Empowering the next generation to stay with sailing

Published on July 10th, 2019

Harken® launched its Blockheads youth sailing program more than two years ago with a simple and clear mission: Give young sailors tools, skills, and confidence to better ‘own’ their boat and sailing experience.

This free initiative was a reaction to an observation, which was how young people weren’t ‘messing about in boats’ as had previous generations. While learning how to sail opens the door to the sport, working on boats connects you to it.

So far, more than 1,300 young sailors from eight countries have become Blockheads by signing up online or at regattas. While Harken CEO Bill Goggins admits how Blockheads helps to introduce his gear to the next generation, it’s primary focus is to create a community and a culture for young sailors to improve.

“A lot of young sailors are first fueled by their parents’ love of the sport,” said Goggins. “But when those kids leave home, too many lose interest. They’ve been exposed or imprinted, but it didn’t stick.

“That’s bad because if they leave sailing they miss the self-confidence that comes from overcoming problems. That’s what’s unique about sailing. . . the grit that coaches and future employers look for.”

He said that previous generations of parents gave their children more space so that they learned to be self-starting. That’s what Blockheads is about.

“We designed a culture where the kids get excited about sanding or using gel-coat. So, they’re more resourceful and more hands on,” notes Goggins. “We want them to go have fun with their friends, seek independence, and fall in love with the sport . . . and stay with it for life.”

“One of the most gratifying things about starting this program is what happens when we stand up in a big room of Junior sailors and tell them it’s time to eliminate the need for helicopter parents,” said Bill Faude Harken’s Marketing Strategy and Creative Director. “You watch the kids put their fists in the air and say ‘Let’s Go!!. And then in the back of the room you see the Parents doing the same thing.”

The Blockheads website hosts more than 50 content pieces covering a wide range of topics, including sail tuning, gel coat repair, splicing, advice from Olympic sailors, as well as health and safety tips.

Not a Blockhead? Sign up here: www.harkenblockheads.com.

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