Our Lasering blogging friend Yarg has provided part of the answer in a perceptive post Sailing: Reports of Its Death Are Exaggerated. Yarg finds that sailing, far from dying, is thriving in his neck of the woods. His local Laser fleet has been growing steadily and he is seeing an "explosion of interest" in the local high school sailing scene.
So what is the secret according to Yarg? It's simply the power of a few enthusiasts to communicate that enthusiasm to others.
I find that enthusiasm for sailing is viral, but in a good way. It is spread by person to person contact, and a few carriers go a long way. When enthusiasts spawn other enthusiasts, fleets can grow very quickly.
He is damn right. Yarg, and a few others like him, are doing what is needed to develop and grow sailing in their area, by reaching out to others and advertising their ardor for the sport. Enthusiasts spawn enthusiasts. Go viral!
But how does this work on a global level? How does a class communicate that excitement about their activities on a national, continental or global level? How do they grow their class and continually attract new adherents to their brand of sailing?
Well, of course they use the web. And the reporting on the recent Laser Masters Worlds is a case in point on how to get it right.
Who best communicated the enthusiasm that surrounds the Laser Masters Worlds on the web? The answer might surprise you.
Sure, the regatta organizers did a professional job of telling the story of the Worlds. Regular reports were posted on the regatta website, sometimes while the racing was still in progress, and the results were posted promptly. There was an official photographer who took hundreds of spectacular photos of the sailing action and these photos were posted on the web too.
But remember the E-word? Enthusiasm.
The real feel for the fun of a Laser Masters Worlds and the sense of enthusiasm for the event were communicated by the sailors themselves (and a couple of their wives) via their blogs and some terrific YouTube video interviews.
Kim Ferguson wrote about the exploits of her husband Scott who won the World Championship in what was the largest and probably the toughest fleet at the event, the Masters Standard Rig Fleet. If you don't think that the top guys can also have fun, read Kim's account of Thursday's racing and find out who Scott called, "Boner!!"
Marc Jacobi was also in the Masters Standard Rig Fleet. He didn't do quite as well as Scott but he had his moments. Check out his account of Day 5 for a gripping tale of how hard Marc made Scott work for one of his wins.
Dr J was sailing in the Great Grandmasters Radial Fleet. He also had his moments. Read his account of Day 4 for a terrific story of why Laser Masters Sailing is so much fun. "My best day of Laser sailing ever!" says the good doctor.
Dave Sliom was at his first Masters Worlds and so much enjoyed the experience that he is already working out what he needs to do to improve his sailing for the next Worlds in Hayling Island in the UK in 2010.
Finally we have Tracy Usher, the president of the North American Laser Class, who also blogged about the racing at the Master Worlds. The tagline on his blog is much too modest: "Random discussions about an old and overweight guy still pounding the chop of San Francisco Bay in his Laser". Yeah right! Irony works too.
Even better than the enthusiasm transmitted by those five bloggers were the video interviews with sailors and others by LauraLee Symes. Now this is the way to tell the world about your regatta, and how much fun it is, and why you absolutely have to be there to join us next year.
I already posted about one of LauraLee's videos at Hot Laser Masters Worlds Interviews. Little did I know that this was only the first instalment.
In part 2 LauraLee catches up with half a dozen more sailors including a few who have appeared on this blog before such as Susie Pegel - a REAL Laser Sailor, Nils Andersson of Lura pensionärshemmet, dö i din Laser fame, and some incomprehensible Frenchie who looks a lot like my adversary in England Expects and other posts.
Part 3 has lots of laughs and way too much full frontal nudity.
And the Final video seems to be of a bunch of old drunks at a party desperately trying to remember something of what actually happened in the previous week's sailing. But Wolfgang Gerz did reveal the secret of how to win the World Grandmasters: run every morning at 7am, work out in the gym several times a week, sail a lot all year, and win every Grandmasters title in Europe in the year leading up to the Worlds. Piece of cake!
Seriously, these blogs and LauraLee's videos are a superb way to communicate the fun of this event and the enthusiasm that all these sailors feel for the regatta and the sport in general. Remember what Yarg said? "Enthusiasm for sailing is viral."
So this is what the old geezers in the Laser class can do to proclaim their passion for their brand of sailing. Are other classes doing as much, or perhaps even more, to enthuse sailors for their branch of the sport? More the point, what are you doing to sell sailing to the world?