In December 2011, a study on multiple sports in Australia found that, "no other sport is seen as 'exclusive' as sailing, and the biggest difference to the top sports is that [sailing is the least] 'accessible' and 'community involved.'" The research would be comparable in all developed countries. Not only is it considered exclusive, it is also considered expensive and out of reach financially for most.
With the “perception of this sport being unattainable to the masses,” I hope to destroy these myths via this blog and discuss the reality on how affordable sailing is, where the entry points are, how to take advantage of the massive “park” called Lake Michigan with 22,400 square miles of recreation sitting within a few miles of millions of people around Chicago.
Sailing is a community, of family, exercise, fresh air, sunshine, with most time spent in pleasant conditions, broken up by moments of intense experiences much more exciting than any theme park ride.
Many dream of sailing, and would like to try it out. However, there is no Welcome sign along the Lake like those found at an entrance of McDonalds and no yellow arrow painted on the pavement to bring you right in. So where can you start?
Amazingly there are lots of boats looking for crew. A bit of a cottage industry has popped up for those who haven’t sailed, to teach the basics and sailing language in a classroom, and then match you up with a volunteer who will take you out on their boat and let you practice what you learned in class. They call these Adult Crew Schools. Later on, there is a graduation night where the students meet boat owners looking for regular crew. Some may be day sailors, others cruisers going to harbors around the Lake, and others may be racing sailboaters.
You’ll learn between taking the lessons and buying some sailing clothes (deck shoes, raingear and gloves), you’ll be sailing for less than $1,000 for your annual budget. For this, the first myth is destroyed, you do not have to be a millionaire, just a regular thousandaire. The second myth is destroyed that it is not exclusive, it is open to everyone. Where can you attend an Adult Crew School? Explore these:
- Chicago Yacht Club "Crew U"
- Chicago Corinthian Yacht Club "Crew Development School"
- Chicago Sailing "Introduction to Sailing"
- Chicago Sailing "Spinnakers and Speed"
- Columbia Yacht Club "Skipjacks"
- 3rd Coast Cruising
- Close Reach Sailing
The Welcome sign is out, you now have directions on where to go. You now have an affordable entry point to spend many days of your summer enjoying day sails, cruises or even racing sailboats around the lakefront or even crossing the Lake at times not being able to see land at all. If this sounds fun or challenging to you, sign up today!
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