the latitude interview: that sailing's not as popular as it used to be. But in the '70s and '80s, there was lots of one-design racing and lots of PHRF racing in boats 25 to 45 feet, and now it's not as big as it was — but that's true all through the country. Is there anything that sailors can do to resurrect the sport? There are some things that can be done. In my industry, my typical customer in the '80s (and even the early '70s) was an aerospace engineer who raced a 25- to 40-ft boat with his family and his friends — it was their weekend recreation. That person almost doesn't exist in our country right now. The whole middle class can't afford to have a 40-ft sailboat and race it anymore. So that's a big part of the market gone. The other issue is access, and this is something that can
"There are lots of community sailing centers in the United States, but there need to be many, many more." be saved with community sailing, or non-yacht club sailing, where people can get started and potentially save our sport. Right now, if you don't know how to sail, and you want to start, how would you do it? Where would you go? You couldn't afford to go to a yacht club and buy a boat, and you wouldn't do that if you didn't know it was something you wanted to do. But if you could go to a community sailing center and charter a boat and take lessons, this would get you into the sport, and then you could decide if you wanted to go and race and belong to a yacht club. There are lots of community sailing centers in the United States, but there need to be many, many more. It should be the case that any port town with any size has a community sailing center.
What is the community sailing scene like in SoCal right now? Not anything like San Francisco. If you go out in San Francisco for a daysail on a 'nice' summer day on the Bay, it's crowded; there are a lot of boats out there. So it's quite successful in San Francisco. In fact, it's amazing to me that people go sailing on some of the shittiest days, when it's so windy and cold. There are still families out there sailing and cruising around. And community sailing is probably responsible for that. It's not nearly as popular down here in Southern California as it needs to be. When I was on the board of US Sailing, I know they were working on it, but communities should look at it as a service they can do for themselves with their tax dollars as an investment in recreation.
It sounds like you're saying there's a political will that's required. Absolutely. But there's been very little decline in junior sailing. All the junior programs in Southern California are sold out. It's quite healthy, alive and still a huge sport. The Optis, 420s and CFJs have Dave Ullman helms the Santa Cruz 70 'Blondie' during a California Coastal Race in the early '90s. "At the time, huge numbers. It's we were just a bunch of kids sailing on Peter Tong's boat," Ullman said. what happens when you get out of Junior sailing, go to college and become a young, newly-married couple — that's where sailing is failing and dying out. As soon as you have to start paying for it, it gets too expensive. Are there too many options now for young people, where there weren't as many back in the day? Totally true. Something like soccer is obviously much less expensive, so you buy your kid a pair of shoes and take them to a game,
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• November, 2017
The November 2017 issue of the West's premier sailing and marine magazine.