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Thread: The state of my sport.

  1. #36
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    Default Re: The state of my sport.

    When I first came to Maine for a job as a sailing instructor (1970) there were 150 kids in the sailing program all summer long at the YC where I worked. The kids were locals as well as 'summer families from away'. Now there are about 25 enrollees and those participate only in two week sessions for the most part. Very few are local kids.

    I really hope community sailing programs or those where sailing is possible year 'round are more successful.
    "... and the great shroud of the sea rolled on as it rolled five thousand years ago."

  2. #37
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    Default Re: The state of my sport.

    Well, as I said, I paid for my daughter's membership in the Boston sailing center. It was $310 for a year's membership (a full year, not just a calendar year). For sailing 'camps' around here, with young kids sailing Opti's and 420's, the cost is at least that much for ONE freakin' week! So how many kids are missing out on exposure to sailing because of nothing but the costs? A lot of them, I would imagine.

    Sadly enough, I would say that for every sailboat that joins our club (the Buccaneer YC in Mobile), four powerboats come in. We are now a mostly powerboat club. So many boats have been destroyed by storms over the last couple of decades and replaced with powerboats, or in many cases, golf clubs or x-boxes or anything other than sailboats.

    Mickey Lake
    'A disciple of the Norse god of aesthetically pleasing boats, Johan Anker'

  3. #38
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    Default Re: The state of my sport.

    Quote Originally Posted by Garret View Post
    I enjoyed the AC this year & enjoyed the last one as well. Are Formula 1 cars anything like what I drive daily? Nope.

    To the points about racing & development of sailors @ yacht clubs - I was recently at a yacht club in CT (I'm purposely not saying which one) for a wedding & was shocked. I grew up in a yacht club that focused on boats. The clubhouse was nothing fancy - but a great place for the Thursday night potluck, weekend cruises on Long Island Sound, and race programs for kids in dinghies & Blue Jays & frostbiting in dinghies for adults. This other yacht club had a clubhouse more like a large golf course's clubhouse (even columns by the entrance!), all docks & no moorings, and not a single race program for the kids. All the info on the bulletin boards was begging for new members, hold your next event here, and similar stuff.

    If this is where yacht clubs are going - then it's no wonder there are fewer & fewer people getting into sailboat racing.

    That being said, my personal experience with the remarkable ability sailboat racing has for turning perfectly nice people into screaming, cursing @$$&%#s has put me into Bruce's camp.
    Doesn't shouting make the boat go faster?

    When I first started skippering a boat in races, the crew was my father and friends. I learned to be a very polite skipper.

  4. #39
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    Default Re: The state of my sport.

    Watching sailboat racing is confusing for many: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3gPjMvTmE2g
    "... and the great shroud of the sea rolled on as it rolled five thousand years ago."

  5. #40
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    Default Re: The state of my sport.

    Quote Originally Posted by Paul G. View Post
    Maybe so for you but racing has a hidden big benefit, it make people far, far better sailors.
    Based on what? There are very few racing sailors I know that I'd want to go to sea with. Racing makes better racing sailors. But better sailors? I see no evidence for that - possibly the opposite.

    Rick

  6. #41
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    Default Re: The state of my sport.

    Quote Originally Posted by RFNK View Post
    Based on what? There are very few racing sailors I know that I'd want to go to sea with. Racing makes better racing sailors. But better sailors? I see no evidence for that - possibly the opposite.

    Rick

    Breaking things in the interest of gaining a tenth of a knot isn't your definition of seamanship?

  7. #42
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    Default Re: The state of my sport.

    Yes, that and narrow role definition.

    Rick

  8. #43
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    Default Re: The state of my sport.

    More people watch racing in cars that look sort of like their own (Nascar in the US, V8 Supercar in Australia, Tourenwagen in Germany, Super Tourers in the UK) than watch F1.

  9. #44
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    Default Re: The state of my sport.

    Quote Originally Posted by Paul G. View Post
    Maybe so for you but racing has a hidden big benefit, it make people far, far better sailors.
    Clipping lee shores (searoom), pushing rigs and crew,blowing money faster than a cocaine habit, being enslaved to a handicap, ...

  10. #45
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    Default Re: The state of my sport.

    Quote Originally Posted by RFNK View Post
    Based on what? There are very few racing sailors I know that I'd want to go to sea with. Racing makes better racing sailors. But better sailors? I see no evidence for that - possibly the opposite.

    Rick
    I can't find any real evidence either way, personally. Some racing yachts get into problems, but then again the number of rescues of cruising yachts off SE Australia over the past few months seems to be very high considering the number of people out there. Of interest, I think the cruisers who were in the path of the 1979 Fastnet storm suffered worse than the racers, pro rata. Same thing in the '98 Hobart - the cruising boats and crews had a higher loss rate, pro rata.

