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Where are the youth?

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Following on from membership thread.

5 of us( 50+)Discussing this last night and looking back on our youth. Sunday was race race day at the lake in our "Ps" and every opportunity would drag them down the beach,after school,holidays just couldn't sail enough.

The odd invite to sail on keel boat one day or weekend we jumped at it,brought our our own trailer sailers/small keelers and away when ever possible and raced different series either on own vessel or crewed depending on the event.

Today you see under 16s away looking totally bored why?? we would be sailing the dinghy/rowing etc

was it because there were no electronic gadgets to occupy us?

Then we discussed why has the yacht market reached bargain basement prices,sails to expensive to replace etc?

Considering that the fizzy/launch market seems bouyant,20yr old sea nymph clapped out trailer with a 115hp 20 yr old motor done 700 hrs they still want $12/15k for it,see a lot of youth out,now is it because they can get from a to b in minutes or knowing full well they will be home by 4.00pm?


We were guessing that only 5/10% carry on sailing.Gave a hand at sailing club with mad Yotie to promote sailing in our local area but the youth never seemed keen or showed up once and failed to return,only club I know where you can borrow a sunburst/opti/starling for $2 or $3 for a day sail


One suggested we have got to serious or had to many restrictions placed upon us by the PC brigade and H&S


Thoughts on how get youth activly back in to a sport,which dare I say is dying when you look at fleet numbers during the 70s/80s early 90s

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It’s a tough one but having a blended family of 6 kids four of them teenagers and two of them in their early twenties my opinion is that devices and internet have killed off that desire for physical activities that you expect from kids .


None of my teenage kids have the self motivation to go to the beach which is across the road let alone go yachting or even ride a bloody bike !. But on the bright side my two adult kids are really getting interested again in sailing . After helping me bring the boat back from the coastal my daughter promptly signed up as crew for the Route 66 and is trying to talk me into doing Bay week . The two older kids have grown out of watching stupid sh*t on YouTube and playing mind numbing games on their phones . So I guess you just have to introduce kids to sailing and try your best to engage them and hope that some of them will come back to it .


We have a pretty good number of youth sailors at our club but they seldom come out on the bigger boats , dunno why that is

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I'm all out of ideas.


My eldest (12) is adamant that we ARE doing the rum race, and they all love picnics on a gulf island, but as for solo club racing, not much interest.


Weymouth YC is likely folding at the end of the season, no new members, and no driving force as time gets more precious, I've left the area, and the sailing master is retiring. The costs of building maintenance have outstripped income for the last few years, so the building will likely get returned to council control.


Add to that the new housing development right next door and things look grim.


Shame really, as great sailing water for dinghies and small trailer yachts

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The youth are there, but in a minority and sailing is definitely competing with other activities. 


I see a fantastic group of youth sailing dinghys, crewing on big boats and owning their own sr 26's and piedies etc bt these guys are generally from die hard sailing families.


One of the biggest issues is that adult dinghy sailing seems to be dying. 

Apart from the die hard zephyr fleet and few lasers where are the adult dinghy fleets?

At Manly we've had a resurgence of kids sailing thanks to the Russell Coutts sailing foundation pumping resources into the club - yay!!


But with 30 odd kids sailing bics, 29'ers, rs feva's and lasers there are 30 odd parents standing around watching and may be 3 or 4 of us actually sailing. 

I turn up with either a javelin or a nacra and start rigging and feel weird that I'm one of the few adults who actually sail. 


So when the kids start aging out of the junior programs at 12 or 13 and discover girls/boys and other things, the parents also disappear because they don't actually sail.

Its really interesting that there are youth sailors around but they all come from the die hard families who own big and small boats and continue to keep the kids sailing into their teens. 


I think we're losing the other youth because we are simply not getting the parents sailing.


The best thing I reckon we could do is more adult learn to sail programs. then the youth will follow....hopefully.

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Apart from the die hard zephyr fleet and few lasers where are the adult dinghy fleets?


