Team McLube Forum Index: .: Dock Talk:
Have we lost a generation of sailors?

The Publisher

Oct 10, 2006, 9:17 AM

Views: 106154
Have we lost a generation of sailors?

Youth sailing is so comprehensive these days, providing great support and programs from prams all the way thru college sailing. But during this period, if youth sailors remain within this bubble, and do not venture off this track, are the twenty-somethings prepared to continue in the sport after college? Are they moving on to other one-design fleets, or joining up with a keelboat program? Pram, High School, and College sailing have never been more popular, but are the sailors taking the next step after their schooling, and staying with a sport that is capable of participating in for a lifetime?

Read the full commentary on Scuttleblog, and post any comments below.


Oct 11, 2006, 5:32 AM

Views: 106074
Re: [The Publisher] Have we lost a generation of sailors?

I think we are losing generations of young sailors. The causes are many and many are the nature of our computerized/video gamed society.The major reasons that new younger people don't enter the world of sailing or leave prematurely are: cost, time constraints, the domination of professionals in all areas of the sport and lack of access.
My son is a young professional with a family and a huge mortgage. Recently we went to the Newport RI Boat show. Only two major manufacturers make smaller boats for young marrieds that are even remotely within the price range of such a financially strapped family (Catalina, Hunter).The manufacturer of my boat (Beneteau) used to make many small models but now only makes ever larger boats that are used less and less.
For many years I was an enthusiastic racer. Competing in local and national ocean races (Newport to Bermuda,SORC, Halifax etc etc. Now even our local beer can races are dominated by "check book racers" with sailmakers riding shot gun.
I belong to two well known sailing clubs and both are mostly populated by superanuated sailors like myself. Only a token effort is made by each to recruit younger sailing members. Even as the membership rolls are smaller & smaller as the old guard dies off or retires from sailing.
I see no changes to this situation until the entire industry wakes up and trys new approaches to get new blood into this wonderful sport.


Oct 11, 2006, 6:11 AM

Views: 106065
Re: [The Publisher] Have we lost a generation of sailors?

I wonder if this is a matter of "who you talk to" and "where they are from" because our clubmembers are constantly getting their butt's kicked by the "kids". Furthermore, a good hunk of the keelboats particpating in wednesday nights and weekend events have young crew who dominate in the dinghys and then come out play on the keelboats (HS and college age). In addition, I'd like to give kudos to the USCGA who was out almost every Wed and Sat with their Mumm30 and on occasion their Farr40, all college racers and many from parts of the country that doesn't have much water. We also have a few Olympic Campaigns out of our region.

In my region I do not feel a gap at all and see nothing but a full circle; but what I do so is less and less young sailors wanting to contribute to the industry and heading off after school into other areas where there is more money to support families. Who wants to be a sailmaker after college when they can make twice as much doing a boat load of other things and may be apart of how they fall out of sailing and into golf? You have to be really committed to something like sailing to maintain that in addition to a career in something non-related (if you want to play at a higher level).

FYI: To be fair we do have a high incidence of youth sailing programs in our area and that may contribute, in addition to the number of college sailing teams within a 2hr radias (i.e. Conn Coll, USCGA, Yale, Brown, etc).


Oct 11, 2006, 7:53 AM

Views: 106054
Re: [The Publisher] Have we lost a generation of sailors?

My opinion is that high school sailing and other things are actually great at making our kids much better sailors than they would be if they did not participate. The youth sailors are a much underutilized group in beer can regattas and one design classes. Their skills allow them to jump on any boat and at least do something on the boat(ie, jib trim on a J24 or steering many boats). Our sailing system lost a generation last generation. High School and College sailing has provided us a talent pool that we can and should use so we don't lose this generation. My boat(Melges 24) uses high school and college sailors or graduates of same and we do better than the guys who just want to learn how to sail through crewing instead of taking lessons. We win a lot also. Comes from bringing in the youth to our sport and keeping them there.

I am also a high school coach. I try to get my kids in as many opportunities of other sailing aspects besides the Olympic track. That track only works for some but Wednesday night races and crewing in one design regattas will help them also and will help us get better crew in the long run.

Don't lose another generation. Ask a high school or college sailor to crew(or drive) on your boat!

Ryan Hamm, Coach
James Island Charter High School Sailing Team
Charelston, SC
Sail Often and have fun


Oct 11, 2006, 12:53 PM

Views: 106023
Re: [The Publisher] Have we lost a generation of sailors?

Let's not lose site of the real value of kids sailing. It is NOT to produce Olympian or professional sailors. It is about them developing skills which will also translate to the broader world and about giving them a sport they can enjoy all their lives.

If my coaching was only about a future Olympian, it wouldn't be worth my time because the prospects are so minimal. But, when a 14-year-old does a good roll tack for the first time and I see the grin on his or her face -- there's my payoff. Even better is seeing them develop confidence, patience, persistence, & sportsmanship over time. These are not qualities usually associated with youth, but they come through mastering a difficult endeavor.

It has been said that sailing (all sport, actually) is a pyramid. Only about 10% of sailors compete in any form. As the levels of competition get higher, the numbers participating get smaller. I suspect our Olympic medal count is a reflection of the base of the pyramid.


Oct 11, 2006, 8:46 PM

Views: 105991
Re: [The Publisher] Have we lost a generation of sailors?

Our club has made an effort to bridge the gap between High School, College and "adult" sailing in a variety of ways. We support two local High School teams by allowing them to use our 420 fleet (at a cost) on alternate days. The local colleges don't have sailing teams at this point, and it would be difficult to schedule them in any case We have actively sought out ollege and young adult members by reducing our Corinthian membership fees for those under 26 years of age. To provide further incentive, we have also tied a reduction in membership initiation fees to each year of Corinthian membership. Corinthian members are encouraged to participate in the club's racing program, either competing in fleet racing in Ideal 18's or in Team and Match Racing against other clubs. Crew lists are shared between fleets, so that those who wish can move to bigger boats. If we can generate enough sustained interest, we may even be abe to support the development of a new fleet, since the Ideals always seem to be busy. Any suggestions?

The Publisher

Oct 12, 2006, 6:35 AM

Views: 105977
Re: [The Publisher] Have we lost a generation of sailors?

From Scuttlebutt newsletter, Issue 2200:

* From Carolyn Bick, Rochester, NY (in regard to the Scuttleblog post: Have
We Lost A Generation Of Sailors?) Yes, we are losing junior sailors. As a
founder and advisor to a local high school team that I helped start in the
Rochester, NY, I was excited about the growth of High School and College
racing. However, I became appalled at the emphasis on basic short course
racing by the whole high school racing organization. Our local race coach is
great but he is "teaching the test" because of this system. When invited on
larger boats, these kids had never seen a spinnaker or long courses on 420's
in junior or high school sailing (unless exposed by parents). They were
totally afraid and intimidated by a spinnaker because of no exposure. Myself
and another skipper who races a J/22 have tried to invite junior sailors to
participate. Unfortunately, they are so narrowly focused and have no
knowledge of tuning, knot tying, wind shifts, compass reading, and spinnaker
handling as to be almost a handicap. My daughter was interested in sailing
in college but at 5'11 (even though thin), the weight requirements for the
420 are extremely light. The younger adults that I see continuing with
racing have a family sailing background, extreme passion, and/or money. I
have already seem a number of new, enthusiastic high school sailors lose
interest and leave the sport because of the monotony of the racing and the
lack of deep skill development and excitement.

* From Casey Woodrum: As a former high school and college sailor and coach,
I can empathize a bit for the generation who has moved on. For me, and many
of the kids I've coached in high school and college, sailing had such low
barriers to entry, yet was so much fun it made for a very compelling use of
one's time and money. Racing 20 races in a weekend against 40 of your peers
offers a sailing experience unmatched in our sport (even in other
countries). For most it's a big let down to graduate and then look around at
your options and realize most dinghy's cost $5000-10,000 plus berthing,
trailers, tow vehicles new sails each year, etc.
Coming from shared or chartered boats, the barrier to entry becomes very
steep to anyone looking to start a career, pay down college loans, and save
for a house down payment. The "lost generation" is soon gone to find more
affordable pursuits. Perhaps it is the success of the scholastic and college
programs, but perhaps the lessons can be learned and applied at the yacht
club level. Why don't clubs sponsor affordable fleets of one-design dinghy's
or small keelboats to encourage the twentysomthings to stay in the sport
affordably? Some clubs have done this; let's hear from folks from those
clubs to find out what's worked for them.

