Blakely Rock Benefit Regatta

Blakely Rock Benefit Regatta

It’s been a long time since 116 boats have been on Puget Sound for a race on the same day, but that’s exactly what happened for Saturday’s Blakely Rock Benefit Regatta (BRBR). And with a gentle southerly, sailors and non-sailors alike looking out at Sound got to see a gorgeous parade of boats headed back to Shilshole after rounding the Rock.

Why so many boats? Maybe it had to do with the beneficiary of the regatta, The Sailing Foundation (TSF) and its efforts at promoting youth sailing. While all the beneficiaries of this race are worthy, there’s a natural connection with TSF. Maybe the participation had to do with the promotional efforts by the Sloop Tavern YC  and Andrew Nelson of TSF. There was lots of outreach. Maybe the Sloop offering a provisional PHRF racing for a race helped spur attendance. It did in my case.

Regardless, why were there so many boats in BRBR is probably worth some study. In the meantime here are some great Jan Anderson photos and a race to talk about. The sun mixed with clouds and a bit of warmth made for some very happy faces, and Jan caught a lot of them. Maybe a shot or two of your boat?

There were three, count’em three, non flying sails classes comprising 15 boats. Starting first, they could stay in more of the dying breeze longer, though that couldn’t help some of the boats when it got super light off Shilshole. Despite that, every non-flying sails boat that started, finish. In fact, only two boats that started DNFed. Hey, it’s a benefit regatta and a beautiful day and, really, so what if some boats are a mile ahead. It’s great to be on the water, and that racing climate is what makes this race special.

There was something really special about watching Crossfire and Smoke smoke through the fleet on the long leg to the Meadow Point buoy. With their tall rigs and generating their own apparent wind, it didn’t seem like a light air race to them. They finished first and second overall, respectively. There were lots of other impressive performances you can find in the results. The two Bob Perry-designed Flying Tigers had a great day, finishing first and second in class. An Aussie 18 skiff, brought here temporarily from the sailing skiff Foundation in San Francisco and skippered by Evan Sjostedt, flew around the leadmines with the greatest of ease.

But this race was primarily about a relaxed race and gathering some funds for TSF. Youth Sailing Director Andrew Nelson doesn’t have the final numbers yet, but it was surely a significant fundraiser for the organization. And he reported that Ben Glass on Ocelot (The Mighty Ocelot for this race, anyway) invited four high school kids, who must have had a blast. Video below and on the Facebook page.

And we’ll throw in another photo, this one of the Swan 391 Oxomoro crossing the trimaran Escape. Photo courtesy of Oxomoro skipper Doug Frazer, and if you want to see a relationship between a happy owner and boat unfold, check this slideshow out.

Oxomoro and Escape (click to enlarge)

Onboard Slipstream

The race was SO appealing, my boat partners Joe and Becky Burcar and I raced our C&C 36 Slipstream with their 6 year old daughter Charlotte and my 10 year old son Ian.  We would have won (not) for sure if not for a major crisis rounding Blakely Rock. Charlotte needed help getting her socks on, and was really quite insistent about it. Mommy was on the helm, and Joe and I were rather busy at the time and Ian’s help was unacceptable. So, after gybing the headsail and pointing back toward Shilshole, the first order of business was Joe getting Charlotte’s socks on. And you know, that was perfect. As it turned out, Charlotte’s socks were much less of a problem than our spinnaker sock. Following are a couple little videos I posted live to Facebook.

It’s obvious that with smartphone cameras and their ubiquitous use , we’re going to see more and more onboard footage. If you want to share yours on or our FB page, let me know.




Bruce’s Brief April 1-2, Sloop Tavern Blakely Rocks Benefit Regatta

Bruce’s Brief April 1-2, Sloop Tavern Blakely Rocks Benefit Regatta

WOW! 117 boats turning out for this great event! In fact, it’s so good even editor Kurt Hoehne will be out in the mighty Slipstream, be forewarned. Unfortunately, the models are not in agreement at all except on one thing and that is that there will be more wind in the morning than in the afternoon. The early starters will have an advantage as will the boats with really tall rigs i.e. Crossfire and Smoke. The taller the rig, the more wind there will be off the water.

