Please select your home edition
Edition
Selden 2020 - LEADERBOARD

Fun is the key

by Dave Irish 29 Jul 2020 09:31 PDT
Fun on the water in Plymouth © RWYC

The lessons of the past are still relevant today! This article excerpt was originally published in the July/August 1996 edition of the American Sailor. With current anecdotal information showing that participation in sailing is in decline and people are making choices based on limited leisure time, we as sailors need to do everything we can to entice newcomers to the sport. Fun is the primary factor of why people choose to do what they do with their spare time.

Let's talk about growth in our sport. Our race courses are not too crowded, and we certainly have plenty of room for more sailors in our schools, club programs and community sailing centers. We want more people to sail, right?

So how do people decide on sailing (or golf or in-line skating or even online gaming)? The research has been done, the experience has been gained; people are introduced to leisure activities by family and friends already involved. Lifestyle ads on TV don't work; public relations campaigns don't work; even free boat rides don't work. People choose a new activity like sailing because they are introduced to it by existing sailors who are having great fun and want to share that fun with their friends. It is also a question of fun balanced against time, money, hassles and frustrations.

If you are reading this, you are probably a leader in our sport. You already know intuitively that the way each of us creates growth is by helping people have more fun playing on sailboats. In turn, they bring their friends into sailing, who then bring their friends and so on. More fun yields more players, less fun yields dropouts.

How do we do it?

  • Bring people you know from other activities sailing with you. When you do, don't let them just be passengers, have them participate not just spectate! Let them steer or trim. Ask them to watch for gusts of wind. Above all, explain what's going on around them at a pace and in a way that engages them and makes it fun.
  • Is there someone in your racing fleet who has a boat but isn't yet up to speed? Being way behind is not fun. Being in the hunt and gaining new skills is. Try letting your crew sail your boat next week while you offer to sail with this other individual in the fleet. Your enthusiasm will rub off as will any helpful friendly coaching. The newer sailor will start to keep up, not because you took over, but because you provided focus on doing those things onboard that make a difference.
  • Do you know someone "almost ready" to venture farther afield? Offer to do a mini-cruise, each in your own boat: "Let's sail to the island and over¬night this weekend." That removes the anxiety and concern about "Where will I moor?" or "Will I get lost?" Cruising in company is usually more fun and the other sailor will likely pick up the habit and confidence as well.
  • Remember the first time you were protested in a race? Probably a "not fun" experience. If you hear that a new sailor has gotten into a protest, offer to help. Explain the rules, assist in written preparation, and offer to go to the hearing and walk him or her through it. (The jury can but shouldn't exclude you if you were not on the boat.)
  • Help the people you sail with to get better to the end that they eventually outgrow your own personal skills. Encourage them to move on to the next challenge, whether on their own boats or by moving up to a tougher "league." Meanwhile, introduce someone new to your team. Done well, this is the process that keeps all sailors stimulated and learning. That's certainly the key to fun in competitive sailing!
For more resources one one design sailing, visit US Sailing's One Design Central!

Related Articles

Finn fleet gather in Porto for the Finn Gold Cup
Including Luke Muller, US Sailing Team member and Tokyo 2020 Finn Representative Known globally for its grand bridges and port wine production, Porto will soon be canvassed with 59 of the world's top Finn sailors from 33 countries, including Luke Muller, US Sailing Team member and Tokyo 2020 Finn Representative. Posted on 5 May
470s return to Vilamoura for Europeans
More Tokyo 2020 practice for the US Sailing Team The 2021 470 European Championship is officially under way at Vilamoura Sailing (April 30 - May 7), a venue that has become the sailing world's go-to location amidst the pandemic thanks to their expert regatta management Posted on 1 May
US Sailing names Alan Ostfield CEO
Ostfield will take the helm of US Sailing, the sport's National Governing Body US Sailing today announced Alan Ostfield (Pittsburgh, Pa.), an accomplished sports and entertainment industry leader, as the Association's new Chief Executive Officer (CEO). Posted on 28 Apr
Railey & Buckingham place top 10
At 2021 ILCA European event in Portugal The 2021 ILCA European Continental Qualifiers ended on Saturday, April 24 following a week of varying breeze and swell in Vilamoura. Posted on 25 Apr
Sailing featured at Junior Pan American Games
US Sailing requests eligible sailors to submit participation form The first-ever Junior Pan American Games is set to take place in Cali, Colombia. This international multi-sport event is for athletes in the Americas aged 18 to 21. Posted on 9 Apr
Leandro Spina on the new US Open Sailing Series
An interview with Leandro Spina on the West Marine US Open Sailing Series US Sailing has been working hard to prepare their athletes for the Tokyo 2021 Olympics, as well as for the upcoming 2024 and 2028 Games, and part of this involves the recently announced West Marine US Open Sailing Series. Posted on 1 Apr
Paul Cayard to Lead U.S. Olympic Sailing Program
In the role of Executive Director of U.S. Olympic Sailing US Sailing today announced Paul Cayard, one of America's most accomplished sailors, in the role of Executive Director of U.S. Olympic Sailing. Cayard will take the helm of the US Sailing Team, inclusive of the U.S. Olympic Sailing program. Posted on 23 Mar
Lanzarote International Regatta kicks off Sunday
Five American skiffs are scheduled to compete Five American skiffs are scheduled to compete in the Lanzarote Winter Series event with racing starting on Sunday, March 21. Posted on 20 Mar
470 World Championships come to a close
Stu McNay and Dave Hughes finish fifth The 2021 470 World Championships have officially come to a close with the completion of the final medal race on Saturday. Posted on 14 Mar
US Sailing Women's 470 trials complete
Breaking news from Portugal at 470 Worlds The 2021 470 World Championship fleet racing series concluded Friday, completing the third and final stage of the US Sailing Team's Olympic Selection series. Posted on 12 Mar
Doyle Sails 2020 - Cruising Confidence 728x90 BOTTOMGul 2020 FOOTERJ Composites 2020 - FOOTER