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Old 20-08-2015, 21:46   #1
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Sailing presentation and statistics on women sailboat owners

I would like to make an observation and see if I can get consensus because I will be the keynote speaker at a women's sailing event at my club next week. I have been trying to find demographics about the number of women sailors out there and how many (married or single) own their boat. What I have found is that there are about 16 million boats, though only 12 million of which are registered, and about 87.3 million adults who participate in recreational boating. Of these totals, 1.5 million (~9%) are sailboats and a survey from the Northeast found 90% of recreational boating participants are male. So the best estimate I can come up with is that 8.7 million women in the U.S. participate in some form of recreational boating, with almost 800,000 involved in sailing. Based on anecdotal information, it seems that somewhere between 10 and 15% of sailboat owners are female, which would equate to 150,000 to 225,000 women in total in the US. Would anyone care to give some feedback on my assumptions here?

The audience will be mixed gender and so it needs to be of interest to all, but many of the women who will be there are older and some are just learning how to sail. The main theme of the presentation is about overcoming fear and achieving your goals, which in this case is skippering one's own boat, whether they own it or not, or whether they're partnered or not. So I am interested in hearing other feedback that people might be willing to offer.

Thanks!
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Old 21-08-2015, 02:58   #2
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Re: Sailing presentation and statistics on women sailboat owners

15% seems low if you are including married couples as co-ownership and high if wholly owned by a single woman
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Old 21-08-2015, 03:04   #3
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Re: Sailing presentation and statistics on women sailboat owners

In terms of advising women to become confident and competent in learning to sail, I would advise that they take their basic course separately from their male partner.
I found that they performed much better with strangers as their support crew than with their husband...especially if older
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Old 21-08-2015, 05:06   #4
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Re: Sailing presentation and statistics on women sailboat owners

I would be hesitant to make assumptions about statistics.

The key to confidence is practice, practice, practice. You need to take charge as often as possible. For some couples, that might require separate classes (You might give some humorous examples here: If one of you tells the other how to do the dishes, separate classes might be for you; If one or both of you is a backseat driver...; If you take separate vacations... ). Generally, classes are not sufficient practice to feel confidence in a variety of situations - get out there and sail at every opportunity. If you are a girl's night out kind of woman, you might even appreciate a women only class or taking out a club boat with your own friends.
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Old 21-08-2015, 09:27   #5
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Re: Sailing presentation and statistics on women sailboat owners

Learning to sail is best done in a small boat (dinghy) where one is totally responsible to get back to port with wind, learning they can get almost anywhere without an engine. It is simple enough that they only have a rudder and a couple of lines, one sail, and probably a couple oars or paddle that are always in the way. They can get wet and realize they will not die. Confidence is something learned by overcoming what seems to be difficult tasks and surviving. Often one first learns how not to do things by accident, but survives to attempt it again. It is learned in all walks of life and is applicable to all tasks. Education about the subject and all the possibilities of failure is necessary, there are much fewer possibilities in a dinghy so it is much easier to gain confidence. One really does not need to gain confidence sailing (but it helps), one needs to gain confidence and then also be educated about all aspects of sailing to have confidence when sailing.

I would love to change your statistics by making one less unmarried woman sailor in the world, and I also have a sailing dinghy for this exact reason. My biggest problem is finding an adventurous woman that still has or wants young children and willing to help home school them while sailing around the world. Those would be kids that would have confidence.
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Old 21-08-2015, 09:51   #6
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Re: Sailing presentation and statistics on women sailboat owners

The closed Facebook page Women Who Sail, has over 6400 members, and quite a few of them own and sail their own boats.
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Old 21-08-2015, 10:02   #7
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Re: Sailing presentation and statistics on women sailboat owners

I am a Yachtmaster Instructor, aged 61 - I have sailed since I was a child, but only qualified as an RYA Yachtmaster about eight years ago, a Cruising Instructor 5 years ago and a Yachtmaster Instructor 2 years ago - My husband & I run a sailing school in the Caribbean and have 3 yachts - 1 his, 1 mine & 1 belonging to both of us! I have met several 'misogynistic' (anti-women men!) Captains and many unbelieving Dockmasters who always refer to the men on board before they are put straight! I am proud to say that I am now held in high esteem by all the yachtsmen & women in my area and frequently consulted on local boating issues. I agree that the usual problem women have, particularly the more senior ladies who want to try something new, is lack of confidence - frequently caused by guys who have assumed that because they are female they won't understand! Sailing has been a male dominated activity for a VERY long time - the upsurge in female interest in the sport has been led by a few courageous ladies, but there are a growing number of women taking up the sport - and doing really well! You don't need to be physically strong to be a sailor (although being fit helps of course!) but there are special techniques for doing the physical things on the boat that can be taught - and more schools and training centres are offering "All women" courses. Tell the ladies that if they like the idea of 'messing about in boats' - they'll love sailing! Good luck with your presentation!
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Old 21-08-2015, 10:15   #8
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Re: Sailing presentation and statistics on women sailboat owners