(Ed. Note: Folks, this is a great race and The Sailing Foundation is a great organization for promoting sailing. If you’re not sailing, consider donating anyway. At some point tomorrow I’m going to try to do a little live video to the Facebook page. We’ll see how that goes. See you out there! And what Bruce meant to say was, be sure to pass Slipstream to leeward.  – Kurt)

Tides are interesting and I did double check the tides so the times are correct. The reason for the big disparity in the afternoon will be apparent if you look at the chart.

Tidal currents at West Point

0806      Slack

0942      Max Ebb                 .48 knots

1200      Slack

1818      Max Flood            1.12 knots

For the most part, we will be sailing in relatively little current, just pray for more wind. The other interesting feature is the IR satellite image which shows that we will also have some moisture headed our way, for a change. Kidding. Yet another month of near-record rainfall comes to an end with double the “normal” amount for the month. April will be much the same.

As you look at the surface charts you can see the problem developing as the next system passes with the center of the low staying to the south of us and really opening the pressure gradient, which won’t leave us with much wind. The post frontal will result in stronger breezes coming down the Straits however if it does come down the Sound it won’t be much.

In the starts before noon look for 5-12 knots of wind from the south with a slight southeasterly along Shilshole. This will be a pretty standard race compounded by the problem that in light air, the zone of dirty air extends further aft from the boats in front of you. Figure that in 5-8 knots of wind the zone will extend 15-20 times the mast height astern of the boat in front of you. Clear air in this size of the fleet will be highly prized and should be fought for all the time. In the starting area because it will be so close to the Shilshole breakwater it will pay to hold starboard off the start line to get to the breakwater before you tack. Don’t sail into the restricted area as marked by the buoys off the south end of the breakwater. Hold port tack to West Point and then beat feet to the west and Bainbridge Isl. Again, focus on staying in clear air and don’t tack back to starboard after West Point because the ebb will be flowing along the Magnolia Bluff. It was definitely there last weekend and with the rain this week, I suspect it will be there again this weekend.

Moisture headed our way. Again.

Once you get west and work your way up to the Rock, start watching the boats that have rounded ahead of you to see who is doing well. The southerly breeze will start to lighten up from the east first so staying slightly west, i.e. do the port pole set and delay your gybe to stay in more wind.

The next problem will be the rounding at Meadow Point because it is at this mark that the fleet tends to compress and folks have problems getting their kites down, getting the headsail sheeted properly, all the time while headed towards the beach with all kinds of boats screaming for shore room. Negotiate early and often and make sure there is only one person on the boat doing your inter-fleet communication. Plan your approach to the finish and watch as there may be more wind outside which may offset the port tack lift on the inside.

While the central and south Sound will have light air there is a gale watch in effect for the eastern end of the Straits which will last through tomorrow and may downgrade to a small craft advisory for Sunday.

Have fun stay safe, stay dry and enjoy the weekend!

Seattle Yacht Club Awarded for Excellence in Sailing Instruction from US Sailing

Seattle Yacht Club Awarded for Excellence in Sailing Instruction from US Sailing
The 2016 SYC Instructors

As we cover kids sailing programs around the region, lest we not forget SYC’s longstanding, outstanding program. Operating from SYC on Portage Bay, its Optis, Lasers, Vanguard 15s and 420s are a common sight as one drives on the 520. For more information, check out the brochure.

Sailing Director Brian Ledbetter was eager to share the news that his team earned some well deserved recognition from US Sailing. Here’s the scoop:

On behalf of the Seattle Yacht Club, Angela Frost and Cameron Hoard accepted the Captain Joe Prosser Award for Excellence in Sailing Instruction at the 2017 U.S. Sailing National Symposium. Angela is the Sailing Programs Coordinator at Seattle Yacht Club, and Cameron is the Junior Race Team coach.

Cameron and his Optis

This award is given to an organization that has demonstrated Excellence in Sailing Instruction, and has made an exemplary contribution toward improving the quality and safety in the training or instruction of sailors.

Cameron Hoard and Angela Frost accepting the award.

