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Old 03-05-2014, 20:06   #1
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Has 'Boosterism' Become Rampant in Sailing Media?

North American people might substitute "cheerleading" for "boosterism"


I came across this on Peter Förthmann's WindPilot blog:

"I believe the sailing magazines consistently let their readership down on this front. They seem to pass on whatever line the industry – the hand that feeds them – presents almost without question. Read most sailing magazines today and you will find little practical, well-founded advice, but plenty of reassurance that the modern designs of the moment also just happen to be ideal for bluewater sailing."

I couldn't help a wry smile, on the question of balanced commentary:

Peter's own attempts to seem impartial in his book evaluating different Self steering technologies definitely leave the accent on the word "seem" ... and even then, the book falls short of that limited aspiration, it seems to me.

I should explain that Peter is a self-steering designer and manufacturer ...

It is a fantastic book, all the same -- admittedly I did find one surprising and demonstrable error, not of explanation but of fundamental thinking, but otherwise it was a treasure trove, and I am eternally grateful for him making it available for free.

Getting back on topic, his quoted observation struck a strong chord with me.

1) How many people have come across an unfavourable review of a sailing vessel at all in recent years, and how many reviews have suggested that a boat was unsuitable for the stated purpose?

2) Have sailing forums like this become an extension of that tendency?


On the second question, my personal feeling is that this particular forum goes through cycles.

Furthermore, at present, it seems to me that it is relatively possible to have worthwhile discussions on fitness for purpose of series-built sailboats, past and present, without them degenerating into personality pageants.

But I realise that can change overnight. It probably takes only a couple of rampant cheerleaders to pop up on either side, for us to be back to virtual gridlock when it comes to any sort of improved understanding.
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Old 03-05-2014, 20:11   #2
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Re: Has 'boosterism' become rampant in sailing media?

Before I get pigeonholed yet again by our cheerleaders, a declaration:

Personally, I'm a modernist on the topic of deepwater sailing design.
Many modern yachts are insufficiently modern for my taste. As well as being manifestly unsuitable for crossing oceans, in my view.

I've sat on my hands when accused of being a fuddy duddy, just because I do not argue AGAINST full keels, attached rudders, double ended hulls, heavy displacement, and associated characteristics and building methods which a number of people at both extreme ends of the discussion spectrum seem to consider inseparable from a certain view of 'blue water' cruising suitability.

I don't think these features make a boat unsuitable, it's just they're not to my taste.

I do think they were a good answer to the challenges given what was available before I was born.

However it's not just the availability which has changed over my lifetime, but one or two of the challenges.

But it seems only reasonable to disclose the above, because while it's a source of amusement when people take strong issue with opinions I have not expressed and do not hold, it doesn't make for fruitful discussion.
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Old 03-05-2014, 20:32   #3
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Re: Has 'boosterism' become rampant in sailing media?

Myself, I look at the pretty glossy color photo's in the modern boat reviews and note the number of potted plants and glass ware on the tables, etc. Then I notice an astounding lack of hand holds, grab bars, etc and what that all means when the boat is healed over smartly. Then the lack of sea berths pop up. But that sure is a nice looking walk around queen berth.

On the plus side the modern cabins are light and airy.

I don't really consider a modern boat review to be any more then fluff and glitz. But then 99% of boats never cross oceans and 70% don't leave the slip more then 6 times a year. So light and airy interiors sort of work for most folk.
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Old 03-05-2014, 20:39   #4
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Re: Has 'boosterism' become rampant in sailing media?

That really nailed it, sc.

C'mon, OP, this has been going on for years.

So what's new?
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Old 03-05-2014, 20:43   #5
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Re: Has 'boosterism' become rampant in sailing media?

One of the few magazines I've found that gives unbiased reviews is Good Old Boat. But it has reviews, naturally enough, of good old boats. Most of the boats it reviews are production boats from the 60s,70s and 80s. A few are higher end capable cruisers. Always interesting to read. None of the modern high volume production builders bother to advertise there.


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Old 04-05-2014, 02:47   #6
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Re: Has 'boosterism' become rampant in sailing media?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Stu Jackson View Post
That really nailed it, sc.

C'mon, OP, this has been going on for years.

So what's new?
I guess the disease has finally
reached my part of the world,
and I don't much like it.

In fact, I've given up mooching
round newsagents magazine
racks and reading them
for free by way of
protest.

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Old 04-05-2014, 03:35   #7
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Re: Has 'boosterism' become rampant in sailing media?

Well to be fair, its pretty hard these days to bite the hand that feeds you...or to put it bluntly.....what do you expect?

The market for offshore boats is so small its hardly worth going after by any builder. I'm sure the bulk of even boats like Oysters sit in marinas. The manufactures know that few modern sailors have the knowledge to judge what is decent quality and everyone of them advertize their products as Bluewater Capable so how is the average guy going to figure out the good from the fair. Probably not on forums like this because as we all know everyone has a bias and no matter what new information comes up no one ever changes their minds. Mags of course are a complete waste of time. I guess the best is to hang out with a variety of experienced sailors and ask questions to at least get a base to start to make your own decisions.
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Old 04-05-2014, 03:58   #8
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Re: Has 'boosterism' become rampant in sailing media?