* From Ken Voss: I am not sure about the Jr. west coast events, but Opti
events are not short course things. They typically are 45 minutes to an hour
races (or more)...the kids that succeed do spend time learning tuning and
boat speed. They are low performance boats, but like the Snipe, encourage
tactics. In terms of Olympics.... look at sailing...for the most part the
existing classes emphasize experience rather than youth. They are also not
classes popular in the US (other than Lasers, and Stars for people older
than 20). There is a huge bubble of youth sailors that have grown through
the Opti, now 420 and laser class...we need to encourage them and see where
it goes.


Oct 12, 2006, 8:45 AM

Views: 105965
Re: [The Publisher] Have we lost a generation of sailors?

Once they get out of college - where do you think they are going to get jobs? Mostly from someones parent that they sailed with. Where are they going to meet their spouse, probably through sailing-

Sailing is a lifestyle and community - I don't think though that that translates into a successful professional or industry growing pool. People who are going to grow this sport as either active club racers or committed full time professional are going to have to have income streams or funding that they can count on to pursue the sport.

Sailing sells itself, but I will say this without any question "IT IS ABOUT THE MONEY!"


Oct 12, 2006, 3:00 PM

Views: 105945
Re: [capescrod] Have we lost a generation of sailors?

I completely disagree with capescrod.
I have only recently gotten to the monetary position where I can afford to pay for club sailing and I am nowhere near affording my own boat. Sailing is a very expensive and time consuming sport. Money and time are precious when you are first out of college. Getting away from work early to race on a weekday race is something that requires being in a stable job with some flexibility and proven track record. Also it is difficult if you move across the country for your dream job to get hooked into the network of sailors in the new area. It is also a horrible sport if you are looking for a date in your late 20's. The majority of sailors are my father's demographic. Nice men in their 50's and 60's. The younger men in sailing are the mid30's newly married guys. It will be the rare and lucky couple that meet at the sailing club and they are very likely a couple in their 50's.
If my goal was to meet my husband,and have an inexpensive social life, I would go play kickball. I love to sail however. The wealthy demographic of sailing often forgets that the first few years out of school you are broke.

The Publisher

Oct 12, 2006, 7:49 PM

Views: 105939
Re: [The Publisher] Have we lost a generation of sailors?

From Scuttlebutt newsletter, Issue 2201:

* From Richard M. Jepsen, CEO, OCSC Sailing, Berkeley, CA: (In regard to the
Scuttleblog post: Have We Lost A Generation Of Sailors?) I agree with
Carolyn Bick's reply (in Issue 2200), at least regarding the importance of a
broad set of skills and knowledge. Proper and broad based introduction to
the sport is critical to long term enjoyment and personal growth. Juniors
coming out of US Sailing small boat "Level One" and "Level Two" programs are
getting a thorough introduction to all aspects of small boat sailing and
seamanship; many parts of sailing that are absorbing, challenging and useful
regardless of whether one is sailing on a 420 or J22 or Snipe. (I'm not sure
it is scholastic 'short course' racing's fault if their athletes didn't get
that training before they joined the HS team)
These youth are matriculating through the US Sailing system, finding lots of
avenues for sailing, becoming instructors or coaches themselves, developing
sailing contacts in their local area, whether through a yacht club,
community program or high school, getting plenty of 'free sailing' in their
late teens and early twenties through crewing opportunities. (With a broad
base of skills and knowledge, they are in demand!!!) While I admit that
interest in the opposite sex and in cars, the demands of college and other
distractions pull young adults out of sailing, those who were fully and
deeply immersed in the sport have proven more likely to stay with the sport,
or return to it at the first opportunity.

* From Michael H. Koster: Regarding the lost generation of sailors, I am of
the opinion that the focus should be less on keeping these young folks in
competitive sailing and more on just keeping them involved in the sport.
These folks are overdosed on competitive sailing and are burned out. It does
not surprise me that there is a drop off in interest once college sailing is
Ski resorts do not push racing programs as much as they do other amenities
to retain young adults on their mountains. This includes offering more
extreme terrain to challenge skills and opening up to alternative downhill
interests such as boarding. Sailing also needs to open up. We should be
promoting a variety of wind-driven water activities and not limiting
ourselves to basically mono-hulls. There is more to sailing than just


Oct 13, 2006, 8:03 AM

Views: 105923
Re: [Alicia] Have we lost a generation of sailors?

Don't knock kickball-

When I said it's about the money, I was reacting to a conversation that I overheard in a restaurant where a sailor who had pro-aspirations talk about how we need a slice of the lottery to go to supporting atheletes - like Great Britian. This is the major issue in getting junior, highschool, collegiate racers right to campaigning either amateur or pro.

I think we are more on the same side than you think - completely- Why do you think there are only dudes in the 50's and 60's - that are flush- around? $$

"Also it is difficult if you move across the country for your dream job to get hooked into the network of sailors in the new area." Stand in front of any yacht club on a regatta weekend with a sign - "Will Crew - Won't Complain" - you will get a ride...


Oct 13, 2006, 12:00 PM

Views: 105908
Re: [The Publisher] Have we lost a generation of sailors?

I have a dream . . .that someone puts together a sponsored campaign that travels the US, not to kick butt in the regatta scene, but to stop in on cities and towns where the wind blows and water is present to introduce and excite youth of all ages about sailing . . .on a fun trailorable boat with up beat personality . . M24 sure would be great . . . why we are at (it is my dream anyways) use the campaign as a force to raise money to sponsor . . . more sailing programs to reach inland and draw people to the water . . . maybe tap into land sailing, kite boarding . . . oh, and since I am on a roll; add in a science curriculum that teaches a little earth science and environmental awareness . . .

Money as a "reason", I can't buy that one anymore, my own life in the last year disproves that. . . it's passion, drive and love of the sailing lifestyle and people. We, as a community need to sell that to the potential newcomer. The "kids" in my area all chipped in on their own to buy a J24 to race . . high school and college kids . . . they funded it themselves . . the concerned generation gap; look to the US sailing communities to step up and get involved in keeping the lifestyle and culture appealing to the youth as they make their various life "transitions" that could in pact whether they sail or move on to something else.

Oh, and moving into a new community: find out where the sailors hang out . . . you do not need money to get involved in sailing or make connections: be yourself.

Sorry . . .but thank you Mudheads, my community is clearly the reason why I was able to "bridge across" the gap.


Oct 16, 2006, 8:09 AM

Views: 105803
Re: [SailTrim] Have we lost a generation of sailors?

In Reply To

Oh, and moving into a new community: find out where the sailors hang out . . . you do not need money to get involved in sailing or make connections: be yourself.

Ski resorts do not push racing programs as much as they do other amenities to retain young adults on their mountains. This includes offering more extreme terrain to challenge skills and opening up to alternative downhill interests such as boarding.

That's the problem...there isn't enough "hanging out" for most kids to stay connected to the sport, and that is essential. Sailing takes time to absorb as a skill and a lifestyle. That is partially why snow boarding has become so popular. Look at the majority of youth participants: they aren't very skilled, but the activity allows them to just hang out. (kind like golf for older folks ;-). College and HS sailing provides a lot of time in the sport and with friends. (The scism between the college skill level (or even high-level opti program) and the average sailor is getting bigger and, I think, more problematic since who could every get that level of experience entering the sport later?)

The Publisher

Oct 16, 2006, 8:28 AM

Views: 105801
Re: [The Publisher] Have we lost a generation of sailors?

From Scuttlebutt newsletter, Issue 2202:

* From George Bailey: A hot 17-year-old Laser sailor was given a Moth to
race in a regatta in Norfolk several years back. He did well, as expected,
until it blew too hard for his weight. However, on the second day I was at
the end of the dock where his and my Moths were tied up. He was having a
terrible time raising his sail (bolt rope luff on the moth he had). He would
get it up part way and it would stop and he could not determine why. He had
checked and the vang was loose. The halyard was clear. I leaned over and
pulled the slipknot out of the main sheet that had been put there to keep
the boom from blowing/falling in the water. Up went the sail. To myself, I
mused that the training he was being giving apparently fit with what I knew
in other such cases, in that it did not prepare him as an all-round sailor,
only as an around-the-marks, covered by a chase boat, dinghy racer. I am
sympathetic, as the same was true in the 1950's when I learned. I learned to
sail by sailing on my own each weekend between races (we raced year-round
every other Sunday at the Miami Yacht Club in those days), not by racing.

