SCUTTLEBUTT #224 -- November 24, 1998
GROWING THE SPORT -- A Guest Editorial by Peter Johnstone
First and foremost, you've got to ask aspiring sailors what appeals to
them. It is pointless to ask most enthusiast sailors how to attract new
people to the sport. Most enthusiasts will present a vision sharply warped
by their own preference within sailing. Racing today is highly organized
and well addressed. Racing can only grow if the base of the sport is grown.
Here's a few bullet points in the key categories that can contribute to our
sport's overall growth:
TELEVISION: 1. Present televised racing in an understandable format. It's
easier to understand a drag race where positions are discernible. Get rid
of legs where boats spread out in an incomprehensible way (upwind &
downwind). Where possible, present adventure and human drama. Watching rich
folk with associated politics and power plays is boring. Two boats are
boring. Show real people doing real things. And show the world that there
are more than two boats that actually race at one time. Fleets are
exciting, even if they're difficult to present. Look at NASCAR.
2. Sailing TV does not have to be about racing. Fun stories or adventures
are always captivating and inspiring. Look at the fishing shows on ESPN or
TNN on Saturday morning. The relaxing activity and personalities captivate
you. Examples of effective sailing TV: Whitbread, Grand Prix 18's,
Novak/Jobson in Patagonia, Coot Club, 49ers.
WWW: More info is better. Whitbread site was a huge service to the sport.
THE GOVERNING BODY (US SAILING): 1. The curriculums need to take a lesson
from marketing. Set the hook, before requiring a lot of work or money.
First experiences should focus on instant gratification, then fill in the
extensive knowledge needed to be a sailor.
2. The training needs a distinct learning path that has nothing to do with
racing. The curriculums are all well geared towards the yacht club
experience. However, the vast majority of sailing is done off of beaches
and out of marinas by people who have never aspired to race. There's more
Catalinas out there than there are US SAILING members. Ditto for a few
other non-racing brands. Any program aimed at growing sailing, should
reflect how most of sailing is conducted. We need to show every aspiring
sailor ALL of the opportunities of sailing, not just racing. If we present
20 sailing activities, we're going to keep a much greater percentage of
those who try it.
3. Junior sailing programs need to become more than just a feeder to high
school and collegiate racing programs. We need to instill the skills and
desire for a lifelong pursuit. Sailing's 20 other activities beyond racing,
need equal time to take hold. The know-how and fun of personal boat
ownership needs to be conveyed. Before kids go off to high school and
college, we have to have them hooked on a type of sailing for once
schooling is done. 4. Get the sailor handicap system going (Ehman's idea).
Rate sailors by their accomplishments within the past two years. 5.
Encourage phrf and one designs to not count the weight of kids under 18
years or spouses towards weight limits for events on a regional basis or
lower. (Jim Alsop idea).
YACHT CLUBS: 1. When hiring instructional staff, hire sailors with diverse
backgrounds in sailing to reflect the breadth of the sport. The collegiate
types have raised the level of racing instruction to an impressive level.
Everyone is great at teaching what they love. However, the background has a
big impact on what is conveyed. Ditto with boat use. Put the kids into
every type of sailboat available. The broader the experience, the better
the sailors, and we'll keep more kids sailing. The monotony of today's
programs drives the majority of kids away by their 15th birthday.
2. Encourage fun family events with low skill requirements. Seattle's Lake
Union beer-can evening series with the raft-up afterwards is fun for
everyone. A lap of the harbor with no spinnakers. Raft-up means everyone
has fun at the social event. Ripe for stories. No one can drive off, and
everyone gets to see everyone else's boats.
3. LeMans starts, rallies, crew rotation, treasure hunts, or anything new
gets people to think about participating. The idea behind adults racing
Frosties, Sabots or our Escape Cha Chas sounds ridiculous, but it is great
fun and can become the backbone of new participation. And kids can beat the
top adults due to weight advantage.
POLITICS: 1. If Ted Turner runs for US President, every one of his sailing
pals ought to pressure him into buying a maxi now, so that the world sees
the one of the most visible people out sailing every free moment. It would
be the single biggest sailing promotion since JFK off of Hyannis.
2. Taxes and duties can be onerous on the sport. RI is tax free on boating
and the boat business is thriving. Many small countries have duties and
taxes from 15%-130%. It prevents sailing from becoming established in many
many ideal countries.
THE SAILING MAGAZINES: 1. They need to stop being so politically correct.
Take a position. Rave about an outstanding boat, and call the less than
great boats 'less than great'. The evolution of product will speed up
immensely. The magazines today are like Car & Driver and Road & Track in
the '70's when they would not 'call a spade a spade' with the horrible
American cars at the time. Put some passion into a monthly 'position'. Get
people talking and thinking. Challenge people to think about new issues,
activities, or products in the sport.
