This last weekend I was asked by a parent if I thought their child needed a new boat. Well, that IS the big question, isn’t it.
My dad started racing Sabots in the early 50s and was a better sailer than I’ll ever be. I’ve heard him tell his friends not to get their kids a “beater” boat, “it only discourages them”, he says… Well, I think the beater definitely has it’s place. And that place is when a child is trying to figure out if they like sailing Sabots. Why spend the money on a good boat if there’s a decent chance they’ll loose interest in just a few months. I do think kids (as when I was a kid) do really enjoy a boat that they can call their own. If you think about it, a boat (even only 8 ft long) is a major item and something they “control”.
Now, the first boat my kids sailed was free. That’s right $0. Of course it needed a lot of work but it was very much a beater. But as my kids enjoyed sailing more and, most importantly, found buddies in sailing, I could see a better boat would help. Yes, I do build boats so I have an advantage over most parents but I say any boat under 100 lbs. with a straight leeboard fitting, an adjustable mast step, and a decent sail will give a child a better feel when those moments come when they do “put it together” and they can see the difference it makes.
Once they are advancing up the ranks of the Sabot regattas and they are truly jazzed about racing then thoughts of a new boat could be entertained. I started making Sabots not because I say a huge un-tapped market but because any sailboat class needs an active builder to survive. Sabots do last a long time but time does take its toll and bad things can happen to good boats. If we don’t have a way to move up to a new boat then where will these used boats come from when your C3 or C2 sailor looks to graduate from that beater that got them started?
See you on the water, -don