The Publisher

Oct 16, 2006, 9:08 AM

Views: 105797
Re: [The Publisher] Have we lost a generation of sailors?

These letters were too long to include in the Letters section of the Scuttlebutt newsletter, but were too good to edit down to the 250-word limit. Here they are in their entirety:

* From Richard du Moulin, Commodore, Storm Trysail Club: The Storm Trysail Club is devoting a large percentage of its energy and budget-- with the support of great sponsors, fellow yacht clubs, and generous boat-owners-- towards our Junior Safety at Sea program and Intercollegiate Offshore Championship. Our goal is to introduce big boat sailing to junior and college age sailors in order to give them a taste of this dimension of our sport, with the hope of keeping them active as adults. Over the past eight years, we have trained over 2000 juniors at our seminars in Larchmont, Annapolis, Marblehead and Newport. Two weeks ago we hosted 33 visiting college teams who raced/ borrowed J44, J109, J105, J120, J35 and Express 37s for two days. From this dual strategy we can see more young faces racing with our members and friends in big boats. We believe that the year-round intense focus on dinghy sailing through college graduation is great at providing incredible skills and fun, but without big boat experience along the way, the possibility of burnout can occur. Back in the 1950's-1970's most junior sailors raced small boats during the summer, and crewed on big boats in the spring and fall, and some summer weekends. This balance created a larger circle of friends and broader experience. We believe it lead to a wider and deeper appreciation of our great sport. Today's technology has created very exciting big boats, and racing long distance is a unique experience. The clubs and organizations that are making big boats part of their programs will best succeed to retain the enthusiasm of juniors as they age. Storm Trysail Club is happy to exchange ideas with others in the sailing community, and share our experiences. (Visit our website:

* From Peter Alarie: I feel that the current Junior Program/High School/College sailing track is hurting the overall development of our junior sailors. There are many reasons I believe this, from the type of boat (slow, simple, heavy, underperforming) to the type of racing (short course, small fleet, uniform speeds) to the length of this mind numbing immersion (perhaps up to 12 years). I have heard all of the arguments about how this type of program breeds participation, but at what cost? Many of the kids that are successful in this track simply drop out at the end of the line, unable and unprepared to make the transition to other, more challenging areas of our sport.

There are many theories, but one that is often overlooked is the psychological element. After years of being successful in this overly simple arena of sailing, they are not equipped for the emotional struggles of achieving the same level in Olympic or even fast One Design classes. In their own minds, and the minds of their supporters (coaches, peers, parents), they have already reached the top when they collect their All-American certificate. Yet in most cases, they are woefully unprepared to make the jump. After tasting frustration and defeat at the hands of people they do not respect, they lose interest and drift away.

Get these kids out of these boats as soon as possible, and let them feel the thrill of other types of sailing. They will probably struggle, but the challenge is good and will develop the necessary mental toughness that success outside of the round robin demands.

* From Jesse Andrews, Kaneohe Yacht Club Jr Sailing director and University of Hawaii sailing coach: I have been coaching Jr sailing for about 15 years now. Five years on the East coast and ten here in Hawaii as the head of a Jr sailing program and as a coach for UH. I have seen the advantages of having supplied boats and the drawbacks. When I was 16, I worked at a local sail-makers after school to pay my parents back for the very much used International 420 they helped me purchase. This boat was a dream come true for me. I spent long hours working to get it as competitive as possible. I also had to find transportation to regatta's and tune the boat prior to each event. This taught me responsibility and gave me a good work ethic.

Today as a program director for a local yacht club, my mission is to try and get as many youth involved with sailing and pass on the success and fun that I enjoyed as a youth. The problem is when you supply the boats, transportation, and make it as inexpensive as possible, they tend to take it for grated. As an example, if they are not doing well after the first day of the event, they may decide to skip the second day to go surfing. What is the solution? One is not to provide too much. You can introduce them to the local racing circuit without spoiling them with perfect supplied boats, transportation, and toilet paper for their rear ends. Knowing how much to supply is a hard line to draw. But having them do as much of the behind-the-scenes work is a key element to their success. If everything is provided and taken care of for kids until they graduate from college, they will never be as enthusiastic and determined as someone who has had to work hard for their success. This is also a good tip for parents in general. A spoiled kid is never fun to coach.

* From Blake Billman, SEISA Graduate Director, ICSA Board Member, Fort Worth Boat Club, Ft. Worth TX: I was extremely interested by your lost generation piece. This is a subject I have given considerable thought in my years as a yacht club coach, collegiate team captain, and now as a Graduate Director for one of the ICSA's districts. I grew up a prominent yacht club in my region and did the entire track mentioned in your article, Opti to Laser to Collegiate FJ. However, the junior racing circuit in the southwest is far smaller (and more time consuming due to driving distance) than the east or west coast so juniors at my club also paid their dues in the keelboat fleets, Wednesday J/22's and Sunday 1D and PHRF.

After I moved off to college I took a job as a coach in Houston and was appalled by two things that I see as completely interrelated: There was a total lack of weekly big boat racing, and the absence of the technical skills their juniors possessed. I have become convinced that a real junior development program must include big boat racing and that education must start at a young age (10-11). When some juniors exit the Opti program (14-15) is too late. I am also convinced that this education must be a club wide initiative, not one run by the junior program. The juniors must be placed on teams that are willing to teach them and put in positions where they are critical to the teams success.

I guarantee that this formula breeds success in two ways: a broader knowledge base and greater confidence for the juniors; and a bigger, better, cross-generational crew base for the club (our club J/105 championship was once one by a boat with only one adult onboard). You can produce unbelievably good sailors in a dinghy-only program, but the best junior and collegiate sailors I know all have some big boat experience and training and most importantly for groups like our YC's and US Sailing, they are the ones most likely to stay in the sport after college and breed a new generation of elite sailors.

* From Hiro Nakajima: (My club newsletter recently had an article about) club member Roger and Rhona Wagner’s outright win in the Farr 395 class up in Newport recently at the New York Yacht Club’s race week. What I was thinking about with this article is not only the accomplishment of the Wagner’s in the regatta but equally as important is that the helmsman and his brother who was doing sail trim are both by-products of a L.I.S. yacht club junior sailing program (albeit they were Jr. Sailors back in the 1980s).

I have been observing over the past four-five years a change in the development of our junior sailors. It appears that for many families, the junior sailing programs with Optis and Lasers is a convenient summer “sports” type activity akin to soccer and hockey, and that once the program is over, sailing is over for them as well. There appears to be a lack of understanding of the importance for a junior sailor to be exposed to numerous experiences ranging from small one-person dinghies to two to three person boats, and ultimately to big boat racing.

Many families do not own sailboats nor consider sailing together as a family on extended cruises or weekends as an important component to a junior sailor’s education. As a result, many of our juniors do not have an opportunity to sail for an extended period of time on a boat with fellow crewmembers. In Stamford, CT there is also a decline in the sailing and racing of crewed boats such as Pixels, 420s, etc. where the concept of working as a team is all but forgotten. As a result we see a lot of junior sailors who, as an individual, can sail a dinghy commendably but do poorly when placed on a boat with a crew.

The Dorade and the Beach Point Overnight events are two local regattas that try to promote junior sailing as a team sporting event and I think this is great. We all need to learn how to sail from small one person dinghies and work our way up to big boats. But the trend that I observe today appears to not recognize the importance of exposing the junior sailor to a crewed boat and ultimately onto a big boat. Many juniors do not understand the concept of communicating with their fellow crewmates during sailing maneuvers; little to no understanding of proper seamanship, or to develop one’s own seamanship; safety; etc.

I believe the Wagner’s sons are a testament to the importance of fostering a comprehensive sailing program for our junior sailors. They grew up sailing in a yacht club junior sailing program; they sailed and raced as a family on the family big boat; developed good seamanship skills; got invitations to race on other people’s big boats; ultimately got invited to participate on an America’s Cup campaign; and now actively sail and campaign a Farr-395 as a family in highly competitive big boat one design races.

Sorry for rambling on but after having had casual conversations with members of other clubs I have the sense that this is an issue at other clubs.


Oct 17, 2006, 7:02 AM

Views: 105673
Re: [djca] Have we lost a generation of sailors?

