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Go Back   SailNet Community > General Interest > General Discussion (sailing related)
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  #1  
Old 11-06-2004
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According to a McKinsey report on sailing there has been a steady decline in the sport in the US.
4million in 1994 to 2.8 in 2001. Taking into concideration population growth over the last 10 years and compaired with growth in other sports the numbers participation should be up around 6million and is closer to HALF that. I am amazed and appalled that this is not bigger news in the sailing world. I love sailing and have seen hom much good it does for people of all walks.
Solutions?
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  #2  
Old 11-06-2004
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SOUNDS LIKE SLIP FEES WILL BE GOING DOWN....
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Old 11-06-2004
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Slip fees have risen steadily in my marina . . . up to 140.00 per ft. from 8 years ago at 82.00 per ft. There is also an expected 8% increase for next year.

In 1997 65% of all 350 slips in the marina were sail . . . the percentage has increased to 75%, I was among the 35% group before buying a sailboat. The sailboat slip applications are rising in south eastern N.E., contradictory to that report of declining participation.

I cannot believe the powerboats for sale in this region . . . a buyer''s market for powerboats.
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Old 11-06-2004
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Sailing is a long-term sport that can be very capital-intensive. Perhaps two things have happened: 1/Sailing programs didn''t attract enough teenagers in the 80''s, so they didn''t learn to sail and aren''t about to make themselves look stupid trying to learn now. 2/ With the economy the way it''s been, who has capital to invest in a sailboat?
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Old 11-07-2004
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I have been hearing about the decline in participation in sailing since the 1980''s (The 1970''s is generally quoted as the peak in participation in sailing). The decline always seems to get blamed on a lot of things. I think that the peak itself was a little artificial since a lot of people got into sailing during the fuel crisises of the 1970''s who then left the sport pretty quickly in the 1980''s.

If I had to look at some causes for the decline I would say that primary are cost, comfort expectations, specialization, and the time committment that sailing requires.

On the cost issue, there has been a steady increase in the price of boats in excess of inflation. In the 1960''s you could buy a 32 foot Pearson Vanguard for roughly 75% of the average U.S. household income. By the early 1980''s, a reasonably well equipped, reasonably high quality 27 footer cost close to the average U.S. household income, and today an average value oriented 27 footer costs roughly 2 times the average household income.

This increase in cost is partially the result of expectations about what a boat. As in so many other areas of our lives, (Homes, cars, computers etc) as there have been advances in things that make our life more comfortable, as a population we expect to find every new advance present in the boats we sail. We want more volume down below, more performance, more motion comfort, diesel inboards (or 4 stroke outboards), rated offshore seaworthiness, sophisticated electronics, higher standards for electrical and plumbing, refrigeration, 110 volt on the anchor to operate microwaves, features and details that cumulatively add the cost and complexity of the boats that we buy. It makes owning a boat a bigger committment.

This is compounded by the specialization that has taken place in boats. It used to be that you could buy a coastal cruiser that was suitable for coastal cruising, occasional jaunts offshore,as well as racing. There was a whole lot that you could do with one boat. Today, race boats, coastal cruisers,and offshore cruisers have become so speciallized that they really are not suitable for other uses limiting the use of any specific boat.

But also there is the committment of time. More and more prople are over committed in their schedules. My family typically spent weekends together. There were not the kinds of child sports and activities that make a weekend an exercise in stratigic planning. There were not the assumption that adults would spend a portion of a weekend working. There was not the heavy devotion to spectator sports. There were not all that many two income families. There was not the kind of instant gratification, short attention span mentalities that other forms of entertainment these days seems to breed. People were willing to commit the time to learn to sail well and work their way up through a kind of apprenticeship working their way up in boat size as skills developed. There was an understanding that cruising was less comfortable than being at home and that was okay given the rewards of being out on the water.

Cumulativelty it has made those of us who are willing to be sailors a bit more ideosyncratic and exclusive but sadly perhaps an endangered species.

