The last of the sailing hacks

This evening I gave a talk to the members of the Imperial College Yacht Club.  I love talking to sailors - especially young intelligent beautiful people fresh into near adulthood.  The fact that they turned up in a lecture room on a rainy evening to meet an old windbag was rather flattering.  We met at six and started eating pizza and coke before we started.

We chatted while eating pizza and it turns out that they do most of their sailing in Sunsail Boats and usually out of season. Twenty of them were out in the Solent over the weekend. They got no wind and sunshine on Saturday and overcast, cold and a bit of wind on Sunday. Blimey they do love thier sailing so it was great to be with such high energy enthusiasts.

I used to prepare talks. Then  I discoverd that the best thing to do is to get the person who asked me to come to choose the films they want to show.  I never want to know ahead of time what their choices are. It makes it more interesting for me and means that the course we take is more spontaneous. It makes every talk different - for me at least.


The charming chairman of the yacht club, Bilal is a diminutive dapper young hydraulics engineer man who has been snapped up by BP before he has even finished college.

I was worried that I would the dimmest person in the room but fortunately, my brother who works at Imperial had turned up - making me the second dimmest person in the room.

I always use the talks as a way of doing some market research.  Scattered among the audience were a few greys heads from the staff who had turned up the talk. I meet lots of middle aged to old blokes - but not that many youngsters.  We started talking about finances for the journey and I mentioned PBO - I held up a copy and the grey heads were all aware of it and a couple were subscribers.  I asked the youngsters - not one of them had ever heard of it and here is the most amazing thing, not one of them ever bought any magazines at all.

Some of them had visited my website - although only Bilal had actually subscribed to KTL - and he said it was the only thing he paid for on-line.  They basically regarded journalism, books, music and films as being free at the point of demand.

I am lucky that I have been able to get the magazine work - but there is a sort of fin de siecle feel about magazines now.  Just the physical feel of them - the glossy paper and high coloured images.  Sadly they are probabaly doomed when my generation dies because they will plain run out of readers. Their other major  income has been all but destroyed by the cheapness of on-line advertising. First the web ate the classified business and now it is starting to kill the market for display adverts.

However, I have the column in Small craft Advisor which brings in $600 a year and here in the UK Practical Boat Owner said that they got a great response from the four pages I wrote for them about shallow sailing.

Website traffic did triple in the few days after the item came out.  Hardly any new subscribers joined but I did sell a few DVDs - maybe an extra 50.  So the link between the web and print is not a strong one.

PBO has just asked me to do a couple of pages about the Duck Punt - so that is another couple of hundred quid in the kitty. It is odd going back to print just in time for its sunset.

As for the films Bilal chose to show to his fellow students.

make of that what you will.... but they laughed in the right places..... bless them.

Sadly getting their generation to pay for journalism, music making or storytelling of any sort is going to be an uphill struggle - not sure where that leaves me.





This is about Duck Punt films, Dylan Winter's Blog. Tags:

7 Responses to “The last of the sailing hacks”

  1. 16 February, 2012 at 10:21 pmApplescruffs says:

    Hacks will always be needed, and paid for; without editorial content a mag/paper or any media would never sell….We all know its the ads that pay for producing the mags etc…..but who would ever buy a magazine with only adverts if there were no ‘stories’ or editorial…(Exchange & Mart and Loot excepted….BTW…are they still around ?)

    What sells is content……would you watch a TV channel with only ads and no program?…..

    No…there will always be a place for a well written piece..even if it’s just to headline the mag/paper…in order to bring in punters to read the adds!

    Someone has to write the story.. …and he/she….will get paid for it.

  2. 19 February, 2012 at 11:03 pmSails149 says:

    ‘I asked the youngsters – not one of them had ever heard of it and here is the most amazing thing, not one of them ever bought any magazines at all’.
    That really is amazing, I guess it was a good thing you didn’t ask who had read a none technical book!
    Admittly I am down to 2 mag Subs but mainly because the others just sat around unread!I don’t get time any more! crazy!.
    My local club in the US has almost given up its 4 times per year ‘newsletter’ in paper and are now providing a PDF e-mail..which i think I have one that needs reading.When it was paper i read it from cover to cover..not now…
    i also get the ‘Molliette’ which is beautiful mag published by WMYC ~annually(no ads). That gets the cover to cover treatment. It has grown from single b&w 8 pages to 50 pages in full color. Worth every penny of the membership!

  3. 19 February, 2012 at 11:06 pmSails149 says:

    What happened to Yatchs and yachting….do racers still read it or is it all on line????w

  4. 21 February, 2012 at 7:34 am[email protected] says:

    I must admit that even as one of the grey haired generation I have increasingly abandoned buying print magazine subscriptions.

    I would find in any magazine only a % of articles would match my tastes whereas online I can search for the very specifics that I want.

    That said I am prepared to pay for online content of quality, including KTL of course.


  5. 28 March, 2012 at 5:58 ampolovna plovila says:

    Normally I do not learn article on blogs, but I would like to say that this write-up very compelled me to check out and do it! Your writing style has been amazed me. Thank you, very great article.

  6. 1 November, 2016 at 5:46 amSteve says:

    I think that bloggers often use guest or ghost writers to write content.Potentially then any of the sailing could be a source of income.What about sailing content channels for a video piece???

  7. 1 November, 2016 at 7:57 pmdylan winter says:

    I often get emails from people offering to write guffery on this website – it would look as windy and false as a fart in a gale


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