Last month after a Star event in Miami, Mer and I went to Lauderdale to hang with my 85 year-old widowed grandmother, whose Clinton-era computer finally shit the bed. I got her a WiFi router and then took her to the Apple store to get her an iPad so she could e-mail and FaceTime with some of her kids and grandkids. For three days, I watched her try to master the most intuitive and easy-to-learn mini-computer ever built – a device so simple that my 3-year-old niece can navigate through apps with ease. And it was painful. While she’s slowly learning (and I’ve since spent about 5 hours on the phone helping her progress), it remains quite painful to watch, and I bring it up only because watching her try to learn the iPad is a bit like watching US Sailing try to join the modern era, and this week provides a great opportunity for some of that slightly painful fun.
We’ve long critiqued US Sailing, America’s ‘steward’ of the sport, due to its inability to understand and respond to the changing face of sailboat racing in the states over the past couple of decades; a result of entrenched thinking and a baby-boom makeup who never learned to communicate to members born in the ’60s and beyond. Rather than a wayfinder or trailblazer, the sport’s governing body has been reactionary and defensive in the face of massive decline and failure both in its steward role and as the trustee of the Olympic effort.
In 2011, US Sailing began fumbling its way toward something resembling progress with the Yacht Club Summit, an expensive and stupidly named event that actually produced some good conversation and a handful of interesting seminars that might have helped move the sport forward had it been followed up. Most of the good stuff was lost In the nearly three years since that event took place, but they’re making another effort, and almost twice as many people are signed up for this week’s US Sailing Leadership Forum in San Diego as that one. And while our own Editor was informally ‘disinvited’ after some little bitch complained about him, (that bitch would be Craig Leweck, the whiniest douche in this sport. Apparently the little girl felt “threatened” by me and whined. Of course US Sailing, without even bothering to contact me, fell for it. In truth, I had zero interest in sitting in any room with Leweck, and had zero intention of being there anyway. Pussies. – ed) I’ll be there to get the fireworks going as part of a media seminar oddly called ‘Around The Winch.” I’ll be matched up in a moderated discussion with three members of the ‘old’ media in what is apparently meant to approximate ESPN’s half-hour infotainment show ‘Around The Horn’. Unfortunately, I have no idea what that means, since I am not a retiree watching a 5 PM sports talk show on cable, but the format seemed like a good idea to someone at US Sailing…draw your own conclusions from that.
I’ll make no predictions beyond this: If you’re coming, show up in the Monte Carlo Room at 2:30 PM on Thursday to check out what happens when you put Sailing Anarchy, Sailing World, Scuttlebutt, SailGroove (remember that?) and freelancer Kimball Livingston together on a stage. Apparently US Sailing even has an iPhone/Android app that will let you ask your own questions of this ‘esteemed’ panel, so if you’re coming, throw a grenade or two via that. 21st Century, here we come!
No matter how much of a circle jerk the LF ends up being, it’s never a bad idea to get a big pile of decision makers together to network and hopefully decide on the fate of the free world, and some of the sport’s illuminati will be in attendance, as well as much of the fossilized past. And there are some great strip clubs just a few miles away. If you’re coming, let us know in the thread, and if you’re leading a seminar or giving a talk, promote it here so we know who’s doing what. US Sailing says they are bringing some videographers, but we’re prepared to be underwhelmed on the ‘reportage’ part of it, so we’ll do our best to record what we can via mobile devices and post it to SA’s Facebook Page, which has more than three times as many readers as US Sailing’s anyway.