Get Inspired: How to get into Sailing


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Ste Mason illustrates the required technique needed for windsurfing
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 RYA Northern Ireland, the RYA Scotland and the RYA Cymru Wales.


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. If you have never been sailing, take a look at the RYA's Get Afloat page to find out how you can get yourself out on the water.


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.


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

two men on a boat

There are many opportunities for people with disabilities to get afloat in all types of boats. Sailability is the RYA's national programme to support and encourage and people with disabilities to take up sailing. With 202 recognised RYA Sailability sites in the UK, there are many opportunities for disabled sailors to get out on the water, whether alone or in a double-handed boat. Through Sailability over 53,000 young people and adults with disabilities are introduced to sailing each year, with many going on to sail on a regular basis at RYA-recognised clubs and centres up and down the country.

Youth Sailing

Children sailing together

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

Sailing is accessible to anyone, regardless of age. Many young people begin sailing by participating in the RYA Youth Sailing Scheme,RYA OnBoard or through taking part in taster sessions at their local clubs. Many Training Centres offers courses for young sailors in everything from sailing to windsurfing, which is a great place to start.


If you want to be competitive you can start racing

If you want more adrenaline and competition, racing is the perfect option. Whether you want to compete in global yacht races such as the Clipper Round the World Race or simply go dinghy racing at your local club, there are limitless options. Most clubs hold weekend and weekday race series, with crewing opportunities often available if you want to try it out. For younger sailors, the RYA Racing programme provides a pathway from club racing through to the Olympic classes.

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. Volunteer Scotland,Join In UK, and Volunteer Now in Northern Ireland 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 RYA, RYA Northern Ireland, the RYA Scotland and the RYA Cymru Wales 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

See our full list of activity guides for more inspiration.