    Yes, the racers may push the limits more in some ways - but the very act of cruising in the normal way, as a couple, is also arguably pushing the limits of conventional seamanship. There are some racers with limited skills and some cruisers with skills limited in a different way.
    Last edited by Chris249; 06-28-2017 at 08:00 PM.

  11. #46
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    Default Re: The state of my sport.

    Quote Originally Posted by wizbang 13 View Post
    Clipping lee shores (searoom), pushing rigs and crew,blowing money faster than a cocaine habit, being enslaved to a handicap, ...
    There's been one major accident due to clipping lee shores in Australian ocean racing since 1985, I think. A LOT of cruisers have hit the bricks here in that time.

    Blowing money is nothing to do with seamanship.

    No one is "enslaved' to a handicap. We use it as a framework to have fun around. We are as "enslaved" to handicaps as musicians are "enslaved" to the score, amateur actors as 'enslaved' by Shakespeare's script or soccer players are "slaves" to the rule that they can't use their hand.

    Yes, we push rigs and crew, but on the other hand it can be called bad seamanship to use old sails, or to try to get into a narrow and shallow bay so you can anchor in a beautiful spot. If it's bad seamanship to blow up a racing sail then it's bad seamanship to anchor in the Whitsunday Islands where you get 'bullet' gusts blasting down the hills, or to cruise around my area where we have no anchorages that are secure from all wind directions.

  12. #47
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    Default Re: The state of my sport.

    Quote Originally Posted by Chris249 View Post
    I can't find any real evidence either way, personally. Some racing yachts get into problems, but then again the number of rescues of cruising yachts off SE Australia over the past few months seems to be very high considering the number of people out there. Of interest, I think the cruisers who were in the path of the 1979 Fastnet storm suffered worse than the racers, pro rata.

    Yes, the racers may push the limits more in some ways - but the very act of cruising in the normal way, as a couple, is also arguably pushing the limits of conventional seamanship. There are some racers with limited skills and some cruisers with skills limited in a different way.
    The 1979 Fastnet race was also different in another way - we knew the folks racing out there. We knew the boats as they were similar to ours. We saw them prep their boats and practice sail race in this home waters. Many of us were lucky to have shared an experience with them out there, heard them in person expound on their personal sailing goals, just got close enough to smell the yacht club beer on their breath; let alone buy a round for them if they returned.

    i feel lucky to have met some of the Volvo racers when they passed through on their course or the Maserati Trimaran which is expected to tear up this year's the transpacific record. As for most modern racing, we aren't enhancing our own sailing experience nor are we going to see the trickle down effects which we saw in the golden age of sailing which lasted into the early 1990s.
    Be wary of your critics, at peace with your decisions, and work hard to be a better man.

  13. #48
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    Default Re: The state of my sport.

    Sorry, Rick, but racing teaches you an enormous amount about things like forecasting. Every time we race we're looking at cloud patterns, thinking about the movement of systems, considering how the difference between the water temperature and air temperature will affect wind shear, that sort of thing. Why do you think top boats pay for their own custom wind forecasts from meteorologists, or have a real live meteorologist on board?

    Of course it teaches you about navigation. People don't just get to the Heads and turn right! Course setting is incredibly important; almost every moment you are balancing your VMG against where you want to be when you reach the best part of the current in X hours and then alter course Y degrees to catch the incoming SW change at point Z so you can then head off at wind angle A past headland B at the most efficient distance (which is a factor of wave height and direction, the wind strength and direction during the period, local currents, clearance etc) and then take a curving course to maximise speed and distance until the next waypoint. At least one racing navigator I know is so knowledgeable about this sort of stuff that he wrote his own weather forecasting tool (he has a pure maths degree if I recall correctly) which he uses in his work. Good boats spend hours calibrating their performance data so that it can be accurately matched to the detailed forecasts. People are making decisions about sail setting 100 miles from the finish line based on the state of the tide at their ETA.

    I've sailed with a couple who have 200,000 miles of cruising (a circumnavigation via the Horn and Alaska, etc) and the top medals from major cruising clubs. One of them refers to ocean races as being "won at the chart table". Why would a highly experienced cruiser say that if there's no navigation and forecasting involved?

    Boat management? Do you really think that when it's 6pm and you're charging into Bass Strait people are not checking gear and systems, assessing the incoming weather, preparing plans for the next sail change, monitoring the health and welfare of the crew, checking safety gear and that sort of stuff?

    I don't think I've ever met many racers who don't try to read wind shifts - when I'm tactician I can assure you EVERYONE has an opinion sometimes! And I do not believe that I would have ever raced with anyone who has more than a few months experience who has not been out in 30 knots. If you want to label people by what you see in Sydney I can label people by what I see where I sail, which is that the racers go out far more than the cruisers and in higher winds. And I've only just started racing here again after only cruising for years, so I have no reason to be biased.