You paint a bleak picture, robert sailor
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Old 04-05-2014, 04:39   #9
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Re: Has 'boosterism' become rampant in sailing media?

Well Andrew I didn't think it was bleak, just close to reality. There was a time that magazines and news of any type actually carried news, now its entertainment and I think that is what people seem to crave. We all get in ruts in our thinking and seem at times to be closed to differing opinions. My Dad used to remind me that we never learn anything from people that agree with us but it seems to be human nature to decide on a position and then stick to it no matter what.
So lets give this some thought, what are the odds of a sailing magazine doing a story on a Benni 50 falling apart in moderate seas? How about a sailing mag doing an article on this recent Lagoon 50 breaking up and sinking? Not going to happen because they are the marketing arm for the industry and they are not going to be printing stories that scare potential customers.
On this site the Benni fans (I'm sort of one of them) will try to ensure everyone that it was past damage that caused it to break up even though the boat yards are full of bent spade rudders that didn't cause the hull to fail and this Benni never bent it. The Lagoon folks will drum up a similar line to make themselves feel better about their purchase...its all so predicable and part of the human experience.
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Old 04-05-2014, 05:11   #10
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Re: Has 'boosterism' become rampant in sailing media?

I am baffled by how builders are glueing in bulkheads.we used to pride ourselves on how we tabbed in bulkheads. Now we just mix up some goop and bed it. Such a distance from everything has purpose and structure. Now if it's open and light it's a plus. Bulkheads are room dividers. Boats are falling apart and taking on water and we don't know why. We have these building standards that everyone is quick to quote. Ohh my it does not meet xxxx standard. It seems like the standards are not working. How much input are the builders putting into the standard. My guess they have a vested interest. So the standards are sloped in there favor like the magazines benefit from the adds. The builders benefit from the standards.


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Old 04-05-2014, 05:19   #11
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Re: Has 'boosterism' become rampant in sailing media?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Andrew Troup View Post
1) How many people have come across an unfavourable review of a sailing vessel at all in recent years, and how many reviews have suggested that a boat was unsuitable for the stated purpose?
The Dutch magazine "Zeilen" once reviewed a yacht and found it so terrible that the builder had no choice but to stop building it... The review basically killed the boat.
Other than that I find that reviews are often quite balanced, the French "Voile Magazine" will point out weaknesses as well as strengths of a boat. What they don't do however is cater for certain prejudices...
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Old 04-05-2014, 06:33   #12
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Re: Has 'boosterism' become rampant in sailing media?

On this forum in particular, it's more like... If I or anyone with a boat similar to ours dare to criticize a different boat design or vessel characteristic such as the necessity of having as skeg hung rudder... The attacks begin. "My boat it as good as your boat." "All boats are the same except for the quality of the seat cushions." "Hunters are every bit as good as the most expensive so called blue water boats." "I'd sail my (place the name of the day sailer here) anywhere in the world with total confidence." Even though the guy or gal has never once left the comfort of their local cruising grounds on beautiful days. You get the idea... The argument gets worn and tired.... Let them believe what they want.... Right up until the moment they set off the EPIRB.

It's a new "right" in America to be stupid, and do dumbass stuff.
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Old 04-05-2014, 06:42   #13
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Re: Has 'boosterism' become rampant in sailing media?

As long as your stupidity meets the standard code it's all good.
I am thinking gorilla glue will be fine for my bulkhead tabbing. Meanwhile I need to pull out all the non tinned wire because it's no good. Even though it still conducts and with a decent crimp connector and heat shrink and electric goop the connections are not corroding?


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Old 04-05-2014, 06:45   #14
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Re: Has 'boosterism' become rampant in sailing media?

It was ever such. As long as media sources (including forums) rely on advertising to pay the bills, then there will be inevitable bias of the "news" that is covered. This is especially obvious in niche market consumer publications, but the effects are obvious everywhere now.

There was a "golden age" of journalism from the late 60s to perhaps the early 90s where reporting took on this veneer of being unbiased. It was never 100% the case, but journalism did a better job of serving the needs of the readers and views, as opposed to simply being there to sell us crap. The reason, I speculate, is b/c even on the crap-selling side of the wall there was tacit respect for the work of journalism. PLUS, readers actually paid for good information, so rewarded journalism that served them.

This respect is gone, and so the full-force of profit maximization now bears down on journalism. In addition, we're now into an era where everyone expects "content" to be free. You want a publication to serve the readers' needs? Then you have to pay for it. This means the average publication will cost approx. 10x more b/c as a general rule subscriptions bring in about 10% of the revenue.

In this brave new world of short term profit-maximization and "free" information, the advertisers have won. There is no longer even the veneer or unbias reporting.

Forums are really not the answer, although they are entertaining. Forums like this are just ways to monazite the mob. They don't care about the content, as long as it keeps coming.
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Old 04-05-2014, 06:52   #15
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Re: Has 'boosterism' become rampant in sailing media?

After pointing out that 7 lines led to a single winch, the crew could not reach said winch while the helmsman was seated, that there was no ventilation is certain cabins for when the AC was not running, and that the mainsheet tackle was incapable of trimming the main about 10 knots (a Hobie Cat tackle on a cruising boat, the boat show salesman stated the boat was marketed to a "different kind of sailor."

But I never thought forums were that way. Lots of opinions. If we all agree, some one changes sides.
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