In addition to the trophy, a $500 credit, also funded by U.S. Sailing’s Training Committee, will be awarded annually to the selected program for Instructor Training. The Captain Joe Prosser Award was created to recognize the life achievement of the Merchant Marine Academy’s first sailing master. Nominees for the award may be organizations which are either “for-profit” or “not-for-profit”; and may be engaged in sailing instruction on a part-time or full-time basis. Nominees shall embody the characteristics of honor, integrity, and a selfless dedication to the sport.

Congratulations to the Seattle Yacht Club and the Junior Sailing and Racing programs for winning this prestigious award.

Congratulations, gang. One of the encouraging things that I’m seeing is that not only are there several different programs to suit different sailing communities, these organizations often pitch in on regattas together to give the kids the best experience possible.

If your junior program has a story to tell, please send it my way.

Midwinter Kids

Midwinter Kids

There may be some things that are more fun than packing up and heading across the country to race against a bunch of really skilled strangers, but not many. And if you get to do this when you’re young, it’s even better.

That’s what a bunch of Seattle area Laser sailors did this past month when they travelled to Clearwater, Florida for the Laser Midwinters East. The story is best told in pictures. What you don’t see is the moms who made it happen. As Erin Timms explains, “I will tell you that the kids had a ball! And Kara (Carlson) and I are exhausted after feeding 5 teenagers for 6 days!!!!!”

I’m hoping to follow the exploits of all our young sailors (and get their reports too) as they pursue championships, new friendships and fun. Not pictured here, but definitely representing Seattle, were Talia Toland and Hanne Weaver who both finished in the top ten in the Radial class. Results here.

Moms are great.

New Coach, FJs for Mount Baker

New Coach, FJs for Mount Baker

Seattle’s Mount Baker Rowing and Sailing Center is one of Seattle’s many options for sailing lessons and a sailing team. And clearly the Seattle Parks and Recreation Department, sponsored by Mount Baker Boating Advisory Council, is intent on furthering the mission. With the recent hire of Kaitlyn van Nostrand as coach, the racing team will get a big boost. And another boost comes in the form of four new FJ dinghies, which are arriving today.

Here’s Kaitlyn’s basic bio from the Mount Baker website:

Kaitlyn Van Nostrand has been selected for the Youth Sailing Coach position at MBRSC. Kaitlyn has been a US Sailing Level 1 certified coach since 2004, and has coached juniors in Optimists, Lasers and 420’s.

At Hobart and William Smith Colleges, she was twice elected captain of the sailing team and MVP. She competed at five college sailing nationals and finished second place in the 2007 College Sailing Team Race Championships. She also raced Snipes, V15’s and E-Scows.

Kaitlyn moved to New Zealand in 2011 and coached Opti’s part time whilst obtaining her Master’s degree in International Business at the University of Auckland. She relocated to Seattle in 2016, coaching camps and the youth racing team at Sail Sand Point.

Sloop Tavern Seventh Best Yachting Bar, Loses to Peewaukee YC

Sloop Tavern Seventh Best Yachting Bar, Loses to Peewaukee YC
The Sloop Tavern

Wight Vodka came up with one of those attention-getting “competitions” for their brand – the best yachting bar. It seems to be a lot more about fun than inebriation. Let’s hope so. We know we have a great one in Ballard’s Sloop Tavern, but read on and you’ll see why Peewaukee gets the nod. It’s really hard to have more fun that the scow crowd in the Midwest, so this is not a surprise. I think with the Sloop’s Blakely Rock Benefit, innovative races such as Race to the Straits etc., with a little more support we can take the title!

Peewaukee YC

Here’s Peewaukee. One certainly can’t begrudge them the title.


Pewaukee Yacht Club Wins 2016 Wight Vodka Best Yachting Bar

“Wow…was this a different Wight Vodka Favourite Yachting Bar competition,” commented Dan Hiza, founder of Wight Vodka. “We had some of the world’s best yacht clubs and sailing bars in the mix this year, from the Royal Bermuda to the Bitter End, Royal Hong Kong to the Happy Island Bar in the Grenadines, but in the end, the Pewaukee Yacht Club in Pewaukee Wisconsin, USA, has come across the line in first place!”

The Cage

So, some of you may be wondering where the Pewaukee Yacht Club is, aren’t you?

