Beginning with the transformation from wood to fiberglass boats, our sport of sailing went through a tremendous growth period in the early 70's. At that time, some 12 million folks went sailing at least once a year in the US. The building of boats became big business and the west coast was a hot bed for manufactures. There was a downturn in the 80's when a luxury tax of 10% was included on boats selling for $100k or more. Hundreds of boat builders had a stake driven into the hull of their business and sank as a result. Towards the the turn of the century, boating has taken a huge hit due to the computer revolution and the Internet as well as economic realities. Now only 4 million folks have sailed one time per year and just over a million have sailed more than 7 times per year. That's a huge drop. Is sailing dying? Well, the numbers speak for themselves. In 2001, a gentleman from Northern California and Latitude 38 started a sailing campaign that has sparked a small resurgence in sailing. It's called Summer Sailstice and it happens right around the official start of summer. Marinas, yacht clubs and sailing organizations throw huge events that revolve around getting on the water. I went to one a few years ago on Treasure Island. We had a blast walking the grounds, bumping into a few friends and making some new ones. One of the cool events was the boat building contest. Teams were given the raw materials and they were charged with building a boat that could go from A to B without sinking. And they did it in a few hours. Brilliant!
Check out this years sailstice site here.
Another way to increase participation is to take a friend sailing. Over the last 14 years since we have owned our 30' sailboat, I estimate I have taken close to 1000 folks out in those years. That's about 70 per year. This weekend I have a crew of 6 heading out into the wild blue yonder. Another way to get involved is to join a Meetup group in your area. In the Bay Area, we have Got Wind and Water of which I am a member. In January, I posted a note on the site on a Wednesday. On Sunday, I had a crew of 8 happy sailors heading out. We had a ball. There are over 1000 folks that want to go sailing in this group. It's a great way to hit the water and when I sail with this group, there is no charge to the crew. If you want to sail the bay and donot own a boat, this is a great way to find out if this is the sport for you.
Check it out here.
Next month, and in honor of my 10th year with this blog, I will offer my readers a chance to join me for a sail on the Addiction. Kona will be joining as well. So get out there and invite family and friends to join you for a sail. Or join a local group and hit the high seas. Let's grow the sport and show folks that getting on the water does not have to break the bank. We have 6 partners on our humble yacht. I like to tell people that I sail the worlds most beautiful bay for $3 per day ( that's right, we each pay only $3 per day at $100 per month per partner).
When I ask folks what it is they like about sailing, most tell me it's being on the water that floats their boat. Some talk about the beauty of the wild life and nature. For me, I connect to my spiritual side with all the beauty the bay has to offer. The sun, the wind, the water all dance before my eyes. The mental ballet of working the boat and the wind. The freedom of escaping the 7 million people that make up the Bay Area. Plus, I can have a beer while I am doing it!
The Addiction heading up river to the Delta in 2012. We had 50 boats and 150 folks join us for the week long Delta Doo Dah.