    Oh, and if cruisers who 'used to race' count as racers when it comes to labelling those who get into misfortune, then logically we have to also count anyone who has ever cruised on the weekend as a cruiser. By that measure, just about every racer who gets into trouble can be called a cruiser.

    There may not be much sailing skill involved in pedalling on an AC cat or being rail meat on a maxi. There can also be little or no skill involved in cruising. There's one case where a skipper fell overboard tethered and the crew could not stop the boat to help him back aboard before he drowned, but also could not do anything but steer directly onto the rocks. We can all pick out isolated instances but they tell us nothing about the reality.
    Last edited by Chris249; 06-28-2017 at 08:48 PM.

  14. #49
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    Default Re: The state of my sport.

    Quote Originally Posted by RFNK View Post
    To put it bluntly ... you're wrong. Some sailors on racing boats are involved with navigation, forecasting etc., and, of course, boat management. Most, in my experience, are not. No one is labelling anyone here, except you, so kindly pull your head in. I said I find no evidence that racing makes people better sailors. Obviously that's based on my own definition of what I think is a good sailor. You're entitled to yours.



    Sorry, can't argue with this `logic'.

    Rick
    You may be mistaking me for the person who started labelling people. My first relevant post said "I can't find any real evidence either way, personally" on the matter. At no stage have I labelled people - in fact the point is that stereotyping is wrong.

    Yes, some racers I know are not involved with navigation, forecasting and boat management. Same with some cruisers I know. To repeat, I'm not the one stereotyping people. I don't agree with Paul's comment at all. I believe there are good cruisers and bad racers and that the average racer is better at some things than the average cruiser and much worse at others. I've cruised with racers who lacked cruising skills and common seamanship, and I've raced with cruisers who lacked racing skills and common seamanship.

    The top racers sometimes hire specialist navigators because they are specialised experts, not because the other sailors can't navigate. I sometimes hire a bike mechanic because he's a specialist, not because I can't fix a bike.

    There's nothing illogical in pointing out that if one brings up the fact that a cruiser who is in trouble has raced in the past, then one should also bring up the fact that a racer who is in trouble has cruised in the past. To do otherwise is inconsistent.

    I won't delete my posts since nothing I said was disrespectful to cruisers or anyone else as a group. Nor was I the person who referred to others as being enslaved or told other posters to "pull their head in".


    Last edited by Chris249; 06-28-2017 at 10:16 PM.

  15. #50
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    Default Re: The state of my sport.

    Quote Originally Posted by RFNK View Post
    Anyway, people interested in the issues that Mickey raised don't want to read this nonsense, so I'll delete my posts later today. You ought to do the same.

    Rick
    That would be wise as it was a no-win for anyone.
    Tom L

  16. #51
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    Default Re: The state of my sport.

    So, what part of sailing is actually growing, or at least holding steady?

    It looks to me like the Optimist Pram has more to do with the future of sailing than any high performance class.

  17. #52
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    Default Re: The state of my sport.

    Hey I am actually a crappy sailor.
    And a lousy wordsmith.
    I apologize for using the "enslaved" bit .
    respect
    , bruce

  18. #53
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    Default Re: The state of my sport.

    Quote Originally Posted by Hwyl View Post
    I thoroughly enjoyed the Americas cup. I liked the length of the races and the overview. I do think these catamarans are an aberration, and I think they'll soon go away .


    I'm really glad New Zealand won, because they were the only team to not sign the framework agreement which would have maintained the cup the way it has been this year, I guess that in dropping out Luna Rossa did no sign the framework either.

    My hope is that because NZ is such a sailing mad country, that they will have something to connect the average sailor to the cup. I have vague idea how this can be done but I won't throw them out yet. It would be nice to see women racing as well as people even younger than Pete Burling.

    On take away iis that all the good competitors in Bermuda, were also world class dinghy sailors.
    At the risk of raising the ire of my "sailing mad" countrymen, I'd suggest that NZ has no more sailors per head of population, than anywhere else. Aucklanders (and the sailors in particular) may have a slightly distorted view of this, but even in the City of Sails, I'll bet 99% of the population have never been sailing, beyond maybe an afternoon in an Opti while at school.
    What has caught the NZ public imagination with the AC is the story of redemption, and the underdog team struggling to make the weekly paycheck, whipping the billionaires ass. But listening to conversations at work, the win was great, but it is still rich wankers in ludicrously expensive boats. I'd say boating in general has an affordabilty problem. It isnt just the boat, it's the mooring, or the tow vehicle, or the space to store it, and the insurance and maintenance etc etc etc

    Pete
    Don't underestimate the power of stupid people in large numbers!

