Thursday, October 8, 2009

Can’t Worry Today

At the request of the author, I reviewed his new book, Saving Sailing, in my last post. I like the book, and overall recommend it, but I have to comment on the supposed decline of sailing.

The book begins with an important statistic: Participation is down more the 40% since 1997 and 70% since 1979. Hmmm……. Maybe you can’t argue with statistics. I suppose according to some methodology these numbers are correct. But do they match your experience? They don’t match mine.

In my humble experience, I did not observe any declines in the 80’s. As the 80’s turned into the 90’s, there was some reshuffling of the fleets at my local club, where one fleet would shrink and another grow. If the 90’s saw a decline, it was very small. I think I see some signs of decline recently, but there are other growth areas countering the declines. It’s hard to keep score overall. All my evidence is personal and anecdotal, but it does not add up to the dire statistics.

Just today, I ran across some more anecdotal evidence. I opened up the latest copy of Sailing World and found several stories suggesting growth or rebirth in sailing. In this single issue, there are stories about the following:
  • The birth of a laser fleet in Utah where there was none. They get 20 boats racing on a Tuesday night!
  • The rebuilding of the Southern Yacht Club after it was obliterated by Hurricane Katrina
  • A “discovery” of a great regatta in Barbados
  • An article on radio controlled sailboat racing
  • An article about the first kiteboard course-racing world championship
  • The never ending new boats reviews
  • A blurb about the president of the Thistle class who promised to style his hair into a purple Mohawk if both the Junior Nationals and Women’s Nationals could attract 15 boats each. Many sailors helped with the haircut and dye job.

I’m sure there are some things to worry about, but I’m too busy today reading Sailing World and coaching my 26 sailor high school sailing team.

1 comment:

  1. The tide comes in. The tide goes out. Sandbars shift and disappear, and shoals appear somewhere else.

    Some aspects of sailing are dying. Do a Google search on "sailing in decline" and you will find stories about the decline of certain classes or certain fleets in certain areas. Other types of sailing are thriving.

    It's a bit like saying that we know that "listening to music" is in decline because the Bee Gees don't sell as many LPs as they used to. Or it must be true that people aren't traveling as much these days because the statistics show that GM isn't selling as many cars.

    Or at least that's my personal prejudice. I'm still waiting for my review copy of Saving Sailing so I look forward to reading the "evidence" of sailing's decline. Maybe it will change my mind?