Dispelling the Perception of Difficulty
Published on June 13th, 2013
Lou Sandoval is a passionate sailor and co-founder/co-owner of Karma Yacht Sales, a successful Beneteau dealership on Lake Michigan in Chicago. He is also very active in the marine industry, in which the drumbeat to grow boating has never been louder.
From an interview in the June issue of Soundings Trade Only, Sandoval discusses the particular challenges facing the sailing industry and how to overcome them…
Sailing suffers from its perception. One of those perceptions is that sailing is difficult. I think there is far too much emphasis on sailboat racing as an avenue to recruit newcomers to the sport, and this approach helps feed the perception of difficulty.
Let’s take running, for an example. If all we did is focus on marathons it would seem as too daunting of an undertaking for the average person that might be remotely interested in running. Running a marathon is something that people evolve to after participating for some time and becoming proficient (and conditioned).
Sailing is no different. For people that take the sport on later in life, the skill sets needed to get out on the water and become proficient to the point of being competitive are oftentimes a barrier to participation.
To address the perception, we’ve offered [American Sailing Association] instruction included in the purchase of the boat. This helps build any confidence issues that a sailor might have in the operation of their new boat.
In the off-seasons we offer open houses with specialized speakers that come in to help cruisers with topics like sail trim, navigation, basic diesel engine repair for the DIYer and weather. We started this practice the first year of owning the business. No one was doing these at that time. Now many of the boatyards do these open houses, as well as some of the other brands on the lake. Imitation is truly the best compliment, but it’s an idea that has caught on and that’s good for the sailing community.