If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all

14 02 2011

Sailing's Number One Enemy in SF

This was one of life’s first lessons that my mom taught me.  It seems to have been forgotten by many and especially our liberal media who likes to report doom and gloom, scare tactics and print false information.  All of these thoughts went through my mind along with alarm and a dose of anger when I read the quote below that was published in the San Fransisco Chronicle:

“What’s this America’s Cup thing? San Francisco devoted much official money and energy to luring this event to San Francisco in 2013, but what is it? We know it’s stupendously rich fellows racing sailboats, but we can see that every day by looking out any window. The organizers say they hope to turn an elitist event into a popular spectator sport in San Francisco. And if they pull it off, who knows, the Bay Area could land franchises in professional polo and fox hunting. Tally ho, bro!” – Scott Ostler, SF Chronicle columnist

This by a journalist after San Fransisco was awarded the venue for the America’s Cup, the most prestigious sailing event in history.  This event will bring millions of dollars in improvement to the area and jobs and tourism for a very long time.  This quote is so closed-minded it is alarming.  This journalist stereotyped sailors all over the world as stupendously rich and with the stroke of his pen ostracized a very large portion of the world from ever trying this great sport.

father, son and aunt in a Lightning

Sailing families we must unite!  We need to put an end to this perception once and for all.  Are their rich sailors?  Yes.  Are there  poor sailors?  Yes.  The majority of sailors are families and most fit into the middle somewhere.  Why would someone who considers himself a professional journalist(I believe they are to publish the truth) make such an ill informed comment?

I stroll through the sailing memories in my mind searching for answers, for the truth, for reality.  I find an eclectic mix of people and places and a variety of boats.  I have sailed all over my home state of Michigan and up and down the east coast.  I have met “average Joe” sailors like myself.  I met doctors, party store clerks, sail makers and politicians.  I have met salesmen, teachers, paperboys and students.  I have met mechanics, geologists and insurance adjusters.  Everyday people.  I met them all on the dock after sailing.  I have also met a handful of wealthy people but I can count them on both hands over a lifetime of sailing.  The average sailors I have met take up whole chapters in the book of my life.

father, daughter in law and friend

Mr. Ostler’s comment was irresponsible at best.  It also opens our eyes to one of our sports biggest problems, perception.  We sailing families need to speak out.  Make a difference.  Invite a friend to sail or better yet invite a journalist or a local influence in your community.  Talk passionately about sailing and open doors for those who want to try it.  Make sure the local sailing schools and clubs are known and available to people of all economic backgrounds, not just the privileged.  Grass roots change starts with me.

Many of the clubs and associations are family orientated.  It is more than just sailing, its old school when families played together and stayed together.  My daughter is 10 and is a pretty good sailor, her cousin is 4 and coming along nicely.  My wife is fairly new to the sport and absorbing it like a sponge even though she wasn’t exposed to sailing until well into her 30’s.  The common denominator is family, we sail together and spend much more time together because of it.  We pleasure sail and we race sometimes seriously and sometimes we kick back and have been known to bring the dogs along.  Many times I find myself in the company of not only my immediate family but my brothers or father are along too.

three ole friends

Sailing is very accessible for any income level.  I have sailed dinghies that cost less than $500, a really nice J/22 sailboat can be found for less than $10,000 as can a very nice Lightning Class sailboat.  None of these require a motor so no gas costs and all can be trailered to your favorite lake.  Doesn’t sound like a big wallet is needed here. 

Now before you jump in and throw me under the bus, yes there are more expensive options.  You can spend a fortune on a boat if you chose.  My point is this, the average sailor does not and is not stupendously rich.

I recall a sailing event I participated in last fall.  The most expensive boat was $6000 and the average fell in the $2500 range.  The group included a retiree, a teacher, a small business owner, a salesmen, a musician, a USNR Commander and a student to name a few.  Our black and white extremes are now a shade of gray.  I didn’t see any ascots or blue blazers with yachting insignia, just a bunch of great people enjoying their sport of choice.

I am not stupendously rich

So go out and make a difference, I am starting today.  I will spread the truth and drag as many unbelievers with me kicking and screaming.  Let’s get the Scott Ostlers of the world to pull their heads out of their backsides and take a breath of truth.  Take them by the hand and show them the way.  Take them to the water and wash their confusion away (yes a Styx spinoff).

A ten-year old gets it.  Shouldn’t an adult who has taken a career in journalism get it?  If someone in San Fransisco reads this would you please invite Scott Ostler out for a sail?  After he wipes the grin off his face from the joy of sailing on the Bay, perhaps he will print a retraction or better an uplifting article on the joys of sailing and a comprehensive list of accessible sailing in the area.

 As for the polo players and fox hunters, I would imagine they are little upset as well.  Tally ho, Scott.

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2 responses

14 02 2011
Sherry LaDouce

I always knew you we secretly rich and just waiting for the right time to spring it on people. As far as the 10 year old goes, she “gets it” cuz she’s one smart little cookie. The liberal media don’t have 1/2 of her brain power.

14 02 2011
Sue

This guy isn’t liberal media, he’s a redneck sportswriter who thinks only the big pro sports are worthy. His email address is sostler@sfchronicle.com if you want to give him a blast. I am in SF, but I wouldn’t have this guy on my boat for any amount of money. Well written blog, Leroy!

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