Why is America so disinterested in racing?

Sep 15, 2016
615
Catalina 22 Minnesota
In the US we used to be excited about competition. Auto racing, drag racing, speed, winning, losing, underdog comebacks the list goes on. However in more recent years we seem to have lost that desire for competition. Sailing in most other 1st world nations is seen as a sport of champions. One where the victors arrive home as national heroes and everyone celebrates. When Australia took the america's cup it changed the nation forever. After holding the cup for more than 180 years we finally lost it and other countries jumped on the excitement that anything was possible. Australia quickly became a haven for sailboat racing. Likewise adventure racing our of France, england, etc started gaining a larger foot hold with the various ocean races and global races. All the while in America sailing has never been seen as a "real" sport. It's still largely regarded as a rich man's affair and no one cares (painting with a broad brush I know but Im talking in generalities here). So my question is why? Why is sailing in the olympics not covered on TV like swimming or other sports. Why is the America's cup almost completely unknown in America, and why such a lackadaisical attitude toward racing sailboats? Is it too hard? Too Confusing with the rules? Or are people afraid of not winning all the time? Any thoughts or signs of change on the horizon from my fellow racers out there?
 
Sep 25, 2008
6,314
Alden 50 Sarasota, Florida
My theory is - we can eat hot dogs, tacos and guzzle beer while watching/playing golf, football, baseball, hockey, etc. but you can’t on a sailboat racing.
 
Jul 12, 2011
984
Catalina 36 1771 Ft Pierce, Florida
Not speaking for all Americans, but perhaps we cannot 'identify' with sail racing, particularly as it is done now. First, except for certain locations, sailing is not wildly popular in the US. Compared to motorboating, think trailered open fishing boats, sailboats represent under 5% of registered boats. While most people could imagine themselves swimming, skiing, or running, few in the general population know how to make a boat move without an engine. Secondly, the current design of boats has moved so far beyond what most of us could ever experience (foiling carbon-fiber aircraft with airfoil wings) that it would be hard for even racing sailors to imagine captaining one. There is more in-common between my commuter SUV and a F1 racer, than there is between my boat and whatever spaceships these guys sail. I would argue that they are no longer in the same sport as I am in, and I lost interest.
 
May 25, 2012
3,839
john alden caravelle 42 sturgeon bay, wis
i'll race you. i'm in the next state. come on over. i have a race boat. i'm the fastest sailor on sturgeon bay. never been beat.

wanna race? my boat is very fast?

what do they call the guy who came in second in a sailboat race?

answer: the first loser!

:cool:
 
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Apr 26, 2015
642
S2 26 Mid On Trailer
Why is the America's cup almost completely unknown in America, and why such a lackadaisical attitude toward racing sailboats?
My short answer is fun, cost, attitude, and cheap gasoline.

I started racing in the heyday of the Hobie 16 in 1973. Those regattas were fun with sometimes over 300 boats. As time went by I started racing at the yacht club, not as much fun.

My first sailboat cost $450 new and the Hobie was $1275 something a guy in the Coast Guard could afford. Yacht club dues, slip cost, a$$holes, and the like caused me to spend my cash somewhere else as time went on.

Average American attitude is all about getting something for no brain power invested. With a powered boat or PWC just hop in turn the key, shove the throttle. Rules of the road what rules of the road.

Other countries that take sailing a bit more serious have expensive gas.
 
May 25, 2012
3,839
john alden caravelle 42 sturgeon bay, wis
lake minnetonka, minn. has some bad ass racing. go over there, they'll show you their transom.

:poke:
 
Sep 15, 2016
615
Catalina 22 Minnesota
My theory is - we can eat hot dogs, tacos and guzzle beer while watching/playing golf, football, baseball, hockey, etc. but you can’t on a sailboat racing.
This is very true but then again with almost any sport you cannot do those things while performing them.

Not speaking for all Americans, but perhaps we cannot 'identify' with sail racing, particularly as it is done now. ...There is more in-common between my commuter SUV and a F1 racer, than there is between my boat and whatever spaceships these guys sail. I would argue that they are no longer in the same sport as I am in, and I lost interest.
I do understand this but on the other hand we also don't celebrate the countless Scows, Lightnings, Lasers, Opti's or youth sailing on the larger level either. Those boats have a lot in common with what we sail. As to the spaceship idea I agree it is a little weird to see every crewmember staring at a tablet in the America's cup during the race and even having what looks like a Nasa control panel on one of the ocean racing yachts.

