Professional sailors are always going to be around. And yes, there are indeed many who are worth the money – boat captains, riggers, etc. – the people who do the work to get boats prepped, to and from regattas, etc.
But we have to think that this current economic meltdown is likely to be a very sharp slap in the face to many who get paid just to sail. You know, those overvalued and overpaid $1,200 a day “pros” who fly in, practice, race, and then fly out might suddenly be considered to be an unnecessary expense, even for the wealthy owners who pay their freight.
A lot of us in this sport are suffering, but perhaps none like the “pros”. If Daddy Rich isn’t going to fly you, put you up, and pay you to sail in the next big J-70 regatta in Miami, then say goodbye to your income stream. We know that one of the least popular “pros” has had to quit his yacht club (but not his Bumble dating account) due to hard times.
We take no joy – well maybe some specific joy – in people hurting, but much of the pro scene has been a financial burden, and frankly a blight on a lot of racing. Whoever pays the most to hire people to win a pickle dish has got to be one of the most absurd aspects to our sport.
In real professional sports, people are paid via money generated from game attendance, TV and other revenue streams, not through the fat wallet of an individual. Here’s how it should go in sailing:
“You want first place money (you know, like $1,500 per day) to call tactics on my boat (even though the rest of my crew can’t stand what a prick you are to sail with)? Then deliver me a regatta win! What, you only got me a 12th place finish? Then you get 12th place money (say, $250 per day).” You get the picture.
So perhaps a reckoning is coming. Actual value, not assumptive value, should start to come into focus for those who pay so much to achieve so little.