May 2, 2014 § Leave a comment
Seen first in Spinsheet Magazine.
There has been a lot of recent chatter about creating diversity in sailing. US Sailing gave the subject top billing at their latest conference. On the surface, the theme of the year, sailing’s cause célèbre, seems to be that if America’s skin is darkening, evidenced by the last two elections and demographic trends, so too should sailing’s. This is inarguably true, but let’s not underestimate the enormity of the task ahead.
Search the words “sailing” or “yachting” on Google and often they’ll come attached to a string with words like “elite,” “club” or “exclusive”. While there are outliers among us, sailing isn’t starting from a position of authority on the subject of enthusiastically engaging people other than old white men like me to participate.
Diversity isn’t something you brand and then switch on. It’s something you are. You don’t become diverse when you market to people who are different from you and hope they show up. It’s a condition where different people agree to be together because experiences, both in lifetimes and across generations, prove that it’s worth it. It’s not a temporary meeting at a neutral safe harbor. Once it starts, it continues. Once engaged, diverse groups manage the tensions that come from mixing alternate viewpoints. It’s hard to stay together, but truly diverse groups do.
January 12, 2014 § Leave a comment
Dave Erwin and friends on Team Zephyr 2.0 star in their own sailing movie. Nobody has more fun than this crew in New Orleans. #gosailing.
Video >> David Erwin, NOYC
Music >> Terry McDermott Music
December 2, 2013 § Leave a comment
This is what the Sandrigham Yacht Club – one of Australia’s largest – is doing to promote sailing, family participation and membership. Perhaps you’ll find a nugget for your own organization. Thanks to Ross Kilborn, a great sailing friend from down-under, for sharing this video.
October 30, 2013 § Leave a comment
…is the unexpected experience of someone taking them seriously.” - Paul Tough
This simple but clear idea is one of many nuggets in a terrific book that I recommend to anyone interested in mentoring or making a difference with young people. Teachers, sailing school and junior program directors would be well served to read How Children Succeed: Grit, Curiosity, and the Hidden Power of Character, by Paul Tough. Get it here:
October 29, 2013 § Leave a comment
The Saving Sailing adventure has been nothing if not gratifying. And this reader review makes me smile every time I read it.
My wife, a non-sailor, read this book, and now she has a much better understanding of my passion for sailing. She is keen to sail with me and the kids this summer.
Read the whole review here.
September 13, 2013 § 1 Comment
About once a week, we get an email from someone who is tired of the sailing status quo and is looking for ideas to make their next event better. In this case, a club on the West Coast struggled with declining participation in a so-called “fun” youth regatta.
——— Reply ———–
Sorry your regatta didn’t go as well as you hoped. In the larger picture, there is no scarcity of kids in sailing. The missing ingredient in sailing is the parent, who, as you have said, is usually relegated to volunteering.
Here are three bold moves that I have seen work miracles in many cities and clubs:
1.) Don’t use the words regatta or fun. One is off-putting. The other is self-evident. “Games” is a good alternative word and solid footing for innovation, but you might think of another. New and different games are the most fun and engaging. Assemble your team to invent new games and try new flavors. Have the players weigh in. Give credit to the inventors and keep refining. Everything is on the table.
2.) Don’t exclude the parent, in fact, make the event family centric, that is, everyone, every age, every skill level, every gender sails. If the kids end up teaching the parents, you’ve just doubled your numbers and created the most lasting memories (and dedicated sailors.) Might you have to try different boats? Sure. Is it hard to get them? Never.
3.) Rethink every outcome. Old social statuses don’t matter anymore. Trophies and podium visits pale in comparison to youtube action clips and personal facebook albums and sailing tweets. The opportunity that sailing organizers have today is mind-blowing: every person sailing can star in their own movie! Some will be funny. Others heroic. Others inspiring. This is the point of ignition for viral marketing and leads to massive gains in interest, participants and more innovation.
Recent research shows that millennials like and want to be with their parents. Studies of adults 30-55 shows that they want to engage their kids and not waste time in cubicles, behind windshelds or screens. The new family unit is ready to trade money for time and purchases for experiences. Sailing is an ideal environment to accomplish both. Design your event to make it possible.
Best of luck to you!
September 6, 2013 § 2 Comments
Anyone who has sailed a Laser will tell you that it is first and always a nimble sportboat—responsive, sized right, intuitive, thrilling to sail on a reach and the magnet at the center of a modern social network. Laser fleets are usually age, ability and gender agnostic, and Laser sailors are generally welcoming and helpful to each other.
But legal battles regarding the license to build the Laser may kill this masterpiece of sailing couture and culture. So thousands of Laser sailors are wondering about their investment. They have a lot to be worried about.
Here’s an idea. Go Open Source.
Read more in the September 2013 issue of Sailing Magazine.