Respectfully,
Jeff
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Old 11-07-2004
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The boat manufactures should consider how the WestSail 32 galvanized a generation. Showing a way of romantically going over the horizon on a budget that almost anyone could afford.

The cost to do that today is something only a few are willing to make the sacrifices necessary to attain. The $100,000 or so that gets you to where it might be possible takes longer to save up than most can sustain the dream.

The only races that make the main stream media long enough to gain someone''s attention are the America''s Cup. In my opinion these races don''t inspire non-sailors to start. The boating magazines tend to try and encourage us to spend more on boats and equipment. It seems like safety equipment alone can cost more than a kit boat capable of going offshore once did.

Not much to catch the young impressionable person''s interest and enough to scare fiscally responsible people away.

IF someone made a "reasonably priced" well made boat AND the elections had gone on another 6 weeks a mass exodus over the horizons in all directions would be in full swing!

John



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Old 11-07-2004
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I think that you are greatly mistaken in your impressions of the Westsail 32''s. First if all a factory finished boat was extremely expensive in its day, roughly the price of a boat like a Pearson 39 or or Tartan 41. Comparatively few were sold as completed boats and for decades unfinished or partially completed kits were still sitting around in backyards. I think that it is a mistake to think that the Westsail 32 galvanized a generation. In their day they had minimal impact boats like the Valiant 40, J-24, and Catalina 27''s having a far greater impact in bringing people into distance cruising, racing, and coastal cruising respectively. Westsails have always had a small cult following within the sport but with their narrow specialization, poor sailing ability except in a narrow range of windspeeds, and high price to produce, I do not think that they would bring many people into the sport.

I think that you are also mistaken that racing does not bring people into the sport. While it is true that many people come into the sport through some other venue other than racing, in an marine industry study of sailors, nearly half (I do not recall the exact figure)of the people poled considered time spent racing an important part of the lure of sailing or was a key element in their sailing education. (I can''y recall the specific question but I was amazed at the answer since like you I would have guessed a far smaller number).

Respectfully,
Jeff
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Old 11-07-2004
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I agree with Jeff re the fuel crises of the 70''s. I would just hazard a guess that in that time many power boaters switched to sailing due to fuel costs.

Let''s just think a little further on that thread. In the 70''s the trend was to small fuel efficient cars and the auto makers were forced to increase the fuel economies of their entire product line.

Now contrast that to today. Fuel costs are again high but that has not yet changed the type of auto that we typically drive in North America to the same extent as it did in the seventies. So why should we expect boaters to abandon their power boats and flock to sailboats?

Just (in my opinion ... no real facts) one of many contributing factors.

I though do still love sailing, and would pick sailing over a powerboat even if fuel were free ...

Mike
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Old 11-07-2004
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As with many things, I think a combination of circumstances contributed to the growing popularity of sailing in the 70s and 80s. In the very early 1970s the government was building new dams and reservoirs all over the US, to aid in flood control, and people who lived in previously landlocked areas had convenient access to suitable sailing waters. Suddenly, sailing was no longer limited to the Great Lakes and coastal regions. People living near a big reservoir could justify an investment in a sailboat because they could use it often enough and conveniently.

Also at that time, the Sunfish became a very popular and inexpensive way to learn to sail. Once you learned on a sunfish, the natural inclination was to move to a bigger boat. At that time, Catalina, O''Day and McGregor were building small, inexpensive sloops in large numbers, and you could make the move up relatively painlessly.

I think the condition before 1970 was the more normal condition, and after 1970 the sport boomed to an abnormal height of popularity. If it is declining, I think it is only returning to a more normal level of popularity.

As we all know, sailing is different from power boating because it is more challenging. You have to know much more in order to sail a boat, and a lot of people don''t have the patience to learn. But, there will always be plenty of self-sufficient, adventurous people who enjoy the kinds of challenges presented by sailing.
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Old 11-07-2004
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