Is Sailing a Sport? (Spoiler: yes, it definitely is)

Written by Shawn Buckles in Beginner Info

It looks like there is some debate about whether or not sailing is a sport. I can see why: people think you don't have to move yourself, so it can't be a sport. But this is a bad argument.

Is sailing a sport? Sailing is a sport and has been considered one for a long time. Sailing is defined as 'the action of sailing in a boat'. Sport is defined as 'an activity involving physical exertion and skill in which an individual or a team competes against another or others for entertainment'. This makes sailing a sport by definition.

I will take a look at some more reasons why sailing is not only a sport but how it is a very important one. This is a tradition that goes back very far and has important historical roots. Understanding why it's considered a sport and everything that goes into it may give you a deeper appreciation of sailing in general.

Sailing regatta with dozen sailboats in race

Reasons Why Sailing Is a Sport

Sailing is a sport because it involves so much skill. You cannot just put someone out on a ship without some type of knowledge and expect him or her to be able to sail. There is so much involved with sailing and it will test you both mentally and physically.

Sporting events are all about testing the abilities of people against other skilled individuals. You can absolutely do this in sailing competitions. Two skilled ship crews sailing against one another can create a very interesting competition that will come down to who is more skilled and savvy.

In many ways, this is one of the most involved sporting events in the world. It's not something that's as easy to get into, like more common sport like baseball or football. You really need to take the time to learn how to sail and develop your skills before being able to compete in any fashion.

By the strict definition of what a sport is, you can easily tell that sailing qualifies as a sport. It may not have the same appeal for televised events or sponsorship deals as the most prevalent sports in the world but it is an important sport nonetheless. In fact, the roots of sailing as a sport go back to the distant past.

Why saying 'but you're not moving' isn't an argument

I have this discussion endless times and it's time to put an end to it. I have to arguments against this blatantly false statement.

Sailing is definitely phsyical. I'm not even going to discuss this.

If 'not moving around' is an argument, then every type of car racing, horseback riding, bobsleigh, and so on, is no longer a sport.

And I guess we don't want that, so let's give sailing the credit it deserves.

Sailing Is Actually Among the Oldest Olympic Sports

You may or may not be surprised to hear that sailing is actually among the oldest Olympic sports. This sport has been around for a long time and was a part of the 1900 Olympic games that were contested in Paris, France. Sailing has continued to be an important part of the Olympic games for years and has evolved over time.

The types of sailboats that are allowed to compete in various Olympic games have changed over time. There is a lot that goes into deciding which boats will be able to compete and the types of events that can be held. Even so, sailing in some form has been a very consistent part of Olympic sports for a long time.

Types of Sport Sailing

The different types of sport sailing are categorized by the types of boats that are competing. In the current Olympic sailing games, there are three different categories of boats. You have the sailboard, the monohull, the multihull, and the dinghy. There are many different classes of dinghy competition as well.

Aside from differences in the types of boats, you will also see different types of sailing. Fleet racing is the most common competitive sailing event. This involves setting up a course and competitors will race their vessels around the course to determine a victor.

Match racing is another popular sporting method for sailing. This is going to involve racing two identical boats against one another. These match races take place on a windward course and will typically take around twenty minutes to finish.

Team racing is a very popular sailing sport that involves two teams of three competing against one another. Winners are determined via a points system and victory will involve both physical sailing skill and the ability to make smart decisions quickly. The lowest score wins in this competition so the placement of the entire team matters. A team needs a score of ten or less to be able to win the competition with first place being award one point, second place being awarded two points, and so on.

Offshore and oceanic racing also exists and this can be a very challenging form of sport sailing. Races over 800 miles can be considered offshore races. Some of these events take place on specific protected waters and others have different rules. Either way, you should know that this can be a very challenging form of sport sailing that is not for the timid.

Other sailing sports that people love include speed sailing and wave riding. There truly are a multitude of different styles of sailing that can be considered a sport. You will even find that some people categorize windsurfing and kiteboarding in the broad category of sailing as a sport. Whatever your thoughts on this are, you cannot deny that sailing is something that is quite complex and it offers many variations to appeal to different types of sailors.

Why the Popularity of Sport Sailing Endures

The popularity of sport sailing continues to endure to this very day. Even if sailing has changed over time, it is still an activity that people very much connect with. It has changed from being a necessary skill for many to being a beloved pastime.

One reason why the popularity of sport sailing is still high is that it is never boring in any way. It's a constant challenge and there are many different styles of sailing to consider. Even those who have been sailing for many years still feel as though there are new things to learn.

If you want to test your skills and give yourself a true challenge, then sport sailing is a great idea. You can work together with those close to you and sail in competition against like-minded individuals. It is a fantastic feeling to strive toward a goal with others and the thrill of competition is very prevalent in this sport.

Sports are absolutely ingrained in the human spirit and sailing is no exception. It gives people a sense of excitement and the feeling of accomplishment upon completing a successful journey is almost indescribable. No matter what, you should know that sailing is something that can push you to your limits, making it very satisfying when you improve and start to succeed in the sport.

Why Sailing Is Among the Best Sports

Sailing is among the best sports because it offers you a very unique experience. There's something about that you won't be able to experience when turning to other sports. Your playing field is going to be the biggest one of them all: the ocean.

It's simultaneously serene and thrilling. You will be able to enjoy the thrill of competition while also taking in the tranquility of being out on the water. It's just great. It will certainly stir your sense of adventure and will test your mind and body in many ways.

Few sports test you on a mental level to the same degree that sailing does. This is certainly a mental and physical challenge that you will need to overcome. It tests your problem-solving skills and constantly forces you to think quickly. You will need both wits and good physical sailing skills in order to find success in sailing as a sport.

Finally, there are so many different types of sailing out there that you will be able to try out new things. You do not have to stick to one facet of sport sailing if you wish to branch out. There will always be new things to try and different ships to learn how to sail. It is something that can be a constant challenge throughout your life if you remain dedicated to the sport.


Sailing is a beloved sport that continues to remain popular to this day. Even if it is not the most prevalent sport in the world, it still endures as a well-respected sport and pastime. If you love to sail and have been thinking of doing so competitively, then you should continue to look into it.

There are sailing competitions around the world and many types of sport sailing to consider. No matter what type of sport sailing interests you, you will be able to find a competition that suits you. Being able to give it your all will be a thrill and it is a superb way to test your mettle.

Now that you know more about sailing as a sport, you will be able to make informed decisions. It is up to you to decide whether or not you want to compete yourself. Either way, it is an intriguing sport that definitely deserves our respect.

Is sailing a sport or a hobby? Sailing is both a sport and a hobby, just like most sports. The intention of the sailor determines whether it's a sport or not. If he or she is competitive and wishes to compete in sailing matches and regattas, sailing qualifies as a sport. Otherwise, it's a hobby.

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Joban Johal

Sorry, i’m retarted and don’t listen to basic facts. It’s not a sport


Thank you so many people are ineducated on sailing. I have been sailing for 5 years and it definetly is.


I am on the US national team for opti sailing and people think sailing is easy. It is the most mental intensive and endurance intensive sport ever.

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