  19. #54
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    Default Re: The state of my sport.

    Quote Originally Posted by epoxyboy View Post
    At the risk of raising the ire of my "sailing mad" countrymen, I'd suggest that NZ has no more sailors per head of population, than anywhere else. Aucklanders (and the sailors in particular) may have a slightly distorted view of this, but even in the City of Sails, I'll bet 99% of the population have never been sailing, beyond maybe an afternoon in an Opti while at school.
    What has caught the NZ public imagination with the AC is the story of redemption, and the underdog team struggling to make the weekly paycheck, whipping the billionaires ass. But listening to conversations at work, the win was great, but it is still rich wankers in ludicrously expensive boats. I'd say boating in general has an affordabilty problem. It isnt just the boat, it's the mooring, or the tow vehicle, or the space to store it, and the insurance and maintenance etc etc etc

    Pete
    Some of that is marketing and human nature. How big a boat do people need to have fun? Problem is, and I see this with aviation as well, if people can't have the one on the magazine cover they'd rather daydream than get something that would work for them but isn't cover shot material. Which I guess points to external motivation of social approval and not internal motivation of fun or challenge. Suppose those people are probably lost to do anything real anyway.

  20. #55
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    Default Re: The state of my sport.

    Quote Originally Posted by epoxyboy View Post
    At the risk of raising the ire of my "sailing mad" countrymen, I'd suggest that NZ has no more sailors per head of population, than anywhere else.
    Well we disagree

    I think we agree on the need to bring the cost of entry down. How much was the NZ budget and what proportion was payed by taxpayers.
    I know the Ben Ainslie budget was $100M, and I should imagine the Oracle much higher than that.

    I've been to Bermuda many times and it's blisteringly expensive, keeping crew and maintenance staff there for three years is ridiculous.

    On a cynical political note, now that Peter Theil is a Kiwi, can Ellison be far behind?

  21. #56
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    Default Re: The state of my sport.

    San Francisco is the most expensive city in the US in which to live, isn't it? I imagine Bermuda is just as Gareth described. How bad (or good, depending upon your point of view) is Auckland?

    On another note, good ol' Tripadvisor tells me I can fly to Auckland from New Orleans from US$1016 per person! That is a very good price, and makes the trip south awful tempting. We will have to have a family discussion on that one. Not to watch sailing, of course, but to see the country.

    Mickey Lake
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  22. #57
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    Default Re: The state of my sport.

    Quote Originally Posted by Hwyl View Post
    Well we disagree

    I think we agree on the need to bring the cost of entry down. How much was the NZ budget and what proportion was payed by taxpayers.
    I know the Ben Ainslie budget was $100M, and I should imagine the Oracle much higher than that.

    I've been to Bermuda many times and it's blisteringly expensive, keeping crew and maintenance staff there for three years is ridiculous.

    On a cynical political note, now that Peter Theil is a Kiwi, can Ellison be far behind?
    That's fine, but FWIW, I do actually live here :rolleyes:. NZ is a bit obsessed with the performace of its sportspeople, especialy when they win overseas. Small country disease, if you know what I mean, but it does account for the extensive coverage here.
    This time around, the taxpayer only put in NZ$5mil, so about 4mil USD. That was a a one-off, to keep the team financial for a shott while after 2013, while they tried to find a longer term sponsor. Chump change really.
    So yeah, it looks like you can buy citizenship. The price is 1mil USD and being a "great ambassador for NZ" in US business circles. At least that is what the govt tells us. Oh, and he bought up huge amounts of lakefront property, then locked out public access (the law around this is not quite as straightforward as just because I own it, I can do what I want), so we are told he has invested heavily in NZ. What was that I was saying about rich wankers?

    Pete
    Don't underestimate the power of stupid people in large numbers!

  23. #58
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    Default Re: The state of my sport.

    Quote Originally Posted by epoxyboy View Post
    That's fine, but FWIW, I do actually live here . NZ is a bit obsessed with the performace of its sportspeople, especialy when they win overseas. Small country disease, if you know what I mean, but it does account for the extensive coverage here.
    This time around, the taxpayer only put in NZ$5mil, so about 4mil USD. That was a a one-off, to keep the team financial for a shott while after 2013, while they tried to find a longer term sponsor. Chump change really.
    So yeah, it looks like you can buy citizenship. The price is 1mil USD and being a "great ambassador for NZ" in US business circles. At least that is what the govt tells us. Oh, and he bought up huge amounts of lakefront property, then locked out public access (the law around this is not quite as straightforward as just because I own it, I can do what I want), so we are told he has invested heavily in NZ. What was that I was saying about rich wankers?

