Have you ever wondered how pirates can survive in the sea for weeks after weeks, or how it would be to glide over the water with the help of only the natural elements? No modern technology, no harmful fuels, and absolutely organic? We don’t know about you, but we surely have and pretty much found the answer to all our wonderings! Sailing is a practice as old as time. From the rudimentary floating rafts with masts to huge ships that need full crews to manoeuvre through the winds across oceans, sailing has been a primary form of transportation and exploration since the dawn of civilization.

Yachting, sailing or sailboat racing consists of an ocean-borne craft that can be controlled or manoeuvred with the help of a fabric sail that arrests the wind in order to provide movement to the craft. Sailing requires extensive knowledge of the workings of a sailboat and skill to navigate the vessel through challenging and difficult oceanic conditions. Sailboat racing is done in two categories: class and handicap. In the former, all boats are roughly alike, with the first boat to the finish winning. In the latter, boats of differing type race against each other, with the scores decided according to each boat’s handicap (computed either before or after the race). The number of competitors in each boat varies from one (single-person dinghy racing) to crews of up to 20. Other types of sailing include kitesurfing and windsurfing.

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History of Sailing

Over the ages, sailing has been used by civilizations as a mode of transport, trade, exploration and even combat (read: pirates. Or wait, the Navy!?). Different structures, methods and sailboat engineering have been used across civilizations and ages in order to perfect the art of sailing over waters. It wasn’t until the seventeenth century that sailing as a sport or recreational activity was recognized in the Netherlands. This thought didn’t take long to travel through Europe and then to the rest of the world. The first yacht club was started in Cork, Ireland in 1720 which was succeeded by one of the most famous yacht clubs- The Royal Yacht Club in England, established in 1815. Yachting as a sport really took off after that and is equally practised and enjoyed today, if not more.


Sailing in India

India’s massive coastline, with the Bay of Bengal on one side and the Arabian Sea on the other, has provided for an opulent seafaring culture throughout centuries. The colonisers with them brought the tradition of recreational sailing with the first-ever race being organised in Bombay, 1830. Calcutta (Kolkata), Bangalore, Barrackpore and Madras (Chennai) served as the five major sailing clubs before the independence of India in 1947. Today, there are numerous sailing clubs across Mumbai, Kerala, Goa, Pune, Hyderabad, Chennai and Bhopal.


Popular Sailing Destinations in India


Probably not the most common sailing destinations in India, Nainital is known for its mesmerising Nani Lake flanked by Kumaoni hills on its sides. Though more popular for boating or canoeing, the Boat House Club of the town provides sailing experiences for both members and tourists alike!


As has been said earlier, what is Goa if not for its watersports! Being one of the most loved beach destinations of India, Goa has is now also a hub for all those looking to try their hands of watersports. Be it windsurfing or parasailing or kayaking, you name it and Goa’s got it. It is no surprise then, that places like Dona Paula provide one of the best sailing experiences in India. Sailing up the Zuari River, you can even watch crocodiles sunbathing in the mudflats here. Couple this with some snorkelling and you have yourself a full adventure package!


Located just beside Mumbai, Mandwa is a small town known for some of the best watersports in Maharashtra. Starting from Mandwa Beach, there can be perhaps nothing better than setting sail over the mighty Arabian Sea, rocking in your boat gently along the waves and going wherever the winds take you!


The City of Dreams with its skyline dotted with buildings touching the sky, Mumbai is a haven for sailing enthusiasts. Most sailing experiences in the city begin from Gateway of India throughout the day where sailors hop on to their sailing yachts and cruise deep into the Arabian Sea leaving the city and its skyscrapers behind far into the distance!


The Royal Madras Yacht Club is one of the most esteemed yacht clubs of the country and is also the first sailing club of South India. The sailors at the club have been a part of the National Squad and have represented the country in several international events. The RMYC knows how to cater to the needs of its guests and makes sure that the guests have an unforgettable sailing experience cruising through the Bay of  Bengal!


The Yacht Club of Hyderabad is an elite yacht club and offers splendid sailing experiences, as well as kayaking and a few other watersports. The Club has several yachts of various sizes imported from various parts of the world to suit the different needs of different guests and provide the optimal sailing experience through the Bay of Bengal!


Apex Body and Certification

The global sailing association is known as the Royal Yachting Association (RYA) based out of the United Kingdom. The RYA overlooks all international sailing events as well as gives safety guidelines for the sport. The international sailing license is also issued by the RYA. On the other hand, the Yachting Association of India is the governing body for the sport in the country, and for windsurfing and motorboating as well. There is also a National Sailing School, opened in 2006 which is based in Bhopal and is supported by the Indian Navy.

Most sailing clubs provide sailing courses in India that offer multiple courses with classes starting from a beginner’s to a champion’s level. Some sailing schools in India include the Yacht Club of Hyderabad, Aquasail Yachting Academy in Goa, etc.

Some RYA training centres in India include the Sailing School India in Mumbai and West Coast Marine in Mumbai.


Career in Sailing

Sailing as a career has a lot of scope provided the recognition of the sport at various national and international levels as a professional sport. Among the classic ocean races are America’s Cup, the Volvo Ocean Race, Barcelona World Race, Sydney to Hobart Yacht Race and the Vendée Globe. Sailing is also a discipline at the Olympic Games.


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