Beginner's Guide: How to get into Sailing

Why start sailing?

Sailing offers an incredibly versatile experience to all who enjoy it – for some it’s a sociable and relaxing pastime; for others a sport fuelled by adrenaline, from skimming through waves to flying across the water in a dinghy. Sailing caters to all abilities and ages, and can be enjoyed solo or by the whole family. Getting out on the water is much easier than you think. With over 2,500 RYA recognised training centres worldwide, and around 1,500 RYA affiliated sailing clubs, sailing is becoming increasingly accessible to everyone.


How do I start sailing?

Your best bet is to approach your local RYA Training Centre. Structured training in a safe environment is one of the best ways to fully immerse yourself in a new sport. We can guarantee it’s the fastest way to quickly build your skills and confidence.

The next step would be to join a Sailing Club. These sociable organisations depend on new members for growth and survival, so you’ll be welcomed with open arms into a community of like-minded sailing fanatics of all abilities. Many clubs and centres also organise trial days to encourage new members – this is a perfect way to experience your first taste of sailing. 

Clubs offer a plethora of great facilities, with many offering dinghies and windsurfers to rent – so you can practise or race as much as you want without having to buy one yourself.


Is training required?

Obviously the water can be a dangerous place and safety is pivotal, therefore some amount of training is recommended in order to get the most out of your boating experience.

Over 165,000 people take RYA courses each year. These globally-respected qualifications cover each aspect of the sport, ensuring you develop the skills and knowledge to sail safely and competently in your chosen discipline.

The RYA’s National and Youth Sailing Schemes offer various 2-day courses for anyone wanting to learn in dinghies, small keelboats or multihulls. Designed especially for beginners, they teach you the basic skills needed to sail independently in light winds, right through to becoming a confident sailor in harsher conditions.

To continue training at a higher level, the RYA’s advanced and improver courses suit all sailing interests, from Performance Sailing to Day Sailing, or even Seamanship Skills.


What sailing gear do I need?

Kit will vary depending on your chosen type of sailing and the time of year:

Yacht Sailing 

The key thing to remember when it comes to yacht sailing is water repellency. Whether the conditions are harsh or not, chances are you'll be getting sea-sprayed all year round. That's why waterproof outer layers are a staple item to any yacht sailor's wardrobe, regardless of the weather. In summer, go for lightweight baselayers with wicking properties which will offer great moisture management. In winter, thicker thermal base and mid layers will provide extra insulation and protection from the elements. Accessorize with sailing boots or shoes, gloves, a hat and life jacket, and you'll ready to face the seas!

Shop our full range of yacht clothing here.

Dinghy Sailing

As dinghy sailors are in closer contact with the water, many opt for a wetsuit for optimal warmth and comfort. In summer, a Long John wetsuit and neoprene top are a popular choice; meanwhile a thicker wetsuit (check out our Thickness Guide here) or drysuit and undersuit will keep you sheltered from harsh wintery conditions. Neoprene boots are the most appropriate footwear for dinghy sailing, and gloves, a hat and buoyancy aid will complete your kit essentials in all conditions.

Shop our full range of dinghy clothing here.


Do I need to buy a boat?

No! It may come as a surprise, but many active and competent sailors manage to completely avoid the expense and responsibility of boat ownership. Of course, in the future you may decide to invest in your own vessel. Secondhand dinghies at local clubs may only set you back a few hundred pounds, while older small cruising yachts with updated equipment can be bought for around £10,000.

It really is that easy to get into sailing!

Our only warning is that you just might get hooked...


To find out more about RYA courses, visit

Shop our full sailing range here.


Published on 10th January 2019 in Sailing


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