One or two competitors outspending the rest kills classes. It's happened many times before. What's curious is that, if I've got my history right, Kilroy has been at the other end of that shitty stick. Maybe he doesn't remember. Maybe he doesn't care. Owners who want to buy half a dozen pros are what 40 footers were invented for. Whatever. I won't lose sleep if the Melges 20 class self-destructs.
I wish we could have an intelligent discussion about this. I have seen more and more paid pros on small boats every year. At the same time, participation is dwindling. There is a connection. Once upon a time, guys were paid to sail on boats that could only be afforded by millionaires, Farr 40's, TP52, Maxis, ect. Small keelboats remained the realm of amateurs or a place for pros to sharpen their skills, but not for a check. But, as those grand prix classes died, these dudes still wanted to get paid. I started to notice it when I asked good sailors to sail with me on a J24 from time to time and I started getting quoted "day rates." I was thinking, what? you want me to pay you to sail on a J24, that is crazy. Like it or not, it is becoming part of the cost to compete and that is a terrible thing. Boats like the Melges 20 and the J70 are supposed to be the kind of boats the average sailor can afford. But, when you tack onto that thousands of dollars in "day rates" the actual cost to campaign is out of the reach of many of the sailors for which the boat was originally targeted. IMO, that is why the numbers plummet.
KWRW is great proof of this. Look at the J70 class 47 boats, only 13 were all amateur. That reason right there is why I did not buy one.
For some reason, I have never really had a problem sailing against a pro driver who is skippering his own boat. But, when a guy who is really no better than average spends a bunch of cash to get pros on this boat and then goes and gets the trophy, that is different and just turns people off. I have a lot of friends who are pro sailors, but the permeation of paid pros into small boats is going to kill the goose that laid the golden egg.
And we have no one to blame but ourselves. Its us sailors that want to win so badly that we are willing to pay pros to sail with us, and coaches to help us practice, and that "win at all costs" mentality has spread down to the smaller classes....Nothing prevents a class association of banning pros, or banning the compensation of pros, or limiting sail purchases, etc, etc. Except that the class associations are run us sailors, who apparently want to win...no matter the cost.
It isn't like this is just happening in sailing. How many 10 year old kids are on travel baseball teams with $300 bats and $250 mitts these days? Stuff they'll out grow in 2 years.
But its a free country. No reason I can think of why you shouldn't be able to join a class that permits it, and fund the best program you can, if that's what you want to do with your money.