I think the problem is more that young couples aren't spending their money on sailing at all, not that they're buying too much boat (although I'm sure there are examples of that too).
Personally I don't think the government is to blame for sailing's decline, - though a poor economy doesn't help.
For that matter I think the economic problems go deeper than republicans vs democrats. We are responsible for our own government anyway. Personally, I think we need to start questioning whether or current economic system can succeed over time. Labor is cheaper overseas and automation is cheaper still. Unless we make some drastic changes, there simply won't be that many good paying jobs. It doesn't matter much who is in office unless it is a collection of folks willing to be much bolder than most of the politicians we've have had over the last several decades.
yeah. the present economy is the result of protectionism and socialism ( now referred to as progressive ). and that covers both parties. love your post. you don't hear many people saying the real fact: it's our fault. we are responsible for our government. a government for, of, and by the people. this is what happenns when the people get complacent.
but, addressing the issue of this thread, i think a big issue is availability. the motorcycle industry has gone through the same thing, especially the 'cruiser' world ( focusing on HDs and their part of motorcycling ). bck in the day, motorcycles were an inexpensive form of transportation. everyone is familiar with the poor working class biker image. then, rich people started buying harleys. all the prices went up to take advantage of that new money base. now, the industry is aimed at that group and they are getting older. young people aren't buying harleys. they want cheaper, faster, and more reliable japanese bikes. and the entire harley based industry is really worried.
well, 'inexpensive' fiberglass boats took sailing out of the realm of rich yacht owners, in their wooden masterpieces, and made it available to the masses. since then, the rich have begun buying fiberglass boats. the industry has seen this and has aimed itself to get that money. it's better, in the modern view point, to sell one boat for half a mil than it is to sell 15 boats for 30k. and the prices of all the sailing supplies just go up, as ell, in an effort to grab up all the big money. now, sailing has become a sport of the rich, again. i mean, just look through the site. how many times do you see sailboats referred to as money pits. i read one post where sailing is likened to tearing up your money and throwing it overboard.
in other words, sailing is no longer avalable to the masses. don't get me wrong. there are cheaper old boats to fix up. but the masses do not have the knowledge, ability, or desire to invest that kind of work before they can enjoy their hobby. they want things 'turn key'. and you can't do that, affordably, on the wages of the masses, without major financial restructuring ( which is impoossible for some ).
all that easy money did the same to the housing market. for a few decades, now, no one has been building sensible, affordable new single family homes. it's all mc mansions. houses bigger and ore costly than most families will ever need.
it's the greed of the industry. they see easy big money and it's all they care about. $5000 for a small fiberglass dinghy! outlandish.
to 'save' sailing, the industry has to adjust it's goals. they need to start building smaller, more basic, affordable boats and then they need to actually advertise them, and sailing, to the general public. you see ads for sailboats and sailing related things in sailing magazines and never the general media. only people already interested in sailing read such publications.
if you build boats that average people can afford and then you advertise the beauty of the sailing life, in a media that will reach the masses, i think you would se a surge in the number of new sailors.
and, like oe poster said, you also need an easy, available avenue to learn how to sail.
it's all about marketing. sailing is marketing to the haves, a shrinking class, it needs to be marketed to the have a littles, too.
if all cars were aimed at the bmw crowd, you'd see a huge drop in the number of people buying cars. there is a market for those kinds of cars, but the biggest market is in chevys.
sailboats need to market to chevy people as well as BMW people.