far more likely to keep playing if they start with a structured program such as Get Golf Ready, which offers five group lessons for as little as $99. The program covers everything from swing basics to etiquette, guides people onto the course and helps them find other beginners to play with. But Beditz said such programs aren’t marketed well enough.



Another problem is that the typical golf course is not set up for beginners to ease their way in. It’s akin to a ski resort without a bunny hill or a swimming pool without a shallow end. There is the course: 18 holes, often designed with the avid player in mind. And there is the driving range and practice green: easy enough to futz around on but also boring. There is nothing in between.


In his first U.S. course design, the recently opened Bluejack National outside of Houston, Woods sought to change that. The club includes a casual golf area called the Playgrounds, with 10 holes ranging in length from 35 to 108 yards.



There are lights for night play, speakers for music and no set structure. Members can play however many holes they want, in whichever order they want.


The full-length course at Bluejack also takes a fairly radical approach. There is only one cut of grass—no rough. And the brush under the pine trees lining every hole has been cleared, making it virtually impossible to lose a ball unless it lands in a water hazard.



Michael Abbott, one of the course’s developers, said that reducing the time golfers spend looking for their ball has enabled them to finish nine holes in as little as 70 minutes.


“Everyone is afraid of making their courses too easy,” Abbott said. “Well I don’t know if anybody heard, but they’re really hard right now, so what’s wrong with a little easier? It’s supposed to be fun, right?”


Woods said he believes the Bluejack model could be replicated at many existing courses. The playability there is largely a function of grooming. And the Playgrounds occupies only about six acres. However, Woods said, “it depends on the devotion of the golf course and the area. How devoted are they to growing the game of golf?”



The incentives should be strong enough. Aside from the rise in beginners, the NGF will report Tuesday that 37.4 million non-golfers are at least somewhat interested in playing golf now, based on broader sports participation surveys conducted by the Physical Activity Council. The question is how many of them will ever play golf regularly.



“There has to be an embrace of these people, and it has to happen at the golf course. That’s our front door,” Beditz said. “All of the preaching by guys like me will do absolutely no good if 15,000 golf courses are not managed better.”


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Sailing lacks "beginner courses" too. The smaller dinghys are (more fun but) much twitchier than the bigger heavier boats for a beginner.

 

Golf just ain't that expensive--used clubs, municipal course. Sailing, not so much, especially if you want your own "clubs", and have to pay for a place to store them.

 

I took up golf and scuba in the same year. Idiot. But I turned out to like both, but both are pretty daunting for a beginner.

 

 

I think/hope the future is in having more community sailing programs for friggin' anyone, not just the "usual suspects". God willin' and the creek don't rise, we may have one here in New Orleans in a couple of years. Beyond public facilities, personally I found the cheapest and most "democratic" sailing where a rich sailor can't outspend a poor one, was racing frostbite Interclubs.

 

 

 

 

I have refrained from commenting on your photo ;-)

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... did I miss it or was there really not one mention of the dildo that chick was kissing? This IS still Sailing Anarchy, right? Sorry, please go back to your regularly scheduled dump... :)

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... did I miss it or was there really not one mention of the dildo that chick was kissing? This IS still Sailing Anarchy, right? Sorry, please go back to your regularly scheduled dump... :)

I have heard stories of SA being rude and obnoxious. I even heard things like X Rated, must have been a different website.

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We accept the things for the way they are.

 

We accept statistical reports justifying that things are not working.

We do not have thinkers trying to make lemonade out of lemons.

 

Sailing has no "sales department" anywhere.

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I am trying to get my mind around any reason this is even on Sailing Anarchy, other than a woman kissing a phallic symbol. Who gives a shit about whether golf is popular or not. I'm a sailor. If this was some way to cross connect the two, say something like "as goes golf, so goes sailing", but even then that's a farce. Gold has its own channel. People sit and watch (for hours) humans walk around doing most of nothing, but swing a club. They watch on TV and they watch live.

 

We can't even get that greedfest AC shown on any US station with any reasonable chance to watch it.

The only thing good about that article was the picture and only because it affirmed the slightly hidden misogyny found in these hallowed pages.

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Fantastic parallel to conventional wisdom describing sailing's decline. However I believe deeply in the following reasons for decline:

 

  • Junior Sailing's winning is everything approach goes off the rails early and often. 8 year olds by themselves obviously don't socialize, get scared and never learn how to crew. On top of that, they're browbeaten into winning. No engendering any love for the sport- let's get winning out there, or else!
  • Professionalism at all levels is driving out fun-loving and competent amateurs, the backbone of the sport. When I did Key West Race Week in the late 1980s, with nearly thirty 40 footers on the line, you could count all the pros on one hand. Most of the boats were skippered and crewed by their owners and friends. You could even live aboard and save a lot of dollars!
  • Handicap systems managed by elite and authoritarian committees who play favorites and bully newbies. PHRF is a fine idea managed objectively by fair minded individuals. Like politicians, term limits are necessary
  • Proliferation of the latest and greatest one design and offshore boats while the used sailboat market collapses from the weight of well built, long lasting, good boats no one wants.
  • Yacht clubs torn between the majority who dislike racing and want to build swimming pools and subsidize gourmet restaurants while what's left of racing has to be financially self sufficient.

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I had that experience at a golf course this summer. I've golfed a handful of times and my two buddies I was playing with were probably in their first year of somewhat regular play. Suffice to say we were those 3 rubes everybody was playing thru who couldn't find their balls and quadruple putting the greens. The golf pro's suggestion was to come during a weekday when it was less crowded. Really?! Who has time for that? It wasn't a welcoming atmosphere even though they were not unfriendly just not friendly to newbies.

 

In contrast my local ski slope tripled the amount of free instruction and streamlined it and increased the number of intermediate slopes because, as one of the instructors said, "every week there's a thousand people who've never skied before". For me, if I'm lucky, I ski 3 times a year and the first time each season I need a little bunny slope refresher.

 

I can't speak to kids training but how many clubs have adult training programs? I'm pretty sure a lot of clubs have the guys who spend a lot of time maintaining their boats, but not sailing them because they've realized that this sailing thing's not so easy and they don't want to be embarrassed in front of the geezers at the club or break their boat.

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I had that experience at a golf course this summer. I've golfed a handful of times and my two buddies I was playing with were probably in their first year of somewhat regular play. Suffice to say we were those 3 rubes everybody was playing thru who couldn't find their balls and quadruple putting the greens. The golf pro's suggestion was to come during a weekday when it was less crowded. Really?! Who has time for that? It wasn't a welcoming atmosphere even though they were not unfriendly just not friendly to newbies.

 

I have had the argument from every one-design class that they only want "experienced people" joining them, because it takes too long for a newbie to get up to speed. Everyone's marketing plan is to cannibalize sailors from other fleets. Exact correlation.

 

In contrast my local ski slope tripled the amount of free instruction and streamlined it and increased the number of intermediate slopes because, as one of the instructors said, "every week there's a thousand people who've never skied before". For me, if I'm lucky, I ski 3 times a year and the first time each season I need a little bunny slope refresher.

 

I can't speak to kids training but how many clubs have adult training programs? I'm pretty sure a lot of clubs have the guys who spend a lot of time maintaining their boats, but not sailing them because they've realized that this sailing thing's not so easy and they don't want to be embarrassed in front of the geezers at the club or break their boat.

 

In the Lake Michigan region maybe a half-dozen (out of 100) clubs have adult training programs. The commercial sailing market has over 100 Adult Sailing School locations around the Lake. While junior programs are somewhere around 85 locations.

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Golf is the worst sport in the world. It requires no fitness whatsoever yet the wanks that golf want you to think that just because they walked their round, they're "athletes".

 

I don't do as much sailing as I once did but sailing does reward fitness.

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My club has separate adult and junior "Learn to Sail" programs.

For the first time in several years, our membership decline has halted, and we actually grew a few in 2015.

 

One year does not make a trend, but I attribute the halt in decline to the adult LTS program and aggressive marketing in the local rags, handing out paper propoganda and hosting an Open House.

Several of the LTS members (junior and adult) signed up for memberships.

 

The trick now, is to keep these new members engaged and involved so that they keep coming out. Most of them don't own a boat. We have a shared boat program where Corinthians can check out Flying Scots, Albacores, Lasers and Sunfish. In my brain, I have this idea rattling around of a casual Corinthian race where the non-owners show up and run the club boats around some drop marks.

 

I guess I'd better get on that, now that I've said it out loud. :unsure:

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... did I miss it or was there really not one mention of the dildo that chick was kissing? This IS still Sailing Anarchy, right? Sorry, please go back to your regularly scheduled dump... :)

 

Exactly what I noticed - best "kissing the trophy" pic I've ever seen.

 

As Dominic DaVinci once said - "golf just makes me frustrated, angry, bored & depressed - and all at the same time".

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Sailing lacks "beginner courses" too.

 

 

Uh, there's a mark up there and a mark down there! How much simpler do you want?

 

 

And if you don't race, it's even simpler.

 

 

The idea that sailing is insanely expensive and a barrier to beginners is complete BS. You can spend as much or as little as you want and go sailing. How much does a used Laser/Hobie cost? Now, If you want to race, and race competitively, that's a different matter.

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I am an old(ish) guy, bought my first boat 2 years ago and learned to sail the damn thing, I am joining the Wed night Beer Can races this spring. I'll be interested to see how welcoming it is. I don;t know shit about it, but I've read enough to probably have a good time trying it out.

 

Although SA is highly amusing, it appears to me that that no matter the topic it eventually goes a bit toxic. I'll assume for now that in person the sailors I'll meet will be a fun and relaxed bunch by and large. Frankly, for recreational sailing, I never meet anybody at my Marina, I sail probably 40 times a season and its rare that anyone is even around to say hello to and that is part of the reason to give the racing a go.