    Pete
    The wankers, they are always with ye.

  24. #59
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    Default Re: The state of my sport.

    Maybe our president will move there? We hear it is already a great country.

    Mickey Lake
    'A disciple of the Norse god of aesthetically pleasing boats, Johan Anker'

  25. #60
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    Default Re: The state of my sport.

    Quote Originally Posted by epoxyboy View Post
    That's fine, but FWIW, I do actually live here . NZ is a bit obsessed with the performace of its sportspeople, especialy when they win overseas. Small country disease, if you know what I mean, but it does account for the extensive coverage here.
    Yes but I've been there, have you been to Maine <smile>. I was also surprised how much the Kiwi's knew about Welsh rugby, much more than me.

  26. #61
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    Default Re: The state of my sport.

    Mickey,
    I just got busted for something equally bland about our first citizen.
    Shame on you - or, maybe this moderator has a little more sense?

    Quote Originally Posted by bamamick View Post
    Maybe our president will move there? We hear it is already a great country.

    Mickey Lake

  27. #62
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    Default Re: The state of my sport.

    Quote Originally Posted by epoxyboy View Post
    At the risk of raising the ire of my "sailing mad" countrymen, I'd suggest that NZ has no more sailors per head of population, than anywhere else. Aucklanders (and the sailors in particular) may have a slightly distorted view of this, but even in the City of Sails, I'll bet 99% of the population have never been sailing, beyond maybe an afternoon in an Opti while at school.
    What has caught the NZ public imagination with the AC is the story of redemption, and the underdog team struggling to make the weekly paycheck, whipping the billionaires ass. But listening to conversations at work, the win was great, but it is still rich wankers in ludicrously expensive boats. I'd say boating in general has an affordabilty problem. It isnt just the boat, it's the mooring, or the tow vehicle, or the space to store it, and the insurance and maintenance etc etc etc

    Pete
    Interesting. A while ago I sat down during a quiet time and compared the number of racing boats in pre-quake Christchurch with the number of boats in three Australian cities of similar population; Newcastle/Lake Macquarie, Canberra and Hobart. It showed that sailing in NZ outside of Auckland was not doing very well. The big keelboat class in Christchurch was Y88s and there were only half a dozen other active keelboats in the results. - Newcastle and Hobart have as many Y88s, but they each also have two full divisions of bigger boats (modern 50s, Farr 40s, a couple of maxis etc) and two full divisions of little boats each side of the Y88s. The fleets in the Australian cities were about nine times as big. Wellington's fleet was also fairly small.

    Bizarrely, there are about as many people racing boats each year in Canberra - a city 120km inland on a puddle that you can get around in 9 minutes on a good day in a fast cat - as in all of Christchurch which is similar in population and has a lovely looking harbour nearby. I also note that the NZ sports participation survey rates sailing quite low - about 35th to 45th most popular sport.

    I own Kiwi designs and one of my very favourite books is Peter Mander's autobiography, so I have a terribly soft spot for Christchurch sailing in particular and NZ sailing in general. I was not happy with what I saw, but it seemed to indicate that the great NZ successes have not inspired people to go boating. On the affordability point, being a fan of NZ designers and builders I used to look for second-hand boats and they appear to be much better maintained and vastly more expensive than ones here in Australia. I don't know what that means.
    Last edited by Chris249; 07-02-2017 at 08:58 AM.

  28. #63
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    Default Re: The state of my sport.

    Quote Originally Posted by johnw View Post
    So, what part of sailing is actually growing, or at least holding steady?

    It looks to me like the Optimist Pram has more to do with the future of sailing than any high performance class.
    At US$ 5,000.00 for a "competitive" Optimist, the future is dismal.

    I belong to a yacht club which recently rebuilt its club house. Cost 650,000.00 We had to; the old one was falling down. But I don't see any other clubs doing that in my part of the world; quite the reverse - old, tired, buildings, usually with a sign on the changing rooms acknowledging the Government's shekels as part of some scheme to "get young people afloat", and usually with the Club Library sold off...

    I agreed with Ted Hoppe's comment that the 79 Fastnet involved people whom we knew, sailing ordinary boats (the only boat to finish in Class V was a Contessa 32!)

    Something remarkable happened to sailing during the Baby Boom years - starting in the Fifties, the development of plywood hard chine boats that could be built by the average amateur carpenter from a kit meant that dinghy racing became an affordable way to get fresh air and exercise and to meet people, and people took to it in huge numbers. Really huge numbers. Most people had enough disposable income to own a car, get to a dinghy club and maintain a dinghy. There was a very active social scene too, as the dinghy clubs adopted the customs of the old big yacht clubs and modified them to suit a younger crowd.

