Pushing pause on progress

Published on December 11th, 2022

The pace of the sport keeps pushing the limits. Offshore boats go faster, America’s Cup boats more technical, and World titles more costly. Can we go too far? Rick Shousha offers his view:

I have been sailing for more than 50 years and living on this little planet for a little over 63 and, yes, I do think we have gone too far, but not just in sailing. In my opinion, we have gone too far in pretty well every aspect of modern society.

We are a terribly gullible species, easily swayed, and attracted to some dubious definition of success.

As I walk around my affluent neighborhood here in Montreal, I am saddened by “how far” we have gone. Do we need all these heated swimming pools for a couple of weeks of use in the summer? Do we need all these heated driveways for a couple of weeks of use in the winter? Do we need to light the trees? Do we need to clear off every minuscule leaf with a two-stroke leaf-blower?

Specifically in boating, I am just as disillusioned. Do we need to get the latest Waszp or Moth to make our kids feel empowered? Do we need to aspire to a bigger or faster boat? As part of the problem, I do think it’s very easy for people in the developed world, those people who read Scuttlebutt, to make a difference in how “far” we have gone.

In every aspect of our daily lives, we can easily find something to cut down on by half, surely.

Foiling is interesting from a technical perspective, but we do not need it for racing. We can easily include nature in a racing equation and say, “Hey, this business of yacht racing is completely frivolous and we need to do it in conjunction with nature, not against it.”

What kind of racing is acceptable in this context? It’s really a simple questions and it is certainly way past time we asked it.

Editor’s note: To race sailboats is nothing new, but how we do it keeps changing. With each evolution, it is common for costs to increase while the environment struggles to keep up. As we make the sport better, fewer people do it. When it comes to questions, here’s one… can we stop making the sport better? Send your thoughts to editor@sailingscuttlebutt.com.

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