How to get started dinghy sailing in the UK

Dinghy sailing is the perfect sport for anyone wanting to get into any type of sailing. If you’re unsure of where to start, or just want more information, here are some helpful tips on how to get started dinghy sailing in the UK.


What is dinghy sailing?

Dinghy sailing uses a small open boat with a sail to harness the power of the wind to manoeuvre through the water. You can dinghy sail just about anywhere – on inland waters like lakes and reservoirs or on the open sea. There are a lot of different types of dinghy, some are built for speed and exhilaration, while others are used for beginners.


Work on your basic sailing skills

If you’re completely new to dinghy sailing, then it’s advised that you work on your basic sailing skills, like how sails work, how to rig and handle a boat, how to launch and land, what safety equipment you’ll need and the rules of the water. You’ll also need a solid understanding of wind direction and points of sail.

The RYA (Royal Yachting Association) is a governing body for sailing and provides lots of advice on how to get started to advancing your skills to a professional level in both large and small vessels. The RYA Dinghy Level 1 - 5 courses and certificates are a great way to get to grips with the basics of dinghy sailing at an entry level. 

On the RYA website you’ll find more information about RYA recognised teaching centres where you can have a go at sailing for free, discover your nearest sailing clubs and learn more about sailing schemes for both adults and young children. You’ll also find more information about the RYA Stability scheme, which is designed to help those with disabilities get out on the water.


Why join a sailing club?

Joining a sailing club will help you quickly become more confident on the water. Here’s how a sailing club can advance your dinghy sailing skills:

  • Provide 1-to-1 or group training sessions
  • Provides a safe and secure place to store your dinghy
  • Introduces you to like-minded people with similar interests
  • Gives you a safe place to launch and land your dinghy
  • Offers an extensive network for buying and selling boats and sailing equipment
  • The clubs often have active junior, youth, Women on Water and participation activities, which can help progress both yours and your family’s dinghy sailing skills.

Find your nearest sailing club


If you haven’t already got your own dinghy, hire one

If you haven’t yet taken the plunge and bought your own dinghy, lots of sailing clubs have them available to hire at a daily rate. Some sailing clubs might require you to have a skipper accompany you while out at sea, which could come at an extra cost, this is always advisable if you’re a total beginner.


What should you wear while dinghy sailing?

Like most things, with sailing gear, you get what you pay for. So warm, waterproof and lightweight clothing will come at a cost but this will ensure you have a comfortable and enjoyable sailing experience each time you’re on the water. A good starter kit includes:

  • Smock
  • Wet suit
  • Dinghy boots
  • Sailing gloves
  • Buoyancy aid - CE EN393 approved


If you're a current GJW Direct insurance customer, you can get some great discounts on your dinghy chandlery when you sign up for a free MyBoat account. You'll unlock exclusive offers across a range of recognised brands, including Pirates Cave Chandlery, Sailing Chandlery and Spinlock.

Sign up for MyBoat

Take a look at Yachts and Yachting, the largest sailing news network, and find out more about racing events taking place around the world as well as industry insights, expert advice and a forum community.


Ready to get out on the water? Check out our Dinghy Comparison Cheat Sheet to find the perfect dinghy for all your sailing needs.

Dinghy Comparison Cheat Sheet

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