Now we've lost Paralympic Sailing - what if we lost Olympic sailing too?

Discussion in 'Sailboats' started by WhiteDwarf, Apr 20, 2015.

  1. WhiteDwarf
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    WhiteDwarf White Dwarf

    David, Thank you for that correction.

    Absolutely, sailing is far more than racing. Some boats are no good for anything other than racing, others the reverse. Most can do a bit of both. That should be one of our sport's strengths. It may need some subtlety in communication in this day and age, particularly to some of sailing's leadership who, (IMHO) mostly come out of racing circles.
     
  2. DCockey
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    DCockey Senior Member

  3. WhiteDwarf
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    WhiteDwarf White Dwarf

    Excellent link, David. Thank you.

    I would summarise his talk as "We need the Yachting Leadership to articulate ALL the ways in which people can be sailors, or at least to get out of the way and pockets of those with a bigger vision."

    By the way, a lot of classes still thrive which are older and better than the Laser or Optimist. Consider the Cherub or the National 12. Both kept up to date as development classes and often homebuilt and therefore affordable.
     
  4. The Q
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    The Q Senior Member

    Reading the additional comments,
    yes in my case sailing for the most part is racing, however we do have many in the club who cruise only or do both.
    I was an Avid Swallows and Amazon reader, but I lived miles from open water, it wasn't until in the RAF 10 years later I was finally able to learn to sail.

    Many new Dinghies are definitely in the go faster category, we've had newly qualified sailors see the advertisments and go and buy the latest ultra rapid boat. Which now sits in the boat park, because they can't keep it upright. Or don't can't sail it well enough, to not be last while in the fastest boat In the fleet, plus it may be the wrong sort of boat for our waters.
     
  5. WhiteDwarf
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    WhiteDwarf White Dwarf

    Some good points there Q

    I too was an avid reader of Swallows and Amazons. Actually, I have just been gifted four of the series dated 1948. But re-reading them, while pleasurable reminds me that for young people today, they are almost as remote as the ancient Romans. As I said earlier in this thread, we need new narratives of sailing, and they may well not be books as Arthur Ransome knew them.

    I absolutely agree that a respectful place for dinghy cruising, "raids" and general fun must be part of sailings future, along with tranquillity for those who seek it on the water.

    On novices in high performance dinghies - at my club we still laugh about a new chum out from England with his RS300. Even in our benign river, he spent so much time capsized that our 8 foot Firebugs always finished before him.
     
  6. JosephT
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    JosephT Senior Member

    No question the sport could use a better marketing/communications platform. The cost of boats, equipment & travel is also an issue. Big yacht races are covered by helicopter closer to shore, and move to other on-line app/tracking tools like Yellowbrick.

    The youth of today are really into small sports cameras like GoPro and capturing every fun minute on the water they can. We also see the use of camera drones taking off capturing never before seen views and angles of events.

    There is no question that sailing is fun and a good majority of people who do it have a great time. However, they want to share that experience. That's the current mind set. Any program that ignores these contemporary elements of sporting events will fail.

    I think if the sport of sailing is going to take off again it will need:

    1. Reasonably priced boats & equipment. Get back to the basics.

    2. The boats & gear must look cool. A bunch of white dingy's with plain sails is boring.

    3. Every boat should be equipped with mini-waterproof cameras. Live feed a plus!

    4. Drones (lower cost aerial filming) should also be fully leveraged to capture the overall event.

    5. Need an app: Spectators want smartphone apps to track the race & standings. At a minimum a HTML5, mobile compatible web page should be provided, but an app for both Android/iOS is the new standard. Yellowbrick is really paving the way here, but it's geared towards larger, longer races.

    6. Need good presence on social media (Facebook, Twitter). People want updates, want to see pics/vids & want to chat! Let them do it!

    Anybody who ignores these key elements is behind the curve. Other sports & activities are leveraging these features readily and this how they maintain interest. It's all about modern marketing.
     
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  7. CT249
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    CT249 Senior Member

    With respect, IMHO the idea that Cherubs or N12s are "better" than Lasers or Optis is one of the reasons the sport is dwindling. If you want what a Laser offers you then a Cherub or N12 (which are great boats) are not better, but useless - and, of course, vice versa.

