Get Inspired: How to get into Sailing

Fast Answers

Why get into sailing?

It's a sociable and fun way to get fit and escape from everything in your normal life.

Who is it for?

All ages and abilities. Whether you want to join a crew on a big yacht or get a buzz from racing, there's something for all.

Is there a cheap option?

Small boat sailing is one of the cheapest ways to get afloat and many clubs have boats that can be used by other members.

What if I want a proper workout?

Some disciplines like windsurfing require a good level of fitness.

Can I take it to another level?

The majority of clubs offer a programme of races if you fancy competing.

Is there a disability option?

Sailing is one of the very few sports in which able-bodied sailors and disabled sailors can participate on equal terms.

Is there a family option?

You could sign up to a family sailing course and learn the skills together.

There's nothing better than being out on the water in the fresh air, having fun with friends. Sailing allows you to do just that. It takes you to places that you can't always access from the land, gives you an adrenaline buzz and keeps you fit.

There are plenty of RYA Training Centres,  and sailing clubs in the UK that run taster days which are a great way to get involved. Use the RYA's club finder  to locate the club nearest to you. You can also find out more via the Royal Yacht Association Northern Ireland,  the Royal Yacht Association Scotland  and the Welsh Yachting Association. 

Sailing

sailing is great fun

Sailing is the perfect way to experience tranquillity and freedom on the water. You don't need to be fit or able-bodied to participate, as there are boats to cater for everyone. You don't even need to be a strong swimmer, but you should be comfortable with being in the water in a buoyancy aid.

Sailing activities  include yachting, dinghy and windsurfing, but there are also disciplines which use mechanical power. Clubs  are a great, affordable way to get started.

Windsurfing

Windsurfing can be serious or more chilled out

Windsurfing is the fastest of all the sailing disciplines with speeds of over 50mph. It's often seen as an extreme sport and it provides a great physical and technical challenge. You can choose to ride big waves, race, or simply chill out and have fun with the whole family. The RYA runs course that are ideal for beginners via the National Windsurfing Scheme  for adults and the Youth Windsurfing Scheme  for youngsters.

Dinghies and Small boats

small boats are an affordable way to get started

Dinghies, small keelboats and multi-hulls are one of the cheapest ways of getting on the water and learning how to sail. They are easy to handle and very responsive which makes it ideal for the whole family. If you want to add a competitive element, you can get into racing, but equally you can just sail for fun. These types of boats are suitable for day sailing both inland and on the open sea. The RYA can help you to get started. 

Yachting

Yacht sailing lets you explore far flung places

Yacht sailing is a relaxing and enjoyable way to discover new places. It involves adventure, exploration, teamwork and fun. It's great for the whole family, because there are opportunities for everyone to participate. If you want to add a greater adrenalin rush, then you can try yacht racing. There are plenty of RYA Training Centres,  sailing clubs and companies throughout the UK and abroad that offer taster days, or you could book on to a course  to learn the basic principles of sailing.

Disability Sailing

The activity allows able bodied and disabled sailors to sail together

The opportunities for disabled sailing have never been greater. There are more and more boats which have been adapted to individual needs and able-bodied sailors and disabled sailors can participate on equal terms. The RYA has a sailability   scheme to encourage and support people with disabilities to get involved. Use their directory  to find your nearest sailability venue.

Sailing for kids

'It's not expensive' - Giles Scott's sailing tips for beginners

Sailing is a great activity for the whole family and although it's possible to get into it sooner, many centres only allow children to go on courses from the age of 8. Usually children will start to learn the basics of sailing in a dinghy and the RYA's Youth Sailing Scheme  is open to beginners. There are also courses for young people in windsurfing. Safety kit will be provided, so you just need minimal personal kit to get started.

Racing

If you want to be competitive you can start racing

Sailboat racing  is extremely popular. Dinghy racing is a good way to get into competitive sailing because races last for a few hours and dinghies can cost from just a few hundred pounds. Your local club  will be able to provide with information about races, as many hold regular dinghy and yacht competitions.

Coaching and Volunteering

learning to windsurf

There are many ways you can help others learn about sailing. From being a windsurf instructor to teaching people how to handle a dinghy, sailing offers many opportunities to get into coaching. You can also try Sports Coach UK. 

Volunteers play a key role in developing and maintaining successful sailing clubs and volunteering your time can help more people to get into sailing. Get in touch with the RYA or your local club to find out what volunteering opportunities there are near you. JoinInUK  can also help you find a club that needs your 'hands on' attention.

What's next?

1. Go to our Activity Finder to get into sailing near you.

2. Find your local sailing opportunities. The Royal Yacht Association,  Royal Yacht Association Northern Ireland,  the Royal Yacht Association Scotland  and the Welsh Yachting Association.  can all help.

3. Share your story  and inspire others

Are you inspired to try sailing? Or maybe you are a keen enthusiast already? Get in touch and tell us your experience of the sport by tweeting us on @bbcgetinspired,  visiting us on Facebook  or email us on getinspired@bbc.co.uk.

See our full list of activity guides for more inspiration.