Sailing is not a spectator sport

Discussion in 'Sailboats' started by CT249, Aug 17, 2016.

  1. David Cooper
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    David Cooper Senior Member

    There was an interesting bit on the news (Radio 4's PM programme [in Britain]) about the impact of GB's Olympic success on the public's participation in sport. It appears to make no impression at all, and indeed participation is going down. Money's been pumped into facilities for a select few who have the potential to win medals, but school playing fields are being built over and people are getting fat. Finland, by contrast, is leaving Rio with one solitary bronze medal, but they have the fittest public because they've invested in facilities for the people instead of focusing on elite success.

    If this translates across to sailing, it suggests that it doesn't matter what kind of boats the public see being raced on TV as it will likely make little difference to whether they get involved in the sport or not. Having said that though, there has been an increase in the amount of cycling here, and it seems highly likely that TV coverage of the Tour de France and recent British successes there have played a major part in that, so what is it that actually makes the difference? Can it really be the spectacular scenery in France that makes people keen to go out cycling in less attractive parts of Britain? It may just be that they give it a go and find it to be an enjoyable form of low-cost exercise which allows them to go much further than they could on a walk, but without the need to put in as much energy as is required to maintain a run or jog, and it's much easier to maintain an interest in that activity than trying to fight the flab in a gym while paying a fortune to be maximally uncomfortable. Clearly sailing can never perform the same role.

    There is also the question of disturbance to wildlife if sailing is to become more popular - we don't want every piece of water to be covered in boats, and faster dinghies are more damaging on small lakes because they put more pressure into having courses that use the whole space, whereas slow boats make a lake feel much bigger. I saw a You-tube video recently of modern dinghies tearing round a small lake and it looked about as pleasant as driving on a motorway. As Jeff said, it may be best to keep sailing a secret, although in places where there's plenty of space or where participation is in decline, there's no harm in encouraging the sport locally.

    One sport that does seem to be on the up where I am is sea kayaking, and it's achieving that without any TV promotion. People are simply finding that they enjoy getting out into what is normally a hostile environment in a craft that can make it safe to be there, and they can get close to wildlife while exploring the coast in a way that nothing else can match. They can launch anywhere without having to pay anyone and they don't need to join a club. If sailing isn't providing the same rewards, perhaps there's something wrong with the design of dinghies, and it may be that they've become too orientated towards racing.
     
  2. oldsailor7
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    oldsailor7 Senior Member

    OzFred, I'm not quite sure what you mean by that. :confused:
     
  3. CT249
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    CT249 Senior Member

    Great posts Corley, David C and others.

    Cycling is interesting, David. As you say, the great scenery is one big reason people watch the Tour. The other thing that may be very significant is that the Tour legends use the same bikes that anyone can buy in the local shop and ride home. The gear is very heavily restricted by design so that it is comparatively slow, cheap and easy to use. People can relate to the gear the legends are using, the sensations they are feeling (to an extent) and (in Europe) can even ride the same mountains as the Tour. The shops are also keen to sell people cheap gear that fits them, rather than selling them expensive stuff.

    It's a very different (and much more successful) model than the "extreme sailing" idea where people are expected to get excited by looking at boats that won't work on most local waterways, that most people cannot afford, are nothing like the things they can practically sail, and involve very different techniques and sensations.

    Ps - many thanks, Corley! Cheers. :)
     
  4. Gary Baigent
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    Gary Baigent Senior Member

    Cycling is not all sensible Saturday morning with a shopping basket on the front forks; there is some excitement if you want to freewheel downhill fast or lean into a corner. It's up to the rider. Even the shopper likes the wind blowing hair; that is, outside the sensible helmet; a little pushing of the boundaries.
    And to sail fast also creates the same sensations.
    You tend to take the too sensible situation viewpoint CT.
    Not saying you are wrong ... just a little too balanced and correct.
    Because even you know about fast sailing, judging from your own craft collection.
    And I enjoyed very much the Olympic sailing (and other water sports too) ... but have a bias for the 49er and Nacra 17, the faster boats ... those with that "unappealing" thing, speed under sail.
     
  5. The Q
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    The Q Senior Member

    One of the biggest reasons for not sailing is the lack of opportunity to try it, Our local council sold off it's sailing base, as it was seen as Elitist and expensive ( by those who had never tried it). Yet my sailing club, started a sailing school 10 years ago -ish and we have 80 youngsters out learning every week in the summer with a waiting list. Whilst the earliest children were the children of members already sailing, now it is almost all previously non sailing families as the children got their mates interested. We now train adults as well, as the parents are now joining in.
    I should add we keep our costs down too, Family membership for a year is about £100 (USD 132) and sailing classes are £5 (USD 7) ( all equipment supplied)per session.

    Yes it's not a great spectator sport if you don't know whats going on, the majority of the public have no idea about having to tack up wind. We sail on a river where there are hire motor boats, and I have had comments like you don't know what your doing your sailing on the wrong side of the river, and why can't you sail in a straight line?
     