Still the idea of foils, lift, and apparent wind shift have that I have learned from studying some of these faster boats have helped me far better understand my little 22. In the past year alone my understanding of how the keel / rudder and the sail foils affect my pointing has led to much better performance on the race course. While I still plug along at 6 knots or so there is something to that feeling when you know your boat for its design is sailing optimally.


My short answer is fun, cost, attitude, and cheap gasoline.

I started racing in the heyday of the Hobie 16 in 1973. Those regattas were fun with sometimes over 300 boats. As time went by I started racing at the yacht club, not as much fun.

Other countries that take sailing a bit more serious have expensive gas.
I had not thought about the cost of fuel factoring in but there is something to think about for sure. I do agree with the local Yacht club racing being a bit underwhelming. Near me there are 2 yacht clubs I have raced with. One take a very informal approach where rules are almost made up as you go and the races are distance based. The other has a group of hard core racers and fun racers. My boat is no where near competitive for the actual racing boats (who would have a PHRF less than half of mine). When I have raced a fun race it was not handled well leaving my crew and I rather disappointed in the total lack of organization or even due care for safety (a huge storm front came in and had we not abandon we would have been sunk in 50+mph wind and hail). All of that said of course cost is an issue in actually doing the racing but still none of us will ever play football at a pro level or race a nascar and those get air time as sports.


i'll race you. i'm in the next state. come on over. i have a race boat. i'm the fastest sailor on sturgeon bay. never been beat.

wanna race? my boat is very fast?

lake minnetonka, minn. has some bad ass racing. go over there, they'll show you their transom.
I love the light hearted jab. If Minnetonka were not so far away and had better launching for the public I would totally be racing with them. They have a great program and all I have ever heard is great things. I have raced many times and never won yet though perhaps this year :biggrin:. If you need crew though I am sure I could pick up a few pointers. The family and I are hoping to trailer to Florida for the Catalina 22 nationals this year so I guess we will see. I have some tricks I want to try to the boat first though if its an early spring.
 
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WayneH

.
Jan 22, 2008
866
Tartan 37 Pensacola Shipyard, FL
My short answer... Sailing is too slow. It's the "NOW" generation. "I want it now!!!" Instant on TVs, Always on phones that have the world at your fingers.

Think about this. What's your reaction when a webpage doesn't pop up? Yeah, that's what happened to sailing races until the foilers came along but by then the audience was lost and TV advertisers don't like to run ads on shows that aren't being watched.

Just one guy's opinion.
 
Oct 1, 2007
1,734
Boston Whaler Super Sport Pt. Judith
In the US we used to be excited about competition. Auto racing, drag racing, speed, winning, losing, underdog comebacks the list goes on. However in more recent years we seem to have lost that desire for competition. Sailing in most other 1st world nations is seen as a sport of champions. One where the victors arrive home as national heroes and everyone celebrates. When Australia took the america's cup it changed the nation forever. After holding the cup for more than 180 years we finally lost it and other countries jumped on the excitement that anything was possible. Australia quickly became a haven for sailboat racing. Likewise adventure racing our of France, england, etc started gaining a larger foot hold with the various ocean races and global races. All the while in America sailing has never been seen as a "real" sport. It's still largely regarded as a rich man's affair and no one cares (painting with a broad brush I know but Im talking in generalities here). So my question is why? Why is sailing in the olympics not covered on TV like swimming or other sports. Why is the America's cup almost completely unknown in America, and why such a lackadaisical attitude toward racing sailboats? Is it too hard? Too Confusing with the rules? Or are people afraid of not winning all the time? Any thoughts or signs of change on the horizon from my fellow racers out there?
Good question. I can't speak for all sailboat racing but I am able to offer thoughts on the now "..America's Cup....", whatever it is called. I sailed out of Newport RI for many years. Sailed and raced. Back then the America's Cup was sailed at Newport as the US held the cup. Back then it was close to one design. There was a rule to which all the boats were designed. Generally, the boats were close in speed and pointing, with tactics, strategy, and sail technology deciding the day. Of course the Aussies made a breakthrough in winged keels which moved the technology forward. In any case the racing now for whatever the cup is now known is not sailboat racing as once defined by one design rules. The "boats" are technological monstrosities, bearing no relationship to the boats we all sail, nor to the one design sailboats across the world in clubs for adults and children. Back in the day, kids could see the America's Cup sailing and go out and sail their Etchells, 420, Sunfish, or whatever they sailed, and relate to the tactics and strategy in the Cup racing. No more. So of course interest is minimal because sailors of any age cannot relate to the cup racing as it is today. For sure I wouldn't waste a second watching that racing.
 
