Then you have the ratings issue
You could suggest to the YC that PHRF ratings shall be displayed on the transom in letters no smaller than 6" tall. It would help, simple cheap fix.
Obviously, it used to be the AC. But that's become a complete joke at this point. Furthermore, the "elitist" air that always surrounded it (fed by the old school Yacht Club mentality and the legal crap that's been going on with it) - make it a complete anachronism for today's audiences. Who gives a damn what these rich, whiney guys do?
This will be hard to overcome. Too many people (like GeorgeB, no offense) like being able to do something out of the ordinary, they like the challenge that sailing provides. There's nothing wrong with that, I'm just saying there are people out there that don't want to share sailing with the masses. They enjoy the upper crust company found at Annapolis yacht club and aren't in anyway interested in lowering the YC membership fees to boost numbers.
On the other hand, you have the Vendee and VOR. Very simple rules - same types of boats (like Nascar)
Like one design, which has turned into a hypocracy of itself. The original plan of OD was to keep costs down by making everyone race the same boat. J boats know this, that's why J24 are still expensive, not b/c they're a great boat, only reason is that they have a strong OD fleet. Now you need to have the lightest (most expensive) equipment and new sails every 2 years to even dream of keeping up. PHRF, not so much. PHRF is more like racing in the Trans am series, or LaMans. Different cars on the same track at the same time.
I honestly don't think it's the expense that's holding it back.
Buy ONE single laminate sail and then tell me it ain't expensive. Buy 100 feet of 3/8" warpspeed line for a halyard ($2.82+shipping = just under $300, oh btw you'll need atleast 3 halyards = $800), and tell me its not the money.
Think about the cost of Nascar. And again, the direct goal is NOT to get more people into club sailing - it's to increase the public's awareness of and appreciation for racing. From that you get the trickle down.
I agree, but corporate sponsors are not interested in a sport that the general public doesn't give 2 shats about. How many american kids play soccer, baseball, basketball, football, etc. now think about how many sail. People don't know the rules of racing b/c they haven't raced or seen it on TV. Everyone in the US knows what a first down in football means.
So if sailing had a "Big Show" that was freakin' scary and awe inspiring (like an Everest Expedition or, to the audience that likes that kind of thing, The Daytona 500) - and if it were covered to bring those personal stories and that danger and adventure to life - wouldn't it work to push the sport up a few notches?
history plays a big part in the dayona 500. We need to get the AC back on track and out of the hands of Erne$to. That would be a great start.