Yachting Monthly - - VIEW FROM THE HELM -

The fu­ture of sail­ing will be shaped by peo­ple, not tech­nol­ogy. We’re all fa­mil­iar with pay-as-you-go mo­bile phones and most of us have monthly con­tracts for al­most ev­ery­thing – mu­sic and films are on sub­scrip­tion, cars are leased and houses rented. Mean­while, yachts are still sold out­right, at full price and up front, be­fore po­ten­tial sailors are hit with moor­ing fees, in­sur­ance, club mem­ber­ship costs and the rest.

For a pas­time that prom­ises free­dom and ad­ven­ture, that’s an aw­ful lot of com­mit­ment re­quired be­fore you can cast off. Of course, for those of us al­ready hope­lessly hooked on get­ting afloat, it’s a price worth pay­ing. In a world of near-in­fi­nite choice and in­stant grat­i­fi­ca­tion, how­ever, those de­cid­ing how to spend their pre­cious free time and hard-earned cash prob­a­bly have five hob­bies, not one, and they want to be able to dip in and out at whim be­fore tak­ing the step to boat own­er­ship.


Ac­cord­ing to new re­search by Bri­tish Ma­rine and the RYA (p26), the sail­ing com­mu­nity has its work cut out if it wants to main­tain a fair tide of new own­ers, cruis­ers and club mem­bers. Let’s not dis­miss these chang­ing trends; far more of us are ‘pay-as-you-go peo­ple’ than we care to ad­mit. And isn’t putting shared ex­pe­ri­ences with friends above own­ing ma­te­rial pos­ses­sions an ad­mirable am­bi­tion any­way?

Cru­cial times lie ahead for yacht clubs and ma­rine busi­nesses. Those that want things to stay as they were can ex­pect chal­leng­ing times ahead. Oth­ers that are will­ing to of­fer easy and ex­cit­ing ways into sail­ing can look for­ward to thriv­ing sales and healthy mem­ber­ships. So which will it be?

Theo Stocker Yacht­ing Monthly Ed­i­tor

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