    Sailors tend to be well educated and intelligent. Classes that succeed normally do so for good reasons. If we worked out why the popular classes work then we can learn something about the factors that lead to popularity. If we say that the classes that are popular are inferior then we won't learn much.
    .
    BTW I can't see a Cherub being more affordable than a Laser. Those who build boats like N12s have interesting things to say about the reasons such classes are (sadly) less popular than they used to, and those reasons indicate how complex such issues can be, and how common revenge effects are.
     
  8. CT249
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    CT249 Senior Member

    Well said. It was always interesting to see the hype that went along with the "skiff revolution" in the '90s. The skiffs were often promoted overseas as the next generation of dinghies, whereas in fact in Australia they have co-existed alongside dinghies for 100 years, and the skiff classes are now sailed in fewer places than before. They are great fun, but they are normally very much a niche product.

    The fact is that the skiff types are simply not well suited to many sailing areas and many facets of the sport. Those who hyped them sadly just believed the PR and didn't actually dig deeper to find the reality of the sailing scene down here; for example the most widespread performance dinghy here is not a skiff but the Lightweight Sharpie, which in some ways is about as far from a skiff in design as you can get while still going fast in a dinghy.
    The continued success of the Sharpie underlines that what creates popularity is a boat that puts a lot of emphasis on accessibility and practicality.

    I sometimes think that no one should be allowed to write about sailing, or run a national authority, unless they own a boat and race it at least three times a month. So many guys in the media don't own a boat and therefore they can indulge in the fantasy that everyone in the sport has limitless time and cash and should therefore go out and buy the latest megabuck boat.
     
  9. CT249
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    CT249 Senior Member

    People like John Claridge in the UK say that home building suffered from the same sort of inflated expectations as sailing generally. When everyone was trying to build their first Heron, it wasn't too hard to make an average boat, which didn't look out of place. Now that some people have spent 40 years building Herons, it's hard for the person having their first go to make a product that doesn't look inferior.

    Even painting could be an example. It's one thing to do a '70s style enamel finish with a brush, but a very different thing to create a 2015 style spray finish.

    How you get around that issue is an open question.
     
  10. waikikin
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    waikikin Senior Member

    Hi White dwarf, I'm sure you meant "almost as remote as the Picts & the Martyrs"

    Raids do sound like another worthwhile activity.

    Does your Chum still sail at your club, or did a bull shark sort him out..

    Regards from Jeff.
     
  11. WhiteDwarf
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    WhiteDwarf White Dwarf

    A lot of interesting points in the last few posts. Thank you, people.

    I made the point about National 12s and Cherubs because these classes have progressed, while Lasers and Optimists have changed very little over their long lives. My argument is that we need a balance between development and one design classes, which is wrong at the moment, (IMHO).

    The point that even home boat builders today reach an exceptional standard (in some cases) is well taken, and yes with painting too. Of course, the tools and the materials have changed dramatically so the leap is many faceted.

    Joseph, I think that you are spot on regarding reasonably priced boats and presenting their events with technology, but those sailing reasonably priced boats probably can't afford the technology, yet. To some extent, the YouTube video I referred to earlier in this thread, covers some of these points. The boats are entry level for home building, the sails are colourful and the technology was merely an Olympus mini waterproof camera, a co-operative rescue boat operator and MS Moviemaker. It was still warmly welcomed by the two younger sailors in the race as a way of explaining to their mates, what they do on Saturday afternoons.

    I wonder if some of these issues could come together as follows:

    1. Seek a hardware store chain to sponsor a homebuilt class or classes and local/interclub events.
    2. Hardware store also sells tools and gains a more confident group of "handymen" as customers + Plus publicity.
    3. Local Narrative to appeal to local newspapers etc - Opportunity to promote clubs and courses in same coverage.
    4. Yachting authority facilitates a sailing coach/builder coach to boost quality/confidence of builders.
    5. Hub for class on line for participants (particularly younger ones) to post build, sail, race and adventure material.
    6. A lease programme for the technology used by clubs to make events intelligible to less knowledgeable observers, prospective participants and families. Yachting authorities could go point on this.
    7. Engage with schools to promote building as pathway to jobs and enhancement of early year CVs - evidence of "stickability" and creativity.
    8. Integration of disadvantaged community members. (The city government of Lisbon is running a very successful programme building and sailing boats for the marginalised and disabled. They've got national TV coverage.)