Well, let the crew of Wight Vodka be the first, or the 70,001st to tell you that this is the venerable home of sailing, yacht racing and all things winches, as the Pewaukee Yacht Club is located in the heart of Wisconsin’s lake country, and indeed, the home of Harken.

“The voting this year was absolutely full-on,” said Dan. “With over 130,000 votes cast over the last month, Pewaukee narrowly edged out the Rochester Yacht Club in up-state New York, with the Windward Mark at the awesome Bitter End Yacht Club placing a 3rd place podium finish.”

The top bars of the 2016 competition placed in the following order:

1. Pewaukee Yacht Club, USA
2. Rochester Yacht Club, USA
3. Windward Mark at Bitter End YC, BVI
4. Royal Hamilton Amateur Dinghy Club, Bermuda
5. Royal Bermuda Yacht Club, Bermuda
6. Royal Hong Kong Yacht Club, Hong Kong
7. Sloop Tavern, Ballard, USA
8. Gladstone’s Long Beach, USA
9. Happy Island Bar, Union Island, St. Vincent & Grenadines
10. Roger’s Beach Bar, Hog Island, Grenada

“As a Green Bay Packers fan, (and (sorry), a New England Patriots fan too), I do love Wisconsin’s beautiful lakes, forests, cheese and Aaron Rodgers’ quarter back rating” continued Dan, “but if you ever find yourself in Beach Bay on the southern coast of Pewaukee Bay in the heart of Wisconsin, let’s meet up for a Wight Vodka cocktail at 2016’s favourite yachting bar, the Pewaukee Yacht Club!”

Here’s to the members and followers of Pewaukee YC! You’re well deserved to be up there with the best of the best.

* Editor: Pewaukee is a Mecca on the sailing map.  Both Harken and Melges have their global headquarters there – and I know they are very aware they were in the hunt and all got behind the club voting.

The photo above and in the gallery... what appears to be what your humble narrator believes to be a, sadly, much overlooked essential for a yachtie bar… a Go-Go dancer cage (for both men and women, of course…)

From one of the PYC’s poobahs:

“Yeah, of course it wasn’t intended to be that but sailors have a way of turning any innocuous object into something to party with.  Clearly this was a pretty good party.”

And from a famed (but unnnamed here) PYC member:

PYC is famous for “The Bar Walk” which is a required activity for whatever competitor is in last place after day two of three during the annual E Scow Blue Chip Championship regatta always held in September. This is the event where we bring in a mystery guest to compete – with the likes of Spithill, Connor, Cayard, Holmberg, Perry, Ullman, Jobson, Isler, Mckee, Gulari, Campbell, Coutts, etc. having competed in the past.

This form of punishment and public ridicule is a time-honored tradition that always has these champion competitors a bit more on edge in racing on day two. With the notoriety of international exposure of a global yachting media partner like Seahorse, I’m certain sphincters will be a little tighter on the start line! Last year, during the Blue Chip’s 50th’s we had Terry Neilsen of Finn and Laser sailing fame up there in boxers and a necktie. He ended up sporting that outfit for the rest of the evening in pure Finn style class.

And finally… something to look forward to this summer when some BIG Harken parties happen there… another unnamed Harken executive has promised a free rounds of drinks to everyone at the club party. On Peter Harken’s tab!

Congratulations to the Pewaukee Yacht Club!

Raise a toast with some Wight Vodka:

S3 and YachtMasters NW Merge

S3 and YachtMasters NW Merge

On November 30th Greg Allen of YachtMasters NW and Paul Zimmer and Ryan Parker co-owners of S3 Maritime announced they were merging these two well established and well respected companies which will now be operating as S3 Maritime. YachtMasters has been located on Lake Union for the last four decades while S3 has been located just inside the Locks on the Lake Washington Ship Canal for the last nine years. As both companies continue to grow, it only made sense to consolidate their work forces and facilities to better serve their growing markets.

From left to right: Paul Zimmer, Greg Allen, Ryan Parker.

Both companies are well known for providing high quality and high tech services to the recreational and commercial yacht market. Each company brings a unique set of skills to this new endeavor. S3 is well known for their wide range of maritime expertise while YachtMasters has a rigging department and a custom fiberglass construction department to add to their services. While S3 has a large mix of commercial and recreational clients, YachtMasters is known for supplying custom, state-of-the-art, fully integrated electronic packages for larger recreational vessels.

