Scuttlebutt Website SCUTTLEBUTT
Who's Online WHO'S
Log in LOG IN         

Forum Index: .: Dock Talk:
Sailing has become too segregated
Team McLube


The Publisher

Oct 3, 2012, 11:34 AM

Post #1 of 5 (11293 views)
Sailing has become too segregated Log-In to Post/Reply

By Glenn McCarthy, Lake Michigan SuRF Newsletter

Put hops, malt, barley and water in four concrete steel reinforced silos
and do not mix them, what do you get? Nothing good! Mix them together and
you get beer, something real good.

We broke off Junior Sailing/ Sailing Schools into their own silo. These
programs are growing, everyone involved is enthusiastic. We broke off High
School sailing into its own silo. It is one of the greatest success stories
in sailing today, more and more High Schools are signing up and competing
against one another. Collegiate Sailing is in its own silo. While more
mature, it is also growing today. Adult sailing is in its own silo. Just
like the Beer example, we leave these four ingredients in their own silos
and do not mix them. And what do we have? Nothing good at the end of the
day! Adult sailing is struggling at most levels.

There are 300,000 juniors between the ages of 5 and 21 in their three silos
in this country. By age 22, 95% of them have quit sailing. Why? It is all
about "peers." They see their peers quit without ramification, and so they
quit too - no loss (see the related story on growing your yacht club
membership through your sailing school, there is a golden lining). We have
been justifying that when sailors get out of college they are busy
establishing themselves in the working world, changing jobs frequently,
getting housing, moving regularly to get better deals, dating, going to
weddings, getting married themselves, having children, etc. Wait a moment
there, isn't that the exact same stuff we did at that age and didn't we
keep sailing? Why is this now an excuse not to sail?

We (I'm a boomer) kept sailing because when we were juniors, we sailed with
adults. They were part of our peer group. We saw sailors in their 20's,
30's, 40's, 50's, 60's, 70's, 80's and a few hanger-ons in their 90's who
all sailed. We knew that they were part of our peers. We knew that we, too,
would be sailing for a lifetime. This cycle has been broken.

It was never an intention to segregate the age groups, we enjoyed racing
with all ages on board. I remember sailing on Inferno in the early 1970's,
a red C&C 52 owned by Jim McHugh (McHugh Construction Company) when I was
about 12. This was the days of RDF, before Loran or GPS. It was a long
distance single-day course race in which we were the lead boat. The
navigator hailed to the crew "I owe a beer to whoever can spot the mark." I
said, "It's right up ahead, a little to the right of our course."

All of the crew looked and looked and couldn't see it and started to
disbelieve me. I said, "It is white on top, orange in the middle and white
on the bottom." The navigator knew the colors of the mark and said there
was no way I could have guessed that and I must be seeing it. We sailed to
it and rounded it; it was our mark. The point being, I was helpful to the
team at age 12, they understood I contributed to the team, and I became one
of them right at that moment, having earned my spot. (To the Inferno
navigator: I forgot your name, I'm old enough now and you still owe me that
beer. Call me).

If the silo system for young sailors was in place back then, I would not
have been on Inferno, I would have been at some Opti or 420 regatta
somewhere, with helicopter parents shuttling me around. Read on:

The Publisher

Oct 3, 2012, 11:35 AM

Post #2 of 5 (11292 views)
Re: [The Publisher] Sailing has become too segregated [In reply to] Log-In to Post/Reply

From Hugh Elliot:
I read Glenn McCarthy's piece in with interest. He is right as far as he goes.

This last weekend I was working a Snipe regatta as a judge (it was a
qualifier for the 2013 Worlds) and we were doing Appendix P on water. For
Sunday, we were short one judge and it seemed like a no-brainer to ask if
one of the High School kids that sail out of our club would like to come
over to the 'Dark Side' and see Rule 42 enforcement from a judge boat.

Of the 24 kids who were practicing at our club on Friday afternoon, not one
- not a single one - was interested in working with two International
Judges and a Canadian Provincial Judge.

Sounds a bit like self segregation to me.

From Jay Cross:
I loved Glenn McCarthy's piece. So true and, by the way, I would have given
anything to sail on Inferno but growing up in Toronto had to make do with
Bonaventure - those great days of C&C!

From Larry Colantuono:
The article by Glenn McCarthy is spot on.

The Publisher

Oct 3, 2012, 11:37 AM

Post #3 of 5 (11291 views)
Re: [The Publisher] Sailing has become too segregated [In reply to] Log-In to Post/Reply

From: Herb Motley
To: <>
Subject: Sailing Silos
Date: Wed, 03 Oct 2012 11:54:46 -0400

Another element of sailing silos is the approach to the Racing Rules. And I’m not complaining about the various changes over the past 15 years, here, though the attempt to make rules uniform for fleet racing and match racing and team racing don’t reflect the different nature of those three events.

