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post #12 of Old 06-05-2009
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While I am approaching twice your legal age to qualify as 'young', I do want to comment on this thread. When I was a kid (back before they discovered dirt) by and large the families that we encountered in sailing were around my parents age (meaning in their early to mid-30's) The children of these families grew up to be the sailing boomers my age.

To some degree, this reflects the giant growth in the number of people getting into sailing during the 1960's. I think this growth reflected a lot of factors:
-new boats were comparatively cheap as compared to the salaries of the day,
-fiberglass boats with dacron sails were comparatively low maintenance
-many adults of my parent's generation had grown up in the wake of the depression and WW II and had a sense of adventure and an idea that they could accomplish almost anything they tried to do,
-families tended to do 'active' activities together.

Growing up, there were boats that were readily available at comparatively cheap prices relative to the kinds of starting salaries that a young person might earn (and college tuitions were cheap as well so we all ended up with seemingly small loans when we finished school).

In my case for example, I was able to buy a series of very cheap boats, some wood, some glass, some daysailors but some were cruising boats, and all were less than $400.00. (To put this in perspective, at that time if you worked for minimum wage you would earn roughly $2.1 K a year, so these boats cost something less than fifth of a years income at minimum wage. Today, minimum wage is roughly 5 times what is was back then, and so it would be hard to imagine that you could buy a comparable boat for $2,000 today.)

But I also think that there were a whole range of cultural shifts that took place after the 1960's that began to mitigate against young people getting into sailing. In the early 1960's, when sailing really grew as a popular sport, shore lives were technologically pretty simple; comparatively few homes or cars had air conditioning, TV's were just become popular, and play was outdoors in nice weather; very basic pitch-a-tent type camping was still very popular with young families and so it was not much of a stetch to get into sailing.

But as tastes shifted, and shore life became technicalogical, there was a huge away from being out on the water and if families took up watersports the shift was towards power boating. With that shift fewer kids were exposed to sailing at a young age.

And sailing is not the easiest sport to get into if you have had no exposure to sailing when you are young in life. Sailing requires a fairly large amount of knowledge to do safely and to one degree or another it requires a certain amount of physical strength and dexterity. It sould be noted that there have been serious efforts to reduce the amount of both the mental and phyical barriers to sailing through ever increasing electronic, and mechanical complication. These days even comparatively small boats carry motor driven windlasses, and roller furling headsails and mainsails that greatly reduce the physical strength requirements, inboard engines, and electronic chart plotters and autopilots that reduce the level of skill required to find your way back home in all conditions.

Even the racing world seems to have fewer young people. I have noticed that the age of the people who crew on race boats has progressively gotten older. 20 years ago, race boats crews were generally in their teens, twenties and into their mid-30's. Now they are more likely to be gray hairs or shaved heads.

I don't know where I am going with this, except that Irwin 32.5CC is probably right that there are a lot fewer young folks out sailing. I think that he is right that he is the exception and not the rule, especially when I consider that 29 year old would be interested in that particular model boat, but that is another story. Who'd a thunk it?


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Curmudgeon at Large- and rhinestone in the rough, sailing my Farr 11.6 on the Chesapeake Bay
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