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You know, there was a time when advertisers used to love to feature sailing in their ads. It was cool, romantic, exciting and it made perfect sense to use this medium to sell. But not so much anymore, and it has been this way for years. What in the hell do you think happened?

Video thanks to Anarchist Serge

 

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Hard to pinpoint, but it's part of a larger sailing issue.  (Warning rant ahead) There's still adds featuring sailing out there, but they're geared to either the upper class (think Rolex buyers) or to obtaining the dream of being upper class (think loto patrons).  To connect with the public, sailing needs to reinvent it's image from an ellitist luxary sport of lounging on the water to an inclusive performance sport/lifestyle which anyone or at least a target audience, say outdoor orientated millennials and gen xers that like a challenge, can do. Sailors are hard working, intelligent, physically active folks that love what they do and are successful. However none of the fun or these ancillary benefits of sailing including team work, community, networking, problem solving, etc, are conveyed to the public.  If the sailing community can reinvent the publics image of sailing, people will show interest and get involved.  To get people involved, the sailing industry needs to reinvent how people start sailing. As the current approach, if you could call it an approach, is doing a diservice to the sport. We need to rethink the worthless $400 sailing intro to sailing lessons, and eliminate the barriers to entry.  If someone is interested in sailing, they should have the opportunity to get on a boat for less than $50 and it should come with a cold beer. You can rent a surfboard for $20 in a beach. Why not a Lido and an instructor? Hell, maybe US Sailing, HH, Musto, Etc should sponsor adds in the Atlantic or Economist on why people should sail.  They could use Mas, the Moore 24 that won the 2016 Pac Cup, as an example or Raindrop the '70's Cascade 36 which did the Vic Maui with two father son teams. People like a challenge and people like being outdoors, this shouldn't be that difficult. 

Rant rant rant! 

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Simply numbers.. Sailing folks all over the world are far less than many other sports. No matter how clever they are or how much disposable income they have.

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I think one of the issues is that it's hard to make sailing interesting to watch as a sport. Some of the Olympics  Sailing and America's Cup was OK to watch, but it's very weather dependent. If it's not a sport people are willing to watch, it's hard to make it appeal to advertisers. You've also got the added complexity of the water environment (weather, boats, Health & Safety, salt water, etc) which makes it hard to put an ad together. 

Compared to some of the other 'extreme sports':

  • Snowboarding/Skiing - Yes, it's cold, but you have a large weather window, and you're on the land. 
  • Surfing - Sit on a beach, and wait for the right wave. Shoot most/all of the images from the land.
  • Bike/Skateboard - Find the right backdrop and shoot. As long as it's not raining, you're OK.

Sailing is just hard in comparison! 

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I heard Starbucks is going with a Sailing promotion this summer...

 

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5 hours ago, teddyrow said:

Sailors are hard working, intelligent, physically active folks that love what they do and are successful. However none of the fun or these ancillary benefits of sailing including team work, community, networking, problem solving, etc, are conveyed to the public.

Rant rant rant! 

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I agree with all of that but it's also an issue of time and convenience.  It seems that people are stretched tighter than ever before from several different directions.

Anything with "-ball" in it wins out because you can stow a ball in your house cheaply and in very little space. You can quickly and easily put your ball (and/or clubs) in your car and be playing in 30 minutes and back home again.  That's a big deal when you have little time off from work and family obligations.

No hassles with the HOA over that ratty, Hobie or Laser parked in your driveway, etc.  Community sailing centers can help with some of this. They keep costs low, and reduce the setup/takedown times somewhat and provide access to the water that many folks otherwise wouldn't have. They also reduce or eliminate time spent on maintenance, which a lot of hard working, younger people don't have time for.

Problem is, I keep seeing threads pop up here where developers are gobbling up water access properties, and community sailing centers and long-standing marinas are getting kicked to the curb, so community sailing centers are an endangered species. Municipalities allow this because wealthy condo owners who also often own expensive boats in slips attached to their condo generate far more tax revenue than middle class folks playing at the community sailing center. That's to say nothing of any shady dealings that may be going on between developers and town councils that encourage this shrinking of public access to the water.

