Whether it’s on a family yachting holiday, or learning to sail a small dinghy by themselves, there are so many transferrable skills that children can learn on the water…

  • Patience

If you’re a sailor yourself, then you will know that sometimes we have to wait for the wind. This involves concentration, sitting still, and a whole load of patience. If they are engaged and determined out on the water, those light-wind skills can teach children to that patience really is a virtue…

  • Adaptability and Resilience 

Your child may be the kind who likes to plan meticulously, or may prefer to make it up as they go along; but either way they will have to be flexible when they are on the water. The conditions change, as do the boats around them, and they will have to take charge and adapt. Often this means bouncing back if the situation has become a little more difficult or frustrating for them…

  • Ability to lose

Similarly, not everyone can win every race. Your child might start to engage in casual racing at their sailing club, or aboard your family boat, and with this comes the experiences of winning and losing. Often, sequential races mean that sailors must quickly shake off bad results and re-focus for the next start.


Whether it’s negotiating trolleys down a slipway or communicating on board a double hander, sailing requires teamwork. As a less intensively ‘team-orientated’ sport than some, sailing can particularly suit children who prefer working in smaller groups, but still enjoy participating around others.

  • Confidence

I remember a conversation I had with a parent of a six-year-old who was taking out her first Optimist dinghy. This child was shy and reserved, but had grown in confidence with her sailing over the summer. Her dad commented that it was amazing to see his daughter, who was normally so dependent on adult help, being solely in control of this ‘vessel’! Driving a car or even pushing a trolley may seem second-nature to us as adults, but being ‘the driver’ is a big deal for a child – a chance to be trusted with the controls.

If you are keen to get your family into dinghy or yacht sailing, why not hire or charter a boat to find your feet, and then explore your nearest RYA sailing centre?