2. People do not like to improve themselves, so stop filling the mags with
those 'How-to' articles. If people want info, they'll turn to books,
courses, and www. Fill the mags with new products (incent the industry),
human drama, celebs puttering about in boats, and more photos. People will
learn better through anecdotes than straight info. 3. Embrace and convey
diversity. Like the yacht clubs, the editorial staffs need diverse
backgrounds in sailing and upbringing.
EVENTS: 1. Cater to the whole family. Too many events simply put up a beer
tent, run some perfect races and expect participation. Child care, and
activities for non-sailing companions would draw much greater numbers to
events and increase the promotional impact and reach. Kids would be
pre-disposed to follow their parents as they age.
2. After the 10,000th time, a windward leeward begins to get a little
monotonous. Mix it up with a point to point race, or new course style.
INDUSTRY ASSOCIATIONS: 1. Partner with similar industries (ski, surf, RV,
outdoor) to cross-pollinate trade shows (not consumer shows).
2. Grant co-op advertising support to those companies (charter, entry type
boats of all sizes) that do actually spend real hard dollars promoting the
sport outside of sailing circles. 3. Put in place programs to attract new
dealers and rental operations to the sport. The sailboat dealer and rental
network is a tiny fraction of its peak. The lack of distribution and
opportunity is one of sailing's largest obstacles to growth.
MANUFACTURING COMPANIES: 1. If a company is doing a great job, setting out
to steal their lunch will not broaden the sport's reach. If one segment is
doing well, apply the lessons to another segment. The goal should be to
revamp all levels of sailing on par with the accomplishments of other
industries that have re-invented themselves. Look at Rollerblades, Bikes, etc.
2. Most of us cannot sell to people just like ourselves. The world is not
all wasps, or male, or with ample resources. To sell to different people,
you have to find out what different people want. It may not be what we
ultimately want to build.
3. Women rule the world and make most buying decisions. Women do not like
sailing around with their immediate world on its side, they like stable
boats. They also like big bathrooms, ample kitchens, and comfortable
accommodations. And they want to be able to handle whatever they sail.
Simpler boats and systems help a lot. The needs are very clear, but
innovation is needed to address these needs within the confines of
reasonable cost and footprint. Recreational boats should be designed first
for the needs of women.
4. Costs and prices are completely out of control on most boats. Lower
costs are a priority to broaden the sport. Volume cannot be built without
lower prices. There are many marketing studies on the impact of price. It
is not unusual to get double the volume for 20-30% less cost to the
consumer. As a goal, I believe the manufacturers need to aim at reducing
prices by at least 50% within the next
5 years. Other equipment based sports are way ahead of sailing on this. 5.
Sailing equipment is way too complicated to attract new sailors. Until
we're down to one or two control lines for the whole boat, it is too much.
Major innovation is needed.
ALL OF US: 1. A little respect for the other areas of sailing would be a
good start. Too many folks are too quick to proclaim their favorite sailing
activity as the best. Attacking another area of the sport does not serve
the sport, as a whole, well.
2. Go get some friends outside of sailing...and then take them sailing.
3. Whenever you convey any info about sailing, put it into layman's terms
as a habit, so when you do speak to non-sailors, they might actually
understand what you're talking about.
4. Commit to owning a boat that you'll use regularly. That means YOU!
Rather than argue or debate the merit of various points raised, how about
having anyone who cares, simply add ideas to the list? The folks in each of
the above categories can then simply take or discard what they deem
worthwhile. -- Peter Johnstone, Escape Sailboat Company
As technology moves forward in sail design and materials so it does in
custom embroidery as well. New machines software and techniques have been
made it possible to produce a product far superior today than in the past.
Call Frank Whitton at Pacific Yacht Embroidery and Imprintables
(619-226-8033) to stay up with the rest of the world. Don't settle for less
when for the same price you can have the best.
LETTERS TO THE CURMUDGEON
(Letters may be edited for space (250 words max) and clarity and anything
resembling a personal attack will quickly disappear!)
Curmudgeon's note -- Somehow, I subdivided Ike Stephenson's letter into two
pieces in yesterday's 'Butt. Let me correct that today by printing all of
his thoughts together.
>> From Ike Stephenson -- (In response to the PFD Debate.) I will not
dispute almost all cases you are safer on the water wearing a PFD. I think
the problem is- what right does US Sailing have to make these mandates ? It
is, to me, primarily a question of individual rights. You either think US
Sailing has the right or you don't. This is one of many reasons I am no
longer a member. I don't feel they have the right. Further, most of my
sailing is single handed and quite often I wear a life jacket. However, I
have no need to have my rights infringed upon by US Sailing.
US Sailing is a political body. Some of the similarities between them and
our august governmental leaders are: they make politically inspired half
measure compromises for rules. Such as put the PFD on near the RC boat,
take it off during the actual race and then put in on again for the finish?
Does that not sound illogical?