This new operation will be based out of S3’s new 18,000 sq ft facility located in the Salmon Bay Marine Center at 2360 W. Commodore Way, Suite 200, in Seattle. This is on the south side of the Lake Washington Ship Canal and has convenient moorage for vessels to 100+ feet. They will also be exhibiting the Big Seattle Boat Show coming up in January at Booth #2418 located on the Electronics Concourse above the main floor.

Check out the S3 website, email or call 206-420-4932.








Smartest Sailor in the Cockpit

Smartest Sailor in the Cockpit

Like a lot of other people, I find the Internet can be the best of times and the worst. I can sit in front of my computer and in five minutes find some gem of information that truly improves my life. At other times, I get sucked into site after site and an hour later have to extract myself to realize I learned absolutely nothing. So, this “Smartest Sailor” post is simply me plucking out a few stories that I found interesting and that you might too. To qualify they have to be sailing related, Salish related and pass my completely subjective relevant/interesting/amusing/useful filter. If others find it worthwhile, I’ll keep doing it.


John Harrison Doucet

Sailor Electrocuted, A Warning to Us All

20-year-old sailor John Harrison Doucet of Gulfport, Mississippi was electrocuted when his J/22’s mast hit an overhead wire and his hand was on the trailer hitch. Story here. He had both legs amputated and is fighting for his life. This happened in Gulfport, but could easily have happened here in the Northwest. Next time down at your dry storage area, check for dangerous power lines. If there are any, make sure the yard operators are aware of the problem and do something about it.


Photo: Alethea Leddy, Port Angeles Whale Watch Co.

Humpback Rescue Team

Humpbacks save sea lion from orcas. In fact, they have quite a reputation for intervention. Chris Dunagan has the story here of a recent rescue in BC waters. Yes, that’s right, boatloads of whale watchers got to see a pod of humpbacks come to the rescue of a sea lion from a pod of transient orcas. While that’d be a great scene to see play out, it’s not something we’d want to be in the middle of!




Unguided Transatlantic

Everybody seems to want to send automated, high tech boats across the pond these days. Kaitlyn Dow, a high school junior in Waterford, Connecticut succeeded with a low-tech approach. She sent a 3′ essentially unguided boat with a dubious sailplan across pond to Ireland. Young Irish girl Méabh Ní Ghionnáin (don’t you just love that name even if you haven’t the foggiest how to pronounce it) of Galway, got word through the coasts Pubnet (my name for Ireland’s pub network, which, by the way, is far more efficient than the Internet) that the boat was coming and was on the lookout when it arrived. I think it’s remarkable that an unmanned, essentially unguided, boat can do a transatlantic. I also wonder what my feelings would be if I ran into it while taking my own boat transatlantic. Regardless, congratulations to Kaitlyn and Méabh for sending and receiving that little boat.


Suhaili during reconsctruction, it wasn’t all pretty.

Suhaili Relaunched, Ready to Race without Sextant

A couple weeks ago Sir Robin Knox-Johnston relaunched Suhaili, the 32-footer he sailed around the world nonstop in 1968. She’s in great shape, and by the sounds of it Knox-Johnston did much of the work with his own hands. His 312-day voyage to win the Golden Globe Challenge was the first nonstop trip of the kind and marks the beginning of what has culminated to this point in the Vendee Globe Race. A couple interesting things here. First, Sir Robin restored Suhaili to sail in the recreation of that Golden Globe Race. This new race requires 32-36′ full keel boats that were designed before 1988 and displace at least 6200 kg. Furthermore, while they’ll have electronic navigation tools onboard in case of emergency, they won’t be using them. Yes, Virginia, back to sextants. And there are 26 provisional entrants. One of those entrants is none other than Sir Robin, who at age 79 will be sailing Suhaili. If this ironman finishes, he’s a god. If he wins with that boat, he’s a god’s god. The idea of the race is just so out there it might draw a lot of attention.


