How to get money sailing

something I've found out in my 1/4 century of life experiences... both sailing and non-sailing. Modesty goes a long way. No one likes someone who is a self proclaimed amazing sailor. it's been my experience that everyone who tells me they're amazing has little to no respect for the sport and usually can't compete at the level they brag about. You can be the best high school sailor out there and you still havn't begun to tap the knowledge base of sailing that is out there. Come frostbite in Newport... the top guys will show you what's up.

some advice..... go to your local grocery store.... buy a nice big piece of humble pie... eat it.... and keep sailing


Just sailing
well the school I go to we are 6th in the nation for high school sailing
Go find the high school that is first in the nation in football. How many of those kids do you think are going to have an NFL career? I bet maybe one or two. And that's for a sport that has real public interest and revenue.

Take your sailing skills, and get a scholarship to a university with a strong sailing program. Working your way up through the college sailing system is a necessity. You'd probably want to get a degree in something like marketing or communications. It would help you sell yourself to sponsors.

And study hard and finish your degree. Four or five years from now, you may decide you want to do something else with your life.
First of all you are as cocky as it gets, second of all high school sailing is a joke, third of all you werent skippering at that regatta stop kidding yourself, and lastly people would probably pay you not to sail with them.
You east coast kids got swept by three west coast teams.... and those west coast kids aren't even that good relative to the few generations before them. So 1st- you are not that good 2nd- HS nationals is pretty irrelevant in the grand scheme of things 3rd- Also, the A div. skipper at HS Nats didn't sail in the 2008 OB in the laser....


OK, guys. You've schooled er111a justly and adequately on humility, but the point has been made and this is turning into a mob attack.

Go back to his original question, How to get money from sailing.
As a reality check, does anyone know approximately how many professional sailors there are in the US? I know that many of them work for sail companies. A useful model would be someone like Greg Fisher of North Sails, who has been a champion in multiple classes -- Flying Scot, Thistle, Lightning. He has a great career, sailing in lots of major regattas, helping ordinary sailors improve, and all the while selling sails. He makes his money not by sailing directly, but by being a hero to the sailors in the classes he races in and thus getting people to buy North sails. Paul Elvstrom, one of the greatest ever, also made his money by designing and selling sails.
I like your enthusiasm. If you want to keep sailing and make a living from it, first understand that you will likely be scraping by. That is ok, because if it is something you love to do, the trade off is worth it.

First, go to a good sailing college and make sure you also excel in your studies and get a degree, as this will undoubtedly help you with both a back up plan and the tools needed to land a good job in a sailing vocation.

Second, keep instructing during the summer, taking seminars, and asking questions of those that are giving the seminars or coaching in how they got to where they are.

Third, talk to the sailing pros. These are generally a good group of people who are open to discussing their choice and what it takes to succeed with the younger generation. People like Al Terhune, Jeff Linton, Greg Fisher, Bill Fastiggi, etc. are not only world class sailors, but accessible and from my experience willing to share their knowledge.

Keep sailing and never lose your passion for the game.


Upside down?
Staff member
Right now we are in a recession. Sailing suffers along with the rest of the USA/World. But once the economy improves, you can try to find a sponsor. In the meantime, you can try to become a better sailor.
What do I mean with 'better sailor'? Practice, practice, practice. Get selected to one of the US Sailing teams. Finish among the top ten in a National (Jr) Championship. These are just examples.

Several people have emphasized that going to a good sailing college may help. Agreed, but I want to emphasize that going to a good college may even be better. The Ivy League schools don't hand out sailing scholarships. Yet, the Yale ladies just won the National Championship. Harvard didn't do badly either. MIT has a nice sailing program. These are some examples from the East Coast, but there are stellar colleges in the Mid-West and the West as well with fine sailing programs.

Therefore, hit the books, get your SAT scores up and take the AP exams. Do community service. Spread your wings, if at all possible. And don't loose your enthusiasm for sailing. I do like that, and some entrepreneurial thinking is good :D.
Did you ever think that the reason for that can be linked back to the fact that sailing is generally a sport for the wealthy? Many, if not most good/top sailors come from wealthy families.

What kind of people go to Ivy League schools? Really smart people and really rich people.

There's bound to be overlap.
You can make money in sailing and you don't have to be "amazing" to do it. Of course being amazing helps. You will need to promote yourself (some of your mistakes in this area have already been discussed) . Approach your reggattas and even your casual trips to sailing venues as professional engagements. Everyone you sail with or against is a potential customer or employer. At some point you need to decide whether you want to design, build, maintain, train, promote, report, or?? There are lots of different ways to work "make money" in the sailing industry. At this stage in you life I would encourage you to continue your education and build a good reputation for yourself. People like to work with people they respect.

good luck!
just go sailing and work hard. if making money is a factor you got no chance. the olympic guys i have talked to have worked themselves into debt pretty well. the people that make money would be doing the same thing if the money was not there.

on another note just be happy this did not go down on sailing anarchy
just go sailing and work hard. if making money is a factor you got no chance. the olympic guys i have talked to have worked themselves into debt pretty well. the people that make money would be doing the same thing if the money was not there.

on another note just be happy this did not go down on sailing anarchy

Well put Gordo... this woulda gotten way out of hand on Sailing Anarchy
I don't know how things work in the US but I imagine that people who pay towards sailing want pretty much the same wherever.

To teach and be an instructor you do not need to be a particularly good sailor and racing is pretty much irrelevant. You need to be able to teach. It is not a get rich quick and is not as much fun as your own sailing/racing. Doing it for an extended period can get a bit of a chore (as can being a dentist, salesman, truck driver, etc.)

Those who sponsor tend to want something for their money. Few companies give money and just hope the recipient has a good time with it. Small sums (pocket money levels) can be happy with a logo on a sail of hull, but when you get larger sums (maybe even up to survival income levels) they will often want PR. For the PR you not only need results but also need to be able to interview very well. Without wanting to re-visit the earlier theme of this thread, how you come across off the water (either accidentally or deliberately) is critical. There are plenty of good sailors but only a few can provide the other aspects a significant sponsor would be seeking.

Personally I would suggest continuing your education as far as you can take it. Whatever happens with your sailing career you can be 100% sure the teaching/sponsorship will not see you through your working life. The time spent in education will serve not only provide you with a 2nd choice career but will also broaden and strengthen your experience making getting sponsorship easier. I'm sure you can find subjects to study that can overlap with sailing (e.g. look at the career of Michael Blackburn (Bass Straight crossing in a Laser)).

I am speaking from the limited experience of a company that has considered sponsoring sailing not from being a professional in the sport (or at being at a particularly high level in the sport - at the other end of the scale in fact). Certainly (and without visiting Page 1 of this thread) how you come across is very very important and that is more than regretting saying the wrong words but is a state of mind.