Join Date: Feb 2000
Location: Annapolis, Md
Thanked 234 Times in 185 Posts
Rep Power: 10
That is simply not true at all. Yachting races were recorded as early as the 15th century. In the mid-nineteenth century, there was all kinds of working class yachting. In New York harbor for example, there were rowing and sailing races with working class teams sponsored by church groups, oyster men raced thier work boats, specialized workboats evolved into the sandbaggers which were raced by working watermen. The perimeter of New York City was dotted with 'liveries' that would rent small rowing and sailing craft to working folk of all stripes. Canoe clubs were everywhere and even a reasonably lower income person could and did often build sailing canoes and simple rowing and sailing craft from designs that were published in the newspapers of the day. Pictures of New York Harbor showed a harbor packed with small boats.
Sailing events were bet on extensively and news of these events were cover in the major newspapers in much the same way as baseball or basketball is covered today. In the mid to late 19th century, Yachting was far more democratic than it is today. Which is not to say that the wealthy did not engage in some very serious, high cost, high tech for the day yachting. But even those events were carried to the 'masses' in much the same way that working class folk, follow the millionaires who play football or race stockcars today.
We seem to have entered a period, when people entering sailing for the first time seem to expect boats to be a lot more sophisticated, to be comparatively new, and to provide all of the comforts of home. This, combined with the higher cost of our gadget grabbing lifestyles, has resulted in the price of boats going up to a level that is beyond the means of most middle class families. Kids used to instant gratification also seem to be drawn to more lively sports. I find this turn of events unfortunate because sailing is a sport that can deliver great quantities of healthy fun at whatever financial level it is pursued.