 

In terms of sailings decline which I know nothing about really, it seems to be like everything these days, many folks look at the cost of entry the wrong way and put style over substance. I bought a Pearson Ariel for 2 grand that is in very nice condition, I keep it slipped at a Rusty old marina, run by a crusty old guy (and I like it). The other thing that I have which I am lucky to have is flexibility and one or 2 friends that have it also. That is hard to come by, but its key being able to enjoy this endeavor, I can look at the weather make a call and get out there in an hour or 2, so many people don't have that flexibility. I'll post tits later.

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I am an old(ish) guy, bought my first boat 2 years ago and learned to sail the damn thing, I am joining the Wed night Beer Can races this spring. I'll be interested to see how welcoming it is. I don;t know shit about it, but I've read enough to probably have a good time trying it out.

 

Although SA is highly amusing, it appears to me that that no matter the topic it eventually goes a bit toxic. I'll assume for now that in person the sailors I'll meet will be a fun and relaxed bunch by and large. Frankly, for recreational sailing, I never meet anybody at my Marina, I sail probably 40 times a season and its rare that anyone is even around to say hello to and that is part of the reason to give the racing a go.

 

In terms of sailings decline which I know nothing about really, it seems to be like everything these days, many folks look at the cost of entry the wrong way and put style over substance. I bought a Pearson Ariel for 2 grand that is in very nice condition, I keep it slipped at a Rusty old marina, run by a crusty old guy (and I like it). The other thing that I have which I am lucky to have is flexibility and one or 2 friends that have it also. That is hard to come by, but its key being able to enjoy this endeavor, I can look at the weather make a call and get out there in an hour or 2, so many people don't have that flexibility. I'll post tits later.

 

Yes, in real life you will find that people are more pleasant than forums...most of the time.

You have a boat, you're flexible and your two friends are flexible. That's 95% of the battle won right there. The other 5% is practice and having a good time.

 

Make sure to introduce yourself at whatever social function exists after the race, or people will never know who you are. I've learned that wallflowers often go unnoticed and drop out because no one spoke to them and they felt like no one gave a shit. It's kind of a "get back what you put into it" sort of thing.

 

I see you're in Balto. Where will you be racing?

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Sailing lacks "beginner courses" too.

 

 

Uh, there's a mark up there and a mark down there! How much simpler do you want?

 

there's no way in hell the RRS are simple, easily learned or easily applied

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The big difference is that, while i see a reason to want more sailors in the sport, healthy fleets etc. Who the hell wants more golfers, beyond the equipment sellers and the for-profit courses. My golf club is perfect, we want the minimum number of members to be financially strong.

 

The game has never been easier with technological advancements making it possible for nearly any idiot to hit a straight shot. It is supposed to be tough and require commitment to learn. That is what makes it special. You can't jsut pick it up in an afternoon.

 

Both racing a sailboat and playing decent golf require significant commitment of time and energy to become proficient. They also can be seen as elitist and snobby. Beyond that the parallels stop. Well stupid looking clothes too.

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I love sailing but the cost and time to do it has become too great for me. I can go mountain bike in a shorter amount of time and enjoy myself because unlike sailboat racers, mountain bikers are some of the nicest people you will ever meet. I hope sailing can survive but its not the family activity it was decades ago. Kids don't see mom and dad racing, so they're not going to aspire to follow in their foot steps.

 

Now you have to try to get kids fired up about sailing from this void. So if your this kid here in the USA, you see football, baseball, basketball and even golf on the tv. No sailing. You even see Redbull events like skateboarding, surfing and mountain biking. In those sports, all you need is minimal gear at a low entry cost. Mom and dad want you to become the next Tiger, LeBron, Brady to get the frame and dollars. Sure, most these kids can't wipe their own butt, but mom and dad don't see it.

 

Yep, sailing is sunk. Deal with it. Embrace the horror. Enjoy it while you can.

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It's not really about specific sports. Few young people go outside to do anything, and god forbid they should get cold or wet. All the outdoor sports are being slowly abandoned.

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There's no way to make a spur of the moment decision with a few hours left in the afternoon and go sailing. No way. I still have a Laser sitting at the club but it takes me 45 minutes, minimum, to get the gear out of the locker, rig up and launch, another hour to put everything a way and maybe an hour actually sailing. If sailing were all I wanted to do, that would work but I prefer other pursuits that take a hell of a lot less time and, frankly, give me more satisfaction-like surfing, riding a bike or motorcycle-stuff like that. I'm actually seriously looking for a new cruising boat for my wife and me and an occasional outing with friends but I know, realistically, I will only want to devote an entire day to the exercise maybe once a month. At this stage of my life I can afford that but not many 20-30 somethings can, especially if the have kids and soccer/swimming/baseball.......

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wanna grow sailing? Tell clean to wisper like the golf guys

maybe we can get you a daily column on here, i know i would read it.

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Yacht clubs are trying to cater for too many diverse interests...

here's a profile of one of my clubs:

 

"Social Members" who enjoy the social side......visit the club to enjoy the view, the restaurant, the opportunity to entertain guests...

They want first class bistro & bar facilities in a professionally staffed "up-market" environment - retirees

"Club Members" who like owning a boat - power or sail - enjoy messing about in boats and occasionally visiting other clubs, fishing, entertaining friends.

Their needs are similar to Social members, but need a berth and possibly a yard for seasonal work on their craft. - retirees

"Sailing members" who like mid week and occasional weekend club racing - need yards & services- like the clubhouse experience - retirees

"Racing Members" who race with regular crews each weekend in both Club & Interclub events - need yards & services - like the sailing experience, not too concerned about the upmarket bar & dining experience....time poor working.

 

So there it is...the racing members demand good race management and boating facilities as priority. They are a minority of the membership.

The majority want an entertainment complex.

To help fund the entertainment complex, the club rents itself out as a function facility - justifying the alienation of members as "off setting the inherent costs of the club"...it's a savage cycle that sees the cost of membership (and sailing) go up, the racing membership diminish and the club increasingly looking like a retirement lifestyles advertisement (there's the similarity with golf...right there!!)

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my golf friends can get to the club at 8am on saturday, play a round and be home by noon

 

that is a _huge_ advantage over sailboat racing

 

anyway.., i think you could fix all the "problems" people identify with sailboat racing.., and it would still be a very minor sport.., with not many more participants than we have now.

 

it's just not the kind of thing most people want to do

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It is interesting most of the comments are centered on racing. When I learned to sail it was on a small lake in a Sunfish. I just liked it. I like being on the water. Maybe with kids it should be emphasized that it can be enjoyable, not always a competition. I'll do the occasional Wednesday beer can race but I have more fun being with friends, having a cigar and a beer and drifting with the tides and wind. That's why I am a proud 4ksb owner get out almost every week. My sons got their boating licenses and have talked about taking my boat out. Makes me proud

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there's no way in hell the RRS are simple, easily learned or easily applied

and they may change every four years.... the golf rule book isn't much easier to read. I'm in a golf league thursday nights nine holes two man teams. its about the same time investment as sailing. But our numbers are dropping. usually loose a team or two each year...

 

Even my Model boat sailing I spend about 4-6 hours two saturdays a months march-november. plus driving/flying to regatta's I figure I spend as much times sailing the small boat as some guys here do sailing the big boats. Which a much smaller bank account. Heck we can't even get people interested in sailing model boats anymore.

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Golf is the worst sport in the world. It requires no fitness whatsoever yet the wanks that golf want you to think that just because they walked their round, they're "athletes".

 

I don't do as much sailing as I once did but sailing does reward fitness.

 

Quadriplegics can sail but can't golf.

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Can't we enjoy the fact that what we do is unique and different and not the mainstream blah blah blah crap everyone else and their dog does?

 

When folks I've never met hear I race sailboats, their first reaction is usually "wow that's so cool, I've never met anyone who does that"

 

I like that- I was so bummed when surfing became mainstream- as a surfer we used to pride ourselves in not being mainstream- why does sailing have to be mainstream?

 

It's never been for everyone, that's the allure/ you want a sport for everyone, go bowling or take up frisbee- sailing involves a lot of skill sets- critical thinking, strategy, feel, technical adeptness, physical agility, mental agility, humility, team skills, personal drive, self control and many many more facets- the fact that everyone can't just jump in and get it is part of the attraction- it's not easy... That's why everyone isn't a sailor...

 

I'm proud of that- I'll help anyone who wants to start, I'm thrilled to teach anyone anything they want to know- no ego- but even then, some just don't have what it takes- and to me, that's just fine.

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Golf is immoral. Any sport where you are supposed to stay out of the water and off the beach should be banished. Having dismissed the 'false thread', the bigger question is how to encourage a 'proper' sport? As with Burndoc, I don't race. I sail a dinghy (Bucc) that still exists because it is a fun but inexpensive race platform. I raced once. 3 one design fleets, welcoming, good people. But I'm not into competition.

 

Maybe Dreaded has been racing forever. It isn't that easy. I mostly sail in powerboat territory and seldom need to worry about giving way. It takes time for the rules to be instinct in tight quarters.

Woxbox: Why is soccer so popular?

 

When I had no money but days off I sailed an old Bucc cheaply and often. When opportunity allowed me to trade time for a little pocket money but long hours and maturity sapped some energy, I found myself looking harder at the weather. I added a moored boat with IMF so I would still go out. Three boats sail frequently on my current reservoir. One is a Mac 26 S. A newbie skipper 3 years ago but sails often. One is a Catalina 22, and my Rhodes 22. The S2 won't go out if the wind is less then 10 mph, but seldom if it is more then 11. Some young guys screwed around poorly in a Rob Roy Sunchaser. Most go out a couple times each season. The elitists here mock shitboxes, but in my experience quality of boat has no relationship with frequency of use. The best boat is nothing special when covered in spider webs.

 

Questions for the quorum. Why did sailing become popular in the 1960's and 70's? I think it started with fiberglass and before OPEC?