 

Sailing does seem to have a weird view with the non-sailing masses though.  When I show photos or videos to friends and co-workers of me sailing either my Tartan 33 or my Hobie 16, one of the most frequent reactions I get is they simply shake their heads and say "That looks like way too much work to be fun."

I have no idea how to overcome that attitude.

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Partly....time and money....also many must drop out as they settle down to a job and family....see time and money

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Probably because today marketing types have infinitely more info on the potential market.  Instead of adds being whatever some bright guy at Wesellit came up that looked or sounded cool they analyze a gazillion bits of data on target markets for products and what will appeal to them, then they focus group test and confirm their findings.  It would seem that for most products sailing isn't it.

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1 hour ago, Sail4beer said:

I heard Starbucks is going with a Sailing promotion this summer...

 

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Sail is this from your personal collection......thx for sharing at brkfst.....how do you guys explain curling given your observations above ?   Its on prime time TV  and clearly has advertisers that are not selling ice.    Sailing in advertising has always been a format of the poseur.    It showed somethiing beyond your ability to acquire and thus you wanted to acquire the product aligned with it.   Its like beautiful perfume models.....the shit stinks on your ball and chain but the delusion lasts.

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When most people sailed small boats the sport was cool and people could identify with it. After all the emphasis became big boats and regattas like the America's Cup which only rich white guys participated in, the sport became uncool.  

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1 hour ago, Long Reach said:

Sail is this from your personal collection......thx for sharing at brkfst.....how do you guys explain curling given your observations above ?   Its on prime time TV  and clearly has advertisers that are not selling ice.    Sailing in advertising has always been a format of the poseur.    It showed somethiing beyond your ability to acquire and thus you wanted to acquire the product aligned with it.   Its like beautiful perfume models.....the shit stinks on your ball and chain but the delusion lasts.

Curling is easy to explain, it’s cheap, all you need is a broom, and you get too hold a rum and coke in the other hand...... 

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I was thinking about shifting norms and traditions in advertising the other day and my research revealed that more people should smoke and drink.

Thats why they called them the Good Old Days!

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1 hour ago, Keith said:

Curling is easy to explain, it’s cheap, all you need is a broom, and you get too hold a rum and coke in the other hand...... 

not at SGCC in Toronto.........they shitcanned the curling after 60 years.......the rocks are worth $600 each.......nice profit there.......apparently curlers are cheap freeloaders.......

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Remember when we used to smoke because it made the best telltail on a very light air day?  Rum helps on those light air days too.  Now you can't sell smoke and rum to kids.  That's what happened.

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A opinion from a american living in France.  France has done a good job of increasing the interest in sailing.  They have a completely different approach to sailing and it starts from a young age.  In France if you live close to water of any kind, then it is obligatory to sail in a optimist as part of your general public education.  The side effect of this is that you have all walks of life who become sailors not just the rich.  

Secondly and more importantly is the feeling, the ambiance of sailing in the USA or England is anything but inviting.  There is nothing romantic about people staring a newcomer down wondering what yacht club they come from.  It doesn't make people want to start sailing.   The elitist unfortunately have killed the sport.

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49 minutes ago, Coconuts.is said:

A opinion from a american living in France.  France has done a good job of increasing the interest in sailing.  They have a completely different approach to sailing and it starts from a young age.  In France if you live close to water of any kind, then it is obligatory to sail in a optimist as part of your general public education.  The side effect of this is that you have all walks of life who become sailors not just the rich.  

Secondly and more importantly is the feeling, the ambiance of sailing in the USA or England is anything but inviting.  There is nothing romantic about people staring a newcomer down wondering what yacht club they come from.  It doesn't make people want to start sailing.   The elitist unfortunately have killed the sport.

My Lord I am so sorry to read how you were harmed during your youth and how it has destroyed your love of sailing and your fellow man.   Might I at least comfort you by saying that in fact nothing  has  " killed the sport ".   The sport is alive and well and functioning.    Choose therapy or perhaps a greater quantity of booze might help your tragically fragile psychology.   Be well  dear  boy.

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It's simpler than that, really.  The baby boomers had come of age and had disposable income.  We had discovered the environment and the outdoors.  Now baby boomers are old and grumpy.  Younger environmentalists mostly aren't also outdoorsmen (women/people).  Marketing is now micro-targeted, so there are more effective methods than obscure adventure sports like ice boating and sailing.

