I am a Brit who has lived in the US now for 35 years. My son sailed some and made the US Junior nationals in Laser but got too big and Finns are hard in Atlanta GA. He is now in College BUT can’t sail because at ~6′ 4" and 240# can’t race the kid’s boats college sailing is stuck with.
My main comment is that: in the US Sailboat racing is seen as a "fringe" sport or a sport for the rich. In the UK (and Europe) as mentioned in the article form the other day that is not the case. Racing sailboats in the UK is a major sport. Also it i=s mainly small boats (dinghies). Most kids get to college in the US, graduate and go to big boats. Then their kids are brought up on bigger boats, Opti fleets not withstanding.
Also in Europe the Opti’s belong to the clubs. But local businesses sponsor the fleets and every boat has a sponsor logo. Helps lower costs etc.
Coaching is another story. I feel there is lot’s of grass roots help, but US sailing doesn’t do enough to encourage teaching, particularity if you don’t live in Florida, California or New England. If you sail inland you are stuck, and the fringe issue is even greater.
I don’t see a quick fix for this. I believe Dean Brenner has done well with what he has. Some observations:
We need more grass roots coaching and local funding.
Higher performance boats in club racing, too many efforts to make "sport boats" with keels for God’s sake.
Higher performance boats for college (may be too late that point)
More promoting of sailing in the sports press (Gary Jobson has been doing this alone for too long).
Also i have an issue with the boats in the Olympics going for smaller lighter crews. Kids over 180# will NEVER get to sail. We now only have the Finn and it may be gone soon
Obviously not a simple fix here in the US