Craig Leweck, editor and publisher of top sailing news outlet Scuttlebutt Sailing News, joins us to talk about a variety of topics in the sport of sailing including his experience sailing Snipes, a day in the life of Scuttlebutt Sailing News, and his outlook on some controversial topics in the industry.
It’s a dreary day in San Diego with some rain showers in the mid 60’s. This weekend, the Children’s Christmas Party and Santa Brunch gave us a taste of winter and the holiday with an import of snow and children’s sledding gear. Sailing wise, Jim Madden’s Stark Raving Mad VII took first overall at the 2018 Hot Rum Series. Alec Oberschmidt’s Staghound got second with only a few points to spare. Last weekend was PC Nationals with six boats. Tom Hurlburt’s Skylark took first with a picket fence, winning every race in the regatta.
Host Alli Bell kicks off the conversation asking Craig how he got into sailing. Craig begins be telling us how he grew up at California Yacht Club and the reasons that he stuck with sailing including an active keelboat program and successful sailors in his presence. He reflects on some of his memories racing Hobie 16’s, windsurfers, Pendragon and the variety of opportunities he had to explore the different aspects of the sport.
“Not every kid loves to do one thing. So knowing how many things there are and how to pursue them is really important,” he says.
Craig explains how he got into sailing Snipes, some of his successes in the class, and his exposure to sailing in a variety of environments all over the country. When Craig first arrived to San Diego in 1985, he began working for Mark Reynolds. He tells stories about his experiences working for Mark before transitioning into how he got started with Scuttlebutt Sailing News. He explains how his father started the business at the beginning of the internet, how the news site grew nationwide and how Craig got involved in the business. He speaks a bit about his role in the publication and how he has continued to build it into what it is today.
Craig talks about some stories that stand out to him, his role on the 2016 Olympics communications team, and how to make your sailing events more interesting. “Races that are more interesting to watch generally aren’t as much fun to sail in,” he says.
Scuttlebutt published an article last year asking “Can standards get so high that people aren’t willing to make the commitment?” Craig responses with his opinions on the costs of the sport including money, time, commitment and effort. He emphasizes to importance in listening to the amateurs of the sport.
Craig speaks on some of the strategies for covering events and how to create an interest using examples from the Rolex Sydney Hobart Race. Alli mentions that many audiences watch the races using the YB Trackers, a topic that was covered in a previous Sailcast episode with Chris and John Busch. Craig tells his opinion on the YB Trackers, how it plays a role in keeping the sport safer, and the struggles of the trackers from a coverage standpoint.
Alli and Craig cover some of the other safety issues in sailing, particularly speed, and thoughts on how to prevent the potential injury and death that come with faster boats.
“As our sport has been professionalized, and the skill level increases (for a fee), boats have gotten trickier to sail. As a result, it’s gotten harder for normal desk jockeys to sail them.”
The two finish their conversation speaking about Craig’s involvement in choosing the Rolex Yachtsman and Yachtswoman of the Year as well as his role in the US Sailing Hall of Fame.