Do it now: Sailing

From round-the-world races to charting a yacht with a chipper skipper, there are plenty of ways for beginners to sail the ocean blue

By Sam Lewis
Published 16 Feb 2018, 08:00 GMT, Updated 12 Jul 2021, 16:46 BST

Antigua Classic Yacht Regatta

Photograph by Getty Images

In at the deep end

Many of us dream of setting sail and exploring the world but don't have the time to become a fully qualified skipper. Those who want to throw themselves in at the deep end can apply for the 2019-20 Clipper Round the World Yacht Race. No previous sailing experience is necessary to join the 40,000-nautical-mile journey as each of the 12 identical 70ft racing yachts has a fully qualified skipper. Participants, who undergo short yet intense training, can choose to complete the full circumnavigation or specific sections — the race is divided into eight legs and 13-16 individual races.

What else? Alternatively, sign up to Crewseekers International, which lists amateur and professional yacht crewing positions from day sailing to trans-ocean voyages — some take complete beginners. Registration costs £75 for six months.


Skipper ahoy!

The RYA qualification is organised by UK sailing's governing body and is recognised globally — the RYA Day Skipper certificate enables you to charter bareboats.

How long? Five days in a classroom (shore-based) followed by five days practical (onboard), plus an exam.

Where? The Med for calm waters, however serious sailors should learn to sail in tidal waters. If you can't face the weather in the UK, head to South Africa's Langebaan Lagoon, around 75 miles north of Cape Town, with tides, sandy beaches and crystal clear waters.


What's hot

Sunsail says its new Majorca flotilla route and bareboating in the Seychelles will be popular this year. The company also runs ICC courses on select flotilla holidays sailing the Aegean around Greece and Croatia.


Take 3: Learn the lingo

The ups: You charter a 'bare' yacht, without skipper or crew, and sail wherever you want at your own pace.
The downs: You need an RYA Day Skipper qualification or International Certificate of Competence (which can be gained in just five days) plus navigational experience.

The ups: No experience necessary as your skipper is in charge and you can help when you please.
The downs: You may have to get used to following orders.

The ups: You sail as part of a mini-fleet of yachts on an agreed route. It's stress-free sailing with social events.
The downs: You may feel restricted but the activities are optional — if you'd like to take your own route for a day or two, you can.

Published in the March 2018 issue of National Geographic Traveller (UK)


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