 

How did the active sailors on this list start? I started as a kid with the family, My parents started with a class in the late 60's. As a kid my Dad and his family used motors.

 

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The problem with most small boat and competitive sailing is it based on sailing in the two slowest possible ways - Upwind and downwind.

While there is the challenge for the better sailors, it can be depressing for learners, as they fall along way back.

The other issue I have is the amount of time wasted between races and the course is re-set to account for some wind change.

 

For club racing, and this is where you introduce newbees into the sport, the racing should be fun. The best sailors will still win no matter where the course is, the the learners can still experience the joy of a fast reach, or being nearer the leaders at the finishing line.

 

We need to build a love of sailing into the racing and the learners.

I enjoy sailing, but W/L racing can be boring.

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Can't we enjoy the fact that what we do is unique and different and not the mainstream blah blah blah crap everyone else and their dog does?

 

When folks I've never met hear I race sailboats, their first reaction is usually "wow that's so cool, I've never met anyone who does that"

 

I like that- I was so bummed when surfing became mainstream- as a surfer we used to pride ourselves in not being mainstream- why does sailing have to be mainstream?

 

It's never been for everyone, that's the allure/ you want a sport for everyone, go bowling or take up frisbee- sailing involves a lot of skill sets- critical thinking, strategy, feel, technical adeptness, physical agility, mental agility, humility, team skills, personal drive, self control and many many more facets- the fact that everyone can't just jump in and get it is part of the attraction- it's not easy... That's why everyone isn't a sailor...

 

I'm proud of that- I'll help anyone who wants to start, I'm thrilled to teach anyone anything they want to know- no ego- but even then, some just don't have what it takes- and to me, that's just fine.

In philosophy, sure. In practical measure we need infrastructure. There is one sailboat store in Indiana. There is one in Cincinnati, and presumably something by Cleveland. Mail order works well for most things, but ground tackle? I could have bought an outboard at the Dayton West Marine an hour away, but they aren't a dealer and won't honor the warranty. My state marina is 1/2 empty (1/3 empty until the last wave of vandalism) and in disrepair.

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Can't we enjoy the fact that what we do is unique and different and not the mainstream blah blah blah crap everyone else and their dog does?

 

When folks I've never met hear I race sailboats, their first reaction is usually "wow that's so cool, I've never met anyone who does that"

 

I like that- I was so bummed when surfing became mainstream- as a surfer we used to pride ourselves in not being mainstream- why does sailing have to be mainstream?

 

It's never been for everyone, that's the allure/ you want a sport for everyone, go bowling or take up frisbee- sailing involves a lot of skill sets- critical thinking, strategy, feel, technical adeptness, physical agility, mental agility, humility, team skills, personal drive, self control and many many more facets- the fact that everyone can't just jump in and get it is part of the attraction- it's not easy... That's why everyone isn't a sailor...

 

I'm proud of that- I'll help anyone who wants to start, I'm thrilled to teach anyone anything they want to know- no ego- but even then, some just don't have what it takes- and to me, that's just fine.

In philosophy, sure. In practical measure we need infrastructure. There is one sailboat store in Indiana. There is one in Cincinnati, and presumably something by Cleveland. Mail order works well for most things, but ground tackle? I could have bought an outboard at the Dayton West Marine an hour away, but they aren't a dealer and won't honor the warranty. My state marina is 1/2 empty (1/3 empty until the last wave of vandalism) and in disrepair.

 

There's no ski shops in Florida either... You can't expect sailing specific businesses to flourish where sailing isn't practical- sure there's lakes,sure there's niches where sailing is found but cmon- I live 4 min from the ocean, 3 min from the del bay- I still order all my gear or pick it up through contacts in the industry because out worst marine caters to sport fishing... Yet we have a decent yacht club and good participation-

 

Sure, it'd be nice to stroll down the street and pop into a sailing superstore- but really, unless you're APS in Eastport, you'd go belly up/ the demand isn't there to carry the overhead of inventory and storefront-

 

our sport is a specialized niche, embrace it and enjoy it-

 

Even in Newport RI you don't have storefronts catering only to sailing- sure their west is s bit more stocked but, not much better- most stuff comes from a phonecall and a drive...

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It is interesting most of the comments are centered on racing. When I learned to sail it was on a small lake in a Sunfish. I just liked it. I like being on the water. Maybe with kids it should be emphasized that it can be enjoyable, not always a competition. I'll do the occasional Wednesday beer can race but I have more fun being with friends, having a cigar and a beer and drifting with the tides and wind. That's why I am a proud 4ksb owner get out almost every week. My sons got their boating licenses and have talked about taking my boat out. Makes me proud

 

Great Post! In keeping with the golf analogy- not every golfer yearns to compete in a tournament. Some just enjoy the exercise, a nice day in a beautiful place, and the occasional thrill of a good shot (among many bad ones).

 

To many people, maybe most in SA & this thread, sailing is about racing- but racing makes sailing less accessible, not more. Yes, it makes it more interesting for those that pursue it, and that's great.

 

Like the post I quoted, I started on a Sunfish long before I could drive. Two other kids/families on my block had Sunfish too. This was some time ago, in a large city, miles from a lake. Everyone sailed for fun. I didn't know anyone who raced back then. I've skippered in races before, but have little interest in it today. I enjoy the simple thrill/pleasure of sailing, but that's just one person's opinion.

 

There is a long list of things that my generation enjoyed as kids, that the current generation has little to no interest in- kites, bikes, skateboards, guitar, etc.... Kids today have far less free time to begin with, and they would rather spend the little free time they do have gaming or something other than lazily sailing around the local lake. These are the future sailors & boat buyers.

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my golf friends can get to the club at 8am on saturday, play a round and be home by noon

 

 

i do this every week, except it's on sundays. leaves me the whole day for anything else. if you do it right , the time can be managed very well.

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...

But the reality is that if golf could retain even a slight majority of the beginners it attracts each year, the sport would be growing. And in its surveys of people who quit the game, the NGF found that what really drives retention are two factors less often discussed.

One is comfort—how comfortable a beginner is both on the course and around other golfers—which is mostly a function of atmosphere. The assumption at most courses is that a person walking in is familiar with everything from the pre-round routine to the countless unspoken rules of etiquette. In fact, beginners understand little of it. People who quit often never get past feeling like an outsider in a club for insiders.

The other factor is competence. Most beginners who don’t get hooked say they never felt “shot euphoria”—the thrill of the one great shot, however rare, that keeps even the most casual duffers coming back. By contrast, they almost surely felt the humiliation of hitting their first tee shot 10 feet while the starter watches on.

“When people say, ‘Yeah, I used to golf. It costs too much. It takes too long,’ those are convenient excuses,” Beditz said. “What they can’t admit is that they failed. So they never became comfortable and they never really became competent to the point where they can enjoy it.”

.....

 

There is the main reason golf sucks in a nutshell: "admit that the failed". So if you don't adhere to stupid etiquette that no one deigns to tell you about, get frowned upon for things that you don't have a clue about, and then are too nervous to be loose enough to hit a shot properly, get frowned upon (again) with a snigger thrown in for good measure, rinse, repeat, then you have failed!!

 

What a crock. I used to play on public courses in England, where you can buy a beer from a passing buggy and no one frowns on you wearing the same thing that 90% of the population wears on Saturday (jeans). Then I moved to Switzerland, where people wear kaki and pastels on the putting greens and driving ranges and you have to get a licence to club, and I gave up. Precious free time spent on sport should be all about fun. Learning is part of that fun, but only if done in a fun way. I've taken shitloads of people on their first sailing trips, starting out with a serious, but loose safety briefing, so we all know what to do and not to do, and then you just start to have fun, handing over the helm, not using jargon (ropes and sticks, not halyards & helms) from the start, (jargon can come in later, no reason to confuse even more at the start), and most importantly, having a beer afterward (or during), just to emphasise the "fun" part.

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There is a long list of things that my generation enjoyed as kids, that the current generation has little to no interest in- kites, bikes, skateboards, guitar, etc....

You are joking. Most teenage boys I know are in guitar bands at some point and they all have bikes (the kind you pedal). Skateboards, maybe not so much.

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Yacht clubs are trying to cater for too many diverse interests...

here's a profile of one of my clubs:

 

"Social Members" who enjoy the social side......visit the club to enjoy the view, the restaurant, the opportunity to entertain guests...

They want first class bistro & bar facilities in a professionally staffed "up-market" environment - retirees

"Club Members" who like owning a boat - power or sail - enjoy messing about in boats and occasionally visiting other clubs, fishing, entertaining friends.

Their needs are similar to Social members, but need a berth and possibly a yard for seasonal work on their craft. - retirees

"Sailing members" who like mid week and occasional weekend club racing - need yards & services- like the clubhouse experience - retirees

"Racing Members" who race with regular crews each weekend in both Club & Interclub events - need yards & services - like the sailing experience, not too concerned about the upmarket bar & dining experience....time poor working.

 

So there it is...the racing members demand good race management and boating facilities as priority. They are a minority of the membership.

The majority want an entertainment complex.

To help fund the entertainment complex, the club rents itself out as a function facility - justifying the alienation of members as "off setting the inherent costs of the club"...it's a savage cycle that sees the cost of membership (and sailing) go up, the racing membership diminish and the club increasingly looking like a retirement lifestyles advertisement (there's the similarity with golf...right there!!)

 

I think you omitted a division- the Cruisers.

 

My club has a very active cruising fleet. They plan a busy calendar of group cruises up and down the bay, each year. Sprinkled into this, are potluck dinners at the clubhouse, members' homes, and sometimes restaurants. They especially hold these social dinner events in the winter, to help pass the time. Someone commented that racing makes sailing less accessible and casual, non-racing sailing makes it more accessible. You need to be careful with that statement, because I've observed the cruisers get a bit cliqueish and look at new members as "outsiders." We lost a member who showed up with her own cruising boat because she said she was completely ignored at 3 seperate events. She said "I can be ignored for free, I don't need to pay for it."

