Instant yachting ... the editor's welcome to the October issue of Yachting Monthly

The future of sailing will be shaped by people, not technology. We’re all familiar with pay-as-you-go mobile phones and most of us have monthly contracts for almost everything – music and films are on subscription, cars are leased and houses rented. Meanwhile, yachts are still sold outright, at full price and up front, before potential sailors are hit with mooring fees, insurance, club membership costs and the rest.

For a pastime that promises freedom and adventure, that’s an awful lot of commitment required before you can cast off. Of course, for those of us already hopelessly hooked on getting afloat, it’s a price worth paying. In a world of near-infinite choice and instant gratification, however, those deciding how to spend their precious free time and hard-earned cash probably have five hobbies, not one, and they want to be able to dip in and out at whim before taking the step to boat ownership.

Crucial times ahead

According to new research by British Marine and the RYA (p26), the sailing community has its work cut out if it wants to maintain a fair tide of new owners, cruisers and club members. Let’s not dismiss these changing trends; far more of us are ‘pay-as-you-go people’ than we care to admit. And isn’t putting shared experiences with friends above owning material possessions an admirable ambition anyway?

Crucial times lie ahead for yacht clubs and marine businesses. Those that want things to stay as they were can expect challenging times ahead. Others that are willing to offer easy and exciting ways into sailing can look forward to thriving sales and healthy memberships. So which will it be?