Sailing Statistics: How Many People Sail Across the World

There are several different types of statistics used in sailing. Knowing these statistics can help you to be a better, more competitive sailor, as well as know where you place in the sailing world.

Sailing statistics aren’t just for sailors, however, as they can also help a marketing professional get to know the market they will be serving better.

Keep reading to learn all about sailing and the statistics behind the sport!

Sailing Market Demographics

If you are looking to sell a sailing product, it would help to know the age and gender of the people who will probably be looking to buy your product. Here is a quick rundown of what the industry looks like thanks to USA sailing statistics.

  • In the USA 42,000 people participate in sailing annually
  • The average age of an individual who practices sailing is 36-50 years old.
  • The second largest age group involved in sailing is 51-60 years old.
  • The average income of those interested in sailing is over $125,000 per year
  • 87% of the people interested in sailing own at least one boat, and 57% of these own 2 or more boats.
  • The average sailor is also interested in purchasing jewelry and traveling first class.
  • Most sailors have assets totaling over $2 million.
  • 61% of sailors are male
  • 52% of sailors have a college degree or higher
  • The only other high-income sport practiced as much as sailing is skiing
  • Currently, there is an estimated $1.5million boats in the USA alone

As you can see, most of the people who engage in sailing are older and have money. This isn’t an accident. A sailboat is a very expensive piece of equipment, one many young people find themselves unable to afford.

Not only that, but sailing also takes a fair amount of time. Besides the part where you are out exploring or at sea, you will also need to spend time repairing the boat, upgrading it, or cleaning it. Most 20-30yr olds are still building their careers and simply don’t have this type of leisure time. Pensioners, on the other hand, have all the time in the world.

Therefore if you are looking to market to sailors, know that you’ll want to market to someone who has both time and money, but also not a lot of space to store stuff as they sail around the world.

Sailing Popularity Around the World

The above stats are just from the United States, but did you know that sailing isn’t even considered a popular sport in the United States? Probably because most of its population is landlocked! Below are some statistics from sailing in other countries around the world.

  • The Netherlands is stated to be one of the biggest sailing countries in the world, namely because most of the country is below sea level!
  • Although the Netherlands might have more waterways, sailing as a sport is perhaps most common in France.
  • After these two European giants, sailing is most popular in New Zealand where almost all of the country’s 4.6 million people know how to sail.
  • In New Zealand, sailing is taught in schools that are located near bodies of water.
  • The place with the most sailing in the world is considered to be The Hague, Netherlands
  • Sailing is considered an extreme sport by most countries
  • The Mediterranean is actually one of the worst places to sail due to unpredictable winds.
  • Most maritime language is in English, and the words that aren’t in English are in Dutch.
  • Sailing from the Canary Islands to the Caribbean is easy, but sailing back is so difficult that most sailors sell their boats for a fraction of what they are worth and then fly home.
  • Ibiza is the most expensive port in the world to keep your boat for the night.
  • One of the cheapest countries to buy a boat in is Sweden, with Norway being a close second.
  • Great Britain is another country where sailing is popular.

If you want to get involved in sailing, it doesn’t matter where you live. Do keep in mind, however, that it can be quite cold during the winter in some locations. Before you buy a boat, take a look at the sea temperature for your region for the year. Chances are you may need to also think about moving if you want to use your boat for some deep sea swimming–unless, of course, you like cold water swimming.

World Records in Sailing

If you are looking to make a name for yourself in the sailing world, then it might be time to take a look at some of the records held by sailors around the world.

  • The fastest time to sail around the world with a crew is 40 days, 23 hours, 30 minutes, and 30 seconds and is held by Francis Joyon.
  • The fastest time to sail around the world solo is 42 days, 16 hours, 40 minutes, and 35 seconds and is held by Francois Gabart.
  • The fastest boat to sail 500m outright is the Vestas Sailrocket 2 which had an average speed of 65.5 knots.
  • The fastest boat to sail a nautical mile is also the Vestas Sailrocket 2 which had an average speed of 55.3 knots.
  • The fastest boat for 24 hours is the Banque Populaire V which held an average speed of 37.8 knots.
  • The fastest boat to sail the Transatlantic route was also the Banque Populaire V and it accomplished the feat in 3 days, 15 hours, 25 minutes, and 48 seconds.

Before you set out to try and break a world record for sailing around the world, know that this type of sailing is incredibly boring. Sure, you may see a beautiful sunset and sunrise each day, but between those two times, you have a whole lot of hours of staring at nothing. Bring a book or two because the chance you will have electricity is slim as well.

Sailing Sport Statistics

Believe it or not, sailing is actually a sport and a difficult one at that. There are a lot of technicalities involved with sailing, leading to the creation of several different races. Most people are familiar with sailing as a sport in the Olympics and don’t realize this is a popular sport all year round. Here are some statistics about sailing as a sport.

  • A sailing competition is called a Regatta
  • There are both team and individual sailing competitions
  • Most sailing competitions include multiple individual races where each finisher of the race is given a score. Then, after a few more races, the individual, or team, with the most points wins.
  • The Barcolana Regatta is the largest sailing race in the World with over 2,689 boats and 16,000 sailors at the starting line.
  • Sailing is one of the few sports where men and women can be on the same team
  • In 2020 Great Britain won the Olympic Sailing events for the second year in a row. It would have been the 6th year in a row if Australia hadn’t won in 2012.
  • The last time the United States won Olympic Sailing was in 1984.
  • Olympic sailing has been a sport since 1900.
  • Great Britain holds the most Olympic medals for sailing, at 31 gold medals, and the US follows in second with 19 gold medals.
  • Ben Ainslie of Great Britain is considered a world champion of sailing as he holds 4 gold medals. He is tied with Paul Elvstrom of Denmark who also holds 4 gold medals.

As you can see, sailing isn’t just a sport for New Zealand schools, it really is a worldwide event. Careful before you decide to become a sailor however because the competition is fierce.

Best Places to Sail in the World

Now you know all about how fast you have to sail to beat records, as well as where to buy an inexpensive sailboat to get started. But once you have one, where should you go? Below are some of the best places to go sailing.

  • South Georgia Island–despite its name you’ll want to pack your coat as this destination is near Antarctica. Although this may not be the summer trip you were hoping for, sailors report seeing amazing views of nature here, especially the penguins.
  • Galapagos Islands, Ecuador–see what Darwin was seeing when you take a sail around these islands that closely resemble paradise. Don’t forget your snorkeling gear to swim with the amazing sea life!
  • The Bay of Islands, New Zealand–There’s a reason so many Kiwis know how to sail because New Zealand is the place to do it!
  • The Whitsunday Islands, Australia–explore the Great Barrier Reef, enough said.
  • The Greek Isles–even though most of the Mediterranean is out for sailing due to the unpredictable wind, the coast of Greece and Turkey is conducive to some amazing sailing. Just don’t drink too much when you stop at the islands on your journey.
  • The British Virgin Islands–The Caribbean has long been a prime sailing area because of the favorable winds and weather (as long as you avoid storm season of course!) and the British Virgin Islands, or the American Virgin Islands, are great places to exercise your sailing skills.

Overall, this isn’t an exhaustive list of everywhere you can sail in the world. And the best part about having a sailboat is you can truly go wherever you want. Just remember to check the weather before you go. Happy sailing!

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