 

Can't we enjoy the fact that what we do is unique and different and not the mainstream blah blah blah crap everyone else and their dog does?

 

When folks I've never met hear I race sailboats, their first reaction is usually "wow that's so cool, I've never met anyone who does that"

 

I like that- I was so bummed when surfing became mainstream- as a surfer we used to pride ourselves in not being mainstream- why does sailing have to be mainstream?

 

It's never been for everyone, that's the allure/ you want a sport for everyone, go bowling or take up frisbee- sailing involves a lot of skill sets- critical thinking, strategy, feel, technical adeptness, physical agility, mental agility, humility, team skills, personal drive, self control and many many more facets- the fact that everyone can't just jump in and get it is part of the attraction- it's not easy... That's why everyone isn't a sailor...

 

I'm proud of that- I'll help anyone who wants to start, I'm thrilled to teach anyone anything they want to know- no ego- but even then, some just don't have what it takes- and to me, that's just fine.

 

Sailing doesn't need to be mainstream, or the hottest pastime, but this slow grind to oblivion is equally as bad. Yacht makers are going under and they'll drag suppliers with them.

When you don't have choice in the market place, the last man standing gets to charge whatever the hell he wants, and only the wealthy get to play.

Eventually, all of those "Good Old Boats" will finally be gone, and there will be no one left to make affordable boats, and the used market will be reduced to a tiny handful of very expensive racing boats.

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Yacht clubs are trying to cater for too many diverse interests...

here's a profile of one of my clubs:

 

"Social Members" who enjoy the social side......visit the club to enjoy the view, the restaurant, the opportunity to entertain guests...

They want first class bistro & bar facilities in a professionally staffed "up-market" environment - retirees

"Club Members" who like owning a boat - power or sail - enjoy messing about in boats and occasionally visiting other clubs, fishing, entertaining friends.

Their needs are similar to Social members, but need a berth and possibly a yard for seasonal work on their craft. - retirees

"Sailing members" who like mid week and occasional weekend club racing - need yards & services- like the clubhouse experience - retirees

"Racing Members" who race with regular crews each weekend in both Club & Interclub events - need yards & services - like the sailing experience, not too concerned about the upmarket bar & dining experience....time poor working.

 

So there it is...the racing members demand good race management and boating facilities as priority. They are a minority of the membership.

The majority want an entertainment complex.

To help fund the entertainment complex, the club rents itself out as a function facility - justifying the alienation of members as "off setting the inherent costs of the club"...it's a savage cycle that sees the cost of membership (and sailing) go up, the racing membership diminish and the club increasingly looking like a retirement lifestyles advertisement (there's the similarity with golf...right there!!)

 

I think you omitted a division- the Cruisers.

 

My club has a very active cruising fleet. They plan a busy calendar of group cruises up and down the bay, each year. Sprinkled into this, are potluck dinners at the clubhouse, members' homes, and sometimes restaurants. They especially hold these social dinner events in the winter, to help pass the time. Someone commented that racing makes sailing less accessible and casual, non-racing sailing makes it more accessible. You need to be careful with that statement, because I've observed the cruisers get a bit cliqueish and look at new members as "outsiders." We lost a member who showed up with her own cruising boat because she said she was completely ignored at 3 seperate events. She said "I can be ignored for free, I don't need to pay for it."

 

Can't we enjoy the fact that what we do is unique and different and not the mainstream blah blah blah crap everyone else and their dog does?

 

When folks I've never met hear I race sailboats, their first reaction is usually "wow that's so cool, I've never met anyone who does that"

 

I like that- I was so bummed when surfing became mainstream- as a surfer we used to pride ourselves in not being mainstream- why does sailing have to be mainstream?

 

It's never been for everyone, that's the allure/ you want a sport for everyone, go bowling or take up frisbee- sailing involves a lot of skill sets- critical thinking, strategy, feel, technical adeptness, physical agility, mental agility, humility, team skills, personal drive, self control and many many more facets- the fact that everyone can't just jump in and get it is part of the attraction- it's not easy... That's why everyone isn't a sailor...

 

I'm proud of that- I'll help anyone who wants to start, I'm thrilled to teach anyone anything they want to know- no ego- but even then, some just don't have what it takes- and to me, that's just fine.

 

Sailing doesn't need to be mainstream, or the hottest pastime, but this slow grind to oblivion is equally as bad. Yacht makers are going under and they'll drag suppliers with them.

When you don't have choice in the market place, the last man standing gets to charge whatever the hell he wants, and only the wealthy get to play.

Eventually, all of those "Good Old Boats" will finally be gone, and there will be no one left to make affordable boats, and the used market will be reduced to a tiny handful of very expensive racing boats.

 

Quite agree. And in areas where sailing has died there is little chance for a new guy to buy a boat to start USA's eccentric hobby. Dinghy racers (often couples) want other couples to race against. Some will drive several hours each weekend. New boaters don't suddenly buy a boat off Craig's list and outfit it from mysterious parts they order online. If they do it won't end well. They really need a refitted boat and ideally lessons from the local shop. The surviving store in Indiana is quite good, but probably makes as much money selling human powered boats as they do from people like me. I have no concept of those that crew on big boats, just as most of you have no concept of inland sailing. Some overlap of skills, I presume I play gusts and shifts a LOT more. My cruises require a tow vehicle but less provisions. Together we keep Doyle, North, and Harken selling in US dollars. Those of us lacking time to endlessly rebuild old boats and still sail (I bought a factory refit for that reason, racers buy new Buccs) keep the ghosts of old manufacturer's in business.

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I love sailing but the cost and time to do it has become too great for me. I can go mountain bike in a shorter amount of time and enjoy myself because unlike sailboat racers, mountain bikers are some of the nicest people you will ever meet. I hope sailing can survive but its not the family activity it was decades ago. Kids don't see mom and dad racing, so they're not going to aspire to follow in their foot steps.

 

Now you have to try to get kids fired up about sailing from this void. So if your this kid here in the USA, you see football, baseball, basketball and even golf on the tv. No sailing. You even see Redbull events like skateboarding, surfing and mountain biking. In those sports, all you need is minimal gear at a low entry cost. Mom and dad want you to become the next Tiger, LeBron, Brady to get the frame and dollars. Sure, most these kids can't wipe their own butt, but mom and dad don't see it.

 

Yep, sailing is sunk. Deal with it. Embrace the horror. Enjoy it while you can.

 

If you don't get your kids up and sailing that is on you. As far as the people, yeah sailing has some douches so does, mountain biking and golf, and skiing surfing etc. People can be assholes, sailing also has some of the greatest people who champion the sport they love. Sailing was a family sport, is a correct statement however it is on us the parents the reason why it is not. As i write this I am looking for a lightning for me and my kids to race. If we come in dead last every race that is fine, my kids will get to have a coke on the boat some Swedish fish and some great memories with dad. The key is to get kids away from computer and tv screens and instill the love of outdoors and nature. My kids love going golfing with me, we go late in the evenings to not hold anyone up we go for little while then have a special dinner and drive the cart. The key is parental interaction and being a part of whatever activity with your kids. Mob_Rules this is not a slight against you at all please don't take it that way. Just 'Merica in general.

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Golf is the worst sport in the world. It requires no fitness whatsoever yet the wanks that golf want you to think that just because they walked their round, they're "athletes".

 

I don't do as much sailing as I once did but sailing does reward fitness.

 

Quadriplegics can sail but can't golf.

 

Of course they can. They even have their handicap sorted out before they start.

 

(Hat, coat, leaving)

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Hey Ajax, I am gonna give the Rock Creek Racing Association a try. They have an an introductory meeting this Sunday at the Maryland Yacht Club, that I plan on attending.

 

In regard to sailing and other than racing I will say I have a great time, grabbing a buddy, baling on work early and splitting a 6 pack while we enjoy a summer day on the bay zipping around going no where in particular. It has huge appeal to me.

 

Also, although I have only done it twice so far, there is something I find about sailing over to Rock Hall or some other nearby town for an overnighter to be so much fun, if I drove to Rock Hall for a night I might kill my self. But arriving on my 50 year old boat, going out for beers in a foreign port (which I believe is about 9 miles away as the crow flies) is a ton of fun.

 

In total, I am surprised that I am having so much fun, but I had to work at it, when I decided to do this I had never sailed before and had no friends that sailed, I bought the boat took a 2 day keel boat course and learned by trial and error, some of which was actually a bit scary in the beginning.

 

Cheers - cafe....

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Stupid. There's nothing wrong with golf. It has extremely high fixed costs for land and development. If you have ever known somebody who developed a golf course, the right way to describe the relationship is that you knew them "before that ugly bankruptcy business" or "after they reorganized." Big entertainment companies can pull it off but golf courses are a money sinkhole for several years before they start making any money, if ever. The nature of it, is that it's an expensive sport.

 

Not too long ago - the early 2000's, it was a pretty intensively middle class past time. There's a modest little country club in my neighborhood and while the cars there on weekends tended towards Caddies and BMWs, the weekday crew was primarily tradesmen. The idea of doctors and lawyers taking off an afternoon to golf is laughable; nobody in those professions has the time and increasingly, lawyers don't have Saturdays off either and doctors pull longer hours due to higher overhead requirements forcing them to evolve their practice models into Six Sigma production lines.

 

What has happened is that the systematic effort to loot the middle class on behalf of the business and political elite has succeeded, and the middle class has a steadily declining income level. Stocks aren't the measure of the economy, the level of employment and the real dollar value of household income as measured against, say, 1960 dollars, tracked over time, are the measure. The middle class is taking it in the ass, and has been for close to a decade. You can cite to specific things like the bailouts (aka graft) of various industries, the housing bubble (which turned out to be the government subsidizing of private debt held by a handful of huge banks), rising taxes and regulatory burdens crippling economic growth for small and mid-sized businesses, and the wage pressures on tradesman and some economic sectors like IT and engineering from functionally open borders. But the bottom line is that the mass of customers needed to keep golf cheap is disappearing. If you own a course, your loan and maintenance costs are more or less fixed, with year-to-year costs rising with inflation. If your customer base drops from 10,000 rounds of golf at $27 per round, to 500 customers, even with austerity measures you need to hike the rate to $45 a round just to keep the doors open.

