Okay, so kids have a tough entree to sailing in many areas. My cousin's younger son, who get precious little attention, showed an avid interest in sailing this past summer. We're talking about a place with multiple lakes and immediate family owning multiple cottages on them; it's where I learned to sail. In my youth, there was always a boat to borrow, and other kids to sail with. Brian couldn't get a ride.
His uncle's 17' daysailor (which I crewed on many a happy day) sits rotting in the weeds in a nearby field; Brian got yelled at for trying to clean the leaves out of it and make it sailable. Not his. Too dangerous. Yadda yadda.
I was nearly pissed off enough to drop work and fly 2000 miles & drag his ass out on any boat we could steal. The kid is showing an interest -- won't anybody help that along?
Do you think, too, that sailing is its own worst enemy sometimes? It has, and seems to enjoy, a reputation as a sport of Bluebloods. Perhaps deservedly so -- read the names at the US Nationals: Haddington-Smythe; Braithwhite; Darlington. And so on, all veddy upper crust. It's exactly like classical music or opera. Sailing craves to maintain its elevated status and cultural exclusivity -- then wonders why everyone at the show is a rich white person over seventy. You can have a precious plaything, a bonbon for wealthy retirees ... or you can have a robust sport that belongs to everyone.
It's a perception not helped by big-money ocean racing, such as its most visible spectacle, the America's Cup. Seems like a bunch a rich assholes with too much money -- and too many lawyers -- at their disposal. If they'd quit their aristocratic pissing contests and sail like funhogs, the sport would benefit thereby. (That's why I love the Aussie 18ers; never let money get in the way of raw sensation. Sail like it hurts not to!) If I were Sir Guy of The Magic Christian
, I'd sponsor a boat good enuf to win the AC. The day after the race, we'd announce the rules for the next challenge series: Stock Catalina 22s, Dacron sails only, maximum spending limit of $40,000, see you in one year.
Let's go sailing.
Maybe then it would become cool to kids and blue-collar citizens. I hang out on the TrailerSailor board and lurk at SailingAnarchy -- which feature more frugal and younger demographics, respectively. So let it be known! There are young, athletic people who love to go fast and don't give a rat's sphincter about 'cult-cha and breeding, dahling.' And there's a gang of vaguely overweight, sunburned rednecks who fell into some crazy love affair with a debutante named Sailing, and they're going to Bondo their old boats and scrounge hardware and putter around their little lakes or weedy bayous in whatever ancient wreck they can afford. Because they are in love. And love is blind.
It's hard to argue sailing is too expensive: I'm poor, but I got two
perfectly fabulous sailboats. People are dropping thousands on lift tickets, Harleys, Jet Skis and snowmobiles. They can afford $400 for a used Sunfish, or $2350 for a San Juan 21. The world is full of used sailboats. Money isn't keeping people from sailing. The perception
that it's expensive might be.
This is an important and energizing topic. Thanks, Sailhog.