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The closed Facebook page Women Who Sail, has over 6400 members, and quite a few of them own and sail their own boats.
Thanks. I had come across this page. Yet this number (if they were all boat owners) is less than 5% of the lower range of my estimate, and I am sure not all sailors are on FB either. Funny how this has never been studied, that I can tell. A search on Google Scholar finds some historical information about women sailors, the US and South African navies, and sailing apparel (clothing and textile design research), but nothing related to the demographics.
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Old 21-08-2015, 10:23   #9
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Re: Sailing presentation and statistics on women sailboat owners

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I would be hesitant to make assumptions about statistics.
Ha, yes. Love this!
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Old 21-08-2015, 10:27   #10
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Re: Sailing presentation and statistics on women sailboat owners

15% would seem reasonable if you were counting women as co-owners, maybe even a bit low. But I would be shocked if more than a few percent were the sole owner of a sailboat. I realize I'm just getting back into boating, but I have never personally met a woman sailboat owner. I'm sure there are plenty, and wish there were more, but for some reason, vehicle type sports tend to be dominated by men. And compared to the 70's and 80's, boating in general seems to be on the decline amongst both genders. Too many other distractions in today's world. I restore old English motorcycles and the same is true there as well. The average age of today's motorcycle riders seems to be somewhere in the 60's and once they are gone, interest will steadily decline. Good luck. I hope you can turn some women towards sailing. That would be cool !
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Old 21-08-2015, 10:30   #11
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Re: Sailing presentation and statistics on women sailboat owners

Good advice, all! These are definitely going to be part of the discussion. As to misogyny, at least for the majority of men that I've come across, this is not the case. I think it's cultural bias, which is a hard one to undo. One of my 83-year-old mother's friends never learned to drive because her husband or kids would do it for her. I grew up when Title 9 was just getting started and sports were not really something the girls did. Most everyone I meet assumes that, if there's a guy on my boat, then he must be the skipper. We laugh it off, I introduce myself, and everyone is very complimentary and impressed. It takes time...
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Old 21-08-2015, 10:40   #12
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Re: Sailing presentation and statistics on women sailboat owners

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Originally Posted by gamayun View Post
Good advice, all! These are definitely going to be part of the discussion. As to misogyny, at least for the majority of men that I've come across, this is not the case. I think it's cultural bias, which is a hard one to undo. One of my 83-year-old mother's friends never learned to drive because her husband or kids would do it for her. I grew up when Title 9 was just getting started and sports were not really something the girls did. Most everyone I meet assumes that, if there's a guy on my boat, then he must be the skipper. We laugh it off, I introduce myself, and everyone is very complimentary and impressed. It takes time...
I wish I was in Cali to help you inspire women. I'm 72 and just bought my own boat. I just wish more women weren't such scaredy cats, they miss out on soooo much in life. Best wishes for a successful presentation!
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Old 21-08-2015, 10:41   #13
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Re: Sailing presentation and statistics on women sailboat owners

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15% would seem reasonable if you were counting women as co-owners, maybe even a bit low. But I would be shocked if more than a few percent were the sole owner of a sailboat. I realize I'm just getting back into boating, but I have never personally met a woman sailboat owner. I'm sure there are plenty, and wish there were more, but for some reason, vehicle type sports tend to be dominated by men. And compared to the 70's and 80's, boating in general seems to be on the decline amongst both genders. Too many other distractions in today's world. I restore old English motorcycles and the same is true there as well. The average age of today's motorcycle riders seems to be somewhere in the 60's and once they are gone, interest will steadily decline. Good luck. I hope you can turn some women towards sailing. That would be cool !
Women sailboat owners and even single-hand racers are "plentiful" on SF Bay though maybe not more than 15%, so that's why I'm leaning toward that number. Maybe it's just a mecca for that, but I'd be surprised if you didn't start to see them more on the Chesapeake now that you're back out on the water. It appears there is a resurgence, at least on the West Coast, in sailing among young people. In another 10-15 years, this will translate into more adults sailing. And the rest of the country will see the same. Anyway, I am hopeful about this. Sailing is such a great activity and I wonder how I had never been exposed to it as a kid in Florida, yet it still requires a certain amount of resources and access to the water. Not so easy for many!
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Old 21-08-2015, 10:44   #14
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Re: Sailing presentation and statistics on women sailboat owners

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I wish I was in Cali to help you inspire women. I'm 72 and just bought my own boat. I just wish more women weren't such scaredy cats, they miss out on soooo much in life. Best wishes for a successful presentation!
Wooohooo! Congratulations You rock. If you ever find yourself around San Francisco, look me up and I'll introduce you to the others here and we'll go out for a sail
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Old 21-08-2015, 10:50   #15
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Re: Sailing presentation and statistics on women sailboat owners

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15% seems low if you are including married couples as co-ownership and high if wholly owned by a single woman
The married segment is where it gets a little wonky. I know lots of married couples who co-own their boats where the woman does little more than hold the wheel under sail while the guy tends to something. I also know other married women whose husbands don't sail or who handle the boat as much or more than their partners. Have met other women who want to buy a boat, and if they do, then their husbands will be onboard with their decision. I also know a couple who are women (one of whom is transgender) who own and live on their boat; that is harder to compartmentalize. Anyway, it's just an overall interesting question that has yet to be analyzed (hint, hint to all you young student sailors).
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