    Then, starting in the late Sixties, Phase Two came along - the development of the GRP production cruiser and cruiser racer, again very often completed at home by amateur carpenters, brought the cost of owning a really capable big boat - 25ft and up - within the means of most people, so many of the dinghy racers turned into "family cruisers".

    What's happened?

    I think our society has changed - more wealth is now in fewer hands - in the Fifties and through to the Eighties there were very very few "super yachts". Racers were maintained and often built by their crews. I can remember one of Frank Pong's boats being built cold moulded by her amateur crew on the roof of a Hong Kong tower block and lowered to street level with block and tackle... that wasn't so exceptional then. Ted Heath's first Morning Cloud was an S&S 34, and when he took the heads door off to save weight everyone on the waterfront knew about it.

    And of course we all have other things to do. Both my sons "like sailing" but they don't like it in the way that I did at their age, desperately finding ways to get afloat and reading every sailing book in the local public library. They would rather play a computer game, go paint balling or, as my 15 year old did yesterday, play tennis..

    I think sailing is going to continue to die.
    IMAGINES VEL NON FUERINT

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    Default Re: The state of my sport.

    It's a credible theory Andrew, but on the other hand, aren't there more and more marinas, more crowded mooring fields, more boat ramps than ever? OK these are dominated by motor boats of one sort or another, be they fishing tinnies, jet skis, family cruisers or gin palaces. But it seems to me that disposable income and distribution of wealth is not the key to it. Although I guess those boats are bought, owned, wanted, by adults rather than by kids. My query, is that if boating, broadly defined has continued to grow, and I think it has, what is it that has caused sailing to decline, if it has.

  30. #65
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    Default Re: The state of my sport.

    IMHO Andrew's point is right. The sailing booms in dinghies, yachts, cats and windsurfers were all founded upon craft that were designed to reduce the barriers to entry. Beecher Moore wrote some very interesting pieces about the thinking behind the Heron, Cadet, GP14, Mirror and Enterprise that he, Holt, Haylock and others created and which were the bedrock of the dinghy boom in the UK and Australia. Guys like the Johnstones of J/Boat fame, arguably the most successful vendors of racing yachts left, say much the same thing. So too do those who saw the Windsurfer arrive as a cheap beach toy (an easier-to-use and more visceral Sunfish was the aim) and become enormously popular before it transformed into a niche high performance specialist machine. As a kitesurfing promoter so famously said "in the beginning, everyone could windsurf. In the end, nobody could".

    Going through old magazines shows some interesting changes. When the sport was booming, people like Olympian Richard Creagh-Osbourne wrote respectful tests about exciting new boats like the Mirror. Jack Knight and others argued that the IYRU's proposed 4 Metre development class, very much like an Aussie 14, was too extreme. When the International Canoe easily won the first trials to select a new potential Olympic singlehander, pretty much everyone accepted that despite its speed it was too extreme to be selected. People as forward thinking as NZ's John Spencer were promoting half tonners as ideal family cruiser/racers because they had a full interior. Many of the opinion makers - in fact almost all of the journalists, it seems - owned and sailed the boats they put promoted as the future of the sport, and therefore they promoted practical and accessible boats. As Ted and Andrew says, the most prestigious races were sailed in boats that the typical person could relate closely to and often own - schoolteachers used to own Sydney-Hobart racers.

    The sport that is being promoted today is dramatically more elitist in many areas. Elvstrom used to train full-time for about a fortnight before doing the Olympics. Now you have to train pretty much full time to get onto a top level squad so you can get funding to do more years of full-time training to maybe get selected. A guy I went to school and raced with went from club level to delivering a cruising boat to Europe and then stepped straight onto a Whitbread/Volvo winner - you can't do that today. Nor can you step straight off the typical offshore boat's foredeck and onto an old AC boat's foredeck, as you could with a 12.

    Today, a bunch of self-proclaimed experts sit on websites (rather than getting out sailing) and tell other people that they should buy the latest cool new impractical type. Of course, the same people a few years ago were telling everyone else to buy the previous cool new type that was going to change sailing forever, but they've forgotten that. People don't have the time and money to throw away last year's kool skiff and rig up this year's cool foiling cat with its wands and triggers and crash helmets, but that's something that the pundits ignore because they don't do it themselves.

    An article in Y&Y a few years back also pointed out that sailing boats have not become cheaper like other mechanical devices have - an OK used to cost as much as a normal TV - now it's probably 20 times as much. The Vaurien dinghy cost as much as two ordinary looking bikes - now a mainsail alone costs as much as the most popular track racing bike at my club. I think powerboats have come down in price compared to sailing boats, too. So the sailing boat looks like poor value in comparison to other toys. Of course, if people promoted the tough, durable older boats then the situation could look very different.

