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What is it?

  • Sailing is the form of boating where the wind provides the main force to move the boat.  It contrasts with power boating where a motor or engine is used as the power source.   

  • The craft can range from large, luxury sailing yachts on which many people can sleep, to small dinghies, some suitable only for one person.  

  • Sailing is something that is done on both inland and coastal waters.   More details on the different types of sailing are available from the specialist organisations listed below.   

  •  Although much sailing is done purely for fun, there are many competitions as well. 

Find out more


Royal Yachting Association



Practical Boat Owner 
RYA Magazine 
Sailing & Boating News 
Sailing Today 
Yachting Life 
Yachting Monthly 

Getting started

  • Find a local sailing group or club (see organisations above).

  • See if there are introductory sessions or classes at your local club, AE centre or nearest water area.

  • Consult books or magazines on different types of sailing.

  • Check in your local library/paper for more information.

What you need

Skills and people
  • Sailing is done by people of all ages and both sexes.  It requires a degree of physical fitness on the part of those active in managing the boat.  Knowledge of boat handling, the rules of water craft, navigation and the hazards of water is essential. 

  • You can sail on your own, providing that the boat you are using is not too big for one person to handle;  dinghies are designed especially for individual use.  

  • But many people like to go sailing with family or friends in groups of mixed ages and sex;  with larger boats the activity is often part of a weekend trip or longer holiday.   

  • Many sailors belong to local yacht clubs, where their boats are kept, and the social aspect of sailing club life can be important.

Equipment or clothing
  • Waterproof and windproof gear are generally required for sailing in the UK, and suitable non slip footwear is essential.  

  • So too is the yacht or boat, which may be hired, especially at holiday locations or water sports areas.  

  • Where boats are individually owned, special trailers may be needed to take them from one sailing location to another.  

  • Some enthusiasts widen their interest in boating to include do-it-yourself construction and fitting out of their own craft.

A place or facilities
  • A large enough area of inland or coastal water is an obvious essential for this activity as well as a place at which to moor or launch the boat.  

  • Boats have also to be stored or moored when not in use.

Have a go - get started now


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