Are sailing clubs compatible with 21st century social trends?

February 4, 2014 § 4 Comments

Adult Women Go Sailing

The fastest growing and most active group entering sailing is made up of active outdoorsy adult women. (For decades, most sailing newcomers were boys.)

But Sailing’s adult female newcomer is rightly skeptical that membership in a club is necessary to her sailing. Why fight through a thick residue of archaic attitudes when your mission is to go blast reaching with your friends and then post clips?

So like the disruptive new technology that reshaped the America’s Cup, this new demographic is shaking sailing’s traditional institutions – sailing and yacht clubs –  to their core.

Read more at Sailing Magazine.


Sailing is better than soccer

April 4, 2013 § Leave a comment

’nuff said.

Sailing is better than soccer

Is there cheating in sailing?

July 1, 2012 § 6 Comments

Extreme Kinetics“Is there cheating in sailing?” asked the nationally acclaimed basketball coach.

An odd question, I thought, but logical. He lives in an ultra-competitive world.

“Sure”, I said, “boats can be improved illegally by subtracting weight.”

The Sports Psychologist added that on the race course there are opportunities to cheat when judges can’t see the action, and that there are rules against kinetics that can be hard to enforce.

We were together at the start of the All Instructors Symposium of the Junior Sailing Association of Long Island Sound. I was to speak on mentoring.

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The Abracadabra Moment: How to find time for family sailing

June 3, 2012 § 2 Comments

First published in Spinsheet Magazine – June 2012


A persistent theme in my writing for Spinsheet is that sailing is fantastically family friendly; unlike any other hobby or free time pursuit, it can be done by, and is fun for, adults and kids together. It’s special that way.

But like anything worth doing, family sailing is never as simple as you hope. The wrench in modern family togetherness is a big one. The more people you have to get to one place, the harder it is to arrive. The more interests within the group, the harder is is to agree. The greater the time required, the harder it is to commit. The more possibilities that you must prepare for (weather, safety, experience), the harder it is to be ready.

In tackling the question of how families might find time to board sailboats together, we need to come at it from three angles, not in any order.

– The age of the parents and kids.
– The family’s flexibility.
– The family plan.

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What a Sailing Mom Says…

December 26, 2011 § Leave a comment

… is usually something important to listen to.

Every Christmas everyone in our house makes something for everyone else. It’s a counter to buying things. Sometimes a made gift is a painting or a knit scarf or some extra chores. This year, the kids collaborated on a classic for Mom: a box of magnetic Momisms.

Momisms are things Mom says that only Mom can pull off: expressions that change the course of the minute and refocus everyone on something more important like a laugh or a task. And everyone knows exactly what she means. My wife has many, and now, with some kid creativity, they can be stuck to the refrigerator.

  • That’s so Jank – Something is messed up. Busted. Flawed. Move on.

  • Sew buttons on your underwear – Usually follows a trailing “so….” and corrects poor grammar.

  • Your what hurts? – Can be used for many things like “tough it out others have it worse”, or can just be a subtle reference for butt to get a chuckle.

But the Momism that brings me the greatest pleasure will only resonate with fellow sailors.

In our sailing family Mom works the pit. She manages halyards, coordinates sail changes, keeps a clock, has her ears on the VHF, and is, as are many great pit managers, the glue that holds the sailing team together.

And when we’re screaming downwind, powered up, weight back, kite strapped down, chasing surf-able waves, Mom keeps one hand on the Vang all the times. She’s the last line of attack when the boat is about to go out of control. Ease the Vang, and she’ll stay on her feet (the boat and the mom). Don’t, and there will be trouble.

When we’re pushing the limits, Mom will sometimes say, loudly, “I have NO MORE VANG!” Everyone knows to hold on tight. I take it to mean, “Dear, it’s time to reduce sail.” We eventually do. And it’s the right and wise thing.

Parenting While Sailing, Sailing While Parenting

January 16, 2010 § Leave a comment

Joe and Deb do them both, and Joe explains what happens:

my best memories and greatest laughs came from sailing with kids…

I read your piece in SA this morning and I had to comment. I agree with you completely that mentoring is key. I am not writing to toot our horn, but my wife and I have involved many kids in sailing. We thought we could not have kids. Then after being married for 14 years, we had a wonderful child.

During those 1st 14 years of marriage, we sailed any where and any time we could. When we bought a new boat, my Mother called it her grandchild. During that time, many of our very close sailing friends left sailing because they had kids. As we watched that happen we recognized that in order to keep sailing, we had to keep our son involved. We figured that including as many of his friends as possible would ensure he always had a friend (or 6) to bring to the boat.

Now, 20 years later, he and his friends have sailed multiple Bayview Mac races, many regattas on all kinds of boats up to and including 70’s, and sail on their respective University sailing teams. Many have been involved with the local community sailing association, taking several years of lessons, and a couple of them are US Sailing certified instructors.

I am confidant that more than 10 young adults out of the 40 or 50 that have sailed on our boats over the last 20 years will be lifelong sailors (good ones too for those detractors). The best part for me is that some race, some do not, but they all sail for the pure joy it brings them. They also have learned to maintain and repair the boats they sail on and are considered invaluable crew members because they are willing to tackle any job needing to be done.

Suffice it to say I am very proud of them all and I believe sailing has taught them the life skills they need to be very successful. The only sad part is that they now sail with others and not so much with Deb and me. I have personally sailed on many boats and in many racing programs, and my best memories and greatest laughs came from sailing with kids. A good friend of mine said it best one dark midnight to four watch: “I have been a goof off all my life, I decided it’s best to hang out with the best goof offs of all: kids. They don’t judge me too harshly.” This person is very successful and many of you know him so we will leave his name out of the story.

Please keep working to develop the mentoring attitude, it will turn around sailing and make the next generation more likely to mentor those in the generation following them.

Hearty round of applause for Joe and Deb, for all they do.

Do you have a parenting while sailing story to share? Please email me, or share on Facebook.

– ndh (

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