    If we track the trends in boat production and in national championship attendances, one cheerful thing is that quite a few classes seem to be doing OK, at least up until a year or two ago. The kids fleets are huge - vastly bigger than in the heyday of the sport. That may lead to a rebirth when former Opti kids get back into sailing when they get older. Some of the "progressive accessible" classes are doing well - RSs, IRC/ORC yachts, etc. The frustrating thing is the bull-headed arrogant attitude of many of the opinion leaders who keep insisting that such classes are the problem, and who keep on ignoring the truly terrible growth rates in the elitist high-tech types that they want everyone to sail. If we can just get over this ridiculous obsession with some impractical niche types and start promoting the accessible craft, then the sport could do OK. I'm hoping that the terrible TV ratings for the AC, and other issues like the apparent collapse in the match racing tour since cats came in, will cause a re-think.
    Last edited by Chris249; 07-02-2017 at 09:08 PM.

  31. #66
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    Default Re: The state of my sport.

    Quote Originally Posted by Andrew Craig-Bennett View Post
    What's happened?

    I think our society has changed
    I think the biggest change is in who, and how, the wealth is concentrated. In the US in the past - 1920s-80s there were a number of leading participants in amateur sport who would be multi-disciplinary successful. A nobel prize winning chemist or physicist who was a successful rock climber or mountaineer . A successful businessman and member of the community who was a boater. Whether it be sailing or canoeing, they were out there competing, regularly. Now people who chose business success devote themselves to it, people who wish recreation become "fun" moguls and prostitute themselves to that living (and worse, they are pimping themselves out for promotional flesh pressings with the successful business person who likes the sport). The modern specialization has killed the sport.

    As for the AC - live the AC72s were awestunning foiling. Something a city apartment bulk flying by on a few bits below the water. You could see them anywhere in the Bay. The AC45 and AC52 didn't have the same massive presence and the action for the AC45s didn't translate the same live. Will be curious what the Kiwis come up with. Foiling monos would be interesting.

  32. #67
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    Nov 2016
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    Default Re: The state of my sport.

    Quote Originally Posted by Phil Y View Post
    My query, is that if boating, broadly defined has continued to grow, and I think it has, what is it that has caused sailing to decline, if it has.
    Sailing doesn't give as much instant gratification as other types of boating. It takes more preparation, bowing to fickle weather, and indirection towards goals. The world has increasing alternate temptations in terms of vehicles and electronics as well as jump-in-and-go boats. Sailing survives as a holdover of history, and wouldn't gain much traction if it was newly invented by some corporation.

    Sailboats are like bad-smelling cheese... once a product of necessity and lack of alternatives, it turns into a tradition that lingers on to a sophisticated minority but under heavy competition with bland pizza comfort goo. It is not the fault of the elite, but rather the expansion of dumbed down choices to the middle class. Even if their incomes are stagnant, their dollar may buy more affordable and clever gadgets. And the less developed world incomes (eg. Asian worker bees) have risen unbelievably to allow a new lower and middle class to pursue banal alternatives to the sailing of their ancestors.

    Let the elite play with freakish racing sailboats and yachts... it doesn't hurt, and most of them got their money by consumers giving them a vote of confidence in the value of their offerings. I now see sailing school students having fun as well as weekly regattas; some grim competition. I dislike making boating goal-directed like for fish or races... day sailing for me forever!
    Last edited by rudderless; 07-02-2017 at 11:48 PM.

  33. #68
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    Default Re: The state of my sport.

    Quote Originally Posted by Chris249 View Post
    Interesting. A while ago I sat down during a quiet time and compared the number of racing boats in pre-quake Christchurch with the number of boats in three Australian cities of similar population; Newcastle/Lake Macquarie, Canberra and Hobart. It showed that sailing in NZ outside of Auckland was not doing very well. The big keelboat class in Christchurch was Y88s and there were only half a dozen other active keelboats in the results. - Newcastle and Hobart have as many Y88s, but they each also have two full divisions of bigger boats (modern 50s, Farr 40s, a couple of maxis etc) and two full divisions of little boats each side of the Y88s. The fleets in the Australian cities were about nine times as big. Wellington's fleet was also fairly small.

    Bizarrely, there are about as many people racing boats each year in Canberra - a city 120km inland on a puddle that you can get around in 9 minutes on a good day in a fast cat - as in all of Christchurch which is similar in population and has a lovely looking harbour nearby. I also note that the NZ sports participation survey rates sailing quite low - about 35th to 45th most popular sport.

