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Are You Seeking Notoriety as a Sailor?

Back in the late 1980s — not long after Dennis Conner was victorious in Fremantle and brought the America’s Cup to the White House — we remember hearing about some obscure survey asking Americans to name sailors. To our recollection, the majority could name only two: The first was Popeye, followed distantly by the newly famous-ish Conner.

The February 16, 1987, cover of Sports Illustrated. (When else has the magazine featured sailing on its cover? Anyone?)
© 2020 James Drake/ Sports Illustrated via Getty Images Cove

Like mountains for climbers, so too is the obviousness of the wind and sea for sailors. Those of us dedicated to the sport and lifestyle are not likely seeking notoriety, or even acceptance.

Or are we?

Do you ever wish that sailing here in the United States were more mainstream, as in France or Australia? Do you wish that your sailing heroes and top-level ‘ocean athletes’ would get the recognition they both have earned and deserve?

As it turns out, Popeye the Sailor celebrated his 91st birthday in January. The character first appeared in the daily King Features comic strip Thimble Theatre on January 17, 1929. For Americans, Popeye is perhaps the most recognizable sailor among the non-sailing public.
© 2020

Or, are you happy with sailing’s American obscurity?

There is a class of sailing billionaires who have tried to hook a mainstream sailing audience with speed. But in milking every last knot out of the boats, much — if not all — of sailing’s nuances have been lost to the allure of going as fast as possible.
© 2020 Latitude 38 Media LLC / Tim

Just wondering. Please comment below, or write us here.


  1. Bill Hartman 3 years ago

    Jack Nickelson, sailor, ’73 The Last Detail.

  2. Eric Rouzee 3 years ago

    Personally, I’m not worried about the “obscurity” of sailing. It’s a unique past time, whether cruising or racing. I did enjoy the beginning of the article, and remembering DC bringing the Cup back up. For me personally, those were the greatest moments and era of the America’s Cup. The recent quest for ungodly speed in order to hopefully pull in television viewers has, in my humble opinion, left the AC with an emptier soul.

    Sailling isn’t NASCAR or the NFL. And that’s fine.

  3. Kelvin D. Meeks 3 years ago

    To attract the largest audience, may I suggest [snicker] two words: “Demolition Derby”

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