Thursday, 25 March 2010

Teenage Kicks

OK I'm over it, That event has now gone, consigned to the history books and recorded by an engraving and a few pics on a lap top, Oh and I straightened the trophy out with a rubber mallet. It was never was meant to be square.

This little class of ours is special but something has been bothering me. It's a question that Clean asked me in the final Sailing Anarchy Cocktail hour. That question was "what are you doing for the kids who are trying to get into Moths?" and basically it floored me. "I.. um.. take 'em out in my boat" wasn't a good answer then and it certainly isn't now.

So what to do? It's a truism that we loose lots of kids to other sports, but mainly street corners after the junior and the youth programmes have finished. Why? Because for a life hungry brand aware kid something from sailings antique roadshow just ain't gonna cut it.

It's the parents who have to get aware. The kids can't afford foiler moths, you can take them out as many times as you like and sure they run back to their Oppi's and Tera's with renewed enthusiam in the same way you drive home enthusiastically from a track day, but soon they are just too old..

So Mom and Dad, you've got to get sailing brand aware! Start buying up the perfectly good and very affordable Prowlers and Bladeriders that are now a few years old and get your son or daughter into the coolest class around, I promise you they won't leave, no one ever does, and in the end it will be a damn site cheaper than a Methadrone habit.

I had a great offer for my boat this week, so tempted to take it but I didn't. Why? because I will never get a new one probably and also because I've written to both of the schools my boys are at offering to coach the kids and do talks and stuff. I may need the boat as a prop. It's still not much of an answer Clean but its better than the one I gave you in Dubai.



Anonymous said...

Before anything else, congratulations!!!

As someone who doesn't own a Bladerider or Mach 2, maybe you and Amac would be interested in what would get me to buy a foiler, and perhaps my druthers might apply to others as well.

First, I'm not paying $10,000 or even $7,000 dollars for a used boat I might only get to use 10 times per year. A new boat for $5,000 dollars US will spread the foiling fever better than anything else.

Second, I don't need a racing boat. Vangs, Cunninghams, carbon fiber, multiple sails, etc. They just add to the cost and complicate getting out on the water. A top speed of 29.73 knots is totally unnecessary. Something which can reach 20 knots is so much faster than what I'm sailing now, I'd have to wear specialized under garments, if you catch my drift.

Finally, it doesn't need to be a Moth. For little kids, make something one-design, nearly indestructible, with rudimentary foiling abilities. Keep it simple and make thousands of them, leaving the Mach 3 and it's iterations to move up to when the time comes. You can call this smallish budget moth "La Mariposa".

For us old farts who tip the scales at over 80 kgs and couldn't justify a Mach 2 if we had all the money in the world, we need a longer hull and more sail area. Oh yeah, and make hiking out more comfortable. Just looking at you guys heeled over to windward makes my back hurt. If the Japanese don't protest, call this extra large moth "Mothra".

I realize my ideas might not sit well, but consider the uniqueness of your class and the rarified bubble within which you revolve. I have one teenager and one pre-teen. Until you build a simpler and cheaper boat, guys like me will be content sitting on the sidelines and enjoying the wonderful show.


Anonymous said...

What he said. Fantastic boats but can not justify spending the money on one which would be used as a second boat as I wouldn't have a fleet to sail against locally. If they were affordable for interested people to buy maybe initially as second boats then the fleets would build themselves outside the UK and Oz.

They really do look like the dog's dangly bits but unfortunately for now I, and I presume many others, will have to watch from the sidelines until 2nd hand and even new boats drop in price :-(

Congratulations by the way!!

Anonymous said...

What about the kids who aren't lucky enough to have rich parents? This is where sailing as a whole is totally lacking (not just moths). We all cant afford to join a sailing club and be lucky enough to purchase a boat. My kids would love to go sailing, but unfortunately we live in a snobby society where sailing is not accessible to people like us or our friends. (or even close to the sea) Maybe when sailing clubs open up the doors to the local community then i might give you sailing types a chance. No doubt your kids go to some posh school (apologies if this not the case, but I somewhat doubt it) where mater and pater will be so pleased you are giving a talk to the next world champion, but maybe you should get in the real world and talk to the kids on the street corners and give them the opportunity to take up sailing. (you might even get an mbe for services to the community). This would look much better than World Champion 2010 on your mantelpiece don't you think?
Oh well moan over back to my council house and Sky TV.
George of London

Simon Payne said...

Thanks for your comments, it's clear we need a lower cost easier to use foiler soon. Sure Moths aren't cheap but they aren't far off the price of a traditonal water pushing dugout that sailing parents currently buy their kids.

George, I hear what you say about the elitism tag but honestly there are no barriers that cant be overcome if you are up for getting your kids started.