I agree that the world has changed, and sailing hasn't (or can't) activities are so strucutred these days that they don't have time for the unstructured activities such as hanging out in Jr. clubhouses to "absorb" the lifestyle, nor the time to sit on the rail of a big boat...anyone who has kids theses days know how precisely scheduled their time is, even their "free play" time is now allocated in discrete blocks that include strict times for parent pick-up and drop off. Unless you have a structured "program" most parents will find "other things to do with their kids time" don't hang out anymore.

The Publisher

Oct 17, 2006, 9:47 AM

Views: 105641
Re: [The Publisher] Have we lost a generation of sailors?

From Scuttlebutt newsletter, Issue 2203:

* From Tom Fischbeck: After reading Curmudg jr's losing generation of kids
and sailing blog (in Issue 2199), and in the same Butt, the "Catamaran Kid"
story, I realized that what we need is beach cats! We have lost Beach Cats,
these fun exciting, non-yacht club affiliation, cheap, used cats. Beach
catamarans are the perfect solution for kids and sailing. Hobie made a
bazillion and they can be found anywhere on the planet for sale cheap. No
excuses. I say fill up all the city lakes and beaches with Beach Cats!

* From John Glynn: While it's great to try to figure out ways to keep the
kids that are already sailing in the sport, I have been vocal in the past
(see Scuttlebutt guest editorial Dec 04) about ways of introducing kids to
the sport "softly" and earlier, and with more positive imagery. Happily, I
believe that this is beginning to happen to a greater degree in North
America. The larger the talent pool coming in (5-8 year olds), the larger
the group that stays with it. More pre-school books, more kids/family
oriented sailing magazine stories, and more toys that help youngsters relate
to sailing can only help grow the sport at the entry level. Then we can
focus on retention. Parents know that teens and pre-teens have a mind of
their own, and if they choose another activity, there is nothing we can do
about it. However, if we reach them earlier, perhaps we can make a positive
impact. It pains me to see that oftentimes, the first day of Junior Sailing
Class is a child's first introduction to sailing. Conversely, I am excited
to see more clubs add "fun sailing" to their pre-school camps. By the time
kids get to Optis, they are hooked and confident, not terrified. (Glynn’s
editorial was in Issue 1723:

* From Herb Motley, Fleet Captain, Marblehead IOD Class: Two observations:
first, college sailors are often taught to use the rules as an aggressive
tactic, rather than as a device to keep boats apart. This takes the pleasure
out of the sailing experience itself on the one hand and makes them tiresome
competitors on an adult circuit on the other. That said, the Marblehead
International One Design Class has made an effort to invite college/post
graduate sailors to join us in the summer series, and we've developed a
rather nice pipeline from MIT, largely through two graduates who own boats
here. We'd like to improve our score with the many other sailing colleges in
the Boston area, but this is a start.

joanne kolius

Oct 17, 2006, 12:20 PM

Views: 105607
Re: [The Publisher] Have we lost a generation of sailors?

In response to Blake Billman’s letter, Houston Yacht Club member John Kolius has done exactly what Blake suggests "The juniors must be placed on teams that are willing to teach them and put in positions where they are critical to the teams success." In 2003 and 2004 a group of female high school sailors from La Porte HS (members of Houston Yacht Club) were part of two successful World Championships teams skippered by Kolius. All youth sailors had primary responsibilities on the team from trimming the jib to flying the spinnaker to tactics. The team finished 2nd at the 2003 J80 Worlds in Fort Worth and 7th at the 2004 J80 Worlds in Sweden. John provides multiple opportunities for juniors to sail with him. Most recently a youth sailor from Texas Corinthian Yacht Club was invited to sail with him in the Harvest Moon Regatta.

John is not alone in the support of junior sailors from the Houston Yacht Club. Several HYC members have invited junior sailors to sail with them in local events and junior sailors are invited to sail with some of the best sailors Houston Yacht Club has to offer at the annual Lipton Cup Regatta sponsored by the GYA. All of this requires dedicated effort from all of us and of course, giving back to the sport we love.


Oct 17, 2006, 2:17 PM

Views: 105587
Re: [The Publisher] Have we lost a generation of sailors?

These are all so good, yet they speak to the diversity of the issues everyone is trying to tackle with one answer. What the sport needs is a good marketing plan:

Some Key Issues:
  • Many children drop out of the 'racing programs' because they don't like to sail alone, they get scared, and don't like to be yelled at (One strategy: offer recreational sailing programs, ie, messing about in boats)
  • Parents drop their kids out of the sailing program in favor of other activities because it is too time consuming (One strategy: offer short programs for different levels of interest and time commitment)
  • Teens leave the sailing program because there is no social life after (One strategy: Club informal sailing groups like ski clubs).
  • College kids drop out for time and money reasons (One strategy: Show them how to find a good old boat in a boatyard and fix it up as a club project. Another strategy: provide a buddy system online - got a boat, going sailing, need crew.)
  • Young professionals drop out of racing because of the time and money commitments (One strategy: Show them they don't have to race all day every weekend (without significant others), and don't need carbon spars and new sails every year to have fun sailing.)

We had three young crew with us this past weekend. Two are routine crew on raceboats, neither of whom has ever been allowed to steer a boat. The third was a real novice and she loved it - the fiancee of one of the other crew. All three were asked to take their turns at the helm. All are now scheming to find a way to buy a good old boat and fix her up so they can sail on their own and really learn it. They recognized that doing one job on a race boat really well will never make them good sailors. One has already downloaded a full collection of free NOAA charts and is dreaming about where he will keep his 'new' boat and sail her next season. Enthusiasm and sharing was all it took.

Now, if only there was a representative body in sailing that really believed in sailing - not just racing. Certainly US Sailing should be tackling these issues, but they do not. ASA teaches sailing and cruising but does not promote the fellowship that makes a sport. So who's going to devise and implement the plan?

How about a US SB Assn? With different divisions you can join to satisfy your area of interest: Sailing for fun (day sailing), local cruising, long distance cruising, multihulls, dinghy racing, big boat racing, one-design, professional racing, sailor dating, etc. But the major events would include everyone for cross-pollination of ideas and love of the sea. Hold regional meetings in association with the boat shows and get sponsors out to talk to the members. Support the annual Sailstice with nationwide and class blind participation. And periodically, highlight some new twist to explore - like the snowboarding of mountain sports.

Just some thoughts...

By the way, check out the spitfire sailing video short on YouTube. That will get you going!


Oct 17, 2006, 4:49 PM

Views: 105576
Re: Have we lost a generation of sailors?

The ideal progression as youngsters come up through the sailing ranks seems to be high school sailing - college sailing - Olympic sailing – grand prix or America's Cup sailing. But just breaking in at each one of those levels is pretty daunting.

It’s easy to point fingers at other countries (the sailing culture in New Zealand breeds sailors or the RYA in England pays for sailors on their way through the system) but what I’m seeing in these threads is that each of us can do something to help youngsters get experience. When our J105 lost a crew member to food poisoning (really, it was food poisoning!) we talked to the PRO who mentioned there were a lot of high school sailors running about. We happily took on a 17 year old who did pretty well and helped out quite a bit with local conditions – and we all had a good time.

It can be so difficult to make the transition from small boats to keelboats, or big boats, so next time you’re light making weight or looking for a new crew member, talk to the junior program director to see who’s interested.

Diane Swintal


Oct 17, 2006, 5:40 PM

Views: 105565
Re: [dbs01] Have we lost a generation of sailors?

With all due respect, perhaps this forum should be split into two: "racing" and "sailing".

If we are in fact speaking about sailing, then this includes much much more than racing, and yes, there are many potential sailors who just need to have the opportunity of being taking out for (dare I say the word) a cruise. Taking a newbee out for a race on a real racng boat is a daunting experience. If it is blowing, this may not be what makes him or her the next big sailor. Crewing on a race boat has one other big disadvantage - you tend to get slotted into a position, whereas on a cruising boat (even in a race as Cruisingkitty apparantly describes), all particpants will share all tasks.

This is no different for the Junior programs. Racing is very exciting, but the love of being out on the water, the love for the sea, that comes from experiencing it at the rate of a few knots - slowly - Learning to get a feel for a puff of wind and what this does to your boat. learnng to run an outboard, learning safety and navigation, taking the helm - our 12 year old nephew drove our 57 foot boat this summer for a week under superision. He bought it - hook, line and sinker. Mind you catching that big striper may have been the clincher. But then how many racing boats carry trolling rods?

