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?