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post #34 of Old 03-25-2013
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Re: Is Sailing an Elitist Sport?

I strongly believe that's just advertising gimmicks. And I think we all see through it, but it's fun to let it run its course and help the sport gain more popularity.

I don't think that Americas Cup sailing and that elitist point of view represents the entire hobby or culture, at all. It's just a part of it - the part that makes a lot of money, the publicized, high-class-wannabe, money-driven part that has a big impact on everyone outside of the sailing world.

Companies such as rolex and all the other major sponsors kick all that money into it so that they give off and feed into the perspective of "Rich and famous" classic beautiful wooden boats, sunsets and wine and champagne, wealthy couples in khakis and white sweaters who step off their porch in the Hamptons vacation home down to the yacht on their private dock type. You don't see Walmart or Target advertising at these events because they don't need to cater to the demographic, however I own a sailboat and I buy cleaning products and portable fans and trash bags for my boat at Target. We all know money doesn't go wasted with these companies and sex sells, that's why yacht magazines will have a full-page picture of something obscure like a teak deck and a woman's fancy heeled shoe left alone on it, all in black & white. That's it. I've seen these exact ads but couldn't tell you if it was for a boat manufacturer in TX, a broker in FL, a watch from Sweden, an investment company, or what, all I know is that some lucky dude owns that nice boat and gets a well-dress girl on it who can't wait to undress, cuz he's got money and a boat... I think that's what they're telling me...that's what my advertising class in college would say, and that's going to get potential customers to want that, too.

It's a good idea, because there certainly are people participating in sailing and boating and boat shows and shore-front races that have a lot of money to spend on luxurious goods. That's how these companies get their pay-off. A few big-ticket items go a long way. An entry level Rolex watch costs as much as like 50% of the sailboats on the market.

Of course, all that is an entirely inaccurate stereotype to apply to the whole sailing community, of DIYers, adrenaline junkies, weekend warriors, liveaboards, bareboat charters, world cruisers, people that like it as a past-time and just want to relax on the water, families with a tradition vacation trip once a year, etc. And those people participate way more in the not-so-sport of sailing.

So to the outside world, who may only see Americas Cup ads or shiny fancy boat shows and events come to town with Rolex banners or a celebrity on a yacht in the Med, that's where the elitist marketing hits hard and they're influenced to presume, "Oh, those high-society yachties on their boats in their marinas and their Rolex's" - Some people want to be looked at that way, and will buy everything they can to appear that way, and that's how the cycle continues.

The thing I like about sailing, is that it's not just a "sport" - It's only a sport when you're racing or competing and many people sailors will never even do that. It's a hobby and an interest for everyone else, which is probably most of the people who participate in the sailing community.

Those companies sure put on a good show, though.

1985 Catalina 30 Std Rig "A Cenoura"
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