Yes, racing is a part of sailing - a little part. Every sailor will try and get his or her boat to go a little faster while sailing along side another boat, because that is really fun. And every cruiser may aspire to do a race now and then - and it is fun!

If, however, you think sailing is all about racing, then our sport will indeed be headed for a demise. Most kids just want to have fun and not get stressed out. Hey, and so do most adults. So, what is the big deal. Lets get people out sailing, gunkholing, cruising, exploring and having fun.

fair winds to you all!


Oct 17, 2006, 6:36 PM

Views: 105553
Re: [The Publisher] Have we lost a generation of sailors?

As a former youth sailor and parent of 3 teenage sailors, I see many big gains that youth sailing has made over the last 30 years. But it is equally hard to ignore the one big loss.

Starting lines with 100 Opti’s and well-trained coaches on the racecourse provide a one-design experience that was only seen at Olympic events 30 years ago. This training is absolutely impressive. But along with the 100 Opti’s and 100 coaches are 200 parents. At first look, the sight of all these concerned adults can only be viewed as a positive. Opti’s are not even self-rescuing for heaven’s sake. But is all this supervision good for the kids’ enjoyment and education?

Several years ago while preparing to coach yet another season of youth soccer, my assistant coach asked me if I thought our 11 year-olds would be capable of just showing-up at a field and organizing a game without adult supervision. The question hit me like a ton of bricks. The vast majority of my youth football and baseball came via pick-up games in the park. We had learned the real politics of sportsmanship - choosing sides for a fair contest, playing by the rules or the game broke down. My 11 year-olds had phenomenal shooting and passing skills – but ask them to sort themselves out and you’d get “Lord of the Flies.”

My early memories of sailing all include a great sense of freedom. Bobbing around the anchorage in our Dyer, the excitement of being n charge and on my own was tremendous. Early days off Milford Connecticut, skippering my Blue jay along with 15 other boats loosely chaperoned by a single distracted sailing instructor. At sea with my peers, we were large and incharge. The lure of competition pulled us to learn to be technical sailors, but it wasn’t the appeal. The sea and freedom from oppression (parents) was the big draw – as it had been for centuries.

When I first read Moby Dick, I knew exactly what Ishmael meant when I read “Whenever I find myself growing grim about the mouth; whenever it is a damp, drizzly November in my soul; whenever I find myself involuntarily pausing before coffin warehouses, and bringing up the rear of every funeral I meet; and especially whenever my hypos get such an upper hand of me, that it requires a strong moral principle to prevent me from deliberately stepping into the street, and methodically knocking people's hats off- then, I account it high time to get to sea as soon as I can.”

I don’t think Ishmael would have found much relief for his spleen in today’s youth programs.

Chris Bulger


Oct 18, 2006, 10:09 AM

Views: 105452
Re: [chrisbulger] Have we lost a generation of sailors?

RE: As a former youth sailor... Opti’s are not even self-rescuing for heaven’s sake. But is all this supervision good for the kids’ enjoyment and education?

Sorry, but where the heck does this misconception come from that Optis are not self-rescuing? Most every 7,8 or 9 year old who learns to sail in an Opti is first introduced to capsize self-rescue. Sure it includes a lot of bailing, but in a well run, fun program... it's all part of the fun and the skills!

The second comment is near and dear to my heart. I've always wanted to throw a regatta and have the coaches stay on shore. How many kids would know where to start, which way to go, etc.? While I agree that there is way too much parent and coach involvement, why should we have a real problem with that? These kids (and families) ARE sailing.

While I agree that we need to find ways to ensure we don't lose "a generation of sailors" I also agree with Tennyson " 'tis better to have sailed and lost then never to have sailed at all!". Junior sailing programs are not the big problem.


Oct 18, 2006, 1:48 PM

Views: 105420
Re: [chrisbulger] Have we lost a generation of sailors?

Chris, you have really captured the essence of what sailing -- real sailing -- is all about. It's about that exhiliarating sense of freedom. And who doesn't need that in today's world? Now, if we could only bottle it...

The Publisher

Oct 18, 2006, 2:41 PM

Views: 105410
Re: [The Publisher] Have we lost a generation of sailors?

From Scuttlebutt newsletter, Issue 2204:

* From Ryan Hamm, Coach, James Island Charter High School Sailing Team,
Charleston, SC: My opinion is that high school sailing and other things are
actually great at making our kids much better sailors than they would be if
they did not participate. However, the youth sailors are a
much-underutilized group in beer can regattas and one design classes. Their
skills allow them to jump on any boat and at least do something on the boat
(ie, jib trim on a J/24 or steering many boats).

I feel that our sailing system lost a generation last generation. High
School and College sailing has provided us a talent pool that we can and
should use so we don't lose this generation. My boat (Melges 24) uses high
school and college sailors or graduates of same and we do better than the
guys who just want to learn how to sail through crewing instead of taking
lessons. We win a lot also. Comes from bringing in the youth to our sport
and keeping them there.

I am also a volunteer high school coach. I try to get my kids in as many
opportunities of other sailing aspects besides the Olympic track. That track
only works for some but Wednesday night races and crewing in one design
regattas will help them also and will help us get better crew in the long
run. Don't lose another generation. Ask a high school or college sailor to
crew (or drive if you want to win) on your boat!

* From By Baldridge: I would like to invite Blake Billman (whose comments
were in Issue 2203), who I respect, to come back to Houston Yacht Club and
see the changes since his tenure as a coach. Our youth participation has
dramatically increased, eight sailors at Opti Nationals, and many of our
kids crewing in larger boats. They contributed on our GYA Lipton team, fared
well in the club championship series held in Ensigns and regularly crew on
J-22s and other classes. Our Sailing Director, Allan Couts has engineered a
dramatic increase in the quality of HYC's youth program that is now the
strongest in Texas.


Oct 19, 2006, 11:03 AM

Views: 105371
Re: [The Publisher] Have we lost a generation of sailors?

Reading through this forum once again from the very beginning, I was excited to see that everyone feels very strongly about this subject. Everyone also has a good story, or case in point.

We have been actively lobbying our YC to change its junior program and include pleasure sailing as well as racing, as we have heard from numerous parents that their child has dropped out due to the pressures of the constant competition. One also always puts the racing successes up on the pedestal and not the "Joy of Sailing".

I believe that the root of the problem in building interest in any sport is making it too stressful and competitive at an early age. How different would it all be if the youngest kids (and then progressing onwards through their life) were to be shown just how much fun it is to go out in a boat. Would kids not then provide a large pool of young adults clamoring to crew on a race (or cruise), or buy their own boat(s) as their formative childhood memories tought them a deep love for being out on the water? Would these same young enthusiastic adults not perhaps then grow up into potential sponsors and supporters of a thriving olympic fleet - elevating this into a real matter of national pride?

the kids are our future..

just a thought

The Publisher

Oct 20, 2006, 5:53 AM

Views: 105321
Re: [The Publisher] Have we lost a generation of sailors?

From Scuttlebutt newsletter, Issue 2205:

* From Chip Johns, President, Vanguard Sailboats: Have we lost a generation
of sailors? I don't think that we have lost a generation of sailors, but we
are losing some of the values that my generation gained from sailing. Look
at the facts, there are tons of kids sailing now, Optimist and Club 420
regattas are larger than any events this country as ever seen, but our
Olympic/International classes are smaller and some argue less successful
than in the past. Theoretically if the base is as large as it appears to be
there should be more cream rising to the top.

One argument is that since the toys are provided so easily to kids from age
8 to age 22 that the jump to "doing it yourself" after age 22 is just too
hard for most of the kids to make that jump. I witnessed an example at my
home club this summer. The C420 team was packing up for a regatta and the
parents and coach were packing and tying the boats down to the trailer. I
suggested that they have the kids do this and the response was that they
would never get to the regatta. If the kids do not want to go to the regatta
badly enough to learn how to tie boat down then let them miss it! They will
figure it out if they really want to go.

Like everything in this world this is not a case of black and white. I am
convinced that one of the problems we have is that our kids are not learning
how to own boats and travel to regattas. No matter what kind of boat one
sails, owning it requires twice as much work as sailing it. Our kids are
missing this aspect of sailing and it is hampering the jump from college to
post college sailing.

