Don’t hate the system, embrace it >> Scuttlebutt Sailing News

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That there are professionals in sport is nothing new. Sailboats, yacht designers, mast manufacturers, etc. have a long tradition of promoting their products on the racetrack. The difference today is that professionals are… more professional.

It is now common for boat owners to hire elite talent to support their sailing businesses, and this trend has increased the cost of competing. But unlike most sports, sailing has always offered this opportunity to race against the best, and some amateur terams love it.

Henry Filter is one such person, and in this report he offers his comments on the current landscape:


I’ve always considered myself an accomplished weekend warrior, as I’ve made my living outside of the marine industry, but I’ve been to too many World Championships, North American Championships, and National Championships to name them all. I had the same chance to qualify and participate in a few Pan Am games.

I’m not mentioning this to impress anyone, just to give some context as to why most weekend warriors are out there and racing against the pros is a good thing.

Truth be told, I can count on one hand the number of national titles I’ve won over the years. As for the podiums, I forgot most of them. Suffice it to say, winning or the prospect of winning is not the primary driver that keeps me coming back for more. I believe most Corinthians/non-pros would say the same.

We do it because we love the game, we love the people, we love the atmosphere. When I’m racing on a sailboat, I can’t think of anything but getting around the boat as fast as possible, with my buddies. Each regatta is a purification of the spirit. No time to think about work, family, or the worries of your day. That’s about as refreshing as it gets.

It’s the number one reason I race sailboats. Here are a few more. Now, at the age of 60, I have no intention of slowing down.

Racing against the best sailors is truly rewarding! Win, lose or draw, you learn a lot. Pros and non-pros share information. Sailors realize that sharing information, techniques and tactics makes everyone better. Better sailors equal better competition and we all grow together.

I love how our sport is both physical and cerebral. It has all the ingredients for body and mind to function well in senior citizenship. I’ve met so many great people who share the same passion, with friendships around the world that have stood the test of time.

In addition, racing sailboats transcend generations. I’ve raced with 10-year-olds who got to know 80-year-old sailors by first name.

I have now been sailing in the J/70 class for 10 years, mainly as a Corinthian. Will I ever hire pros to sail with me in the future? Most likely!

We participated in the 2021 J/70 Worlds in California and I understood that there was at least one skipper over 80 in the field. When you’re 80, I imagine it’s quite difficult to bring your 80-year-old friends to come and sail with you. So you hire pros. Guess what? They beat us overall, and I say bravo to them! I hope to be able to do the same in 20 years.

Don’t hate the system, adopt it and sail against the best!

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