Where’s The Love?

Where’s The Love?

Top 5O5 sailor Jesse Falsone weighs in with his opinion of what it might take to "save sailing." Comment in the thread.

There’s been a lot posted in the SA forums and recently in the mainstream sailing press about the decline of the sport. I haven’t yet read "Saving Sailing", although snippets of the book appear now and again, but what I don’t understand is the apparent culture change that has led to the seeming demise of the dream of boat ownership. Fewer kids and young adults are willing to make sacrifices, work hard, and own their own boats. By and large, the average age of one-design class membership continues to rise, and I don’t see many (any) kids buying old boats and refurbishing them on the cheap just to live the dream and be captain of their own ship. The vast majority of the best kids have everything handed to them because parents believe this is the pathway to success. Few kids just go out and sail – it’s either practice or racing or they’re not in the boat. In the meantime, otherwise decent boats of all shapes and sizes sit rotting when they could be had for a song.

I was shocked at a recent 505 regatta to speak with young ex-college sailor who told me after a particularly great sailing day that he didn’t like sailing in heavy air (in 505s no less), and that he preferred light/shifty weather. He also said he didn’t like going out for a sail just for the fun of it – because it’s no fun! I didn’t know what to say, but I also knew this was not an isolated outlook.

If you are a young sailor reading this, know that there’s an incredible amount of knowledge available at your fingertips – the SA forums are testament to that. There are also people willing to help you get started if owning and racing a boat is your goal. Be prepared to earn some money, work hard on the boat, and learn from more experienced sailors. Don’t be afraid of "complex" boats because they will teach you the most. You don’t have to always race – go sailing with your buddies and have an adventure. Ask for help when you need it because you will be surprised at how many people will go out of their way for someone showing some initiative.

Maybe you’ve seen that old 470, I420, Canoe, Snipe, Jet, etc sitting in someone’s backyard, and maybe you wondered each time you passed by if it could be fixed. That’s what started it all for me back in 1980 when I bought 470 #216 with a huge gaping hole in the bow.

Take the plunge. Live the dream.