I'm late 40's and my wife is mid 40's and like others, we are some of the younger folks around our marina. There appears to be a pretty good sized group of folks around our age, a few younger and the majority older.
Earlier in my career, I was in a postion where I regularly hired recent college graduates. What I found was that they generally started their working lives with significant debts. Paying off college loans and credit card debt usually leaves little for recreational pursuits for these young adults. By the time they've got a handle on their debt, they are usually starting a family and again hobbies are not high on their priority lists. From what I've seen, most youngsters today are not chosing other recreational pursuits, they just don't get to "recreate" until a good bit later in life. Those that set their priorites to allow them to follow a passion, generally have to give up a lot in order to do so, and you can't really fault those that choose to focus on other aspects of life before getting into sailing.
Respectfully, I would have to disagree with this as I am in that exact category you describe - at least from my perspective and from what I have seen up here in Eastern Long Island.
I don't think the working / paying off debt / having other priorities is what is stopping people from getting into sailing. A lot of my friends actually have power boats which cost more than a sailboat. Also I see plenty of people my age buying cars, flat screens, ipods, xboxs, jet skis, vacations and plenty of other toys that both take up considerable time and money. Yet I am the only one my age (24) that I know that has a sailboat or even likes to sail. Most people my age are just not exposed to it and therefore it is something they never even think about getting into let alone buying a boat. If they do love the water they are 10 times more likely to buy a jet ski or power boat for fishing as that is just what younger people do.
I myself graduated from college 4 years ago and instanly started my career no less than a week after graduation. Worked my ass off and was promoted through the ranks quicker than people twice my age to get into a very good position, all while paying off loans, having a gf and getting engaged (and that is like a job on its own
) and generally work related doing much more than any of my friends or people I graduated with...meanwhile I was still able to have a sailboat, maintain it myself and go sailing as often as I could.
So....what I am trying to say is I don't think it has anything to do with other priorities and younger people focusing on their careers but unfortunatly just that sailing is no longer a younger person's hobby. Again this is just from my own experience as well as what I see. Who knows maybe down south or out west 24 year olds are dying to have a sailboat but just don't have the time.