Think someone earlier mentioned this point; or similar but ;;
When I started WS it was viewed as a cheaper ; less complicated and propbably faster alternative to dinghy sailing. I`d sailed dinghies for years and appreciated the quicker rigging; easier transport and convenience WS (or Sailboarding) offered.
There was no link or competition to surfing; kayaking or skiing.
Over a few years sport changed ; developed into more of an "extreme" sport ; which it wasn`t (most of the time) now competing with Surfing/Skiing and to be fair losing many of the attractions many sailors originally came to it for. (I`d raced 505 dinghies ; trailing kit and crew all over country) Now I`m back with loads more gear than I ever had with 505.!!! (wouldn`t go back though)
Problem now is
a) The convenient aspect of sport (One board/ sail on local lake) does not have sufficient numbers/ organisation to maintain interest (globally/nationally) for racing/ fun events. Freesailing in F3 is not going to maitain sailors interest long !!! Cruising on a board ??? There are better alternatives for exploring ???
b) The more extreme sailing (ie any type F5+) has many competitors(eg kiting/wakeboarding/Snowboarding) offering more reliable cheaper participation with quicker learning progress.
Ages I sail with vary from 72 to 40. All with 20+ years experience. We`ve had two newcomers in last year or so.One was 42 other 54 !!! Wonder what will be happening in 20 years time.. !!
The sport will never die out but IMHO numbers must decline owing to simple aging of participants. Are we loosing more than gaining ?? Anybody know.?