Sailing World: Staying Afloat for 45 Years

Happy Anniversary to Sailing World! This small, racing-focused magazine has been around for 45 years. But has it kept up with the times?

Sailing World has a Web site that surpasses other magazines’. The editors say it best on page 12, when recounting the magazine’s history: “Technology was rapidly changing the world of publishing…. Though Sailing World’s early attempts at Web presence were not rousing successes (then-editor John) Burnham remembers seeing glimpses of the future.” Burnham recognized the potential of the online world and encouraged the magazine to test innovative technologies. In 1995 the magazine went as far as hosting a live online chat with Peter Isler at the America’s Cup race.

Today’s Web site has much of the same innovation. Not only is the site itself easy to use and navigate (a rare commodity in today’s world of information overload), but also the content and pictures are above average. This is not one of those magazines that slaps the same stories from the print medium onto the Web.

A reader visiting www.sailingworld.com will find exactly what he or she wants to find. The most prominent part of the Web site is the feature box, an online database of stories not found in the current issue, complete with stunning photos. The extras included on the Web site make it more appealing, and make readers feel like they get more for their money.

On the site readers are also met with news briefs, in order to stay industry savvy, and blogs and forums, as a place to voice an opinion to other sailing fanatics. In fact, the lead banner on most of the pages is an invitation for readers to “be a part of Sailing World’s community.” Sailing World has indeed established a thriving online community.

There is even a section where readers can post photos to share, making their treasured 36-foot Catalina a star in the virtual world.

In the magazine industry, which is so focused on advancing technology and including the reader voice, Sailing World goes above and beyond the standard fare.

The editors even have non-sailors covered. If you’re not sold on the idea of sailing, a self-help section explains the basics of sailing, and offers testimonials from the experts on why you should start. Sailing World’s editors seems to understand that in order to promote their magazine, they need to promote the sport itself.

Some of the Web site even caters to readers by scouting out deals (a “Sourcebook” section is devoted to bringing advertisers and shoppers together), and most of the content is fresh, reader focused, and entertaining.

A Web site focused on these three things will help lead the magazine through another 45 years.

–Megan Preston

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