As I mentioned in the previous post, the Millennials (ages 19 - 35 in 2016) are slowly turning the U.S. on their head. Specifically, they don't seem to be into owning big stuff. In the previous post I mentioned the Millennials are more apt to be in an apartment than a single family house with yard. They are not into cars like the previous generations. (WaPo had an interesting article about the hot-rod hobby turning definitely greybeard.) They are more urban than suburban and seem to embrace living small. Many reasons have been offered up for this cultural shift: the crushing burden of student debt in the U.S. has left the Millennial generation cash poor, and/or the Millennial generation is much more conscious of their environmental impact...
This past summer I had an interesting conversation with Mike O'Connor of the Larchmont YC V-15 fleet where he indicated that sailing dinghy ownership by Millennials was also down, particularly in the racing dinghies. He attributed this to several factors.
Burnout. Modern junior racing and college racing programs are high intensity sports. When a young sailor is subjected to eight to ten years of year round training, they are ready, upon graduation, to do something else for fun. If they do want to race, they want to show up on the dock with a life-jacket and race a boat they don't own.
Local focus. There is not the desire to travel long distances, boat in tow or car-topped, to support a class regatta. Travelling with your own sailboat to race against like sailboats is seen as more hassle than fun. (There is sometimes a fair amount of large stuff you need to own to travel, a large car, a trailer and you do burn a fair amount of greenhouse gasses for your weekend enjoyment.)
What would this trend mean in the future? An increase in community sailing programs with community owned boats? Yacht clubs forced to finance their own club-owned sailing fleet? A focus on local fleets and not so much on a national class? I'm not sure but I think the current popularity of the super-portable, easy to store, easy to rent, stand-up-paddleboards (SUP's) may be a harbinger of a future shift on how we approach dinghy sailing and racing.
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