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Are Provided Boats Really the Answer?

Published on October 29th, 2014

by John Storck, Airwaves
In the ongoing debate of how to improve the state of our beloved sport, there is one argument that keeps coming up- provided boats. The argument typically comes from someone who is heavily involved with the keelboat team racing circuit, which is sailed at high-end yacht clubs throughout the country and abroad in provided boats. The argument is that we need more provided boats since people obviously aren’t getting in line to buy boats these days.

Now don’t get me wrong, I love the keelboat team racing scene, and it would not exist without provided boats. Match Racing is another aspect of our sport which needs provided boats to be successful. But I think we have to be careful in looking at the concept of provided-boats as a solution.

For starters, provided-boat regattas are exclusive by their very nature. There are a limited number of seats. If there is a 12 team cap on registration, and a 13th team wants to come, that’s a whole group of sailors that will be sitting on their couch instead. This doesn’t help the growth of our sport.

Secondly, the provided boat concept does not promote boat ownership. If there are more and more provided-boat events, there are just more sailors convinced they never have to own a boat. However, due to the limited seats, that same sailor is likely to only be sailing half the regattas that they would in a boat-ownership situation. Boat ownership is good for more than just the owner as well. With no registration limits, there are far more seats to fill with crew as well. And lastly, the provided-boats concept is really tough on the boat-building industry, which we all should want to be thriving if we love sailing.

Finally, there is the problem of who can actually afford these fleets of provided boats…. READ ON

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