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Old 03-25-2013
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Re: Is Sailing an Elitist Sport?

The title of this thread illustrates the difference in cultural views regarding the sport of sailing.

In Australia, NZ and many parts of Europe, sailing is a common activity among common folks. Nothing elite about it. In Australia, the word "yacht" is used to refer to nearly any pleasure craft, not simply boats larger than "X" meters, or sailboats or power boats.

In the United States, no matter how old, or crappy the sailboat, sailing is seen as something "wealthy" or "offbeat" people do. You're either a rich elitist, or you're some kind of Luddite.

The word "yacht" has a very negative connotation here in the US. It is commonly used to refer to large power or sailboats, typically equipped with a large cabin, and many amenities.

I barely have two coins to rub together, my boat is 40 years old, my sails are old and used, but when I mention sailing, my co-workers constantly rib me about making "big money".

Also, there seems to be some wierd connection between distance traveled on the water, and wealth. If I tell them that I sail a long distance, the pokes about my perceived wealth increase. I think this is because there is an unconscious mental calcuation between distance traveled and fuel costs, and that the boat must be very large and comfortable to travel so far.

I constantly have to explain that the cost to travel 3 miles or 85 miles is the same, because the wind is free.

A friend of mine recently commented "Sailing is illegal in the United States."
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