Countries That Preserve Their Historical Sailing Traditions

by Marian Morgam

Sailing has been throughout the development of civilization and has played a critical role in its global growth.  All across the globe, from the Ancient Egypt to Polynesia people started constructing primitive vessels a few thousand years BC, constantly improving the hull and sail construction as the time passed. By the 15th century, the shipbuilding technology had improved significantly enabling Arab, Chinese, Indian and European explorers make long voyages into various parts of the worlds. Sailing as a sporting activity begun in the 17th century in Holland and was later introduced into England in 1660 by Charles II and later on spread to American colonies.


The first sailing club was established in 1720 at Cork Island. The New York Yacht Club is thought to be the oldest continuously existing sailing club in the world and established prestigious America’s Cup; a sailing competition participated by teams from all over the globe. Today, sailing has become a major sporting event in the world with major ocean racing events including the Newport-Bermuda Race, the Transpacific Race, the Volvo Ocean Race, the Transpacific Race, the Volvo Ocean Race among others. Most countries in Europe have preserved their sailing traditions and have many sailing programs to involve young people into sailing. 


1. Sailing in Portugal



Portugal’s mild climate, bright sunshine, and favorable winds along her coastline making it ideal for sailing. The Atlantic Ocean, however, offers unpredictable sailing conditions which may range from calmly relaxed spot ideal for sailing and more temperamental conditions offering challenges to sailors. In Portugal, sailing is mostly practiced in Cascais bay, near Lisbon, and Lagos bay in the Algarve considered among the best regatta locations in the world. Portugal host a number of both local an international sailing races which are aimed to involve young people into sailing activity. Some of these races taking place in Portugal waters include Tall Ships Races and Volvo Ocean Race in Lisbon. Local sailing competitions hosted annually include Audi Med Cup in Portimao, and ISAF held in Cascais. Additionally, companies, schools, and yacht clubs promote the country’s sailing tradition by teaching young people with interest in sailing.


2. Sailing in Poland



With a long Baltic coast extending from Pomeranian Bay to Gdansk coupled with plentiful inland waterways and Lagoons, Poland offers a perfect destination for both an experienced and an inexperienced sailor. The country has numerous inland waters including lakes such as Mazury, Pomeranian Lake District, the Kashubian Lake District and Wielkopolska Lake District which offers perfect conditions for inland sailing, Masuria is the sailing capital of Poland with over 2000 lakes, luxurious marinas and resort towns that can offer you sailing yacht charter.


Poland hosts some sailing competitions notably the Baltic Single & Double Handed Polonez Cup Race (Polonez Cup) started in 1972 and brings together solo sailors all over the globe. This historical sailing event is hosted yearly in the cities of Szczecin and Swinoujscie on Usedom island off northern-western Poland. Another notable competition is the Energa Sopot Match Race which is an annual match racing sailing competition and event hosted in Sopot, Poland. The Polish government through the Poland Maritime Foundation promotes sailing among the youths by funding and organizing several local sailing competitions, and other activities.


3. Sailing in France



France has an active sailing culture producing skilled sailors such as Olivier de Kersauson who has won many accolades in the world of sailing. The country offers a diversified sailing region thanks to more than 3,000 km of varied coastline with two different water bodies, i.e. the Mediterranean to the south and the Atlantic Ocean to the north. The Mediterranean regions are divided into three cruising areas: The Cote d’Azur (the French Riviera), the Gulf of Lion and around the island of Corsica all which offers calm water combined with picturesque seafront villages ideal for sailing beginners, who want to charter a yacht in France. For experienced sailors seeking tidal sailing challenges, the rugged coastline of Brittany on the Atlantic Ocean offers an ideal sailing destination. Nevertheless, both regions offer perfect sailing conditions making France stand out as among the leading sailing destination in Europe and the world.


France usually plays host to a number of both local and international sailing competitions. Some of these competitions include the Giraglia Rolex Cup, Louis Vuitton Trophy Nice Cote d’Azur, EDHEC Sailing Cup, Route du Rhum among other historical competitions. These competitions coupled with a great sailing environment promotes sailing in France.


4. Sailing in Croatia



Croatia is undoubtedly among the leading sailing destination in the world thanks to 2000 km of magnificent coastline with clear waters and splendid beaches. The country has a wide range of sailing options involving spectacular scenery, unexplored bays and myriad of islands. Ideal sailing destinations in Croatia include the Istrian peninsula, Kvarner Bay and Dalmatia. Islands including Rab, Losinj, and Brijuni also offers excellent sailing destinations. Inland sailing destinations include Skradinis ACI marina located on River Krka and provides a perfect destination for sailors who would want to explore the waterfalls.


Croatia also has numerous marinas and sailing resorts which promote sailing activities. The Croatian Sailing Federation also supports Regattas that attracts sailors from all over the globe. Some of the famous regattas include the Easter Regatta, Adriatic Regatta, Finn Masters European Championship among others.


5. Sailing in Greece



From Greek mythology, it is evident that Greece has a long sailing history. The first evidence of sailing in Greece was during the Minoan age where Minoan traders from Crete sailed on the Mediterranean Sea by 1600 BC to trade copper and bronze. In 1661, King Charles II sailed on Thames River establishing sailing as a recreational activity in Greece. Today, Greece is among the leading sailing destinations in the world attributed to her bursting spectacular natural Mediterranean beauty and unexplored locations. The most popular sailing locations include Cosmopolitan Mykonos, Cyclades, the Ionian Islands, the Saronic Islands, the Sporades, and the Dodecanese and the Santorini overlooking the spectacular Caldera. The Greek archipelago offers an attractive sailing location for both novice and experienced sailors alike with an option of diving, fishing, and surfing while sailing.


Sailing activities in Greece are promoted by the Hellenic Sailing Federation which organizes various local sailing competitions including Open Balkan, Athens Match Race, NOA Regattas, Winter Match Race among others.


The Bottom Line


Most countries in Europe have a rich history of sailing and have tried to conserve their sailing culture over the years. Most countries have formed national bodies tasked with promoting sailing by using various means such as organizing both local and international sailing competitions as well as encouraging youths to take up sailing classes in an attempt to develop an interest in sailing. 

Marian Morgam

Marian Morgam

I am a travel blogger from Minnesota. I have traveled to almost 50 countries. Also, I have experience of two years living and working in Europe and I have volunteered in Tanzania for a few months. Currently, I'm working on a book about tips for backpacker travelers around the world.

Marian Morgam

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