 

Elitist my ass. If you show up with the money, they'll take you. It's not even a cost/scarcity problem like there is with marinas. It's a general economy problem. Not enough people with money, exacerbated a little bit by the time crunch on a former golfing constituency (professionals) who used to have a lot more free time on their hands.

 

To the extent there is a common thread between the two sports, it's that they both have a middle to upper middle class center of mass, because that's where there is a large number of people who have a little bit of disposable income. The wealthy can afford golf and sailing but there aren't many truly wealthy people, the poor generally can't afford it (though it doesn't take much money to crew). Both sports are in decline because the middle class and chunks of the upper middle class are moving backwards economically and working harder to hold onto what they have.

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Hey Ajax, I am gonna give the Rock Creek Racing Association a try. They have an an introductory meeting this Sunday at the Maryland Yacht Club, that I plan on attending.

 

In regard to sailing and other than racing I will say I have a great time, grabbing a buddy, baling on work early and splitting a 6 pack while we enjoy a summer day on the bay zipping around going no where in particular. It has huge appeal to me.

 

Also, although I have only done it twice so far, there is something I find about sailing over to Rock Hall or some other nearby town for an overnighter to be so much fun, if I drove to Rock Hall for a night I might kill my self. But arriving on my 50 year old boat, going out for beers in a foreign port (which I believe is about 9 miles away as the crow flies) is a ton of fun.

 

In total, I am surprised that I am having so much fun, but I had to work at it, when I decided to do this I had never sailed before and had no friends that sailed, I bought the boat took a 2 day keel boat course and learned by trial and error, some of which was actually a bit scary in the beginning.

 

Cheers - cafe....

 

I am right there with you, brother. One reason (of many!) why I suck at racing, is because I also love to cruise and explore with my boat. I carry a lot of cruising crap that hardcore racers strip out.

I know I'm having more fun though. :)

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I don't golf but do ski and sail. I think the difference with golf is everybody is playing on the exact same playground. So what you do effects others, such as slow play. In skiing yes there are beginners you have to avoid and ski around but that takes 5 seconds and you are on your way.

 

Same with sailing. What some other sailor is doing does not really effect you.

 

Not the same with golf.

 

I guess just another reason to stick with skiing and sailing, at least for me.

I had that experience at a golf course this summer. I've golfed a handful of times and my two buddies I was playing with were probably in their first year of somewhat regular play. Suffice to say we were those 3 rubes everybody was playing thru who couldn't find their balls and quadruple putting the greens. The golf pro's suggestion was to come during a weekday when it was less crowded. Really?! Who has time for that? It wasn't a welcoming atmosphere even though they were not unfriendly just not friendly to newbies.

 

In contrast my local ski slope tripled the amount of free instruction and streamlined it and increased the number of intermediate slopes because, as one of the instructors said, "every week there's a thousand people who've never skied before". For me, if I'm lucky, I ski 3 times a year and the first time each season I need a little bunny slope refresher.

 

I can't speak to kids training but how many clubs have adult training programs? I'm pretty sure a lot of clubs have the guys who spend a lot of time maintaining their boats, but not sailing them because they've realized that this sailing thing's not so easy and they don't want to be embarrassed in front of the geezers at the club or break their boat.

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It is interesting most of the comments are centered on racing. When I learned to sail it was on a small lake in a Sunfish. I just liked it. I like being on the water. Maybe with kids it should be emphasized that it can be enjoyable, not always a competition. I'll do the occasional Wednesday beer can race but I have more fun being with friends, having a cigar and a beer and drifting with the tides and wind. That's why I am a proud 4ksb owner get out almost every week. My sons got their boating licenses and have talked about taking my boat out. Makes me proud

 

exactly how I feel

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Sailing doesn't need to be mainstream, or the hottest pastime, but this slow grind to oblivion is equally as bad. Yacht makers are going under and they'll drag suppliers with them.

When you don't have choice in the market place, the last man standing gets to charge whatever the hell he wants, and only the wealthy get to play.

Eventually, all of those "Good Old Boats" will finally be gone, and there will be no one left to make affordable boats, and the used market will be reduced to a tiny handful of very expensive racing boats.

Good summary. The "slow grind to oblivion" is no fun to watch, but it's been going on for decades despite every sort of prescription to 'save sailing.' Some posters here have written about it for decades, but the decline persists.

 

No amount of marketing or sales will change the fact there are fewer people with the time and money, who are also willing to push through the other substantial barriers to entry. There are many more activities to choose from now, with lower costs, less time commitment, and fewer barriers to entry. Golf, tennis, sailing and all the classic activities have been in decline despite efforts to turn them around. Sailing is relatively expensive, the ongoing costs if not the initial purchase.

 

Fitness has become more appealing. Professional sailing aside (a very small group), sailing really isn't much more physical than golf except for a few positions on race boats. There are lots of "active amateur sailors" who aren't at all fit.

 

Where "exclusivity" was valued, Boomers are among the few left who still cling to elitism. Younger generations are less interested, even repelled by exclusivity - it's politically incorrect nowadays. The aging and decline of yacht clubs is everywhere, though the premier yacht clubs will last much longer, the 1% are still willing to pay for exclusivity - it's still business networking for them.

 

And I know few sailors who really encourage new owners. Sure they may take steps to get them out on the water, but that's where it ends, they won't help or mentor the new sailors. New sailors inevitably drift away, and race participation continues to decline.

 

The many Boomers who sail, and represent the industry itself, are just hoping to complete their participation/careers before the decline does. They like to pretend, even write otherwise in the meantime.

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All valid symptoms, but they are not the disease.

 

When participation in yacht racing was at its greatest, sailing was an "Amateur" sport and it was against the rules for a sailor to be paid directly to race on a boat. "Professionals" certainly existed, but they were sailmakers, winch and head foil manufacturers and the like. They made a living selling a product by being good at winning yacht races. There were not many of them and they did what they did because they loved to race, not because they were being paid large sums.

 

That all changed when "Professional" sailors were allowed to be paid directly and you can track the correlation between the numbers of "Professional" sailors and general participation in yacht racing.

 

Now there are many "Professional" sailors. In fact, an argument can be made that "Professional" sailors run the sport of yacht racing.

 

So when a doctor who runs a hospital is causing a patient's disease and the proscription is to remove the doctor, do you imagine that the patient is ever going to get better.

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I agree with this "generality," however in the muck of the middle class, there are some who are succeeding financially. They figured it out to turn the work over to employees so they can spend more of their time enjoying life. Parceling out this small group, do we market to them? Do we suggest that to enjoy life they ought to own a sailboat? Do we have people working the demographic statistics, dropping these folks marketing materials to get them interested? OR, do we lump them into the generality and not even try?

 

 

Sailing doesn't need to be mainstream, or the hottest pastime, but this slow grind to oblivion is equally as bad. Yacht makers are going under and they'll drag suppliers with them.
When you don't have choice in the market place, the last man standing gets to charge whatever the hell he wants, and only the wealthy get to play.
Eventually, all of those "Good Old Boats" will finally be gone, and there will be no one left to make affordable boats, and the used market will be reduced to a tiny handful of very expensive racing boats.

Good summary. The "slow grind to oblivion" is no fun to watch, but it's been going on for decades despite every sort of prescription to 'save sailing.' Some posters here have written about it for decades, but the decline persists.

No amount of marketing or sales will change the fact there are fewer people with the time and money, who are also willing to push through the other substantial barriers to entry. There are many more activities to choose from now, with lower costs, less time commitment, and fewer barriers to entry. Golf, tennis, sailing and all the classic activities have been in decline despite efforts to turn them around. Sailing is relatively expensive, the ongoing costs if not the initial purchase.

Fitness has become more appealing. Professional sailing aside (a very small group), sailing really isn't much more physical than golf except for a few positions on race boats. There are lots of "active amateur sailors" who aren't at all fit.

Where "exclusivity" was valued, Boomers are among the few left who still cling to elitism. Younger generations are less interested, even repelled by exclusivity - it's politically incorrect nowadays. The aging and decline of yacht clubs is everywhere, though the premier yacht clubs will last much longer, the 1% are still willing to pay for exclusivity - it's still business networking for them.

And I know few sailors who really encourage new owners. Sure they may take steps to get them out on the water, but that's where it ends, they won't help or mentor the new sailors. New sailors inevitably drift away, and race participation continues to decline.

The many Boomers who sail, and represent the industry itself, are just hoping to complete their participation/careers before the decline does. They like to pretend, even write otherwise in the meantime.

 

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Fantastic parallel to conventional wisdom describing sailing's decline. However I believe deeply in the following reasons for decline:

 

  • Junior Sailing's winning is everything approach goes off the rails early and often. 8 year olds by themselves obviously don't socialize, get scared and never learn how to crew. On top of that, they're browbeaten into winning. No engendering any love for the sport- let's get winning out there, or else!
  • Professionalism at all levels is driving out fun-loving and competent amateurs, the backbone of the sport. When I did Key West Race Week in the late 1980s, with nearly thirty 40 footers on the line, you could count all the pros on one hand. Most of the boats were skippered and crewed by their owners and friends. You could even live aboard and save a lot of dollars!
  • Handicap systems managed by elite and authoritarian committees who play favorites and bully newbies. PHRF is a fine idea managed objectively by fair minded individuals. Like politicians, term limits are necessary
  • Proliferation of the latest and greatest one design and offshore boats while the used sailboat market collapses from the weight of well built, long lasting, good boats no one wants.
  • Yacht clubs torn between the majority who dislike racing and want to build swimming pools and subsidize gourmet restaurants while what's left of racing has to be financially self sufficient.