Or it's all a global warming conspiracy or something.  Who knows.  

Get off your keyboard and go sailing.

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9 hours ago, Rum Runner said:

When most people sailed small boats the sport was cool and people could identify with it. After all the emphasis became big boats and regattas like the America's Cup which only rich white guys participated in, the sport became uncool.  

Sailing was a white guys sport when I was growing up. So was tennis. Both have got much better. Tennis more so than Sailing.

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Why are we always worrying about this subject?  Just go sailing.  If it's really worthwhile, others in your circle of influence will be interested.

But let's face it, it truly is a commitment.  I made the mistake of calculating the cost per hour of sailing my J-80 and it's certainly higher than renting a boat.  But, if all the money I spent on sailing was extra cash...I would buy a boat.

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11 hours ago, Rum Runner said:

When most people sailed small boats the sport was cool and people could identify with it. After all the emphasis became big boats and regattas like the America's Cup which only rich white guys participated in, the sport became uncool.  

I think you are being rhetorical.
YachtReliance.jpg

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21 hours ago, Editor said:

 

You know, there was a time when advertisers used to love to feature sailing in their ads. It was cool, romantic, exciting and it made perfect sense to use this medium to sell. But not so much anymore, and it has been this way for years. What in the hell do you think happened?

Video thanks to Anarchist Serge

 

I complimented a guy's skiing on the slopes 6 years ago.
His reply?  "Your skiing reminds me of Suzie Chaffee."

HAHAHA!
 

 

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Golf is having a similar problem as sailing attracting people to the sport, though enough people seem to know the basics of how golf is played that you don't get ridiculous advertising images like these.

https://www.bloomberg.com/gadfly/articles/2017-05-25/off-for-a-round-of-golf-this-weekend-didn-t-think-so

 

 

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I think it's a combination of:

1.  Sailing is simply not where the (U.S.) culture is.  Maybe it was more during the later half of the last century, but not now.  The culture is either more indoors and digital, or if it's outdoors it's doing something more physically active that probably requires less of a financial and time commitment.

2.  What teddyrow said re: how people start or get introduced into sailing has to change if it is to grow.  Most people on a sailing forum like SA are looking from the perspective of already being a sailor and in most cases a boat owner as well.  Try to consider it from the perspective of some young person without a lot of money and no direct connections to any sailors or boat owners.  How is that person ever going to start sailing, learn how to do it, or interface with the sport in any way?  And what would be the entry costs for them to do so?

3.  The money required.  As teddyrow indicated, even an intro ASA course is pretty steep compared to starting out in a lot of other activities.  If you go the route of starting out by buying a boat, then there's that expense, along with any maintenance.  If it's a larger boat there's the expense of dockage.  A sport or activity looking for broader participation would need low cost classes, and ways to start out on the water that are totally free or involve renting cheap boats cheaply.  Once people are hooked then they will make the financial commitment to do other things like purchase a boat, a trailer, rent a slip etc. or even just keep renting boats if they already have learned that they like sailing and consider it worth their while.  But expecting people to make commitments like that before they even know if they like it seems a bad strategy.

In response to these issues, in threads about this topic, people often post "well you should just come volunteer as crew, there's always people needing crew for their races etc."  Are racers really looking for total novices who don't know port from starboard to crew?  How is someone who isn't connected to sailing even going to know about this?

If it's true what was posted about kids in coastal France learning dinghy sailing as part of school curriculum then yeah, that's a huge difference between France and the U.S.  A bunch of kids from all backgrounds are getting an automatic introduction to sailing that is free (or their tax already paid for it, anyway).  They are young, the best time to be introduced and get hooked, and can learn whether they enjoy it without spending a dime.  If you already learned that you like sailing, even if you don't have much money you will have the incentive to find the low cost or free ways to get involved or stay involved.

I started when I was in the military and a group of us took the intro recreational course at the US Naval Academy.  Don't remember the cost but it was dirt cheap, and then we could rent boats from the recreational military marinas for fairly cheap as well, which is something I did for years on both coasts before finally buying a boat and securing a slip.

