Living in the Scuttlebutt World

Published on January 19th, 2023

by Craig Leweck, Scuttlebutt Sailing News
I long since learned that for some subscribers of the Scuttlebutt newsletter, the highlight of each issue was the Curmudgeon’s Observation. It was a great idea from founder Tom Leweck, and I’m mostly successful at providing humorous or thought provoking quotes that don’t offend the humorless minority.

In between newsletters during the week, I have continued to publish these quotes, and this one comes to mind about yachting photographers: “If you see someone buying candy, popcorn and a soda at the movies, they are a drug dealer. There’s no other explanation for that type of income.”

While they’re not selling drugs (or at least I hope not), today’s snappers have had to get creative to survive, as the money once available – when boating magazines were plentiful and thick with imagery – has sailed on.

The sport is lucky to have the contributors it has, and Fried Elliott was once one of those people. His mastery at Star and Snipe regattas exceeded his hobbyist status, and while he soon got paid, it wasn’t sustainable. Fried is an old friend, and when he commented on my recent editorial, I was both flattered and reflective:

“Having known you for decades and watched from afar, if the reason you come off complaining to some people, it’s because of your unique world view of sailing and its long decline. Your love of the sport — and I challenge anyone to name five others who love the sport more — for you has to have been like watching a son or daughter make one wrong choice after another over decades of squandered opportunities and yet your comments must always remain diplomatic and constructive. It’s not an easy thing you’ve done.”

I do walk carefully with my words, and it reminded me of my presentation, The State of the Sport in 2020. That it was released with the onset of the pandemic was coincidence, though I hoped it provided ‘food for thought’ with our sport on pause. I don’t know if it moved the needle, but as Wayne Gretzky said, “You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.”

So I’ll keep taking shots, and while there remain unhealthy trends in the sport, I also see reactive shifts that are positive. He shoots, he scores.

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