Some sailing clubs have membership fees which are as low as £18 per annum for kids with free sailing lessons. The RYA can help here.

Time to kill the Sky TV and get on the web mate.

Your point about talks is well taken.

249 said...

Congratulations on the win Simon, but like others I'd like to offer some input on your piece.

As others have said, it seems a bit unrealistic to say that parents should go out and buy a good secondhand foiler for each child. That's half of the annual pre-tax income of the average family in this wealthy country.

Yes, a secondhand foiler may be only $3k more than a new Radial, but many parents and kids don't feel up to maintaining an older, more complex boat - and a competitive used Radial is a fraction of the price. And perhsps the high cost of an old foiler or new "dugout" is the main barrier to keeping kids in the sport and we should be looking to lower costs further, rather than amping them up?

Secondly, to insult other boats may not be correct or productive. Foilers and other fast craft just don't fit many needs. They don't really fit the clubs where I now sail, for example (world Moth champs have tried) and we don't want to drive 30 - 60 minutes throught city traffic to more open water every time we want to sail. If we did, and speed was the object, it's more logical to buy another Tornado or more speed windsurfing gear.

Not everyone is that much into speed in dinghies. Some prefer ultimate speed, and for that a cat, kite or speed board still has the edge. Some like cheaper gear because they have kids, a mortgage, or other interests. Some like simpler gear because they don't like bimbling. Some like a craft that has a more even performance profile, because when we sail something that really prefers strong winds, the light stuff seems more frustrating. Some just prefer something that is easier to sail because they like to concentrate on tactics; a guy I know will never be able to handle a Moth, because he's a surgeon who spends so much time doing things like volunteer operations in developing nations that he can never practice on the water. Why insult the more stable boat that suits him? Some don't like kneeling or standing. And some like something that is faster, lighter, tippier and higher-flying than a foiler (ie a waveboard or kite).

People aren't wrong when they choose to sail conventional slow boats; they are just intelligent people with different needs and desires. Why bag out what suits them?

Surely sailing is like everything else in life; music, sex, cars, drinks, whatever. Some like death metal, some like chamber music, some like techno, some like bourbon, some like beer, some like a sportscar, some like a four wheel drive. Maybe it would be more productive, to the class and the sport, to appreciate that other classes can be fantastic to sail and can offer great sensations?

Finally, why blame the slow gear on the teenage dropout rate? Just about every sport suffers from it - kids think skating is cool but 75% of them give it up after 19. The clubs around here with Skiff and Moth fleets have no better retention rates than the ones that sail slow boats. The classes I'm now mainly in are slower than Moths but have a much better teenage retention rate, so speed is not the issue.
To sum up - it's great you did so well in such a great class, but there are lots of other boats that are great in other ways and maybe it's wrong to bag them out.

Simon Payne said...

Thanks it was a good event.
Agreed; people aren't wrong choosing another class but I'm talking about specifically addressing those young people who leave sailing during or immediately after youth programmes end.
I think there will always be reasons why the status quo is OK, but the fact is that from what I know many young kids aspire to foil. Sure there will always be good reasons not to choose a foiler but, and let's stay kids specific here, when you get a young person with desire it seems sensible to match that with an appropriate offer if you can. Yes there will always be practical constrants too and price and design are barriers now, but that will fall and change and I think parents should think more laterally if they want to keep their kids sailing, and be more aware. For example I sailed 420's for years and loved it (in the eighties..) but I found myself thinking the other day, What will happen to the 420 when the 470 becomes non Olympic?

I dont have the answers, I'm just doing a couple of talks, but we need to think more laterally and whilst change always involves a loss the loss from no change can be greater. In this case kids leaving the sport. My old boss once said to me when he was trying to get me to reluctantly use video conferencing rather than getting on a plane

"When you need to you wash your clothes you no longer go down to the the river and beat them with a rock do you?"

It applies here. Si

Karl said...

The more Moths become like aeroplanes, the more they will be like - er - aeroplanes. Which is to say not mainstream kid stuff, and indeed not mainstream at all. You will give a talk and plant seeds in a few kids heads, who will either a)pine away for years until they finish school, have a job and can afford a foiler, b)start incessantly bugging their parents to buy them one, or c) start sending emails to class homebuilders and figure out how to make enough of their own parts to make it happen. I happen to want all kinds of stuff I can't afford. So I don't feel bad if kids can't afford esoterica like Moths - it gives them something to shoot for in life. Sure it would be great if everyone had access to one, but you don't see Hamilton or Button going on about making F1 cars for children. Moths will always be fairly special bits of kit. Those who can't live without one will always find a way to get it, sooner or later. In the interim, they can windsurf or kiteboard for a fraction of the cost and headache and still have a great time on the water.