Make Sailors

Sep 12, 2023 | Sailing Ecosystem

The #1 Goal of Sail Pensacola is to Make Sailors.

This means identifying pre-sailors and proto-sailors and drawing them into a development process that when complete, leaves them with the ability to independently sail a small boat or wing board.  So equipped, they are ready to launch into a new level of sailing which might involve sailboat ownership, professional sailing, or possibly becoming a sailing technology innovator or sport leader.

The methods for achieving this development process are not settled.

The American Sailing Association has identifed attributes of sailors, but there is no agreed upon or proven techniques for this transformative process.

Getting the attention of pre- and proto-sailors is the first step.  Public awareness of sailing has grown dramatically due to advances in the the sport that put high-speed foiling sailboats on television and in Pensacola, in our backyard (for Bay)!  Having a professional sailing syndicate (American Magic) challenging for the America’s Cup based in your community is arguably a powerful driver of public attention to the sport.

After this basic awareness occurs, almost every sailor agrees that their personal journey in the sport began with a sailing experience that was enlightening, entertaining, and inspiring.

This may have been a family or friend experience or may have come through a commercial sailing experience.  Many sailors recall their introduction through a youth sailing program, underscoring the value of organizations such as our own Satori Foundation.  Other non-sailors discover these experiences through companies that offer evening sailing trips, group sailing outings, or sailing demonstration opportunities.  These experiences demonstrate the qualities of sailing that inspire proto-sailors to seek more of these experiences.  Soon, the proto-sailor wants to know how its done.

The next step: Learning to Sail!

Yacht clubs and commercial sailing schools have traditionally offered sailing instruction but price and membership barriers can be significant.  Most waterfront sailing communities neutralize these barriers by developing a community sailing center.  These centers offer instruction and access to small boats with pricing that does not deter sailing experiences and sailor development.  They are typically operated by non-profit entity and collaborate with city, school, and community sailing interests to get more people trained and sailing.

Sailboat Access

Once competent with sailboat operation,  the helming of a sailboat becomes an obsesssion!  The independence of sailboat operation, combined with the experiential elements of wind propulsion, water movement, outdoor experience, and navigating across the water to a target of choice, all conspire to make sailing a steady pre-occupation.  The problem is getting access to a sailboat.

Sailboats are expensive.  A small dinghy like a Sunfish or Laser can seldom be purchased in good used condition for less than $1,000.  Compared to other sports such as cycling, running, paddleboarding or kayaking, this equipment price is comparitively high.  There are some beach businesses that rent small sailboats and sailing schools offer access to qualified sailors, but the most common way of accessing a sailboat will be through a comunity sailing center.  The small boats there can be rented at an affordable price, are stored by the sailing center (not the sailor), do not require transport to the water due to the location of the center at the waterline, and insurance and maintenance are not the responsibility of the sailor.  This apprach to sailing and boat access is similar to other ‘subscription’ programs and can be tough to beat for convenience and simplicity.  When the sailor is ready to up their game and enter competitive sailing, the sailing center is often the venue for sailboat racing as well.   Linkage to local yacht clubs is intrinsic, providing a path for social sailing and the sailing community.  As you can see, community sailing centers make a huge impact in sailing access and provide a foundation for sailboating experiences that move sailors to the next level.

Sailboat Ownership

When a sailor decides to make the jump into ownership, they have contemplated and are ready to take on the cost of the boat, storage, transportation, maintenance, licensing and insurance.  This may be for recreational use or for competitive use.  In either case, the development of our sailor is now well on the way!

Beyond Sailboat Ownership

Once in the owner-operator game, sailors can go in many directions.  Many upgrade over time to bigger more complex boats.  Others decide to crew on bigger boats for this more complex experience.  Some move into a racing class of sailboat and travel to regattas.  The most accomplished of these may pursue a more professional track aimed at a career of sailing.  Parallel career abilities can become entertwined with this new saiing competence turning the designer into a sailing designer, an engineer into a foil engineer, or a businesman into a sailing retailer.  The rapid expansion of high-performance sailing in SailGP, America’s Cup, and Ocean Race are driving unprecented interest in the sport which is expected to increase development is all of these disciplines.

The Sailing Future

If the new developments in competitive sailing, wingfoiling, and sailing technology achieve the market penetration that is expected, an impressive expansion of active sailing will occur.  This will mean growth in all disciplines of the sport.  In order to enjoy these developments, a waterfront city will need to have a growth plan to support new and ongoing sailing enthusiasm.  A community sailing center that can be scaled with sailing growth will be key.

Sail Pensacola is collaborating with the City of Pensacola, surrounding cities, surrounding counties, yacht clubs, and educational institutions to develop a community sailing center that brings new sailors to the sport from all socioeconomic, ethnic, racial and age demographics throughout the Pensacola Bay sailing ecosystem.

OUR GOAL: Deliver a fully equipped, staffed, state-of-the-art community sailing center to Pensacolan’s by Spring of 2025!




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