Fixing the Youth Sailing Pathway with the Laser 4.7 and the RS Feva
In North America, youth sailing is dominated by 3 boats: the Optimist, the Laser Radial and the Club 420.
Unfortunately, the system has flaws and this results in incomplete sailing education of many youth sailors, high dropout rates from the sport and a reduced pool of elite sailors.
How to fix this? A key is to incorporate two boats into the mainstream of youth sailing: the Laser 4.7 and the RS Feva. Both boats are already present, but are not part of the usual youth sailing pathways, neither in the US nor in Canada.
This article examines the principal causes of low participation in the Laser 4.7, by contrasting with the situation in Europe, where the boat is thriving with huge fleets at youth events. It also analyzes the multiple adverse consequences of directly transitioning from the Optimist to the Laser Radial.
Regarding the RS Feva, the article recommends building club-owned fleets, not only to improve the transition out of the Optimist, but also to teach, for at least one sailing season, essential double-handed sailing skills, which are typically unknown to Optimist sailors.