Overdue Saltspring Sailor

Finally, Saltspring Island sailor Paul Lim is way overdue from Hawaii. He left Hilo August 1 with his Spencer 35 Watercolour bound for Victoria, BC, and had not been heard from as of September 30. The US Coast Guard searched an area between Hilo and Victoria with a C-130 aircraft to no avail. The USCG continues to search and asks that  anyone with information on the whereabouts of Mr. Lim or the Sailing Vessel Watercolour is asked to call the U.S. Coast Guard at 510-437-3701. USCG press release here, Vancouver Sun article here.


What’s Ailing Sailing? It’s Not the Boats. Well, maybe.

What’s Ailing Sailing? It’s Not the Boats. Well, maybe.

We human beings think that if we just build a better mousetrap, the problem will be solved. And, not by coincidence, if we’re the individuals to come up with it and market it, we might just make money in the process.

In the last hundred years or so, a lot of people have built better mousetraps than that old spring loaded knuckle-rapper that I grew up with. And a lot of people have come up with great boats.

A modern dual purpose boat, the Jeanneau 349. With it's lazy jacks/built-in mainsail cover, non-overlapping furling jib and asymmetric kits on a short sprit, what's not to like?
A modern dual purpose boat, the Jeanneau 349. With it’s lazy jacks/built-in mainsail cover, non-overlapping furling jib and asymmetric kits on a short sprit, what’s not to like?

Even before Garry Hoyt went on a holy mission to make sailing easier, sailboat and equipment manufacturers have been hell-bent on making sailing easier.

If you look at today’s cruisers, cruiser/racers and flat out racers, they’re really really nice and well suited to their purposes. They’re better boats. I’ll use my 1979, 12,500 lb. C&C 36 (which by the way I love more every time I go out) as a kind of baseline. Take your pick of a similarly-sized boats. Hunter, Catalina, Beneteau, Jeanneau, Hanse – to name just a few. Where are actually some things I like better about my plastic classic, but there’s no getting around the fact the new boats are very good indeed. They’re roomy, comfy and sail fast. If you haven’t been to a boat show lately, go. Better yet, ask a salesman to take you for a sail.

With new sail handling systems and modern sailplans, the new boats are easy to handle. No athleticism necessary. There are in-boom furlers, electric winches, autopilots that steer better than we do, electronics that can put us safely into a slip without ever having to actually see the dock with our eyes.

The Catalina 355 has a layout best suited for two couples.

These boats are positively palatial in volume compared to the C&C 36. They’re fuller in the ends (and sometimes even the middle), and all that area is devoted to living space. There are huge double berths, massive heads and galleys with ample space to cook for all the kids that are not going to be there. Interestingly, a lot of the layouts are clearly two-couple layouts. I tried putting my two boys in the vee berth. Let’s just say we called that experiment “There Will Be Blood.” Oh, for a good pilot berth or two.

My C&C 36 has pointy ends. No room for a athwartships double under the cockpit - not even close.
My C&C 36 has pointy ends. No room for a athwartships double under the cockpit – not even close.

That’s right, kids may appear in the marketing materials, and sometimes even on boats, but you don’t see enough of them on real live sailboats. I’ll save that discussion for another day, but for now let’s just say there’s a lot of other things we parents are pressured into doing that have nothing to do with sailing. Resistance to those pressures may not be futile, but it’s not easy.

In 1979 my parents and I raced and cruised our C&C 27, sometimes 1000+ miles in a short Midwest season. When I speak to long time sailors about the good old days, almost invariably they reminisce about dubious and dangerous adventures on open boats, or cruising with the entire family (including three kids and a dog) on a 20-something footer for three weeks at a time. Our 27 felt like a cruise ship for my small family. Kinda begs the question why my boys can’t share a vee berth.

Garry Hoyt's Freedom Yacht line pushed the "simple-is-better" thinking.
Garry Hoyt’s Freedom Yacht line pushed the “simple-is-better” thinking. This 25-footer was set up so a singlehander could do everything from the cockpit.

Hmmm, it might not be too big a stretch to say there’s an inverse relationship between ease/comfort and enjoyment.

I’m not saying we should all go looking for an Ericson 27 or equivalent for a good time. There’s no need for that. But if anyone tells you that you need a fancy boat to enjoy sailing, they’re full of bilge water.