My impression is that the 3.7 is also going reasonably well, but in general yes I think your point is valid. Incidentally, there was also some hand-wringing about more or less the same issue in Sailing Anarchy a while back... http://sailinganarchy.com/2018/01/28/how-yachting-killed-sailing-in-the-us/

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Wakatere last weekend, couldn't move for old codgers pulling their ok dinghies up from the beach.  Definitely no lack in numbers there for an adult dinghy class.  Also much more mid week after school sailing happening there for kids than when I was at school.  Maybe that club has just got it's act together?

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I'm seriously disappointed those people do not feel like they can say the same things out loud like you'd think a group of grown ups discussing a genuine issue should be able to do. I am quite surprised at some of the names.


And there's a huge part of the problem.

Maybe they read the thread where I raised a barrier to participation, only to be called a 'moaner', 'a good way to stop all the bluggers', 'it's not really that much money', and 'just harden up'.


I certainly got the feeling "how dare I question the establishment".


The problem with questions around participation is that its is those on the fringes of the sport that are most effected, and have the least voice.

Certainly those already heavily immersed in the sport are least effected, but in the case of compulsory crew membership it is just another barrier to participation for the marginal entrant. 

And I see it as directly applicable to youth involvement. The Gold Cup races are the ideal opportunity to take some keen young dinghy sailors out for a taste of a proper keel boat race.


Wait for it, I can just hear the clamouring "But the Squadron run a youth keel boat programme" - I'm not talking about elite dinghy sailors here destined for the Olympics. I'm talking about the neighbours kids who are into their learn to sail programme at Manly, but aren't at the level of being pinched as a bowman on a TP 52, but would get a lot of benefit just having a wider experience of yacht racing.


And in terms of the perception that yachting is an elite sport. I'd say any organisation with 'Royal' in its title is by definition elitists.

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"P" class on trade me range $52 to $1300   "opti" $300 to $3k is that part of the problem with youth must have the top boat??

The old man back in 72 paid $100 no recorded breaker but it was a start to learn to sail,if I didnt like sailing no biggie can sell for $100

KM can record the sunburst we sailed,heavy old sunbursts,but given the right day we manged to fluke a win or  2.

It was a cheap  way of getting in to racing.

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Our local trust is doing well using RS Quests and Feva’s. Bic’s coming yay!.


Focussing on thrills and spills and fun.


Our kids won’t go back to the club as the old school coaches were so focussed on technique and crappy boats (optis and firebugs).


The old attitude that kids should be technically perfect in crappy opti’s is forgetting that sailing is now competing with video games, Bmx and all sorts of other stuff. Making it boring won’t keep people in it.


Well done to the Team at Northland sailing trust for getting the right boats and coach mix to hook my boys back in!


My kids are saving for a beach cat and I don’t care if they race it or have epic adventures in it. That seems to be the trusts attitude which seems to be working.

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Knot me is so right and I know I fingered you fish appolgies there but i would quite happily become a moaner about this topic.


I am very involved in the youth sailing side as Knot Me knows and our national body has alot to answer for. The lack of support to clubs for the levies they take is astounding. If you don't want to become an Olympian they don't give a sh*t and it comes from the top. Problem been is they get all their major funding from High Performance NZ.


But if they don't sort things out there won't be any kids to send to the Olympics etc the loss rate of kids after optis and starlings is massive. Try growing a class thats not an Olympic class without support of a national body is hard. Kids look at the likes of a laser go yuck a 29er is heavy for what it is and hard to sail.


Aussie have some fantastic non Olympic classes with big fleets Flying Ant, Taser, Sabot but tjey also appear to have a decent national body.

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If you look at the economic impact of training for Olympic classes it just costs loads for very little return to the taxpayer or yachting in general with the exception of the America’s cup when we win it .


Amateur sailors more often than not end up in the marine industry or crewing on superyachts etc heaps of them become professional sailors too . They also support the marine industry buying kit for boats and the plethora of other stuff that goes with owning or sailing a boat .


Bang for buck seems much bigger to me in supporting the lower echelon , gifted kids will always trickle up to high performance or Olympic classes .


