Tradition – What a Misleading Lie!

Published on October 1st, 2013

By Glenn McCarthy, Lake Michigan Sail Racing Federation
I have been to tons of sailing meetings. More often than not, someone will suggest a change -Egad! We can’t do that. We have always done it the way we’re doing it now. We can’t make any change. This sport is about tradition. What about the deed of gift? So and so will quit sailing if that change is made. And the excuses, roadblocks, hurdles come forward, and complete shutdown of expression is accomplished. Tradition continues down its failed course.

This sport is teetering quickly towards becoming the buggy whip, mimeograph machine, punch cards, 8” floppy disk because it is so entrenched in Tradition. It is stuck in a rut, unwilling to change, unwilling to try new things. So let’s really look at Tradition and see how it is a fable in this sport .

– 100 years ago, when a club held a regatta, it was an invitational. Today, invitational regattas are illegal. Strike 1.
– 100 years ago, when a club held a regatta, the entry fee was $0. Each boat was a guest at a club. No different than me inviting you over for dinner, I sure don’t expect or plan on charging you. Today, entry fees are the norm, some attempt break – even, others use entry fees as a profit center. Strike 2.
– 100 years ago, give away trophies commonly were sterling silver, and not some little 4” dish, but a big huge trophies . Today’s trophies? Never mind. Strike 3.
– 100 years ago, all boats were wooden. Today, it is rare to find a wooden boat on the course. Strike 4 .
– 100 years ago, boats had gaff rigs. Today, they’re coming back, but are called fathead mainsails instead! Ball 1.
– 100 years ago, it was the Chicago to Harbor Springs Race. Today, it is the Chicago Mackinac Race. Strike 5.
– 100 years ago, we didn’t have winches. Today, they are powerful and easy to use. Strike 6.
– 100 years ago, there weren’t any electronics. Today, boats are loaded with them. Strike 7.

And on and on it goes. The sport does evolve, but at such a snail’s pace it is hard to recognize the changes. But change it does, and in dramatic fashion when looking at it over the long run.

What’s the point of showing how things are NOT the same and there really isn’t any Tradition in this sport? It is to kill the despicable growth killing process that we have to keep doing what we have been doing for the past 30 years that is causing the decline in the sport. We need to change, we need innovation, and we need to start aggressively pursuing fresh new ideas that will bring sailors along with their kids out to the starting lines.

Lead, follow, or simply get Tradition the hell out of the way!

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