Cease The Navel Gazing

Published on March 22nd, 2016

What happens to a self-governing sport that can be uniquely molded to serve many tastes? It can also be pushed to the limits and beyond.  With many forces pushing and pulling at the expense of growth, Adrian Morgan advises us to stop worrying about it and just go sailing…

Round and round in circles we go (unlike those boring up and down race courses). Sailing is hemorrhaging support; the answer is better TV coverage, enthusing youngsters, keeping pushy parents at bay, making it more “fun”, ditching the elitist image, making it more affordable, simplifying the rules, etc. The forums are awash with wishful thinking, while the pastime/sport appears to shrink regardless.

Let us face the facts: sailing is quite expensive, predominantly middle class, extremely complex, often dangerous, and the rules – let alone the myriad handicap/rating systems – are baffling. At the highest level it is ruinously expensive, a rarefied world of professionals earning millions. Even at club level the fattest wallet wins.

We should face the facts rather than kid ourselves that any of this will change, and that somehow sailing will become more affordable, less elitist or complex, and that drone footage of flying catamarans will somehow turn a middles class minority pastime into a mass must-see (let alone must-do).

As commodore of a small Scottish Highland sailing club, we try our best. If children prefer to twiddle their thumbs in front of computer screens and parents can’t do a damn thing about it, then leave sailing to those who really care and cease this navel gazing. You can lead a horse to water…

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