Sailing Crisis – Messing about in boats in decline

Sailing Crisis – Messing about in boats in decline

British Marine, the marine industry organisation, has released figures showing a decline in sailing and yacht ownership in the UK of a fifth in the last ten years.

Click image for a larger imageBritish Marine puts the number going yachting at just over 253,000.

The problem is well known at sailing clubs around the country with the number of active members dropping year on year.

Many clubs experience a boom in family membership as youngsters join to learn basic sailing skills, but most leave in their early teens and do not carry on to be active sailors.

Some will return to the sport in later life and this has led to clubs having a very lopsided active membership, with older members forming the main active membership.

While Britain has had considerable success at the Olympic level in recent years, the top sailing competitors are little known outside sailing circles.

Gold for GBR in Rio

As with so much of modern life, rules and regulations have come to dominate every aspect of both pleasure and competitive sailing, adding to the burden of the mainly voluntary club officials.

But, apparently the biggest barrier to taking part in boating is simply not knowing anyone involved in the sport.

Something that has lead the Royal Yachting Association (RYA) to promote its Get Afloat programme of RYA courses at training centres around the country.

And such special events as the ‘Push the Boat Out’ weeekend with free sailing and windsurfing sessions at over 500 clubs.

Yachting, now referred to as Sailing by the Olympic and International organisations, is still perceived as a rich man’s pastime/sport, although the big areas of expansion have been at the cheaper end.

After the dinghy home building boom of the 1960’s, the windsurfer was a world-wide hit.

This has now developed into Kite Surfing and Stand up Paddle variations that require minimal cost to get afloat.

Click image for a larger imageThe foiling phenomena also started at the small boat end of sailing.

The International Moth developed the high-speed principle on the racing circuit, that has now spread from surf boards to ocean going yachts.

To misquote Rat ‘Whatever way you get on the water, there is nothing half so much worth doing as simply messing about in boats.’

(Rat in Wind in the Willows – Kenneth Grahame)