One of our favorite San Francisco Bay newscasters, Scoop Nisker, would always sign off his news segment with this comment, 'If you don't like the news today, go out and make some of your own.' This was one of the primary drivers behind Summer Sailstice. The general media does a terrible job of telling the sailing story. What do you see in the news?
What's the media cover about sailing? The wealthy, mega-yacht world or disasters. For one reason or another the press just can't see past the end of the pier or their preconceived notions to discover how most people sail most of the time. They imagine all sailors as careless, playboy descendents of JP Morgan. Or incompetants who recklessly risk their lives and call the federal government to bail them out or retrieve the bodies.
All sailors need to be 'in the picture' when it comes to sailing. Each boat is just one 'drop in the sailing ocean' but with all of us sailing together to make the real world of sailing visible we can, over time, change the perception and create a positive picture of sailing.
Can sailing do anything to actually tell the real story? Summer Sailstice is meant to showcase real sailing and real sailors on one weekend where we all do our sailing thing 'together'. We have to admit, watching anyone sail a leisurely afternoon on their Lightning, Ensign, Hobie or West Wight Potters could be dull. But if there are thousands of events, people and boats collectively sailing 'together' it changes the picture. Mega-yachts could (and should!) be involved, but the big picture will encompass the whole spectrum of sailors: thousands of boats spread across bodies of water around the world.
It will show parents who traverse oceans with their children…. And children who traverse oceans without their parents. It will show sailors who find a way to sail in rivers, lakes, and ponds, from the nooks and crannies of the Maine coastline to the expaniveness of the open ocean, or at high altitudes, or far-away latitudes, and sailors who sail in freezing waters or “bath” water. From day cruises to overnights, to raft-ups and BBQ’s, thirty-minute jaunts on the Sunfish to multiple hours of racing, the collective story of sailing is a story worth telling. Summer Sailstice tells it – and the media is catching on.
Watching one person run is boring. Watching thousands run is an event! Harder in sailing but possible with Summer Sailstice!
There's a powerful beauty to today's magnificent megayachts but, in the public media, they often 'blot out the sun' and block the news on the real world of sailing. Current media logic suggests that, since wealthy owners of megayachts exist, all sailors must be wealthy. Or at least that's a myth that the media loves to perpetuate. And we suppose, for most sailors, it would be nice if it were true! The wealthy also participate in another American pastime - baseball. Larry Ellison's large yachts often dominate the sailing news. But does his high-priced box at the baseball stadium dominate the news about baseball? If you don't have much money you buy bleacher seats for baseball. Sailing also has the bleacher seats - inexpenisive sailboats that any baseball fan could afford (Have you priced a day at the ballpark for a family of four lately?!?). But the public doesn't know they exist because it's almost impossible to 'see' regular folks sailing in the general media - until they sink or hit the rocks.
What could you contribute to changing this picture? It's as simple as taking out your sailboat when everyone is looking - Summer Sailstice. It might be an old Laser or maybe an old J-24. Maybe it's buff, new Hinckley or Alerion. It doesn't matter. You know, if we did get everyone out sailing 'together', the picture of sailing would be diverse and reflect the sailing world at large. Some very nice, expensive boats and thousands of smaller, enjoyable boat that cost less than season tickets in baseballs bleachers. And the six-pack you bring will cost about the same as a single draft at the baseball stadium.
Sailing at Cal Sailing Club is only $99 for 3 months ($89 if you're a student!) and that's for unlimited sailing. So you could essentially sail every day for three months or for about $1/day! And there are community sailing centers like this all around the world.
Don't like the sailing news? Let's go out and make some of our own. Sign up for Summer Sailstice, go sailing and, over time, we'll be generating a picture of sailing in sharp contrast to the stereotype. And if you have a wealthy friend with a yacht sign on as crew. Either way will be a great day!
This is nice but it's not news. Photo: Onne Van Der Waal
Thousands of boats sailing - closer to news.
Hundreds of events with thousands of boats and sailors - we're getting there.
There are likely wealthy sailors in this photo but one secret of sailing is that most sailors are crew and sail for free!
There may be only one person on this boat with an sailing bills to pay - the owner. The crew are all sailing for free!
Take out whatever 'yacht' you've got. It's all sailing and it's all fun.