POLL: Increasing the percentage of kids that sail beyond their youth years

Published on January 19th, 2014

It’s hard to find a child that is not involved in some structured activity. Youth sports, junior theatre, ballet, etc… you name it. But how many of those children carry that activity into adulthood? Not too many.

But few activities lend themselves as well as sailing to continuing beyond the youth years, yet an exceedingly small percentage will do so. What can be done to increase the percentage?

Let’s simplify the situation by dividing kids into three groups:
1) Kids that will quit.
2) Kids that enjoy sailing but aren’t too competitive. They may quit.
3) Kids that enjoy sailing and are competitive. They aren’t quitting (yet).

Now let’s take a look at the USA national sailing authority, US Sailing. They have created certification curriculum to insure young sailors get quality instruction, they organize youth championships for aspiring sailors, and oversee an Olympic program to help the best of the best achieve their dreams.

So US Sailing is supporting the competitive kids, which is no surprise considering the organization was formed in part because the International Olympic Committee required it. But where is an equally comprehensive initiative to help transition kids without Olympic aspirations from youth sailing into the adult options? Should it come from an organization like US Sailing, or elsewhere?

When the majority of youth sailing is done in youth-only boats (Optimist, Club Flying Junior, Club 420, etc.), kids eventually age-out of this type of sailing. And either before they age-out, or when they age-out, sailing loses them.

So when we conducted a poll asking what can be done to increase the percentage of kids that continue sailing beyond their youth years, this was the result on what was felt to have the most impact:

8% – National Sailing Authority should do more – this is a top down problem.
48% – Yacht Clubs should do more – retaining junior sailors helps to sustain membership.
44% – Adult options should do more – one design classes and keelboat fleets need to be recruiting.

Many participants also contributed comments, which we have organized by their vote…
National Sailing Authority should do more
Yacht Clubs should do more
Adult options should do more
Comments without selecting one of the three survey responses

Poll conducted on January 19-21, 2014

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