Published on July 27, 2022
by Nick Hayes, sailing magazine
Every spring, we round up our crew rosters for the season and put key sailing events on our best friends’ calendars. We draw a Venn diagram of shifts for running weeknights and weekends (since not everyone has the same work schedules).
We select an offshore team and choose new members who should attend offshore events, and we start asking guests to find dates to show up. And every spring I think about our gender and age indicators. Are we more or less diverse? Are we staying young (relatively)?
Of the 15 regular members of our sailing team, 10 are women and five are men. And our average age is down slightly, to 45, from the average of 47 last year. Importantly, the youngest and oldest of our team are almost 50 years apart and they are both women. Comparatively, when I was in my twenties, I mostly sailed with men of the same age. We had fun then, but the navigation is better now.
Our crew is a microcosm of national trends, which I have been modeling since the 1980s using data from sailing clubs, schools, organizers, boat registrations, associations and the census. Over the past 25 years, sailing has evolved into one of the most gender-, age- and economically-accessible hobbies in the country. An activity that was once reserved for affluent white men is now mostly for women of all ages and can be a regular habit regardless of income as long as you live near water in an urban area.
In fact, if we measure boating in terms of hours on the water spent taking a lesson, practicing a skill, boating, shelling, day boating, or doing casual errands, activity has increased by about 27% since the mid-1990s, although men are making much less. – Full report