The Publisher

Oct 20, 2006, 5:55 AM

Views: 105321
Re: [The Publisher] Have we lost a generation of sailors?

From Scuttlebutt newsletter, Issue 2206:

* From Tim Dickson: (RE: Chip Johns' thoughtful assessment in Issue 2205) At
the Annapolis boat show, our 10-year sailed in the Opti corral for demo-ing
boats. He came out saying: "dad, can we can get one?" I replied he needed to
show us he could take care of the boat on his own (I sail with our kids on
big boats and on Penguins. As Chip observed, like most parents and A-type
skippers, I don't take the time to give rigging and clean up assignments
when I can just do it myself more quickly). He countered: "How can I show
you unless we get the boat?" I said "We could start with your room. Do you
think you could sail a boat in the same condition as your room?" That night
and since: bed made, room spotless. Mr. Johns, I'm proud to say we're a new
customer. We parents have precious few moments of leverage in life.

* From Nevin Sayre: Many agree that the problem is the huge numbers who drop
out of sailing at age 10-15 or when they finish high school/college sailing.
The discussion has summarized many of the reasons: 1/ the focus on racing
and results, 2/ the monotony (for some) of going around short courses in
slow boats, 3/ cost once you graduate, 4/ time constraints, and 5/ not
enough “free fun sailing” in Jr. Sailing Programs. Look at skate boarding,
snow boarding, surfing, skim boarding and other “board sports” that many
juniors prefer over sailing. Ninety percent of the participants never
compete. They are fast, exciting, attractive to kids.

It amazes me that US Sailing doesn’t promote the one “board sport” that
already exists within sailing - windsurfing. Windsurfing is naturally part
of Junior Sailing curriculums in other countries… it should also be in the
U.S. With modern equipment, you can windsurf wherever you can sail Optis. It
is the most inexpensive form of sailing, fast to rig, fits on a Mini Cooper.
You want better sit down sailors? Teach them balance, weight placement,
wind/ wave knowledge on a windsurfer. You want to keep your sailing program
dynamic? Take your Opti/ 420 kids windsurfing 1-2 days a week. But above
all, kids love it and a higher percentage will become life-long sailors.

PS - And for those who care, if we ever want to medal in two (of the eleven)
Olympic Classes again, we better start windsurfing in Junior Sailing.

The Publisher

Oct 23, 2006, 4:42 PM

Views: 105234
Re: [The Publisher] Have we lost a generation of sailors?

From Scuttlebutt newsletter, Issue 2207:

* From John Hoff: (edited to our 250 word limit) Our sailing club in New
Jersey has turned the corner on this problem with a very simple
solution: make sailing fun for all ages. We race four one-design classes
from May to September, averaging 45 boats across these fleets, double
ten years ago. We do lose a number of twenty-somethings as they move on
with their very busy lives, but we also have a number of them involved,
and an increasing number of thirty-somethings coming back. We do two
things: we keep the on-course intense but "collegial", and the post-race
activity loose and fun; also, we make a major effort to get our older
boats in the hands of young skippers. Recently a college student was
given a competitive but older E-Scow for next season, with the only
caveat that, when he is done, he gives it to another young skipper.
There is no question that young people today are often extremely
over-programmed with competitive activities (often not of their
choosing). Once the coach and parents are out of the picture, they often
go a different direction. We have found that seeking out these people,
regardless of their prior sport (lacrosse, hockey, baseball appear to be
a common theme), brings in excellent crew who often bring young families
in tow. The core of any sport like sailing or golf must be at the
club-racing level. The future of the sport is encouraging new entrants
at the club level, which can be done with minimal investment of time and

* From Ralph Taylor: Some have indicted "short-course" racing. Perhaps,
there is no perfect world and idealistic theory has to give way to
realities. Most of the kids I coach need work on starts. (Seems to me, a
good start is a big factor in winning a race, even when the course is
miles long.) Short courses enable more races, thus more starting
practice. Also, many youngsters get bored when they're not doing well. A
short course, followed by another race, gets them back in the game with
a chance to do better next time. Should short courses be the only
format? Absolutely not. We have them work their way up to longer
courses, spinnakers & trapezes.

The Publisher

Oct 24, 2006, 9:05 AM

Views: 105198
Re: [The Publisher] Have we lost a generation of sailors?

From Scuttlebutt newsletter, Issue 2208:

* From John Verdoia: (regarding Chip’s letter in Issue 2205) I concur with
Chip Johns' comments on a lost generation of sailors, but I am not sure it
is just a recent concern. I have been fortunate to sail the past 40 years or
so in wide variety craft from dinghies to ultralights and big boats. As a
youth I also sailed with a San Francisco Sea Scout unit, which raced 30-foot
open whaleboats on the Bay. Those of us interested in the program learned
valuable lessons regarding the care and repair of older wooden vessels, and
frequently utilized those skills while underway – both racing and cruising.
The ability to jury rig; proficiency in preparing for transport (whether on
a trailer or at the end of a tow line); and an aptitude for solving problems
help transform young sailors into young seamen. There are many, many people
I am quite comfortable sailing around the bouys with – but there are far
fewer I choose to be with offshore in adversity.

* From Pat Healy: Are kids (or even adults) better seaman? Here's the test.
Look at how they tie their shoelaces. If the bows are crossways to their
shoes, it's a square knot and they may understand the basics. If the bows go
up and down (along the length of their shoe), it's a granny knot and someone
else should bend the jib sheets on.

* From Ted Robinson, Block Island, RI: (edited to our 250 word limit)
Interesting concept, that the young sailors lose interest after their
junior, high school, and college programs end. Like other school based
athletic programs, such as the hockey or football, sailing has no
continuity. Participation in club-level team sports after school (college)
requires a degree of motivation. Sailing participation after college
probably faces a similar dynamic.

Last weekend, I encountered a newbie boat owner with a Tartan 27 and a
fouled anchor trying not to crash and burn in 25 knots wind in Block Island’
s Old Harbor. After getting him squared away, over beers he told the tale of
when he first got the boat how he took his spouse and kid out on its maiden
delivery-home voyage. As you can imagine, the usual stuff happened, and she
won’t set foot in the thing again. It is inevitable that this guy’s soon
going to have a hard choice to make between his love of sailing and spending
time with his family.

Sailing instruction programs appear to be another miscue. Virtually all the
schools I researched require an initial monetary/time commitment of several
days/several hundred dollars. Aviation schools, on the other hand, will let
you buy a single hour lesson. You can experience flying in less than two
hours for less than a hundred dollars. The sailing “media” provides
wonderfully entertaining content on racing strategy, the latest big time
racing boat and personality news. But regular boat strategy, such as “Don’t
Take Your Spouse on a Shakedown,” is nowhere to be found.

* From Hank Evans, Des Moines. IO: In response to Ralph Taylor's comments
(in Issue 2207) about "short course" racing, I would very much agree. I
recently got into RC sailboat racing and what really struck me was the
amount of racing experience one gets in a very short time. Our club races
Sat. mornings from 9 to 12 and it is not uncommon to get in between 15 and
25 races in 3 hours. When I think about that compared to gathering crew and
getting my C&C 29 on the race course for 2 or 3 regular length races in a
weekend, the contrast is dramatic. Short courses greatly increase experience
and should be used as part of sail training. Perhaps incorporating some RC
boats in a training program could also be considered to add to experience. I
have found kids just flock around at our yacht club whenever I bring mine
out and are anxious to sail it. My philosophy is the more we can get kids
sailing and racing - in any kind of boat - the better.

The Publisher

Oct 25, 2006, 5:24 AM

Views: 105115
Re: [The Publisher] Have we lost a generation of sailors?

From Scuttlebutt newsletter, Issue 2209:

* From Rich Jepsen, CEO, OCSC Sailing: I had to respond to Ted Robinson's
letter (in Issue 2208) concerning how sailing schools 'miscue' with new
sailors by charging hundreds of dollars for a first step. I'm in the sailing
school business and almost every single sailing school I know of, commercial
and community, for profit or not, has a "dip your toe in" product or
program. We definitely pay attention to other outdoor/ adventure sports and
steal marketing/ entry point secrets from them all the time. Here are three
from San Francisco bay area): The No charge, open to the public - "sail a
dinghy day" at Cal Sailing Club, Richmond Yacht Club's no charge, open to
the public "small boat day", and my school's $45 "Introduction to Sailing".
I assure you, we in the sail training business do actually work very hard to
make it easy and approachable.... Regardless, if you run a sailing school
and you have a low risk, low cost way for people to try sailing, let's hear
from you!

