Summer is absolutely our favourite time of year, as we all know the best place to be on a hot, sunny day is out on the water! But if you’re not a watersports enthusiast (yet!), it can be tricky to know where to start. Whatever your age, experience level, location or situation, sailing could be the perfect sport for you. Here’s ten reasons why jumping on a boat could be the best thing you do this summer…
Aren’t you sick of carrying picnic blankets, barbecues and footballs down to your nearest beach or park only to find yourself squashed up shoulder-to-shoulder with the family next to you? One of the great things about watersports is that there is so much space on the water. You can sail far away from the crowds and, if you’re careful, you can even take your picnic with you!
It doesn’t matter if you’ve got friends to stay, family to entertain, or are planning to have nice, quiet summer alone – sailing is suitable for all of you. Find yourself a single-handed dinghy if you want to work on your skills solo, or upsize to a double-hander if you have a mate or a couple of small children who need entertaining. With a day boat or a small yacht, sailing is a great sport for families – you can get grandparents or in-laws on board, and anyone else who’d rather stay dry.
Still not sold on the Great British Summer? No problem. There are sailing centres all over the Med that cater for all ages and abilities, with dinghy tuition and yacht charter options available, which guarantees you get a glowing tan as well as all the other perks of sailing.
With so many different types of boats out there, sailing is an incredibly versatile sport. Different conditions can provide different options, as the gentle sailor can settle for light breezes on flat water, whereas the thrill-seeker might want to push themselves by heading out on a windier day. Maybe you’ll start by learning to tack in a small dinghy this summer, but give it a few years and you could be crossing oceans in a 70ft yacht…
There are opportunities to sail at all levels, whether you fancy a gentle cruise around the bay or want to test your skills by sailing competitively, from friendly club level racing all the way up to national regattas or even worlds. Improving your race tactics will test your mind as well as your body, as you learn how to make your starts sharper and tune your boat to perfection.
Sailing is often considered to be quite an expensive sport, and although it can be, it absolutely doesn’t have to be. The RYA (Royal Yachting Association) has 2400 recognised training centres, which run affordable 2-day courses for all ages to teach you the basics. There are also sailing clubs dotted all over the country (on the coast and also on lakes – yep, you don’t even need to be near the sea to sail) that will welcome new sailors with open arms, and use of club boats and equipment is often included in the membership.
Largely due to its versatility, there’s always room to improve and progress in sailing. The RYA runs further courses to help with this, whether you’re interested in multi-hulls, learning race tactics, or even becoming a sailing instructor yourself.
Fundamental to sailing is an understanding of the wind and how to use it to your advantage to get yourself moving, but it’s not the only sport where this skill is essential. If you’re looking for something a little more adrenaline-pumping, then the wind awareness you’ve gained from sailing will put you in a great position to dip your toe into windsurfing or kitesurfing.
Remember the centres abroad mentioned earlier that could teach you to sail in the sun? They all need staff for the summer, so if you’ve got a long uni summer to fill, or fancy a break after A Levels, or maybe you just want to quit your job and jet off to Greece for some Mamma Mia style adventures*, learning to sail could be your ticket there.
*ABBA songs not guaranteed.
Joining a sailing club can be a great way to meet new friends and like-minded families, and the sailing community is not only huge and widespread, but also very social and keen to welcome newcomers.
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