Sailing is never going to float Ed Miliband’s boat
Well, he can go insert it where the sun never shines. RKJ agrees:
Indeed, this week Ed Miliband, as part of his return-to-socialism speech, claimed that our economic recovery is only helping the elite, declaring: “They used to say: ‘A rising tide lifts all boats.’ Now the rising tide just seems to lift yachts.”
It was a clever line and received a hearty laugh from the Labour faithful. But it has upset the millions of ordinary sailors in this island nation. Not least, Sir Robin Knox-Johnston, the first man to sail solo non-stop around the world, who took to Radio 4’s Today to complain.
“I could run a yacht for less than it would cost you to watch a football team for a year. This is ridiculous. It’s like saying that just because some people own Rolls-Royces, every driver is elitist. It’s nonsense. The strength of sailing is in its sailing clubs.”
One definition of yacht is “any boat used for pleasure” – which could be anything from a 7-ft long Optimist used by a child learning to sail, to the £6 million, 72-ft AC72 hydrofoil that Sir Ben Ainslie sailed to victory in this week’s America’s Cup.
But it has become a loaded term. “The problem is that politicians hear ‘yacht’ and they think Monte Carlo,” says Sir Robin. “Especially politicians of the Left-wing persuasion.”
Sailing has been priced out, it’s true, by the competitive types in pursuit of speed and modern material costs are excessive, plus there is a mentality that you must have those.
Sorry, they’re not necessary – wood is perfectly good and dacron or even canvas. Other materials are fine – why not?
RKJ is right about the appeal of boats and sailing in particular – it’s for everyone. I could design and get you on the water for £4000 in a 20 footer and that’s a weekend cruiser. An off the beach would be less.
If sailing is lost from people’s notion of achievability, then it’s the same as riding your bike and climbing trees, conkers etc. being lost.
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