Sailboat racing just isnít popular in the US. In Europe, and especially France, on the other hand, it is. Go figure. I know that they tried to promote the 49r, 29r and the Aussie Skiffs out here as spectator races (and they used the NASCAR hook Ė ďcome for the crashes and wipe-outsĒ). But it just didnít take, just like when they tried to bring the Red Bull Air Racing to the Bay. Sailing is one of those things that is more fun doing than watching.
In the olden days the PHRF was developed so that all us Tupperware drivers could compete (ďrun what ya brungĒ) and the go fast guys were all in one design. The formula was too successful insomuch that OD racing is on the wane and the go-fast boys are now competing in PHRF which is driving us family wagon guys way down in the standings. If your goal in life is to race and win, buy that go-fast boat and make the commitment otherwise find other goals to pursue. Heck, I havenít finished higher than 4th racing Freya during the past few years and Iím still loving it.
Yes, racing is expensive, but so is sailing. Having put on a couple of regattas in my time, I can tell you that they are at best a break-even proposition. If you want to race for free, find someone else to pay for it, just donít look at me.
Explain to me how the rules are complicated? Thereís not that many of them and they are designed for collision avoidance and to keep you safe. Whatís hard about that?
Northern California seems to be bucking the trend in race participation. Iíve been in four races so far this year and all have had a hundred or more registrants. Next week, we will be in one with over 300 boats. Itís like racing in rush hour traffic. Smaller races are definitely easier on the nerves, but alas, their parties arenít nearly as much fun. In a way, I yearn for sailing to get less popular, to sail in solitude, not having to worry about crossing situations or wandering in front of forty J Boats, all flying spinnakers on Stb while Iím beating to windward on port.