Friday, April 30, 2010

Back to the Future.... a little late

King Tillerman has another blogwriting assignment.... what will the future of saling look llke in 2025 or thereabouts. One disadvantage of getting around to the topic very, very late in the cycle is that most everyone else has covered what I wanted to say.... but I'll say it again anyway.

Back in 1974, when I had long hair, when sunburn was a good thing, and when I also had the vim and vigor of a dinghy sailor in his early twenty's, I crewed in the International 14 Nationals, held at Association Island on Lake Ontario. For those old enough to remember, Association Island was the national sailing center of the USYRU (now US Sailing) for about 4 years in the 1970's. Many major regattas in the 1970's were held out of this rather primitive camp grounds. As we were winding up the International 14 Nationals, what class was filtering in for their first World Championship but the nascent Windsurfer. Already, the sailing media had anointed this odd looking sailing contraption, this surfboard with a sail, as the sailing craft of the future. I was excited to see first hand what this phenomenon was all about. My skipper, Eric Arens, and I happened to sit down with Windsurfer wunderkind, Matt Schweitzer (son of Hoyle Schweitzer, one of the inventors of the sport) at breakfast. Matt, thirteen years of age, blond mop of hair, Californian surfer dude through and through. We eagerly plied the Windsurfer champion with questions..... Are tactics different with a Windsurfer?.....What about the rules? Each question was met with a cheerful admission that he knew nothing about tactics, windshifts or rules, it was just fun to go fast and, somewhere during the race, he found himself in front. And the other favorite to win the Worlds, Robbie Naish, was another thirteen year old surfer dude clone! We walked away from breakfast chuckling and also shaking our heads. Was this where the sport of sailboat racing was going?

Well, thirty plus years on, the windsurfer has evolved, not as a course racing machine, but a wonderful sailing machine in a different realm........

Mark, Matt and Scott from Mark Erickson on Vimeo.

And the most popular racing dinghies and scows of the 1970's are for the most part, the most popular racing dinghies and scows of 2010. The rigs are tweaked, the hulls are stiffer, they may have adopted an assymetric spinnaker, but most of us are racing dinghies/scows as we were racing in 1970.

So we have continuity and innovation. Where do I see the trends in small boat sailing by 2025...

Multihulls will become even more popular. At my old club, West River SC, A-cats, Nacra 20's and F-16's now make up a sizeable portion of the racing fleets. Stability, speed, and the fun factor are all working in the multihulls favor.

And for those of us well into Geezerdom by 2025 and still wanting to bash around in small boats, I see an increase in popularity of those kayak/trimaran hybrids....the ones you sit in and steer with your feet, like the Hobie Adventure Island kayak.....

Some of the Baby Boom Geezers will spend retiremnet building boats and attending small boat festivals such as the Mid Atlantic Small Craft Festival in St. Michaels MD. I expect these festivals to increase in popularity.

Click on 480p for higher resolution.

I have also been famously wrong in many of my predictions.

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