May 25, 2012
3,839
john alden caravelle 42 sturgeon bay, wis
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shark, it's winter in the mid west. buy this book tonight. read it twenty times. go to the nationals and play hard.

my brother and i have an Ascow. hence my claim to be the fastest sailor on sturgeon bay.
i like to sail well. i have skills to do such. my vessels are set up to preform at a high level.

bethwaite's book will teach you to sail at a very high level. it's not just for racers, it's for anyone that enjoys sailing well.

half the book is about how the wind moves over the surface of this earth. you don't know that, your not even in the game.:cool:
 
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May 25, 2012
3,839
john alden caravelle 42 sturgeon bay, wis
my race boat was designed in 1902. 38' long, 1800 sq ft of sail. no keel. rolling down the bay at 15 ..... 18 ..... 20 ..... mph ain't new.
we love lighting it off. it's a hoot.

teaching kids in prams, juniors, flying scotts,....... that is so not up to date. then one wonders why no interest. those are slow boring boats.

i did not learn that way. i was trained on race boats as a little kid and we put the hammer down. those boats had no reef points. we learned how to hang on. and pump, as in hand pump.
 
May 25, 2012
3,839
john alden caravelle 42 sturgeon bay, wis
1611099725897.png


maybe if gramps was not such a tight wad, and taught the grandkids on their new boat ..........
 
Jan 7, 2011
2,911
Oday 322 East Chicago, IN
My short answer... Sailing is too slow. It's the "NOW" generation. "I want it now!!!" Instant on TVs, Always on phones that have the world at your fingers.

Think about this. What's your reaction when a webpage doesn't pop up? Yeah, that's what happened to sailing races until the foilers came along but by then the audience was lost and TV advertisers don't like to run ads on shows that aren't being watched.

Just one guy's opinion.
I watched 1 round of the Prada race (Italy v Britain). The boats certainly were not slow, but figuring out who is leading, and who can overtake who, etc is pretty challenging (at least for me).

What the sport really needs though is more NASCAR like action....crashes in the turns, rollovers on the back-stretch, and yes, more beer, topless hooters girls, and a burnout at the finish line (I didn’t notice...does the winner get to carry a flag around the course after the win?).

4AE86A0A-F643-430F-9507-6BB4A48E266C.jpeg 1F36B747-9714-45B9-A594-25A301E27E5A.jpeg ECBBB0C1-FA37-47B7-9EE0-094ED01322CD.jpeg

now, I would definitely watch more of that :cool:


Greg
 
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Apr 26, 2015
642
S2 26 Mid On Trailer
View attachment 189302

sail training should look like this. the kids will show up.
Back to cost. When I brought the forerunner of this boat, the Exocet/ B-14, to North America in 1987 I had to sell them at $8000 to barely break even. I sold a few but it was not the boat you learned to sail on and too expensive for your average person wanting a small boat. I lost money in the endeavor but had a lot of fun sailing with Julian and talking about flying into thunderstorms , in a glider, with Frank.
 
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Jan 7, 2014
254
Beneteau 45F5 51551 Port Jefferson
As a sailor who likes to race, it's hard for me to relate to a multimillion dollar composite foiling machine travelling at 50 knots. How do you think the non-sailing world views it? I never sailed until I was an adult but as a kid I always remember watching the Americas cup on TV . I thought it was cool, there was strategy, I didn't understand it but I got some of it. I could see myself doing something like that some day. I can't see myself double handing one of those boats in a covid-rules tuesday night race or cruising to Block Island with the family any time in mine or my kids', kids', kids', lifetime.
 
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May 25, 2012
3,839
john alden caravelle 42 sturgeon bay, wis
i'm a huge fan of the bethwaite books. understanding the wind is the true game of this sport of sailing. i'm a huge fan of the melges family as well. they have nice small boats to learn on as well. they have nice "pure" racing vessels as well. years ago we called buddy and he helped us find a nice used Ascow to have to rip up and down the bay on breezy days. knowing the wind from bethwaite and using that knowledge to catch the big puffs off the bluffs of door county and ripping down the bay is a hoot.
all that changed how we cruise on the old alden. the great lakes have such wonderful winds. using them to tour the lakes is great fun.

...... and we race every boat we see on our way ;)