Maybe a starting point could be inter-club communication regarding potential classes that could be suitable for local regattas which seems to be happening up here in the north with bics popping up around the clubs

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The problem is not restricted to sailing.  There is massive competition for leisure/sporting time these days.  almost 40 years ago when I was my son's age I could play cricket, rugby, soccer may be hockey and athletics.  I did rugby and athletics.  From my mid-teens I windsurfed and 20s started yacht racing. But as I got older (than early teens) more and more opportunities came up, skiing, mountain biking etc.  Not many people want to do the same sport every weekend for hours on end unless it is fun or they are super keen.


For example ski clubs are dying, elitist, may be, but driving etc. takes time.  One ski club at Whakapapa is/was for sale as they cant afford up keep due to limited members.


Now you almost cant get a soccer field due to the popularity and costs have increased, fees equipment etc for kids up to the end of school.  But are adult teams getting more popular?


Even club yacht racing takes commitment.  I raced one week night and most weekends for years and years, plus nationals for the class we sailed.  Eventually I had no time, career and family. 


Now my son has other interests, so no sailing for him. 

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I feel that i sit in the youth Catagory being in my late twenties , i have done the dinghy scene, RNZYS youth scheme an etchell worlds and 420's.


When i was in the opti's and P's it was very easy to get demotivated when competitors parents updated their kids sails every season upgrading to carbon masts and foils etc. while i still produced some very good results it was always hard competing against someone elses deep back pocket. I see that as one area where the youth can loose interest at a very early stage.


I was very fortunate my family had a few keelers in my childhood which we went away as a family most weekends cruising through summer and raced as a family through winter, i did a ssanz 100 miler when i was 15 with my dad on Outlaw a davidson 41 which i still have memories of until today.


I got side tracked in my late teens and started building and racing cars as thats what all my friends were doing and guess it was peer pressure. One day i decided i was buying a boat when i was 23 sold the car bought a boat and came up with enough money for a deposit on a house.


Neither the boat or house was in very good shape and over the last 6 years have turned my boat and house into something valuable.


We have just recently purchased Kick an Elliott 1050 which you could say was out of our budget but we have just kept pushing the boundaries.


I am very greatful to my parents for creating great memories in boating both racing and cruising and also the support from my dinghy racing right upto today with our latest purchase.


I think it all comes down to what experiences you have had as a kid and that is what made me come back to yachting.


Now im hooked and would go racing or cruising every weekend if i could, i now have 2 kids and will try to make the boating as enjoyable and fun for them in the hope they will keep the boating in the family!

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I have an incredibly similar background to Kick ass. 


Grew up sailing Mum and dad took us cruising, racing etc. started crewing on keel boats when I was around 15, left sailing at around 20 to go mountaineering, tramping, skiing, overseas etc.

Came back to sailing when I came back to NZ at the age of 30.

I now have 2 kids which I'm ardently brainwashing into sailing.

One is sailing a bic the other is only 6 and cruises with us. She will go into a bic when she's ready. 

I have nephews and nieces who sail as well.


I see our job is to introduce the new generation to sailing and give them the opportunity. 

But we also need to get more adults into sailing!!

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Interesting reading that a lot of clubs and you guys n girls are doing your bit but how do you get them from single hand/dinghy sailing to be interested in crewing on a trailer sailor/keel boat and retaining them.

Apart from my 2 boys we use to take those who had out grown the "starling"etc ,the few we took only come out once maybe twice,there was no screaming from skipper,alcohol free vessel.

Seems to be a general problem with people I know. Most of my age group are not agile on the bow anymore and few quick tacks notice the joints arent quite what they use to be.

The thought is maybe take them cruising over a weekend,helm the vessel etc and just might stay.

My problem could easily be that mountain climbing biking etc never interested me as the beach was at the front door and knew what water is for?

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i'd hazard a guess that increased costs are also a big factor. not as cheap to keep a piedy going as once it was.

The costs of life have gone up, as well as boat maintenance. Some off the costs (marinas and haulouts especially) are close to making die hard sailors give up.  

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