And as far as racing, boats are also far superior to what was. Carbon, with all its lightness and stiffness, is becoming more common. The days of runners/checkstays and an inventory of 16 headsails are long gone.

Today's racer, like this J/111, are great racing platforms. Even with the throttle open downwind, they're steady on their feet.
Today’s racers, like this J/111, are great racing platforms. Even with the throttle open downwind, they’re steady on their feet.

One person can now three around a bagged genoa where it used to take three. Asymmetrical chutes on sprits mean ordinary humans can do bow without putting their lives or dignity in danger. (Though I confess I rather miss that challenge). Sails have near perfect shapes built in.

All-out racers and racer-cruisers are getting farther apart every days, but both types have improved markedly.

If it were a simply a matter of making a better mousetrap, there’d be no ailing in sailing. The mousetraps out there are very good.

One could make the argument (and I’ll make it here) that the emphasis on making better boats has not enticed more people to sail. The new boat sales numbers certainly bear me out.

The emphasis on making better boats, however, has driven up costs a lot, and those costs are making it prohibitive for many people to pick up sailing as a pastime. Anybody cruising the net or magazines might easily think that they need a $200K, 35-foot “entry level” cruising boat. It might as well be $2 million to a lot of the people in what’s left of the middle class. It just ain’t gonna happen.

Things have changed financially. “Disposable” income is getting disposed of on house payments, Lexus payments and those $500 summer camps their kids have to get into this summer while the parents work and nobody’s going sailing. Oh, that $200K might pay for small part of a four-year college education. But again, this is a topic for another day.

For now, let’s just say the boats per se are not the problem. The price of boats, or lack of “disposable income” depending on how you look at it, certainly is part of the problem.

What’s Ailing Sailing

What’s Ailing Sailing

You know what’s more addictive, infuriating and pointless than talking about the current presidential primary circus? Talking about what’s ailing sailing and racing.

Yet, that’s what I’ll do. Give a guy a blog and keyboard…..

The first question is, IS sailing ailing? After all, the marinas are filled with sailboats. At this time of the year there are races nearly every day somewhere in my home waters of the Pacific Northwest. Cruisers head out to near and far destinations every day. And the high school sailing scene is healthy and growing, the Sail Sand Point community boating center is thriving and the sailing schools around town often sell out. Talk about sailing with someone and 9/10 times their eyes light up and they say they’d love to sail.

Ah, but it IS ailing.

This photo and the shot of the Coronado 25 "Better Days" were taken at the Leschi Marina on Lake Washington in Seattle.
This photo and the shot of the Coronado 25 “Better Days” were taken at Leschi Marina on Lake Washington in Seattle.

For several years, less than 1% of new boats sold in Washington have been sailboats. Yep, on that score we’re statistically pretty insignificant. I’m not sure what it is in the rest of the country but I’ll be the numbers are similar.

And those boats in the marinas? Take a good look at them. How many look like they’ve been sailed in the last week, month, year, even decade?

The racing fleets? In terms of participation, most of today’s races in the Northwest are mere ghosts of what they were “back in the day.” The “day” being the 1970s-1990s when there were fewer people to draw from, the equipment (including the boats themselves) wasn’t nearly as user friendly or fast, and the clothing wasn’t nearly as warm. Today there are 70 boats when 20 years ago there were 150 and 10 years before that there were 300.

Bless those people who think that sailboat racing is doing OK. It’s simply not.

There are bright spots to talk about, and I certainly will in the future on this blog. And I’m hoping that readers will share information about the bright spots I know nothing about.

My goal isn’t to rail against things (that’d be about as productive as commenting on Trump). I want to figure out why sailing’s ailing and if something can or should be done about it. Bear with me as I piece my thoughts together as they come to me and as time allows.

Here are some of the tacks I’ll take in the coming posts. Working titles, sequence and existence of the following are subject to change and the whims of the author.

Ailing, Not Dead

The Boats are Not The Problem

Culture is the Problem

Why the hell should it cost so much? Or does it?

Any idiot can work on a boat, and many do

Can somebody please kill the America’s Cup and 007?

Kids, They’re Not the Future, they’re the Present

Racing: Yeah, I’ll be talking about handicapping among other things

Clubs or Pubs?