Much more important is the approach to the rules as an aggressive tactic which has now crept up from the college ranks to the “adults” we find on the course today. The RRS evolved from the Rules of the Road designed to avoid collisions and damage to boats and people. The old fashioned idea was to sail your boat fast on the best course to get there before your competitors. The rules were there to keep you out of trouble.

Too often today, the rules are used as a tactical weapon whereby you place your boat in position to cause your competitor to foul you and take a penalty, giving you an advantage. This frequently is combined with loud, sometimes abusive, verbal hails to establish the point of law.

Is this fun? Does this promote enjoyment of a day on the water sailing against other boats? Does this attitude have anything to do with fleets which had 30 boats on the line shrinking to 3?

In Pre-silo days of racing, the younger kids learned sailing, navigation, the rules, and SPORTSMANSHIP from their parents, grandparents and other elders who set the tone for, dare I say it?, a Corinthian afternoon enjoyed by gentlemen (and ladies). Sure, there were always hotheads. Sailors are human, after all. But Peer pressure was usually brought to bear on the offenders to correct their ways.

As we bemoan the shrinking one design fleets around our coastlines, examine which fleets are still healthy. The International One Design Class sailed its 75th summer in 2012. It stands out in the heavy racing port of Marblehead, Massachusetts as having race continually since 1938. (Only the Town Class have done longer.) The competition is keen and the friendships strong. We have regular discussions about the tone of our Saturdays on the water and continue to enjoy the gatherings on the porch among friends afterwards. In the ensuing years Marblehead has seen a string of classes come and go for various reasons. But there are few which have continued successfully for a long time, and a focus on sailing fast, not scuttling your completion with red flags.

Herb Motley, Marblehead IOD Fleet

The Publisher

Oct 3, 2012, 12:03 PM

Post #4 of 5 (11286 views)
Re: [The Publisher] Sailing has become too segregated [In reply to] Log-In to Post/Reply

From Roger Baker:
I must take the dissenting view on Glenn McCarthy’s (Scuttlebutt 3688) opinion. I have just come to the end of my daughter’s involvement with youth sailing. She just graduated college this spring after sailing on her own since 6-7 years in the Opti. She is currently figuring out the next step, grad school, work, etc. At this time she is sailing and doing some coaching.

She along with others her age are doing the same thing. It seems to me there are many more involved now than when I was her age, some 35 + years ago. Times have changed. We no longer have the time for the every weekend multi-class regattas which I participated in on Great South Bay of Long Island. These events were very “multi-generation friendly”. Our leisure time is more limited now and we must get as much out of it as we can. Hence more class regattas, both youth and adult.

There are many current examples of multi-generation sailing. Take the Lightening and Thistle classes. Both of these classes have sailors from preteen to “older than dirt”. I was at Cedar Point in CT a couple of years ago for the Thistle Nationals where the age range spanned was from 10 to 70 years old. Most of the people I know who are concerned (negatively) with youth in sailing are “older than dirt”, have not been involved in youth sailing for decades (except for the discussions with like minded geriatrics at the bar), or are sailors who have never been involved in youth sailing.

I myself; after chairing two Opti Nationals, a Leiter Cup, been involved with the Youth Council of US Sailing, had a daughter who sailed in 4 college nationals, and last weekend was PRO at a high school regional champs and coached Optis; have a different perspective. I believe the glass is better than half full and getting fuller (may even need a larger glass). The youth sailors of today are better trained & experienced than when I was a youth. This is partly thanks to the efforts of US Sailing and their training committee. It is also partly thanks to the classes (Opti,420,laser, and others) which work in today’s culture.

I do not know any soccer players who I played with in HS and College that are still playing, but I do know many sailors who I grew up with who are still sailing! I don’t think this will change much in the future. I do think we need more beer in sailing though, and since Glenn seems to be knowledgeable maybe he could devote his efforts to brewing rather than opining on youth sailing.

Glenn McCarthy

Oct 4, 2012, 6:50 AM

Post #5 of 5 (11132 views)
Re: [The Publisher] Sailing has become too segregated [In reply to] Log-In to Post/Reply

Hi Roger -

I believe we are in agreement, your daughter is part of the 5% that didn't drop out of sailing going through the junior/high school/college years, congratulations. What the article was about was the other 95% that we lost. If you'll read it all the way to the bottom (you'll have to click on the link), you'll see that to change the "peers" of young sailors, we need to mix the young sailors with adult sailors from the beginning. We need 5, 7, 9, 13, 15, 17 year old kids sailing on adult boats, not just a once a season thing, all the time. I made two recommendations on how to mix the age groups together. We need to mix the ingredients, just as we did when we were lads.

Thanks for the thoughts.


Viewing the Forums: No members and guests

Search for (options) Contact Forum Forum FAQS Markup Tags Forum Rules