    A big list, but it is there for discussion, addition and or crucifixion...

    And Waikikin, I believe the new chum took his RS300 to "Secret Water" and we haven't seen him since. Subsequently, the Firebugs raced with an inflatable 14 foot "racing" catamaran. (If you can conceive of such a thing) He participated in the race shown on YouTube but lost so completely that all five Bugs finished before him by a fair distance and doesn't feature in the amalgam of footage I uploaded. He hasn't been seen since, so he too has probably gone to Secret Water!
     
    Last edited: May 2, 2015
  12. DCockey
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    DCockey Senior Member

    Another thought based on my limited knowledge of the south-east Michigan cycling scene. (Note, I'm not a serious cyclist.)

    A large, local metropark has added "mountain" bike trails which appear to be very popular. The park has a small lake which thirty years ago was used every Saturday and Sunday during the summer months for sailboat racing with several different clubs including Lasers, Sunfish, Mirrors, Hobies and Prindles involved. Now the only racing is a relatively relaxed "race what you bring" series one weekday evening a week.

    There is a local velodrome (oval bicycle track with high banked corners) which was built and is maintained by a dedicated group of volunteers, which has races every Friday night in the summer. Most of the races are more fun, team events than "regulation" type events. The participants appear to be very enthusiastic including some teen agers but there are not a large number in total.

    A series of mountain bike races are held in local parks. The number of participants in these races appears to far exceed the number of participants at the velodrome.

    Not sure what this all means but it may be as suggested by Steve Clark that the potential growth in sailboat racing is outside of the traditional around the buoys events.
     
  13. DCockey
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    DCockey Senior Member

    For those interested in sailing rather than building what are the advantages of a "development" class where boats can become obsolete and non-competitive quickly compared to a one-design class where boats stay competitive for a number of years?
     
  14. WhiteDwarf
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    WhiteDwarf White Dwarf

    David, thank you, that is a good question.

    The advantages of development classes, for those whose only interest is in sailing are (1) good boats but not the latest design are affordable; and (2) different designs within a class suit different crews, in areas like weight, ability and temperament. Remember, I am not suggesting abandoning one-designs, just a rebalancing of effort devoted to the different classes.

    I am unfamiliar with the classes in the USA but we have the excellent NS14 class in Australia, which embodies these virtues.

    I would also humbly point out that at the elite level, older one-design hulls in classes such as Lasers are deemed uncompetitive, there is a current thread on extending their lives, to support this contention.
     

  15. timber
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    timber Junior Member

    I've wrestled with this subject of how to generate strength and health in small boat use, too. The subject can be discussed till we all get old(er).
    A common thread of healthy boating groups whether one design or not is a very strong element of social engagement. This is an aspect that needs attention. I am reminded of the Thistle and Lightning in the US. with great legacies of perennial participation.
    Our fathers and their contemporaries were, in most circumstances, able to use a screwdriver and hammer and nails to put things together. The level of transference of these skills is less and less these days.
    I am involved with the i550 and have been for about 8 years now. All the builds have been home shop and the level of friendship developed and growing has been heartwarming. The internet has been an incredible tool for communication among these guys and gals. The boats building and sailing are all around the world and it is common for Australians to share thoughts with South Africans and guys in the US.
    Another aspect to the retention of young sailors is progression from Optimists to what? Emphasis has been placed on the Laser but for many it is just too much boat or in some cases there is not enough boat there after the security of sitting inside a hull. There is an overwhelming push toward "newer, better,faster" flashy things when great boats, as has been stated already exist that are far more appropriate for kids progressing up the learning curve.
    I offer these thoughts up humbly and there is so much more to be discussed.
     
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