* From Enrico Ferrari: (regarding letter in Issue 2205) Chip Johns of
Vanguard Boats had a good point about time spent with boats being at least
half maintenance. Owning and self-maintaining anything is not as popular as
it used to be, let alone a boat. Public education is taking shop out of the
schools across the country so handling a tool will be the rare exception for
our citizens, not the norm for us who are AARP already. Have you ever tried
to maintain a boat without the correct tool?

The paradigm shift away from recognizing tools and accomplishment seems to
be based in the litigious ‘not for me' attitude towards responsibility.
Boating is just one of the fields affected by our 'minimal effort' culture.
Support the school shops, repair yards, and YCs and take out who ever you
can for an outing. My crew varies in size from 2-14 but there always seems
to be a rookie who needs teaching. No worries; just do that and perhaps you
will find a new sailor. Once they are hooked into a steady crew position you
might be able to talk them into long boarding the keel on haul out time!
They will really want to race with you then, as they will have more
ownership in the boat and the program.

* From David Doody: One thing that I have noticed in Western Long Island
Sound, and indeed seemingly everywhere, is a distinct lack of kids "simply
messing about in boats." It seems that sailing has become strictly a "sport"
for kids today - they check in for a couple of hours of upwind and downwind
sailing around the cans and then leave - off to some other organized sport
or activity. I never (never say never) see kids jumping into their boats
just to go mess around, or going out to explore an island, or go capsizing,
or any of that good stuff. I know it is the old "shoulda been here
yesterday" but I have very fond memories of a youth spent "messing about in
boats" - unorganized and probably even pretty unsafe at times - but just
messing around in rowboats, sailboats, powerboats, pieces of dock foam to
cross a creek in winter (bad idea...), sailing a sunfish to camp out on an
island (sleeping bag in a leaky garbage bag lashed to the mast) and all of
that experience has made me a lifelong sailor and someone passionate about
sailing. I think there is way too much emphasis on racing, and particularly
in singlehanded boats, and not enough time spent on the seamanship and boat
handling and boatkeeping and the just plain fun aspects of sailing. Perhaps
we need a "push your kid off the dock today and don't plan on picking him up
till tomorrow" campaign? Is there more to this than just the sport of
sailing perhaps?


Oct 25, 2006, 6:19 AM

Views: 105103
Re: [The Publisher] Have we lost a generation of sailors?

In Reply To
From Scuttlebutt newsletter, Issue 2209:
sailing a sunfish to camp out on an island (sleeping bag in a leaky garbage bag lashed to the mast) and all of that experience has made me a lifelong sailor and someone passionate about sailing.

This is a funny comment - this could be a thread in and of itself - where I had my junior sailing we called this the "mates overnight". Lots of soaky sleeping bags, and beetlecats not sunfish - but we rafted up next to Pine Island-

Sorry to be off topic.

The Publisher

Oct 26, 2006, 8:48 PM

Views: 105053
Re: [The Publisher] Have we lost a generation of sailors?

From Scuttlebutt newsletter, Issue 2210:

* From Geoffrey Emanuel: I'm wholeheartedly in agreement with David Doody's
letter (in Issue 2209) about kids messing around in boats. As a life-long
sailor, my best memories are of spontaneous, unorganized sailing adventures.
Kids need to figure out for themselves what aspects of sailing they like
best and if they never get the chance to experiment and experience all sides
of our sport, they may choose to leave it rather than love it.

From Scuttlebutt newsletter, Issue 2211:

* From Andy Stagg: The problem with keeping youth interested is rooted right
along side the problem plaguing the rest of the sailing industry - there is
too much hypocrisy, drama, and red tape. People say "keep sailing fun", and
then go protest the hell out of a competitor. "Kids like new fast exciting
boats"... yeah I'm sure they'll love the price tag and learning curve too.
If anyone has ever had a run in with a "big boat" program, the amount of
drama involved is enough to drive a man to drink (which would explains the
after parties). US Sailing as a governing body is so concerned about the
legalities of the minutest detail that it's near impossible to get a boat on
the water.

But these aren't only trends in sailing; no, it would be very short sighted
to say that. These are trends throughout our society. If you want to fix
junior sailing, you'll first need to tackle everything else. My suggestion-
Ease up!

* From Ted Livingston: Hats off to David Doody (regarding his letter in
2209). I say that he is right regarding "Messing about in boats." Here’s an
example from the life and times of Carl Eichenlaub: While still a teen-ager,
he had built an International 14. He had become so good, already, that he
was named to represent the West Coast in the very first Mallory Cup (won
eventually by "Corny" Shields). After another regatta for the I-14 fleet, at
Newport Harbor YC, instead of hauling out onto a trailer, he and his crew
were seen loading sleeping bags and bags of food into the '14. Here is what
Carl said, as retold to me years ago by the late Chuck Kober:
"Whither bound, Carl?"
"Home to San Diego."
"You can't sail a '14 to San Diego!"
"How do you think we got here?"

Seacoast Sailor

Oct 27, 2006, 7:22 AM

Views: 105033
Re: [Goincruisin] Have we lost a generation of sailors?

Yes! The word is out, there is more to sailing than just racing. There is more than one way to expose the younger generation to this wonderful activity. Having been brought up through the junior sailing (i.e. racing) programs, I did survive and continue to enjoy sailing. I am the exception. I was lucky enough to spend time cruising with my father on his small boat. I was lucky enough to find a local sailing facility that focused on the enjoyment of sailing, not performance, not racing, not politics and who "belonged and who didn't". If we want to reach out and expose sailing the masses and keep them interested, stop kidding yourselves, it's not about racing, it's not about politics and it's certainly not about being a member of "The Yacht Club", it's about exposing them to all aspects of sailing. There are a few (too few) junior programs that specifically prohibit racing. I bet you would find these programs retain a much higher level of sailors than traditional programs. Don't get me wrong, I have raced and still do on occasion, but I have the option. Let's give our kids and the younger generation that option. Instead of promoting racing as a method of learning sailing, let's promote sailing as a whole and let them make there own decision.


Oct 27, 2006, 11:28 AM

Views: 105000
Re: [Seacoast Sailor] Have we lost a generation of sailors?

Not sure if you picked up on the quote from Bernard Stamm in Scuttlebutt 2210: (October 25, 2006) "...I was being so careful that I had the feeling I was more sailing than racing...." Whereas a racer may consider himself a sailor, what he does is apparently not "sailing", or is it?

I grew up messing around in boats - my first being a raft made out of telephone poles and 2x4s. I do enjoy racing - on occasion, but as our crew will certainly attest we are still sailing and having fun; no shouting or mayhem. But if you remove the fun, and get all serious and worked up, then it is a small wonder that most wives and most children want to hear nothing about going out sailing - one bad experience (usually on a race course) is about all it takes.

The Publisher

Oct 31, 2006, 6:15 PM

Views: 104787
Re: [The Publisher] Have we lost a generation of sailors?

From Scuttlebutt newsletter, Issue 2212:

* From Dan Hirsch, Waukegan Il: About that lost generation of sailors--has
anybody taken a look at the demographics? In 1978 when my first son was born
in suburban Chicago, the hospital's Obstetrics wing was excited by the fact
that they had two births on the same day. The nurses there pointed out that
they used to have a dozen a day. You folks are whining about a lack of
thirtysomethings -- the problem is not necessarily sailing's -it's just the
demographics--which is a lot like the wind, nobody does much about it.
Better to estimate realistic future growth and plan accordingly. Anybody
notice the NFL's really irritating Spanish language commercials. That's one
plan in action. Here's a thought: as boomers retire, there will be many more
middle-aged boats flooding the market--anybody with a good idea on making
them more attractive and cheaper to own COULD find some success.