 

 

Interesting that US Sailing had emailed me a survey recently. I listed several of the same points in the survey. I've been involved in a lot of youth activities. Most kids just want to do fun stuff with other kids, putting them by themselves in an Opti and telling them to win is not a recipe for success for most. Clubs also only want to work with those who can bring home trophies and really don't want to spend time with beginners. For those of us who have other lives, it's hard to justify spending $40,000+ for the lastest small race boat, when there are plenty of old one design classes around that have boats for less then $10,000. But you need critical mass and when those for which racing is their life constantly jump to the latest craze, those who race less frequently and not have the cash, but may be very good, have few options. Even the lowly Laser requires $6,000 for a boat with most of the used boats noncompetitive due to leaks etc. Now if you could buy just a Laser hull for $2.500, you will find the spars, foils, blocks, etc. have a longer life and you could race now and then for cheap. And yes, PHRF is an option, but if the fleet has lots of boats rated at say 120 and your tub rates 200, why bother entering? The handicap does not make up for the huge fleet separation. Who wants to race boats that are hull down after the first mark even if they give you a 10 minute handicap? Plus you get buried in bad air at the start. As far as the comment about attitude, it seems to be a lot friendlier at one design events.

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The problem with most small boat and competitive sailing is it based on sailing in the two slowest possible ways - Upwind and downwind.

 

 

Great quote. I do remember when racing around the buoys meant a TRIANGLE. I think the logic for doing away with the triangle was that there wasn't much passing on the reaching legs, but at least you got to go fast.

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I agree with this "generality," however in the muck of the middle class, there are some who are succeeding financially. They figured it out to turn the work over to employees so they can spend more of their time enjoying life. Parceling out this small group, do we market to them? Do we suggest that to enjoy life they ought to own a sailboat? Do we have people working the demographic statistics, dropping these folks marketing materials to get them interested? OR, do we lump them into the generality and not even try?

 

 

Sailing doesn't need to be mainstream, or the hottest pastime, but this slow grind to oblivion is equally as bad. Yacht makers are going under and they'll drag suppliers with them.

When you don't have choice in the market place, the last man standing gets to charge whatever the hell he wants, and only the wealthy get to play.

Eventually, all of those "Good Old Boats" will finally be gone, and there will be no one left to make affordable boats, and the used market will be reduced to a tiny handful of very expensive racing boats.

Good summary. The "slow grind to oblivion" is no fun to watch, but it's been going on for decades despite every sort of prescription to 'save sailing.' Some posters here have written about it for decades, but the decline persists.

 

No amount of marketing or sales will change the fact there are fewer people with the time and money, who are also willing to push through the other substantial barriers to entry. There are many more activities to choose from now, with lower costs, less time commitment, and fewer barriers to entry. Golf, tennis, sailing and all the classic activities have been in decline despite efforts to turn them around. Sailing is relatively expensive, the ongoing costs if not the initial purchase.

 

Fitness has become more appealing. Professional sailing aside (a very small group), sailing really isn't much more physical than golf except for a few positions on race boats. There are lots of "active amateur sailors" who aren't at all fit.

 

Where "exclusivity" was valued, Boomers are among the few left who still cling to elitism. Younger generations are less interested, even repelled by exclusivity - it's politically incorrect nowadays. The aging and decline of yacht clubs is everywhere, though the premier yacht clubs will last much longer, the 1% are still willing to pay for exclusivity - it's still business networking for them.

 

And I know few sailors who really encourage new owners. Sure they may take steps to get them out on the water, but that's where it ends, they won't help or mentor the new sailors. New sailors inevitably drift away, and race participation continues to decline.

 

The many Boomers who sail, and represent the industry itself, are just hoping to complete their participation/careers before the decline does. They like to pretend, even write otherwise in the meantime.

 

 

 

Glen, it sounds as though you are talking about the Upper Middle Class. You said "They figured it out to turn the work over to employees so they can spend more of their time enjoying life." I don't know any middle class that can turn over operations to Employees. You had better be making a shitload if you are going to turn it over to employees.

 

The problem, here in the USA, is the local governments have their hand out to collect. Boaters are seen as 1%'r even though we are barely able to keep at our sport of choice.

The 70's and 80's were the heyday. it all started fading in the mid 90's.

Too much regulation and government BS will kill everything.

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Glenn, none of us are happy about it, we love sailing too. And I said "fewer," not that no one has the time, money and drive to overcome barriers to entry despite the alternatives. And I'm not suggesting we shouldn't try, as you have for decades. But I don't think we'll ever see anything like the heydays of sailing again. All we can do is make the most of those left. It's not just a sales/marketing shortcoming.

 

I see a lot of focus on juniors, and keeping them sailing in the years between juniordom and adulthood. We should try to bridge that gaps, but future generations will still be confronted with the money-time-barrier-alternative obstacles that have led the decline. I wish I was more optimistic, but time and cultural norms march on...

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There's no way to make a spur of the moment decision with a few hours left in the afternoon and go sailing. No way. I still have a Laser sitting at the club but it takes me 45 minutes, minimum, to get the gear out of the locker, rig up and launch, another hour to put everything a way and maybe an hour actually sailing. If sailing were all I wanted to do, that would work but I prefer other pursuits that take a hell of a lot less time and, frankly, give me more satisfaction-like surfing, riding a bike or motorcycle-stuff like that. I'm actually seriously looking for a new cruising boat for my wife and me and an occasional outing with friends but I know, realistically, I will only want to devote an entire day to the exercise maybe once a month. At this stage of my life I can afford that but not many 20-30 somethings can, especially if the have kids and soccer/swimming/baseball.......

You could move to a house on the water. Boat behind the house, golf course a few minutes away, just what you need...

 

I sail and golf. I frequently say that this is the 'stupidest' sport in the world. Whether it's pounding upwind, getting sprayed with jets of cold water watching dollar bills get flogged out of the new racing sails, watching the wind shift and leaving us in a hole while the fleet sails by or swinging a stupid composite stick at a little ball that wants to go anywhere but where I want it to. Like herding cats but only worse since I paid money to do it. Both are terribly frustrating and remarkably rewarding. I choose to participate because they are hard.

 

A new level of difficulty has been trying to introduce my kids to both sports. With attention spans of flies, I have had to learn new levels of zen like patience. Either way, without Dad's direct influence, there's no way either of my kids would ever take an interest in either sport more than trying it a few times. Sailing and golf are neither inexpensive or beginner friendly sports.

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Golf only sucks if you look up.

 

Sailing sucks if you don't.

 

On the Salish Sea, most marinas have deals with local golf courses to come give you a ride (and back), and give you a really decent discount.

 

:)

 

20% problems.......

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Stupid. There's nothing wrong with golf. It has extremely high fixed costs for land and development. If you have ever known somebody who developed a golf course, the right way to describe the relationship is that you knew them "before that ugly bankruptcy business" or "after they reorganized." Big entertainment companies can pull it off but golf courses are a money sinkhole for several years before they start making any money, if ever. The nature of it, is that it's an expensive sport.

 

Not too long ago - the early 2000's, it was a pretty intensively middle class past time. There's a modest little country club in my neighborhood and while the cars there on weekends tended towards Caddies and BMWs, the weekday crew was primarily tradesmen. The idea of doctors and lawyers taking off an afternoon to golf is laughable; nobody in those professions has the time and increasingly, lawyers don't have Saturdays off either and doctors pull longer hours due to higher overhead requirements forcing them to evolve their practice models into Six Sigma production lines.

 

What has happened is that the systematic effort to loot the middle class on behalf of the business and political elite has succeeded, and the middle class has a steadily declining income level. Stocks aren't the measure of the economy, the level of employment and the real dollar value of household income as measured against, say, 1960 dollars, tracked over time, are the measure. The middle class is taking it in the ass, and has been for close to a decade. You can cite to specific things like the bailouts (aka graft) of various industries, the housing bubble (which turned out to be the government subsidizing of private debt held by a handful of huge banks), rising taxes and regulatory burdens crippling economic growth for small and mid-sized businesses, and the wage pressures on tradesman and some economic sectors like IT and engineering from functionally open borders. But the bottom line is that the mass of customers needed to keep golf cheap is disappearing. If you own a course, your loan and maintenance costs are more or less fixed, with year-to-year costs rising with inflation. If your customer base drops from 10,000 rounds of golf at $27 per round, to 500 customers, even with austerity measures you need to hike the rate to $45 a round just to keep the doors open.

 

Elitist my ass. If you show up with the money, they'll take you. It's not even a cost/scarcity problem like there is with marinas. It's a general economy problem. Not enough people with money, exacerbated a little bit by the time crunch on a former golfing constituency (professionals) who used to have a lot more free time on their hands.

 

To the extent there is a common thread between the two sports, it's that they both have a middle to upper middle class center of mass, because that's where there is a large number of people who have a little bit of disposable income. The wealthy can afford golf and sailing but there aren't many truly wealthy people, the poor generally can't afford it (though it doesn't take much money to crew). Both sports are in decline because the middle class and chunks of the upper middle class are moving backwards economically and working harder to hold onto what they have.

 

Excellent points.

 

One other factor particularly relevant to the future of sailing is that most teenage kids I know (the future sailors) work at least part of the weekend at cafes and hardware stores mainly, as far as I can see, to pay for their iphone plan or whatever. Very hard to schedule sailing around that kind of casual work commitment.

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To summarize"

1: Golf sucks, or doesn't, or something. I fell asleep and can't remember.

2: The middle class has shriveled like a dick in March water. Most of my clients are working poor from middle class roots. Some are stupid. Some are incredibly hard working. Some are slackers. Some are scrappers working hard for every advantage they can find. Its hard to make a living when your clients lack money.

A: People working two or more jobs with variable hours don't have time to boat.

a: Government jobs excepted, if it can be done by a computer it will.

b: If not somebody in Mexico or China is willing to try.