If I hadn't had those low cost military resources available to me as an active duty member, I'm not sure I would have ever got started or even known how.  I think the class was advertised on a bulletin board as a recreational offering where we were training, and one of my classmates was from a town near Annapolis and had military siblings so maybe he knew about it that way.  So I think having wider ability of that kind of resource outside the military would be a start.

All of this presupposes that sailing in the U.S. is something that wants to grow from where it is.  I'm not sure that's actually true, a lot of people seem to be fine with things as they are.

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21 minutes ago, BrickTopHarry said:

I think it's a combination of:

....

2.  What teddyrow said re: how people start or get introduced into sailing has to change if it is to grow.  Most people on a sailing forum like SA are looking from the perspective of already being a sailor and in most cases a boat owner as well.  Try to consider it from the perspective of some young person without a lot of money and no direct connections to any sailors or boat owners.  How is that person ever going to start sailing, learn how to do it, or interface with the sport in any way?  And what would be the entry costs for them to do so?

3.  The money required.  As teddyrow indicated, even an intro ASA course is pretty steep compared to starting out in a lot of other activities.  If you go the route of starting out by buying a boat, then there's that expense, along with any maintenance.  If it's a larger boat there's the expense of dockage.  A sport or activity looking for broader participation would need low cost classes, and ways to start out on the water that are totally free or involve renting cheap boats cheaply.  Once people are hooked then they will make the financial commitment to do other things like purchase a boat, a trailer, rent a slip etc. or even just keep renting boats if they already have learned that they like sailing and consider it worth their while.  But expecting people to make commitments like that before they even know if they like it seems a bad strategy.

.....

Come and Try It day- free short sessions once a year. Club membership £120. RYA learn to sail course, run by qualified volunteers for members: two weekends £60 (includes post-course sessions in club boats). Access to club dinghies is about £20/day, depending on what they are: free hire if you are joining in with club racing.

 "Yachting" in your own boat may be expensive but dinghy sailing needn't be. Objectively, the expensive bit is owning a car to get to the club, and maybe buying some suitable clothes...

 That's just my local club. I daresay there are others with similar schemes... and then there's the junior sailing programme. I don't even charge for the sessions and cadet membership is less than single-adult above...

 I don't think its about the money. A season ticket for my local football club is £170 (they are shit, there's a premier league club fairly close that charges £350). £250 over a year would get you a dozen evenings at the cinema or bowling alley.. Half that if you wanted to eat at Nandos or Frankie+Bennies while you're there...

 If you want big boats, or dinghies aren't for you, then you can learn the ropes as above and jump ship to a club with keelboat racing the following year, where there will be crew slots available for anyone keen or reliable (and guaranteed, if you are both!).  Club membership £200/year: direct access to Wednesday night racing in the Clyde. 

Cheers,

              W.

 

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I agree with most of this, but in my area there seems to be move back to outdoor activities. Running and biking are up, and the number of people hiking and using campgrounds has exploded. It is busy enough you have to book campground spots months ahead and trailheads are so packed the local municipalities are running shuttles. 

This might translate to sailing over time, but as already pointed out the time and financial commitment will always exceed most other outdoor activities.

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16 hours ago, fastyacht said:

I think you are being rhetorical.
YachtReliance.jpg

Those were the days when the New York and Boston papers had regular "yachting" reporters and published the results of races every week.  Average punters bet on the races, with bookmakers setting odds.  With 30 strapping young Swedes hiking on the rail, there were plenty of cute girls waiting back in the marina.  So that certainly helped.

Even into the 70's/80's there was a lot of mainstream press.  I still have a Sunday NYT write up of a Larchmont YC race where I managed to pull off an upset as a teenager.  And here in Seattle, there was an AM radio station that broadcast live updates of races by onboard reporters.   Swiftsure had a reporter in an airplane broadcasting live back to a Victoria radio station.  SORC, Key West and the Big Boat series all had reporters on assignment.

So, the glory days of sailing press were actually when it was most elite, but there were fewer sporting distractions.  

I blame kid's soccer, myself. 

Although our club's summer youth sailing program is already over-subscribed.  So...I could be wrong.

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Look closely the boat is being towed by a powerboat! This poor Jackball. He not only can't get it up without help, and he can't sail without a powerboat dragging his ass along. This is the last commercial I saw where sailing played a prominent part. The horror, the horror...

 

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