Harken Derm

I Wish Someone Had Told Me Sooner

Published on March 13th, 2019

by Shan McAdoo
As I get older and maybe wiser, I look back to when I was just finishing college, trying to start a career and continue my competitive sailing. There were many options available to me, none of them were obviously better at the time, but all of them taught me something. Presented in no particular order, here are the things I wish someone had told me sooner:

1. Go sailing on Other Peoples Boats: This is a great plan because it’s mostly free. Bring your life jacket and you might even get a sandwich. Had lots of fun, watched lots of other people make mistakes sailboat racing that my college coach taught me not to make.

2. Jump on the oncoming wave: When I graduated, two new 15 footers were just coming on the scene. The marketing promised great competition like I had seen in college. The boats were expensive and out of my reach. I saw an ad on CL the other day for a parts boat, and neither of these classes is really active anymore.

3. Build a fleet: I did this one, building a fleet is the hardest thing to do people are full of great intentions, but lives are full. We tried everything we could think of to attract sailors, free boat use, alternate scheduling to not compete with other sailing opportunities. People are just too busy with what they already have.

4. Find an established class and a fleet: This is a daunting choice. Established classes are full of old people and breaking in is scary. Also there will be a variety of boats that will be tough to understand. I made tons of mistakes here, I got into boats I could not afford, I bought boats that were too old and broken to be truly competitive. “Choose Wisely!!”

5. Join the community sailing scene: This is an awesome low commitment approach to getting your sailing fix. There is usually some racing and you can spread the joy and knowledge of sailing. It can however become a plateau since they are community owned boats and your sailing will be limited.

How do we help people get into our sport? We need to inform them of the good and the bad with each of the approaches listed above. Some folks will follow each of the paths listed above. It is up to us to guide these people to the right place. There is a form of sailing out there, and if it’s to be an established one design class, that class has to work and actively recruit sailors.

Some classes are doing this with boat grants and other enticements. More needs to be done. We need to go seek out sailors in in their current comfort zone and let them know how to transition to the future so they do not spend too much time running in circles.

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