Recreational Sailing needs to relax and have more fun

Published on March 24th, 2014

Ken Read, president of North Sails, is on a mission to encourage recreational racing to take a chill pill. The message is simple: the harder we play, and the more we invest in our recreation, the fewer people will want to take part in the game.

Event organizers, fleet captains, and local cheerleaders exert significant energy to insure sufficient participation, when maybe all that is needed is to manage a few of the variables.

Ken gave a presentation at a recent J Boats dealer meeting, from which Don Finkle of RCR Yachts took notes. Here were some of Ken’s takes:

– Rally and pursuit races are fun and gaining in popularity.
– Get rid of the AP flag; people want to sail, not float around waiting for perfect conditions.
– Stop worrying that the starting line is off by 5 degrees; start the race.
– Get rid of uncomfortable gut hiking off the lower lifelines.
– All spinnakers should be colored; no more white!
– Start some races downwind.
– More variety of courses; not only W-L.
– Involve youngsters more in big boat sailing; not all want to do dinghies.
– Public access to the water and sailing will become even more important.
– Pros should be helping the amateurs by being available at regattas to give help and guidance.

Don grabbed Ken afterward and asked him what other course configurations he might suggest as alternatives to W-Ls, and Ken recommended courses that had some reaching legs, especially for boats that can plane when conditions allow; the Harry Anderson course, etc. Just some variety.

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