    I own Kiwi designs and one of my very favourite books is Peter Mander's autobiography, so I have a terribly soft spot for Christchurch sailing in particular and NZ sailing in general. I was not happy with what I saw, but it seemed to indicate that the great NZ successes have not inspired people to go boating. On the affordability point, being a fan of NZ designers and builders I used to look for second-hand boats and they appear to be much better maintained and vastly more expensive than ones here in Australia. I don't know what that means.
    Christchurch is home, and I grew up down the road from the Manders.
    Pre quake, Christchurch had three yacht clubs (just dinghy sailing) operating on the estuary of the Heathcote and Avon rivers - at high tide it is a large area of shallow water, at low tide it is mostly mud. Post quake, more mud, less water, one of the clubs had their building destroyed, and IIRC, access to water restricted. I'm not sure if it still even exists. The second had their boat ramp and rigging area commandeered as a building site for several years while a new bridge was being built. The third is at the monied end of town.

    Our "lovely harbour" has no sheltered all-weather public boat ramp, just a borderline dangerous ramp with a good long fetch to pick up the southerly swell. You would only retrieve a trailer yacht there if you were really desperate, even the stinkboats struggle sometimes. It is entertaining to watch, in a train wreck sort of way. I think there is now "a" toilet there. Nothing else.
    It has the most miserable excuse for a marina (and I hesitate to call it that, a collection of grotty pile moorings more like), again with zero facilities. After multiple storms and sunken boats there, due to the total lack of a breakwater, the long term collection on the hard has grown quite large. Some of these yachts have been out for years.
    The port company that has had the nice sheltered inner harbour locked down, offered bugger all access and no facilities, but that is about to change a little - still no car park or public ramp though, but at least the few live aboards will be able to get a coffee.
    The only trailer yacht friendly ramp in the entire harbour is locked up by the the yacht club over there. I think there are a couple of dinghy clubs on the far side of the harbour too. In five years, my Pathfinder went in at Lyttelton once - it was less painful to drive an hour over the hill to Akaroa.

    That is all a bit depressing sounding, eh! In summary, a lot of the dinghy sailing is tide dependant, you can trailer yacht sail locally only if you join the club at Lyttelon. Clubs generally give me the $hitz, too much bs and old boy politics, so thats a no from me.
    If you are lucky enough to get one of the very finite supply of sheltered moorings, you can enjoy your keelboat without stressing every time there is a storm.
    That all is why sailing in Christchurch struggles, there is not a lot to encourage casual participation. Rant over - Aucklanders dont know how good they have it! And it is warm up there ;-)

    Pete
    Don't underestimate the power of stupid people in large numbers!

  34. #69
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    Default Re: The state of my sport.

    When looking for a dinghy sailing club to join I rejected several for the reasons in #68. Narrowed down to 2 beach-based clubs. Club house is a couple of glorified tin sheds, boat racks roofed but that's all, growing membership and boat register including women, the biggest new group last year. A varied fleet from Opti's and other junior boats, Lasers, a dozen wooden boats regularly raced, 2 IC's and 5 cats. I've missed some.
    16-18 juniors, some older sailors starter there in the 1950's. Club champ was an 80 year old, second was an 11 year old girl who also won her senior class.
    Pretty successful I reckon.
    I think the dominance of the Association by the olympic classes has caused them to miss the boat. Olympic success and excessive sporting nationalism has made them chase money, and infected them with the same disease as the rest of the olympic organising bodies, hubris and a free ride.

  35. #70
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    Default Re: The state of my sport.

    Interesting and informative post, epoxyboy. I was aware of the issues with the tide in the estuary, but not the mooring problems in the harbour.

    What you say confirms something that is often overlooked by those who claim to be leading the sport, which is the importance of facilities. One wonders whether part of the drop in numbers is the fact that many modern designs are not user-friendly when the facilities or conditions are poor, and that's something that seems to be ignored by many of the pundits.

    Hobart and Newcastle do benefit from having excellent sailing water and facilities. On the other hand, Adelaide has no decent shelter at all and I think most boats are launched through surf and yet it still has good dinghy fleets. Canberra's launching and storage is good but the winds are incredibly fluky and you can easily spend 40 minutes at a time sitting in a glassy calm, so if we follow the current "high speed sailing and winning Volvo and AC races makes the sport more popular" line then it would have far fewer racers than Christchurch.

    Perhaps we should all learn from the Brits, although dinghy sailing is in trouble there too. So many of their boats are suitable for sailing on tiny patches of water that people can easily find a club with good facilities on the local damp sponge. I raced at one place in London where there are two clubs on a lake that is just 5 acres in area. There's all those ancient classes that are basically designed to handle tough open coastal conditions on one hand, and on the other hand there's trailer sailers and classic yachts racing on rivers like this. They seem to do really well by having a different attitude to waterways and boat designs.

    The main thing, though, is that having won the AC and many other races doesn't seem to be making sailing more popular in NZ, as the statistics on national sports participation seem to prove.

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