B. People renting televisions don't buy boats.

3: Gasoline makes things go faster then the wind.

A. Those with a lot of money and a hydraulic motor can use the wind to go almost as fast as a motor alone can.

B A personal watercraft is easy.

4. Some people don't want to race. Others do.

A: This may pull thin resources in several directions

B: Racing on optis means one kid wins, the rest are loosers, and there is no 'team' to pall around with-just competition that must be beat so mamma is proud.

5. .Nobody knows why sailing was cool in 1968, and why it stopped seeming cool to those who don't know better.

6. Those with no money and those spending money on 4 wheelers both think sailing is elitist. Unless they see me in my 40 year old dinghy wearing a beat up outback hat.

7. Some sailboat owners are snobs. A few even know how to sail.

 

Conclusions and recommendations?

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5. Nobody knows why sailing was cool in 1968, and why it stopped seeming cool to those who don't know better.

6. Those with no money and those spending money on 4 wheelers both think sailing is elitist. Unless they see me in my 40 year old dinghy wearing a beat up outback hat.

7. Some sailboat owners are snobs. A few even know how to sail.

 

Before fiberglass, wooden boats were relatively expensive, and maintenance intense. Fiberglass revolutionized recreational boats, coincidentally in an era the middle class with disposable income was peaking. Suddenly, the middle class could enjoy an activity that was previously reserved for the wealthy. And the middle class could "enjoy" some level of snobbery, second/third tier yacht clubs began to grow/form.

 

Now sailing is relatively expensive once again, coincidentally in an era there are fewer middle class with time, money (among other barriers). Snobbery is still enjoying some appeal with Boomers and the younger 1%, but others are increasingly unable to afford or unwilling to put up with snobbery. Hence second/third tier yacht clubs are gone/declining in numbers.

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Sailing lacks "beginner courses" too.

 

 

Uh, there's a mark up there and a mark down there! How much simpler do you want?

And if you don't race, it's even simpler

 

The idea that sailing is insanely expensive and a barrier to beginners is complete BS. You can spend as much or as little as you want and go sailing. How much does a used Laser/Hobie cost? Now, If you want to race, and race competitively, that's a different matter.

Quite frankly that's a bunch of crap! The only reason I was able to get into sailing is because Community Boating in Boston had a junior program for $1 a year. If it had been $5 it would have been out of reach for me and there were hundreds of other kids there in the same situation.

Owning a laser or hobie at a few hundred bucks would have been a dream beyond comprehension. To multitudes of Americans there is NO disposable income and as the middle class shrinks so will sailing and golf. I've been lucky enough through mentorship, hard work and plain ass good luck to climb into a bracket where I can sail AND play golf and if anyone thinks luck doesn't play a big factor in moving up the income bracket from poverty then they are in denial and think they did everything on their own or they have their head up their ass. One persons insanely expensive is another's chump change. But make no mistake cost is and culture are huge barriers in either elite sport. A sport that keeps growing worldwide is soccer. Why? All you need is a ball. There are places where they can't even afford that and they make their own over whatever is available.

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Golf uses a PHS handicap system just like sailing. The big difference is yacht clubs don't need to water and mow the bay.

Anyway everyone knows that the lamest sport on earth is soccer. A bunch of guys with stupid haircuts that hardly ever score.

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I have been banging on about this for a while now. Where i live we see great big fleets of Optis, then maybe 10% go into a Starling, then maybe 10% of kids move into an olympic class or to the RNZYS youth program. At the same time, we very rarely ever see a new raceboat or even racer cruiser launched for local use, and the guys sailing the aging fleet of keelboats are themselves aging. There just doesnt seem to be any young blood in the keelboat scene here, i have a couple of friends with boats, one a mid 80s 26'er and one with a one tonner, and mine will be back in the water this year, who are among the youngest boat owners sailing and we are all 40ish now.

 

My plan (when the boat is launched) is to get a few kids who are about to leave the Opti or Starling fleets, and build a crew. i will probably have to get a crew van as most of these kids cant get to the marina, but thats easy. I want to also teach the kids about boat ownership, not just racing, ie how to service a winch, run a new halyard, simple splices, engine service etc, as well as rotate them all through the different positions on the boat.

 

My objective is to build a bunch of competent club level keelboat racers, not pro level guys like the squaddy produces, but youngsters who can jump on board a boat and contribute and therefore have fun.

 

What i have seen is that if your family doesnt have a racing keelboat then its REALLY hard to get into as a youngster, because of the etiquette bullshit and the cliquishness of the whole thing.

 

I can only try and see if it works to get a new generation club sailing.

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I agree completely, but walking in to the Opti rigging lawn and asking the young fella's if they would like to come on your yacht a try a few different positions might not be seen in the right light.

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Can't we enjoy the fact that what we do is unique and different and not the mainstream blah blah blah crap everyone else and their dog does?

 

When folks I've never met hear I race sailboats, their first reaction is usually "wow that's so cool, I've never met anyone who does that"

 

I like that- I was so bummed when surfing became mainstream- as a surfer we used to pride ourselves in not being mainstream- why does sailing have to be mainstream?

 

It's never been for everyone, that's the allure/ you want a sport for everyone, go bowling or take up frisbee- sailing involves a lot of skill sets- critical thinking, strategy, feel, technical adeptness, physical agility, mental agility, humility, team skills, personal drive, self control and many many more facets- the fact that everyone can't just jump in and get it is part of the attraction- it's not easy... That's why everyone isn't a sailor...

 

I'm proud of that- I'll help anyone who wants to start, I'm thrilled to teach anyone anything they want to know- no ego- but even then, some just don't have what it takes- and to me, that's just fine.

In philosophy, sure. In practical measure we need infrastructure. There is one sailboat store in Indiana. There is one in Cincinnati, and presumably something by Cleveland. Mail order works well for most things, but ground tackle? I could have bought an outboard at the Dayton West Marine an hour away, but they aren't a dealer and won't honor the warranty. My state marina is 1/2 empty (1/3 empty until the last wave of vandalism) and in disrepair.

 

There's no ski shops in Florida either... You can't expect sailing specific businesses to flourish where sailing isn't practical- sure there's lakes,sure there's niches where sailing is found but cmon- I live 4 min from the ocean, 3 min from the del bay- I still order all my gear or pick it up through contacts in the industry because out worst marine caters to sport fishing... Yet we have a decent yacht club and good participation-

 

Sure, it'd be nice to stroll down the street and pop into a sailing superstore- but really, unless you're APS in Eastport, you'd go belly up/ the demand isn't there to carry the overhead of inventory and storefront-

 

our sport is a specialized niche, embrace it and enjoy it-

 

Even in Newport RI you don't have storefronts catering only to sailing- sure their west is s bit more stocked but, not much better- most stuff comes from a phonecall and a drive...

 

Funny you bring up ski shops.. There aren't any in Denver ether. Sure sports authority etc have some stuff, but the real mom and pop ski shops are all gone... Trying to find some ski pants for a trip up this weekend and It is a lost cause. Everyone is already into their spring stock and have already basically put stuff away.... Internets here I come.....

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29 year old here. For the record, I grew up in a power boat family, learned to sail sunfish in the boy scouts, was involved casually in sailing since but in the last 5 years or so have gotten more into crewing races (especially distance races). I am not a member of a yacht club. I own clubs and golf rarely, 2-3 times per year for social or work reasons.

 

First, I think the parallel between golf and sailing are dubious and the differences and the dynamics of participation in them reflect this.

On the golf side:

  • There are 24mm of them, everyone knows a golfer
  • They have lots of people trying it but not continuing- mainly because trying it is relatively go to a pub course and rent clubs- 50 bucks and no commitment.
  • As mentioned, Golf is a sport that is more enjoyable when less people are on the course, the desire for more participants has more to do with the industry. Perhaps some country/golf clubs have issues with membership but to me that's less of a sport problem.
  • People aren't sticking with it for the same reason, the X-games are popular or adventure travel is popular with my generation. We want more excitement.

As for Sailing:

  • the 2011 National recreational boating Survey estimates 10.6mm participants on sailboats total in the USA, way less people than golf, and I believe that includes passive guests whom this forum wouldn't consider "sailors"
  • Different animal because except for a crowded anchorage, more sailors means better racing, cruising, and fun.not saying everyone should be a sailor but more people tend to improve most things sailing related.
  • Not a new idea- but imho the biggest hurdle is the change in how the average person in the younger demographic (who would be getting into sailing now) lives and thinks. On average compared the gen x-ers and older: we have less disposable income, we working longer/or irregular hours (I can't race Wednesdays), we have (or at least feel we have) more income uncertainty and change jobs/move more often making joining anything with an initiation fee inherently less valuable not to mention owning a large illiquid item like a boat, and we tend to view exclusivity both of a "club" and at the elitist stereotype of sailing as negative. (yet despite this, powerboating numbers seem flat to up)
  • People are more likely to relocate out of region so children staying involved in sailing and joining their parents club is less likely
  • Despite how easy it is to say "to learn, show up with a 6 pack asking for a ride on wednesday" To most people thinking about sailing is intimidating- Terminology, complexity, an the fact if you don't like it you are "stuck" on a boat on water is more of a factor than we sailors might think.
  • Misconceptions/ignorance of non-sailors: I asked a colleague if he could see himself "getting into sailing" and his response was, I an apartment how can I think about buying a boat? He, an educated and relatively worldly person thought he would need a boat to sail and was completely oblivious to volunteer "crewing" as a concept. Others I asked thought they need some official certification.

I think for most may people my age sailing is just not a hobby they consider. There isn't a public presence or critical mass of participants to make people think about it. I think for trends to reverse there needs to be a "Tiger woods" of sailing or a pop culture influence, like hunger games and archery, to inspire the next generation.

