The millionaires and billionaires that fund the majority of grand prix racing rarely flinch at the thought of a hundred grand’s worth of new sails, yet they all too frequently forget that a tiny fraction of their combined sailcloth expenses could help reverse the continued downward trend in sailing participation that we’ve seen over the past decade or two. We’re not talking about folks donating a few bucks to help pay maintenance fees for junior sailing, though good for those who do. We’re saying that more ‘captains of industry’ need to step up with the kind of resources and contacts to really make an impact on the future of the sport. That means long-term planning for long-term access.
So we’re happy to see one of those captains making a statement about it, and over the weekend, Vincenzo Onorato’s new Mascalzone Latino Sailing School was opened in the port of Naples, Italy. It will provide the kind of access that is so hard to come by in large, industrial cities, as well as a curriculum that provides free courses for at-risk and underprivileged kids. The slogan for the school is "A chance for their future can come from the sea", and considering the hundreds of hours that the ML owner has personally put into the ML Sailing School (along with millions of his own dollars and thousands of his own staff’s hours), it is likely to be a real model for the kind of creative program that we hope to see more and more of around the world.
More importantly, as Yacht Clubs become less relevant to the daily life of sailors, the sailing schools and sailing centers are increasingly taking leadership roles in the running and promoting of the sport. Places like Onorato’s partner; Boston’s Courageous Sailing Center, as well as places like the Cal Sailing Club in Berekely, the Milwaukee Sailing Center, Shake-A-Leg in Miami, and a pile more heroic little hotbeds that are quietly helping to keep the sport ticking while few in the wider community ever learn their name. Where is the BMW/Oracle sailing center? Why is there so much talk about a giant stage on the edge of San Francisco Bay, and so little about a sailing center at the city’s edge?
Does someone in your neck of the woods deserve recognition for getting more people more access to the water? Let us know.