  6. Petros
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    Petros Senior Member

    this all is true about cycling, but cycling is not a very large spectator sport as compared with the top three spectator sports (though cycling is in the top ten). the largest is track and field, which almost no one participates in as a recreational sport. same with number two (swimming) and three (gymnastics), yet are watched in large numbers.

    so there is something else going on here, perhaps sailing is seen as highly technical, with specialized gear and skills, that most would NEVER consider even trying. which is not true of most track and field and swimming. At least most people have tried it in grade school if nothing else. And almost everyone rides bikes at one time or another in their life, yet cycling is way down the list.

    track and field, swimming and gymnastics are not seen as using special gear, anyone can try it, and there is no intimidation factor with the simple gear used, particularly with the "floor" gymnastics (no equipment at all!)

    I think to the average person, watching fit athletes do ordinary events (running, jumping, throwing, etc), swim and so fourth holds a special fascination that is enjoyable to watch. Very pleasing to the eye and gives tremendous vicarious pleasure and excitement. This can not be said of the more complex sports that require special equipment or very special skills (like fencing or Takewondo).

    I can not explain it any other way: why is track and field, swimming and gymnastics the highest viewed spectator sports? even more than football, soccer and basket ball (which are very large commercial successes in pro sports).

    There is not likely any way to get more people to watch sailing as there is to get them to watch trampoline or takwondo.

    Though I think more scantily clad women will help.
     
  7. CT249
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    CT249 Senior Member

    It's not that watching the Tour gets people riding to the shops on a steel step-through with a shopping basket. It's that it provides an image of performance that is also highly accessible, unlike the model some people want sailing to take.

    If Joe or Joanna Average couch potato watches the Tour and gets inspired, by the time they leave their local bike shop the next morning they could be riding something like the gear the Tour legends use - in fact they could well be on something that is too fast to be allowed in the Tour. Within a year or two they could be riding that same bike on the famous parts of the Tour route, with the wind in their hair as they crawl up Alpe d' Huez's famous hairpins at 10kmh or bomb down them at 70kmh+. There is a tremendous amount of media that attests to the joy many people feel about riding the great Tour climbs, very much in the same way (albeit slower) as the legends.

    That's a very different model to the one that some want Olympic sailing to follow. If Joe or Joanna Average couch potato watch "extreme" sailing and get inspired, they won't be able to buy something like the gear the Games legends use at their local boat shop. They won't be able to learn to sail on the same sort of gear. Even if they could sail, they won't be able to use that sort of gear properly (if at all) in the places where many people sail. Most of them will never actually do the sort of "extreme" sailing that some people want the Games to concentrate on, whereas the average person can do the sort of cycling they see in the Tour.

    The cycling model centres on legendary pros using gear that is about 2/3rds as fast as the fastest bikes, but enormously more accessible and usable. It demonstrably works; the extreme performance model demonstrably doesn't.

    I never tried to say that speed under sail wasn't appealing. I've spent years trying to excite people I knew about my high performance gear. The thing is that most of them don't really get turned on by high performance, and most of them get turned off by the logistical issues.
    Promoting accessible kit isn't anti-performance; it's aimed at making the sport more popular, and that will probably increase the number of people who sail high performance classes. When it comes to the future of the sport, balanced and correct would seem to be the right approaches.

    Cheers
     
  8. CT249
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    CT249 Senior Member

    Agree with the point that sports with complex gear seem to intimidate potential participants and many viewers.

    Can't agree with the last sentence which seems to be old-fashioned thinking and implies that only straight men in western cultures are worth considering as viewers and participants. Why not make the guys in sailing wear just speedos, to attract women and the affluent gay male audience? Not even beach volleyball can require women to just wear bikinis these days.

    Apart from everything else, there seems to be no real correlation between what people wear and how many people watch the sport.
     
  9. Doug Lord
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    Doug Lord Flight Ready

    Foiling is not "extreme"(unless you want it to be)

    ============
    That is totally wrong and ignores the continuing development of easy to sail foilers that fly in light air, "normal" venues and are reasonable in cost.
    Just today Steve Clark published some info on a new foiler he is developing with Dave Clark. It will cost about what a Laser costs and weigh about 100 pounds. And there is the Flo 1 designed by Hugh Welbourn and being developed by Aeronamics again projected to cost about 8,000 Euro's and the Fly 6, Waszp, hiFly and more new boats all the time. For bigger budgets there is the Quant 23-the worlds first foiling keelboat proven to fly in as little as 5 knots of wind! This boat is also a star attraction at the Stickl Sailing School in Switzerland.
    These are just the beginning of a whole new direction in foiling- targeting boats that are easy to sail, fly throughout the wind range starting in very light air. Calling these new boats "extreme" is just nonsense and they will change the public perception of foiling as suitable only for athletes, rich people and strong winds.