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Good post Doug, nice to hear a perspective from your generation. And consistent with what I've read and seen, even if it's not what the old guard wants to hear. Many failing second & third tier yacht clubs are myopically trying to bring back the good old days, self-defeating IMHO. Or thinking juniors will fill their future membership rolls if they're just exposed to what sailing was like in the 70's.

 

Time, MONEY, barriers to entry (elitism, arcane rules/terminology), many more alternatives today.

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I am a beginning sailor and as I go through the process I have been thinking quite a bit about what would work better to bring people in.

 

If there were sailing clubs with fleets of beginner boats to rent, dinghies and small keel boats of the racer and cruiser variety, I would be all over it. If such a club also had a list of experienced members I could pay by the hour for instruction in both sailing and maintenance I would be running to put my money down. If such a club had a tool "library" where you could rent almost everything and a project room with a bench, I would not only join but work as much as possible to support the club.

 

I own a townhouse with no space to keep a ton of tools and no where to work. I have a crap ton of student loan debt so I can't afford a huge yacht club buy in, or an expensive boat. I did not grow up sailing or fixing things, and both are equally intimidating in this new venture. I work a really competitive and stressful job and would prefer to cruise on my own schedule, not race.

 

One last thing, sailing is perceived as very sexist and the attitude is on display very frequently. Women now have money and are buying things like homes while single. Failing to court them is a huge mistake. They have disposable income and a mind set different from generations before. They do not want to be in an environment that is demeaning or uncomfortable. While many sailors are personally not sexist, many are and the culture of sailing does not discourage it.

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The closest thing was had to a Tiger Woods of sailing, was the Oracle team during the last America's Cup.

That's the only time I know of, where lots of non-sailors were watching sailing on TV and were actually interested in it. I had co-workers coming to me every day, asking me to explain what was going on.

 

I also agree with Doug's final bullet about misconceptions.

Misconceptions about cost are another barrier to entry. Most people think *any* kind of sailing is prohibitively expensive.

I use the "Harley Davidson Comparison Model" to explain that it's far cheaper than one would expect. I have an entire gaggle of co-workers who own expensive Harley's and they've modded them out with aftermarket parts. Their investment into these bikes are now up in the 10's of thousands of dollars, yet they think sailing is financially unattainable. Huh?

 

Then I explain how I found a Hobie 16 on a trailer for $100 bucks, put $250 worth of parts into it, and was off sailing.

I also explain that my club's annual dues are $600 and the "shared boat program" that gives you access to a fleet of Lasers, Flying Scots, Chesapeake 20's and Albacores is an additional $300 per year.

So, $900/year for about 15 years, and that's the cost of your mod'ed out Hardly Ableson (not including gas, maintenance and insurance). No burden of ownership and maintenance, and you get to play with 4 different kinds of sailboats whenever you like.

 

We really should do a better job of eliminating the misconceptions.

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vjm-

 

Maybe you should move up here. My club has every single thing you asked for, except for an extensive "tool library" (but we do have some).

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I know. South east Florida has surprised me in how difficult it is to launch this whole project. If I didn't really love my job I would at least go to the west coast of Florida, or further north I guess. Not many inexpensive clubs for adults down here.

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The cost is really a bitch, particularly the way a boat can sap an unexpected $2-$3k out of you at the worst time. Owning a sailboat, particularly the older ones most of us can afford, is a bit like being the soap custodian at the local state penitentiary. "What, Otis dropped the soap in the shower again, and I gotta go get it? Daaaaaamn. Again? Really? It's like Otis is doing this on purpose or something."

 

Boat clubs really do seem like a good deal. The only downside - and this goes to the women thing - is if you're married you are likely to have to pay for a club that has cruisable boats. That's a lot more expensive. The axiom that women don't lie down on a boat where they can't sit down is generally true, but it goes a bit further than that. They do not seem to be all that interested in racing or the harder enthusiast stuff. There are some but generally a lot of women seem to view sailboats as something like a nice RV or a bicycling picnic, awful fun to think about and not so much fun to execute on. There are many exceptions (and my how I like sailing with women who like to sail), but this seems to be the rule. Observation there, not stereotyping. Having the money for a nice Jeanneau Saildominium, a fairly plush vacation home on the water, seems to be the easiest way to draw women into sailing. This is also the way the mass manufacturers are mostly trending.

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I would argue that what you are seeing is the result of sailing positioning itself as a man's sport, and boat ownership in particular being something men do and not women. When was the last time you saw a boat ad that depicted a woman taking her female friends out for a ride on her boat? I get that that does not reflect most people's reality, but advertising sells the dream. Right now the dream seems to be a white, older, straight couple or a man owning the boat. Very rarely do we even see an ad with a straight couple depicted and woman doing anything but sitting, or (worse) laying around in a bikini.

 

I think there are plenty of boats with small cabins that many people would enjoy taking out with friends or for an overnight. Kids included. They end up with few avenues open to them except racing. Not all kids enjoy that. All kids enjoy being the captain (with one adult on board who only acts/speaks in an emergency), planning a cruise with buddies, and doing it. I tend to think all people do, but maybe that is just my personal sailboat fever talking.

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I would argue that what you are seeing is the result of sailing positioning itself as a man's sport, and boat ownership in particular being something men do and not women. When was the last time you saw a boat ad that depicted a woman taking her female friends out for a ride on her boat? I get that that does not reflect most people's reality, but advertising sells the dream. Right now the dream seems to be a white, older, straight couple or a man owning the boat. Very rarely do we even see an ad with a straight couple depicted and woman doing anything but sitting, or (worse) laying around in a bikini.

 

I think there are plenty of boats with small cabins that many people would enjoy taking out with friends or for an overnight. Kids included. They end up with few avenues open to them except racing. Not all kids enjoy that. All kids enjoy being the captain (with one adult on board who only acts/speaks in an emergency), planning a cruise with buddies, and doing it. I tend to think all people do, but maybe that is just my personal sailboat fever talking.

 

Nice style!

The Ocean is awesome!

Sailing boats are tight

Yacht Clubs are lame

Maybe it’s time for sailing to get back to the source

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I would argue that what you are seeing is the result of sailing positioning itself as a man's sport, and boat ownership in particular being something men do and not women.

 

How often have you met women that enjoy or even tolerate getting dirty while changing the engine oil or winterizing the engine?

How many women have you met that will tolerate hours of sanding/painting/waxing the hull of a 25-30 foot boat?

Replacing the joker valve in the toilet?

 

For sure they exist, and I've met a few but they are somewhat rare. "Ownership" entails a lot of tasks that many women simply do not want to take on.

Hell, I don't even "enjoy" most of these tasks. I tolerate them because the reward of what sailing gives me is worth it. The reward of sleeping aboard a boat that is a little less of a shitbox is worth it.

 

Look, I'm just not buying the line anymore that sailing is so sexist that women can't make inroads.

This is the decade of female empowerment, the 21st century. A woman's dollar is just as valued as a man's at the brokerage. If a woman wants to buy and sail a boat, no one is going to stop her. If a woman wants to go into a partnership with a few of her friends on a boat, no one is going to stop them. Marinas are constantly waging the battle against empty slips. No marina in its right mind would turn a female owner away.

 

Are there bastions of sexism? Yes, they're usually certain clubs which are easy to avoid. A woman owning a pocket cruiser at a local marina might deal with the occasional sexist old phart making comments as she walks by, or while she's working topside on her boat but that's also easily dealt with. The US isn't Afghanistan, for crying out loud. US women are strong enough and smart enough to put assholes like these in their places.

 

Truth be told, I wish more of them would.

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There is a long list of things that my generation enjoyed as kids, that the current generation has little to no interest in- kites, bikes, skateboards, guitar, etc....

You are joking. Most teenage boys I know are in guitar bands at some point and they all have bikes (the kind you pedal). Skateboards, maybe not so much.
Skating is still happening. Scooters are an alternative, but lots of kids still skate. Bikes are still a good way to get around. Most of the posters here are too fucking old and disconnected from young people to speak with any authority on the topic.

 

Most posters are looking at boat selection through old eyes too. A cheap dinghy is still cheap, easy and fun.

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I would argue that what you are seeing is the result of sailing positioning itself as a man's sport, and boat ownership in particular being something men do and not women.

 

How often have you met women that enjoy or even tolerate getting dirty while changing the engine oil or winterizing the engine?

How many women have you met that will tolerate hours of sanding/painting/waxing the hull of a 25-30 foot boat?

Replacing the joker valve in the toilet?

 

For sure they exist, and I've met a few but they are somewhat rare. "Ownership" entails a lot of tasks that many women simply do not want to take on.

Hell, I don't even "enjoy" most of these tasks. I tolerate them because the reward of what sailing gives me is worth it. The reward of sleeping aboard a boat that is a little less of a shitbox is worth it.

 

Look, I'm just not buying the line anymore that sailing is so sexist that women can't make inroads.

This is the decade of female empowerment, the 21st century. A woman's dollar is just as valued as a man's at the brokerage. If a woman wants to buy and sail a boat, no one is going to stop her. If a woman wants to go into a partnership with a few of her friends on a boat, no one is going to stop them. Marinas are constantly waging the battle against empty slips. No marina in its right mind would turn a female owner away.

 

Are there bastions of sexism? Yes, they're usually certain clubs which are easy to avoid. A woman owning a pocket cruiser at a local marina might deal with the occasional sexist old phart making comments as she walks by, or while she's working topside on her boat but that's also easily dealt with. The US isn't Afghanistan, for crying out loud. US women are strong enough and smart enough to put assholes like these in their places.

 

Truth be told, I wish more of them would.

 

As a male, I grew up in the 1970s ocean racing on a 44 footer with 50% women crew. My mom came every race making it "safe" for girls to come along. I have continued the trend and race with 50% women crew today. I wouldn't go offshore without them. They're fun, sail hard, add perspective, take any and all abuse without fear of sexist repercussions and passionately enjoy it. I know many other boats with substantial woman crewmembers who fell like I do.

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