Sport of the Month London Sailing

What is Sailing?

“The fine art of getting wet and becoming ill while slowly getting nowhere at great expense” – Beard & McKie.

“A madness, an all-consuming madness, a lunacy” – Vernon Vas Elliot in “How Not to Sail the Greek Islands”

Yet to those of us that love it so much, nothing is as exhilarating as feeling the harmony with the sea, the rush of the wind, the silence of the moment just after turning off the engine, feeling the boat pick up under nature’s power alone.

According to the Royal Yachting Association, more than 140,000 people annually take an RYA training course or qualification.  In the UK, the qualifications are voluntary for personal, non commercial craft, but using a boat abroad can require an International Certificate of Competence.  A Day Skipper Certificate is usually enough to be able to charter a yacht abroad, though evidence of a decent amount of experience is often required.

Why Go Sailing?

Fresh air, team work, achievement of navigating from A to B, proximity to nature...

Sailing can be an individual or team sport, from an amateur in a small dinghy to the single handed round the world yachtsman or woman, but is best enjoyed as part of a crew.  Team work is essential, as is a degree of tolerance, hard work and willingness to play your part, taking your turn and mucking in with all of the tasks that need to be done.  Or, if you can afford it, you can sit back and relax while people around you do the hard stuff!  Why not, you probably earned it...

For those on a budget though, sailing need not be reserved for the wealthy and elite.  Good deals are available as companies would rather have the yacht chartered than not, so may offer good discounts especially last minute.  It is also possible to join a charter yacht as an individual or couple, enabling you to meet new people and save on the costs associated with a full boat charter.  This is something we aim to target with Totally Sporty’s sailor members, for often you are individuals who are looking for people to go sailing with. Our sailing expert Richard Rowe will be happy to take your questions and help you to get started, join or charter a boat suitable for you and your experience level.

London of course has its river and an abundance of lakes and reservoirs, providing a great setting for taking it up for the first time, or for honing and practising the skills you already possess.  But just a short, cheap hop away from any of London’s airports are a wealth of European destinations, primarily the Mediterranean of course, from the Straits of Gibraltar all the way East via Spain, France, Italy and Croatia to Greece and Turkey.  For a winter escape, the Caribbean will tempt you, with such delicacies as the Windward Islands of Antigua and Barbuda and their intrinsic tropical beauty.

How Do I Start?

The Royal Yachting Association (RYA) has a number of affiliated sailing centres located around London, which provide various levels of training ranging from the absolute beginner, to more advanced skills, such as racing and performance sailing.

Use the Find a Sport Club/ Venue directory on Totally Sporty to find your nearest sailing club in London. Here you will find useful information on what facilities the sailing club provides.

London Corinthian Sailing Club

London Corinthian is one of London's premier and most friendly sailing club, making it the ideal place to enjoy all sorts of sailing activities.  New members very welcome!
The club runs social and competitive racing on dinghies nearly every weekend throughout the year on the River Thames from its base in Hammersmith.
RYA 1 & 2 courses are available throughout the year.
London Corinthian is also the ideal place for Londoners to get involved with yachting and there are a number of trips organised in the Solent, around the UK and overseas.

RYA  Courses                                  

The level 1 sailing beginners' course typically lasts two days and provides participants with a basic understanding of boat handling techniques and background learning. Courses usually are run on summer weekdays and over the weekend.

The level 2 sailing course, which also lasts two full days is more practical with the majority of time spent on the water. The course covers how to rig the boat, techniques, how to manoeuvre the boat through tacking and gibing, rope work and launching and recovery.

Beginners will typically learn on a Laser Pico, a dinghy with a high boom, stable shape and a self draining cockpit. Those sailors looking for a bit more speed may choose to progress to a Laser, which has its own class in the Olympics made famous by the successful British yachtsman, Ben Ainslie.

Other classic dinghies: Strata, Wayfayrer, 420, Kestrel and Mirror.

Darts and Hobies are the most popular types of cats.

Catamarans or "cats" as they are affectionately called are multi-hull crafts, which are more stable than dinghies and benefit from a loose-footed main sail (without a boom) The mast partially rotates which makes the main sail more efficient. The combination of stability and light-weight materials make catamarans very fast on the water. Darts are a popular type of cat.

Useful Attire

Shoes and windproof jacket.

Sailing Benefits

: : Outdoors
: : Relaxing
: : Easy to learn

Need more information?

For further information on sailing:

Totally Sporty recommends Sailing Jollies as your one-stop-shop for sailing advice on charters and courses.

“Sailing - The best fun you can have at 11mph” – Richard Rowe, Sailing Jollies.  [email protected]


Words a Sailor Would Use...

Reefing - In order to maintain control in strong winds, it may be necessary to reduce the amount of sail you use. For dinghies, the sail can simply be partially rolled around the mast.

Tacking - Involves turning the boat so that it passes through the wind, while the sail and crew change sides.

Gybing - Takes the boat from one tack to the other when sailing downwind by turning the stern (back of boat) through the wind. During a gybe, the sail stays full throughout and happens more quickly than tacking, with the boom swings across the boat more forcefully.

"In Irons" - in no go zone/sailing into wind.

Plaining - Sailing down wind.