I was talking with friends recently about the simple pleasure of sailing a Sunfish. My first encounter with the boat was sitting dead on the water on a small lake. I knew nothing about sailing then and my friend, who owned the boat, seemed to know even less. I’ve since learned a bit. But that casual dinner conversation about boats got me thinking about the sailing industry and the initiative to boost participation in the sport.
My son shares my affinity for the water, and first learned to sail a Sunfish in his early years at summer camp. He later spent summers at a sailing camp, learning how to handle a variety of sailboats. But then summer camp gave way to summer jobs and he was too busy to sail.
My son is in college now and he's still too busy to sail. I often wonder if he will ever return to the sport he once enjoyed, or will he get bogged down with his studies, work, marriage, family, etc. Maybe he’ll buy a powerboat. Or maybe his days on the water will become nothing more than a childhood memory, and he’ll take up other pastimes.
I’m sure many of his fellow campers are in the same boat. We can hook kids when they’re young, but can we fuel their passion as they stumble into adulthood? How can we keep the momentum going? Are there efforts within the industry to tap into this segment of the market? What are some thoughts?
JoAnn W. Goddard
Soundings Trade Only
Check out the April issue of Soundings Trade Only for a report on the state of the sailing industry.