    More of the new breed of foiler here:
    http://www.boatdesign.net/forums/sailboats/new-monohull-foilers-2016-a-54975.html
    --
    http://www.boatdesign.net/forums/multihulls/steve-dave-clarks-ufo-56326.html#post784459
    --
    http://www.boatdesign.net/forums/sailboats/quant-23-foiler-scow-53468.html



    [​IMG]


    Steve and Dave Clarks new UFO foiler:
    [​IMG]
     
  10. CT249
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    CT249 Senior Member

    Doug, you've been promising the people's foiler for a decade now. The RS600FF foiled in 6-7 knots too, according to the posts you put up almost a decade ago. It died. Then seven years ago the Tomahawk was about to go into full production. It died. The long term track record of the "people's foiler" is currently that of 100% failure. That is not to say that current projects will not succeed but it does indicate that it's not "nonsense" to remain unconvinced.

    Those who want the "extreme" side of the sport to be in the Olympics are not talking about boats that are designed to be practical, like the Clark boat - they are talking about boats that are much more expensive and much harder to sail. Furthermore we still don't have any proof that a foiler will work for the typical club sailor, where there are other factors involved. It's odd that your passion for foiling means that you ignore the reasons that most people don't sail foilers, and yet you find reasons not to actually sail them yourself.

    May I ask how often you've actually gone to clubs in (say) England, Australia, north-eastern USA, Germany and Italy and seen how well a foiler would work there? If you have not done so, how can you know that they will?
     
  11. Doug Lord
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    Doug Lord Flight Ready

    Foiling

    ===================
    1) You didn't pay attention to what I said about a "peoples foiler": nobody can ordain a peoples foiler except the public that buys it. The Peoples Foiler has NOT failed-some boats didn't live up to their promise but the holy grail of a Peoples Foiler still remains a recognized level of excellence to be achieved. There has never yet been a Peoples Foiler though there have been some boats that looked like they had a chance to become one. There are several boats now looking good for it but only time will tell.
    ===========
    2) This is another of your personal attacks based on completely made up BS!!! You get pushed into a corner and then you have to lash out by outright lying-amazing!
    I have thousands of hours sailing and testing foilers from 1995 til now. In a addition to having designed and built numerous foilers from RC test models and the worlds first production RC sailing foiler in 2000 to my own 16' footer I have nearly a thousand hours working with Dr. Bradfield providing him with a test platform for his 40' SKAT and flying his 16' Rave design.
    You owe me an apology for your absolutely false and malicious statement.
    ============
    Your attacks on foiling as extreme and out of the reach of the average sailor are just plain wrong and the new breed of easy to sail,affordable will prove that many times over.
     
  12. Doug Lord
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    Doug Lord Flight Ready

    Olympic Foiling

    ==================
    If "they" are talking like that about foiling, it's more likely because they are not aware of the new breed of foiler. But there have been many talking about the Waszp becoming an Olympic boat and it is one of the least expensive foilers around about half the cost of a Moth and ,from what I'm told, much easier to learn to fly.
     
  13. CT249
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    CT249 Senior Member

    Doug, "sail" is the present tense. "Sailed" is the past tense. I owe you no apology since nothing I said was false or malicious. I was perfectly aware of your PAST sailing in full-size foilers which is why in the question I used the current tense ("sail") and not the past tense, which is "sailed".

    Don't insult me just because you fail to understand the basics of your own language.

    The point of that sentence (which I removed before I saw your reply as I didn't think you'd get the point) was that if someone as passionate as you does not regularly sail (present tense) full-size foilers then why should tens of thousands of other people do so? Yes, you may have reasons to not sail (present tense) foilers but why not then recognise that there are many factors that are involved in whether or not OTHER people sail them?

    As you say "only time will tell" about whether any of the current craft will be a people's foiler, so you have no right to get indignant about whether the rest of us believe that they will be created or not.

    You haven't said how many sailing clubs around the world you have been to. If you have not been to many of the world's sailing centres then how can you be so convinced that such craft will become popular there?

    Finally, even if there was a people's foiler than the evidence is that faster equipment does NOT create more viewers and does NOT create more participants, so there is no evidence that it would make sailing into a spectator sport.
     
  14. OzFred
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    OzFred Senior Member

    I assumed that the post by Petros was sarcastic, as it seemed to be a fairly gross exaggeration. You seemed to treat it seriously. My apologies if you realised it was in jest and intended to reply seriously.
     

  15. OzFred
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    OzFred Senior Member

    Yep, very true. I've been the only foiling Moth at my club for 5 years. A few show interest, some like to discuss various foiling related topics, a couple have even bought boats. But not one other foiler of any description turns up to sail at our regular races, or turns up at all.

    Even Moth world championships with fleets 150+ boats full of current and past world champions can't draw a spectator fleet or even coverage beyond a short piece in a local news paper.

    Making sailing a spectator sport has nothing to do with whether the boats foil, or even go fast. Participation is about getting children into the sport by any means possible, then giving them affordable, sailable options as they advance. The type of boat they sail to begin with is only a consideration in that it must be easy to sail and maintain.
     
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