US Sailing/ the government obviously think they are there to make rules
regardless of what is said. Did you ever think that sometimes, you have to
respect the rights of individuals, rather than make self righteous rulings?
That is my take on this issue.
>> From Seadon Wijsen -- I couldn't agree more with your comments on the
scheduled 1999 Melges 24 Worlds. I am still amazed that ABYC in November
was picked over St.FYC in September. I know many other Melges sailors feel
the same way and I hope some changes are made.
>> From Derek Webster Laser 165022 -- Regarding your comments about the
ABYC Turkey Day Regatta, "The most wind we saw this past weekend was maybe
7 knots." -- I wouldn't be so generous. I thought that the wind peaked at
5 knots. There may have been gusts to 6, but it was dead.
>> From Mike Nash -- I thought this an appropriate statistic for your 'Butt
readers regarding the hotly debated issue of life jackets. According to a
1993 Consumer Product Safety Commission study "in a year 20 people died
from falling off toilets". Probably more than in our sport during a year.
>> From Tom Gadbois -- I think it is a simple request that PFD's are the
choice of the individual. But it's not, I think we all can remember times
when we should have had a harness on, or put ourselves in extraordinary
conditions without being properly equipped.
The good news is PFD's are being used more. In this summer's NYYC Annual
regatta, our skipper, Commodore James made it mandatory. (Nice move,
particularly when it blew pretty well.) More impressive is the choice by
one or two individuals to use them constantly in California (on Catalina
37's which race inside the Long Beach Harbor). This is not an easy thing
to manage, but we all need to be more cautious. But ultimately, skippers
and individual yacht clubs sponsoring events could take it upon themselves
to regulate where conditions and locations warrant so "big brother" doesn't
>> From Carl Schumacher -- I find the new crop of PFD comments in
Scuttlebutt to be somewhat amusing. This issue just seems unwilling to go
away. So far I haven't read anyone saying that wearing a PFD is a bad idea
at least some of the time. The question on PFD rules is really quite
simple and there are 2 camps. Either:
1. you believe that people are basically stupid victims and need other
wiser members of society to protect, regulate and guide them into making
2. you believe that people should be allowed to make their own decisions
concerning their well being and be willing to accept responsibility for the
consequences of those decisions.
It has nothing to do with the merits of wearing PFDs when conditions
SAILING WORLD COLLEGE RANKINGS
Voted upon by Sailing World's Ranking Panel: Mitch Brindley, Old Dominion;
Ken Legler, Tufts; Mike Segerblom, USC.
COED RANKINGS as of Nov. 18 (previous rank in parenthesis) 1. St. Mary's
(1) 2. USC (2) 3. Charleston (8) 4. Georgetown (11) 5. Tufts (3) 6.
Hobart/William Smith (5) 7. Old Dominion (6) 8. Navy (7) 9. Harvard (4)
10. Boston U. (10) 11. UC Santa Barbara (14) 12. Conn. College (9) 13.
Dartmouth (12) 14. U. Hawaii (15) 15. Kings Point (13) 16. Stanford (16)
17. U. Rhode Island (18) 18. MIT (17) 19. Boston College (--) 20. Western
Michigan (--) Also receiving votes: U. New Orleans, Queen's.
WOMEN'S RANKING as of Nov. 18 (previous ranking in parenthesis) 1.
Dartmouth (1) 2. Tufts (2) 3. Boston U. (5) 4. Stanford (4) 5.
Georgetown (6) 6. Charleston (7) 7. Radcliffe (3) 8. MIT (10) 9. St.
Mary's (11) 10. Navy (12) 11. Old Dominion (13) 12. U. Hawaii (14) 13.
Queen's (9) 14. Conn. College (8) 15. Boston College (--) Also receiving
ICYRA/VANGURAD SINGLEHANDED NATIONALS
USC - U.S. Sailing Center, November 20-22, 1998 -- Final Day of Sailing in
Light to Medium Breezes 5-10 Knots. 75 Degree Weather, Sunny Skies. No
protests filed all regatta.
1 Dalton Bergan, USC, (57) 2. Mark Zagol, ODU (85) 3 Anthony Kotoun,
St.Mary's (89) 4 Eugene Schmitt, USNA (93) 5 Dainel Meade, USC (107) 6 Jon
Baker, Tufts (109) 7 Toshi Sakama, U. of S. Florida (109) 8 Alan Uram,
Charleston (111) 9 Adam Deermount, Tufts (123) 10 Pete Strothman, Harvard
(127) 11 Kyle Shattuck, Tufts (132) 12 Bruce Mahoney, U. of Texas (192) 13
Michael Karas, U. of Washington (195) 14 Matt Gregory, U. of Michigan (200)
15 Jay Martin, Texas A&M (218) 16 Kai Skvarla, U. of Michigan (229)
THE CURMUDGEON'S OBSERVATIONS
Learn from the mistakes of others. You won't live long enough to make them