The Book

When even your critics begin using your words, you know you’ve inspired real change. – T. Kent, Solo circumnavigator, Father of sailing teens.

A superb piece of writing. — Skip Novak, Skipper of Pelagic Expeditions, two Whitbreads, and a Father of two

The most important and talked about book on sailing in a decade.”
 — Sail columnist Kimball Livingston, Author of Sailing the Bay

Eureka! Why didn’t I think of that?
 — William Schanen III, Publisher, Sailing Magazine

Saving Sailing isn’t just about sailing; it’s a metaphor. This book asks us to examine our lives. — Jennifer Kaufman, Third Coast Digest

Saving Sailing is a provocative argument and action plan – appealling to sailors everywhere – for the revival of family sailing . . . and quality uses of free time for rewarding intergenerational pastimes, lifelong hobbies, and free-time pursuits. 


Participation in sailing is declining in America, down more than 40% since 1997 and 70% since 1979. In this wide-ranging book, researcher and avid sailor Nicholas Hayes explains why.

The book shows how pressures on free time have increased, and how, in response, many Americans have turned to less rewarding forms of spectator or highly structured activities and away from lifelong, family-based, multi-generational recreation.

Saving Sailing builds a case for choosing how to spend free time better, using it to seek quality experiences with families and friends through lifelong pastimes like sailing.

The main challenge, he suggests, is to develop an active system of mentoring, especially between generations. The book offers helpful suggestions for how we might rethink our own priorities.

The lessons are broader than sailing, with useful ideas for all parents, for anyone seeking to strengthen the social fabric of American communities, and for those involved in programming for youth and adult activities.

§ 6 Responses to The Book

  • alan H. Brown says:


    I may have a partial solution to the decline in sailing participation over the past decade or so; the pleasures of bare boat sailing. This business model has been around for a long time and it appears that the market needs to be broadened. We are developing a reality TV show that will provide that vechicle to expand this market. We have retained gold medalist sailor Anne Turnnicliffe to provide the necessary technical advice and an experienced movies producer. The log line for this show is: Novice sailors are cooped up on a sailboat and must learn to deal with the rigors of the sea and each other. It’s like Gilligan’s Island and Survive meets the Apprentice. When a sailor fouls up the host yells ”off my boat” and the bloke “walks the plank.” The pre-production team is in BVI on BEYC scouting for facilities, equipment, and personal to produce a “sizzle reel” that would enable us to market to sponsors and networks. We would like to get your thoughts on this. If you have a skype ID we can talk..

    Alan H. Brown, Executive Producer
    B & B Productions. LLC

    • ndhayes says:

      Thanks anyway. Mr. Brown. This isn’t something that I would be interested in participating in. I prefer actual sailing to reality TV sailing.

      More on that in Scuttlebutt:

      You state that having the sport on television is not good for the growth of the sport. Please explain.

      It’s pretty simple. You can’t be sailing if you’re watching TV. There is not a stitch of data that shows that TV inspires activity… in fact, whether you’re talking about important things like reading, or exercise, or learning a skill, TV always gets in the way. And as the book shows, if spectating happens to catch a few newcomers in a net, they are always the first to leave, because the activity has no cultural value to them.

      Break a leg.


  • Steve says:

    I’m reading the book and enjoying it.

    My sailing friend and now YC commodore told me about your book.

    Steve Ward
    Austin Texas

  • N Mahkno says:

    This book is still very relevant in 2020. It is shame it is out of print.

    There are a handful of clubs in Central IL that are making it work but so many more are sinking into the muck. The book nails clearly why some can flourish and most won’t.

    Peoria, IL

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