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Is Boat Ownership Crucial to Sailing Success?
Sailing has evolved over the years in many areas, including ownership. Where young sailors used to experience boat ownership through boats active in their area, the trend is now for charter or club-owned boats to be used for youth sailing in the USA. The question is whether this shift could have a negative impact on the health of the youth sailing industry over the long-term.
Is Ownership All That Important?
According to Rich Jepsen, VP of US Sailing and former owner of OCSC Sailing, passing a ‘boat ownership gene’ down to youngsters may have been part of what kept the sport alive many years ago. Jepsen claims to have been one of those youngsters who were lucky enough to get a Cape Cod Mercury when he was 16 years old and that this was how it worked in the sailing realm from a social and financial perspective at the time.
Nowadays, young sailors mainly use club-owned boats, to begin with. While there is a common view that being given boats to use is part of the cause behind lowered commitment and participation in the sport, Jepsen does not believe that this is a firm fact.
A Passion for Sailing Can Out-Sail Any Boat
Rich Jepsen speaks of a former student and member of his sailing school and club who joined the school 20 years ago to begin learning how to sail. His goal was to eventually use his skills to cruise the world! After several years of education, training and practice on boats owned by the school and club, the sailor finally bought his own yacht, a Caliber 40. He fitted it and practiced around the local coasts until finally making the jump around a year ago. The avid sailor is overjoyed with his cruising adventures and has ambitious plans for future sailing trips.
Club-owned boats were this man’s start and his story is only one of many who have benefited, or even realised their dreams, through boats they did not own and may not have been able to afford. Jepsen welcomes thoughts and opinions on this topic at firstname.lastname@example.org.