Various Types Of Sailing (Explained)

Do you love sailing? Then you might be interested in learning about the different types of sailing. Sailing is not just one activity. Do you want to enjoy the water, the wind, and the thrill of navigating a boat? You can do them in many ways while sailing. We will look at different types of sailing and how you can enjoy them most in this article.

Different types of sailing: From recreational to competitive to traditional

For a long time, people have liked going to the sea for fun, work, and travel. Sailing on the sea is exciting and makes people happy. Today, sailing is still interesting to people of all ages and backgrounds. Everyone can find a sailing activity they enjoy because of the variety available. You can maneuver your boat using the wind’s force, making it an exciting sport. 

So let us explore more about them!

What is recreational sailing?

Recreational sailing is an awesome way to chill out and enjoy yourself on the sea. You can take a peaceful trip, discover new adventures, or even compete against other boats in a race. But before you start sailing, you need to remember the following things.

  • You must know how to prepare your boat
  • Steer it in the right direction
  • Control its speed
  • Return it safely to shore

Following are some great recreational sailing you can try out.

Inland sailing

Sailing on lakes, rivers, canals, and other water areas surrounded by land is called inland sailing. This sailing type is usually easy and safe. 


You are sailing in the calm and fresh water. You can find many people to help if you get into trouble. 

Which boat is best for inland sailing? 

You can sail by many boats, from small dinghies to large yachts.

Estuary sailing

This is sailing on rivers that lead to the sea. This type is more challenging than inland sailing. While sailing, you may have to deal with many conditions like tides, currents, and changing weather. The water you’re riding the sailing the boat can be deep and rough; therefore, you Must find a boat with a keel for estuary sailing.

Coastal sailing

When you sail along the coast, where you can still see the land, it is called coastal sailing. This is a more adventurous way to sail. How come? You need to make your boat go around rocks. You will notice that the wind sometimes can blow hard, and the waves can get big. What can you do for your safety during coastal cruising? Check whether your boat is strong and has a good motor to keep you safe before you go. And also, remember to bring things to keep you safe and ways to talk to people if you need help.

Offshore sailing

Sailing out of sight of land is called offshore sailing. But you still need to sail within range. Offshore sailing is a more demanding type. When you sail, you have to plan your route carefully and monitor your position constantly. Before you go offshore sailing, you need to tick the following things on your list.

  • A boat with a big fuel tank and a powerful engine
  • Tools to help you find your way
  • Things you might need in an emergency.

Offshore sailing

Keelboat sailing

A keelboat is a sailboat with a special part called a keel. It is like a big fin that sticks out under the boat and helps keep it steady so it does not tip over. Keelboats come in all different sizes, from little yachts, you can take out for a day trip to huge ships carrying tons of cargo. You can sail them in various water conditions.

Before starting your keelboat sailing journey, you should focus on the following things. You must know how to make the boat go where you want and change the sails to use the wind. Additionally, you must know how to turn and adhere to water safety regulations. However, once you master it, keelboat sailing is a fantastic experience. You can go on adventures and enjoy the breeze in your hair, or you can compete in sailing races and enjoy the rush of competition.

Catamaran sailing

Sailors use a boat with two hulls instead of one for Catamaran sailing. Do you know catamarans are faster, more stable, and more spacious than monohulls? It makes them ideal for cruising and racing. Catamarans can also sail in shallow waters, with less draft than monohulls.

You can find many types of catamarans. They range from small, simple ones that one person can sail to large, luxurious ones that accommodate several guests. Fountaine Pajot, Lagoon, Leopard, Catana, and Nautitech are some of the most popular catamaran brands.

Ocean sailing

Ocean sailing is sailing across oceans or continents. This is the most challenging and satisfying type of sailing. Sometimes you have to deal with tough challenges and unexpected dangers. That’s why relying on yourself and thinking on your feet is essential. You also need a sturdy boat with plenty of sail power, high-tech navigation tools, and gear to help you survive an emergency.

Competitive Sailing

When you do competitive sailing, you can race against other boats on a course defined by buoys or markers. Competitive sailing divides into different types based on

  • the size
  • shape and design of the boats
  • the number of crew members
  • the format of the races

What are the most common types of competitive sailing?

Fleet racing

This is the most popular type of competitive sailing. When fleet racing, many boats race around a course at the same time. The boat that reaches the finish line ahead of the others is declared the winner. You can do fleet racing with any boat, from dinghies to keelboats. You can also have different classes based on the boat’s specifications.

Match racing

Do you like to attend a one-on-one boat race? Then this is perfect for you. Boats of the same class beat the other boat by any means possible while following the rules of sailing. You need a lot of tactical skills and boat handling for Match racing.

Team racing

This is a variation of fleet racing. Here two or more teams of boats compete against each other. You can score based on the combined positions of the team members. For team racing, you need a lot of coordination and communication among the team members. You also need strategic moves to help or hinder the other teams.


Sailing does not forget disabled people. This sailing type is for them. They use specially adapted boats and equipment for racing equally with non-disabled sailors. There are various classes of para sailing based on the degree and type of disability, such as 2.4mR, SKUD 18, and Sonar.


Are you an e-sports champion? Then you must E-sail. E-sailing uses virtual reality and simulation software to recreate the experience of sailing on a computer or a mobile device. By E-sailing, sailors can practice their skills and tactics. They also can compete against other sailors online.

Traditional Sailing

Traditional Sailing

Traditional sailing is when people sail using old-fashioned methods and boats. The modern boats we see today are not like these boats. Their traits, sizes, and forms vary. Some of them are enormous and spectacular, like tall ships and galleons. Others are smaller and simpler, like dhows and junks. Traditional sailing is more than just a pastime. Here are some examples of traditional sailing boats that you might find interesting.

  • Tall ships: large, traditionally-rigged sailing vessels
  • Galleons: large, multi-decked sailing ships used primarily for trade and warfare
  • Dhows: traditional sailing vessels used in the Red Sea and Indian Ocean
  • Junks: traditional Chinese sailing ships with a distinctive sail design


Sailing is a diverse and exciting activity with something to offer everyone. Even though you are interested in a leisurely cruise along the coast or the thrill of competitive racing, you can choose your favorite sailing with our recommended types of sailing.

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