* From Rhett Roback UCISA Commodore: I've got a suggestion for all the
readers out there, who are worried about the diminishing number of sailors,
and specifically, sailing youth: stop writing about it, and instead get out
and do something. I'm a young guy, 20 to be specific, and have only been
sailing for about 4 years, but I can clearly see the issue of the lack of
youth participants. I'm the youngest on nearly every boat I'm on. So what
have I done? I'm a sailing instructor. I might not be able to change the
world, but I can introduce my peers to this wonderful sport, in the hopeful
goal that I might be able to sail with someone around my own age! I also
would publicly introduce my long-standing sailing club, of which I'm
commodore. We're the UCI Sailing Association, and we make sailing affordable
to any UC affiliate for less then a hundred dollars, per quarter! When I
teach, I don't emphasize racing as many other instructors do (especially
with the quite young sailors). I emphasize fun, but with an understanding in
seamanship. I love to race, I love to cruise, I love to be on the water.
Doesn't matter what aspect of sailing they enjoy, as long as they become
passionate. I urge others to stop talking, and go out and teach. You'll be
amazed, challenged, and have a great time, and hopefully make a difference.


Nov 7, 2006, 11:07 AM

Views: 104616
Re: [rt_/)] Have we lost a generation of sailors?

In Reply To
Let's not lose site of the real value of kids sailing. It is NOT to produce Olympian or professional sailors. It is about them developing skills which will also translate to the broader world and about giving them a sport they can enjoy all their lives.

AGREED 100%!

Not sure what this means for the debate on the Olympic team and such...but there is a relationship somewhere....


Nov 7, 2006, 12:41 PM

Views: 104609
Re: [USA8016] Have we lost a generation of sailors?

What it means for the debate on Olympic sailing is "The tail shouldn't wag the dog." AYSO, Little League baseball and Pop Warner football shouldn't be judged for how many pros they produce, but by how much the kids playing get out of the sport.

For example, the statement about only 10 470s for the 2006 US pre-Olympics might be more a reflection of the 470 class' situation in America than of junior sailing. It might say more about the system of funding, training, etc. than about the potential competitors.

Our local juniors' program is looking at buying double-handed boats for training & competition by kids. We will not be buying 470s; they're too expensive and fragile -- not to mention the absence of consistently available competition.

I'm disheartened when people report on (say, US SAILING Championship) events and focus only on who won, without paying attention to who and how many came, how many were in the "ladder" leading up to the finals. A contest without contestants isn't worth putting effort into.


Nov 7, 2006, 3:18 PM

Views: 104595
Have we lost a generation of sailors?

One effort to keep college sailors in sailing AFTER they are completed with their eligibility (whether they graduate or not, 8 semesters over 5 years), has been to revitalize "The Afterguard," the casual organization of college sailing alumni and friends (and we welcome the friends, really!).

The Afterguard still seeks volunteers who will help with redevelopment of its program.

The Afterguard seeks hosts for any kind of sailing event: rally, regatta, movie viewing, rules seminar, or (ack, is it legal?) party!

These events can be anywhere: college club, yacht club, local beach, Bitter End, movie theatre, Moose Club, who cares?

They can be in any boat: FJ, 420, Laser, Lehman Dinghy, Blue Jay, InterClub, J-24, Star, Flying Scot, Lightning, Farr 40, T-10, Sunfish, sailboard, rowboat, bathtub, who cares?

The rule of butts in boats and having fun is primary, and is ultimately important for keeping our aged out collegians in the sport. If they know they can show up at an event and have a boat to sail and the cost is reasonable, they will show up.


Nov 8, 2006, 8:56 PM

Views: 104557
Re: [The Publisher] Have we lost a generation of sailors?

While there are particular clubs and particular programmes that are highly successful sailing is at a low ebb in Australia.

There is a lot of activity attempting to introduce people to sailing with commercial sailing classesclasses and sailing club programs, but in the most part retention rates are poor. People get their certificate and then sign up to Salsa dancing classes.

It is as if we have been living off the capital generated in the 60s and 70s when there seemed to be a sailing club off every suitable beach and in every cove on our major waterways and hundreds of people rigging up.

On Sydney Harbour alone there were approximately 50 clubs of various sizes - all very active - mums, dads and kids. Now there are a third of that and many clubs are struggling to get enough members.

What do you expect when a beginning boat for a couple of kids costs around $4,000-8,000 because of the technology involved?

The really silly thing is that all the $5,000 boats in a fleet go at much the same speed for very even racing - which was also the case when they were cheaper and simpler 40 years ago – the boats then had very even racing too.

Boats that were envisaged as being cheap training classes have become involved in a foolish Arms Race. "Ball bearing shroud adjustment system? I have to have one too!"

Here are some classes that were designed to be cheap and simple to build and participate in and here are new boat approximate prices in OZ dollars.

Fireball - $17000 trapeze dinghy for two adults
NS14 $15000 non trapeze dinghy for two adults
Australian Sharpie - $23,000 trapeze dinghy for 3
Manly Junior - $7,800 learner boat for two kids
Optimist - $5000

or designed to be a cheaply manufactured boat
Laser $8000 and you have to get a new hull every year or two to stay competitive.

Many of these classes have also incorporated features that can't be readily duplicated by someone home building a boat.

An interesting thing to survey is just what the price is of classes that still have home building programs in place. Generally it is a lot less - but those are not the classes that are very well supported by peak yachting organisations.

So when someone's child asks whether they can learn to sail it is suggested that perhaps basketball is a better choice.

Looking at this decline in participation is interesting considering the huge movement that has grown up around Wooden Boats in the last decade or so. There are thousands of people building and using all sorts of strange and often wonderful craft and almost none of them will ever be involved with a sailing club or other sailing organisations.

That's where the growth is - but the authorities and conventionally minded sailors are blind to it and think that the way that they have always done things continues to be OK - occasionally scratching their heads and wondering why the lowering participation rates.

I'm involved in the PDRacer class - where we actually built two boats for $300 each. The class is worldwide and has 120 registered boats (actual boats - the registrar needs a photo) over two years. No advertising budget - no clubs - no formal class association - and it has attracted 120 groups of people most of whom haven't been involved in sailing at all previously. And this is early days.

I can built a boat in a few weekends that sails fine (I used to be a competitive racer in a range of classes and have placed in national championships) for around $1000 and meet up for a day's sailing around with a few mates in boats of similar cost - so why would I reenter the yachting mainstream?

Michael Storer

Did you know the spellcheck on this board won't accept "yachting" and suggests "Yucatan" as an alternative :-)


Apr 17, 2007, 5:49 PM

Views: 28318
Re: [The Publisher] Have we lost a generation of sailors?

I saw Rochester, NY mentioned in this thread. Is anyone aware of any windsurfing or kiteboarding clubs that ride on Lake Ontario in Rochester?

We're moving from Washington, DC where we spend every weekend on the water in Annapolis. Need to see where people hangout up there.

Thanks much for your help...

Phineas Sprague

May 2, 2007, 9:01 PM

Views: 28255
Re: [The Publisher] Have we lost a generation of sailors?

I am from coastal Maine, a state where you can’t get there reasonably from anywhere with out a boat. It is a 20 mile drive in a car up a finger of land and 20 miles back down to a place that was a mile away from the starting point. We will always have “get there” boats. It is my observation that we have lost a couple of generations of SEAMEN. My conclusion is that the carnage in WWI and WWII of our merchant marine encouraged families to send their young people away from the water to “safe” jobs in the mills. It is bizarre that relatively few youngsters in the coastal communities actually get out on the water. Those that do have some relative or opportunity that is opened to them…. But altogether too few experience the joy. They stand by the waters edge and don’t know how to access it because in a generation they have lost the mentors. It is in their blood, they throw stones in it, look at it like a TV set …. And resent the “Rich People from away” who are on the moorings. I have been in many other countries where there was a boat in almost every driveway.. hot fancy but a boat and if they didn’t like the “rich people from away” they glowered from their boats. Get kids from their parents and into boats at no later than 8 and they will be hooked for life, Our antidote program works Whine or do somethig about it.Cool!

Skull & Bones

May 4, 2007, 11:44 AM

Views: 28216
Re: [The Publisher] Have we lost a generation of sailors?

"My son is a young professional with a family and a huge mortgage. Recently we went to the Newport RI Boat show. Only two major manufacturers make smaller boats for young marrieds that are even remotely within the price range of such a financially strapped family (Catalina, Hunter).The manufacturer of my boat (Beneteau) used to make many small models but now only makes ever larger boats that are used less and less."

This is the problem. The industry is so focused on building bigger boats that the common guy is priced out of the game at the most critical time......still young. build some more designs like the Melges 24, ect, price them so you can get into the sport, and you would see more interest. If not, it's turning toward fishing and golfing.