Congratulations to Nicholas Hayes, whose book Saving Sailing was the focus of an insightful online Q&A with Sail Magazine‘s Adam Cort.
Nick’s book encourages sailing clubs with youth programs to rethink their approach. Saving Sailing makes a strong case for transitioning from a youth-sports model to an intergenerational model, an argument Hayes (an avid sailor and market researcher) ably documents in his book, which has become a bestseller in sailing circles since its release 1 year ago in October.
The youth-sports model, Nick notes, succeeds in engaging young sailors for a few years in competitive activities, but tends to fail to turn them into life-long sailors. The life-long sailor, he points out, is best developed with an approach that fosters a whole-family focus and mentoring in inter-generational settings.
Here’s a bit from Adam Cort’s Q&A with Nick, posted Oct. 4:
What has been the sailing community’s response to your book?
Parents, kids, clubs and small organizations embrace the concept and are already re-thinking their programs and making them intergenerational, as opposed to being segregated [between kids and adults]. Larger organizations and [the sailing] industry are resisting the idea a little bit, understandably because the model has always been based on . . . the concept of teaching kids independently, in a kind of a youth sports orientation, and hoping that they’ll stick with it later on. . . . But I’m very confident that once parents begin making the decision to do this, industry will be right there to support them with good tools and ideas.
Are you seeing efforts to get parents and kids sailing together?
Yes. I’ve spoken with about 8,000 people in hundreds of clubs and can document 60 such clubs that are doing new things, instead of just having a junior program on one end and an adult program on the other end. Organizations are re-thinking their model, which means things like shared fleets designed for intergenerational use, schedules that can fit into a family’s complicated schedule, and a social network so parents can start developing colleagues and support networks. . . . All sorts of things are transitioning as a result of this, which is really quite satisfying.
We’re gratified at Crickhollow Books to help support this conversation running through the sailing world. The goal for everyone: to build enthusiasm for the elegant, complex, satisfying sport . . . one that unfortunately has been decreasing in participation over the last few decades as Americans turn to easier, quicker, often more passive pursuits.