Archive for » March 22nd, 2015«

Power boat grab: Is sailing lifestyle sailing away?

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. — The pursuit of sailing is fighting head winds.

Beyond the blow from the Great Recession, sailing faces pressure from aging baby boomers turning toward powerboats and millennials enjoying broader leisure options, industry leaders say.

The number of U.S. residents who sail has been roughly flat for a decade, with about 3.5 million to 4 million people going at least once per year and 1.2 million sailing at least seven times per year, according to the U.S. Census Bureau and research by industry groups.

That’s despite a rise in U.S. population and trends for the affluent to seek “special experiences” like sailing, Sally Helme, publisher of Sailing World magazine, said during the recent Strictly Sail boat show in Miami, the largest sail event in South Florida.

Richard Jordan feels the strain at his Jordan Yachts brokerage in Dania Beach, which specializes in pre-owned sailing yachts and employs five brokers.

His company’s revenues tanked during the Great Recession, recovered slowly from 2010 through 2012 and stayed flat in 2013 and 2014. They’re still roughly 20 percent off pre-recession levels, he said.

Yet even before the recession hit, the sailboat business had been declining.

Baby boomers are turning to less physically demanding powerboats, while millennials are less exposed to sailing than earlier generations that had fewer options for leisure, Jordan said.

At the Gulfstream Sailing Club in Fort Lauderdale, membership is down to about 90, off half of its peak decades back. And most members are older, even though the club welcomes sailors without boats and offers programs to teach children, said commodore Mike “Mick” Sazak.

“Millennials really aren’t taking up sailing now,” said Sazak, noting that some are put off by the cost of dockage and insurance for larger boats. “I see them up and down the canals in kayaks.”

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Iceberg 'road block' forces Ocean Race route change

ALICANTE, Spain (Reuters) – A one kilometer wide iceberg, which is drifting straight into the path of the Volvo Ocean Race fleet in the Southern Ocean, has forced the organisers to make a unscheduled change to the route for the fifth leg.

The six boats had already been delayed three extra days in Auckland before setting off for their destination, Italia in Brazil, because of Cyclone Pam.

The deadly weather system has claimed several lives in the Southern Pacific archipelago of Vanuatu and race management did not want to risk the $30 million fleet sailing nearby.

After finally setting off for the 6,776-nautical mile stage on Wednesday, a huge iceberg was spotted within 48 hours via satellite pictures.

Organisers have imposed ice limits that will force the boats to sail clear of the iceberg’s path. Crews will be penalised if they sail over these boundaries towards hazardous areas.

Organisers have brought forward the likely arrival time in Itajai from April 7 to 4 after the boats made surprisingly rapid progress through the first 1,000 nautical miles of the stage.

The boats have been cruising through the South Pacific and out into the Southern Ocean at a consistent 20 knots thanks to the effect from the aftermath of Cyclone Pam.

Team Brunel (Netherlands) led (Saturday, 0640 GMT) from Team Alvimedica (Turkey/U.S.) with overall race leaders, Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing, Team SCA (Sweden), MAPFRE (Spain) and Dongfeng Race Team (China) closely bunched behind them all within 63 nautical miles.

The fleet is expected to arrive in Itajai after the toughest of the nine Volvo Ocean Race legs. They must navigate the treacherous Southern Ocean and round Cape Horn before returning to the Atlantic for the first time since November.

In all, the boats will cover 38,739nm, visit 11 ports and every continent. The nine-month event, held every three years, concludes on June 27 in Gothenburg, Sweden.

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