history of Sailing

Sailing has been a current entertainment and sport for many people around the world who are enthusiastic to challenge with the sea under the hardest circumstances and have ability of mastering sail-boat in the complicated situations, after over a century being in the Olympics. (6) in spite of changing in sailing equipment from past so far, the sailing fond is increasing.in this article we are going to explain the history of sailing and changes in sailing equipment and necessities overtime.


History of sailing (1):

Sailing is when ships use the strong force of the wind through sails to drive the boat to move at fast speeds. (8) Sailing across the water for trading, exploration or even warfare acquires several benefits, and there were examples of ancient sail-boats throughout the world that do this. (6) Ancestors by utilizing the power of the wind on sails, wing sails and kites propel a craft forward for centuries. (3)

Precedent of the sailing can be inferenced from the BC. (8) Nobody knows exactly how sailing began. (2) but the archaeologists approximately estimate the time and the sequence of the evolution of sailing from the artifacts that discovered.

Two predominant periods of cruising are described below:

  1. Ancient cruising: from 50,000 to 25,000 BC, Asian people sailed simple rafts for traveling between islands and reached near Oceania (Australia, New Guinea and the Solomon Islands). the merchants sold stone, hunted animals and got seafood and local plants instead.
  2. Recent cruising: from 1200 BC so far, People sailed canoes and reached further and mysteries islands such as Melanesia, Micronesia and Polynesia in further east. They contacted with their family through trading trips. (3) In the 1200 BC, 1000 Greek ships sailed to Troy and then Odysseus tried to get back while became one of the worst Mediterranean sailing charter in history. (2)

Since Phoenician merchants found out the keel gave stability to a boat under sail in 1000 BC, Ocean travel became possible. But none of the Phoenician, Greeks, Romans and Vikings didn’t know how to propel the boat downwind. (10)

The ancestors of Māori cruised across the Pacific Ocean and got out of South-East Asia by Waka(canoes)in a lot of years ago. They were experts in Waka building, navigating and sailing.

Lapita culture is the ancestor of historic cultures in Polynesia, Micronesia and some coastal areas of Melanesia. The Lapita were the first people that entered distant Oceania. They distributed to West Polynesia (including Tonga and Samoa) between 1200 and 1000 BC by single-hulled outrigger canoes. Around 1000 BC, Polynesian culture spread in West Polynesia. They discovered distant island to the east on double-hulled Waka, navigating by the stars and the wind to get back home safely. Community then made to start new outpost. About 1300 AD, Polynesian habitant came to New Zealand that were the last place that they stayed. These voyagers were the ancestors of Māori, came from an area in East Polynesia which Māori later called Hawaiki. After that they discovered the Chatham Islands by exploring eastward from New Zealand, few centuries before the European found out. (3)

Charles II was returned to English authority after 10 years in exile in Holland in 1660.people of Amsterdam celebrated the returned kingdom of Charles II and presented him a luxurious 60’ yacht including a crew of 20. The name of the sail-boat was “Mary”. He enjoyed in sailing her up and down the Thames. He studied navigation and naval architecture and built almost 20 sail-boat during his life. It can be said that he was the world’s first yachtsman. His enthusiasm for yachting was contagious and his brother James, Duke of York, joined him and also became an avid yachtsman as well. (9)

Holland took the sailing in to account of sport in the seventeenth century. People of Holland would sail smaller boats that ranged up to 65 feet. They named these sail-boats yacht ship, which means “hunting ship.” Today we now call them yachts. (9,8,6)

History of sailing (2):

There wasn’t a lot of time after sailing became well-known in Holland that they had given a sail-boat as a gift to Charles II in England. Sailing didn’t take a lot of time to become the first sport in England and eventually spread to the American colonies. (8)

More than the century, sailing was the sport of the kings. But sailing had developed to included participants of the world’s richest in addition to emperor of the Europe countries by the 1800s.
After few years the first yacht club in the world, Cork Water Club, was established in Ireland in 1720.In the following, 2 more clubs in England in 1773 – the Lough Ree Yacht Club and the Starcross Yacht Club were established. (6-8)

The New York Yacht Club (NYYC) was started on July 30, 1844 when John Cox Stevens invited eight friends to his yacht Gimcrack, anchored in New York Harbor. John Cox Stevens built their first 100-foot racing yacht, and then sailed their schooner, America, across the Atlantic Ocean to race against their British competitors around England’s Isle of Wight.

The Americans won and received their trophy. They named their trophy, as well as the race, America’s Cup. This today is the world’s oldest and one might say, prestigious international event in yachting. (8) This in turn led to the formation of ‘Yacht Clubs’ more in further places. (6)

The world governing rules for the sailing sport was established in Paris in October 1907.Initially, the name was International Yacht Racing Union (IYRU), although the name was changed to International Sailing Federation (ISAF) on 5 August 1996.

The necessity of having single set of rules and accepted measurement standards in different yacht clubs that determined their own rules before 1870 led to the IYRU was established. Since Racing popularity between different clubs had raised, the confusion and frustration of the people on the race courses increased.


History of sailing (3):

In Britain, there were several attempts to determine a single set of rules. ‘Yachting Congress’ organized by the Royal Victoria Yacht Club on 1 June 1868 is the first meeting to determine these rules. 23 representatives from 14 clubs was attended in the congress and the brochure of the rules of the yacht clubs was written. The second meeting of the congress was on 4 March 1869 and the draft of the racing rules was adopted. Nevertheless, severe criticism and disagreement were argued after publishing in the sailing media and eventually abandoned. A lot of academies were established and developed their rules but rejected again. In 1881, the Royal Thames Yacht Club and the Royal Yacht Squadron as well as the New Thames Yacht club joined the Yacht racing association and determined single set of rules for British waters.

The different measurement standards that were being used in Europe, North America and Britain were still led to confusion of people. Hence, Major Brooke Heckstall-Smith, secretary of the Yacht Racing Association, wrote to the Yacht Club de France expressing the necessity of a single international rule of measurement for racing competition that was acceptable to all European countries. consequently, an international congress was held in London in January and June 1906, the ‘Meter Rule ‘was determined. The attendees established the International Yacht Racing Union and approved a current code that the topic was ‘racing rules of sailing’ and yacht racing rules according to the YR. Nowadays, the rules are still used in various types: 12 Meter, 8 Meter, 6 Meter and other Meter boats. At that time the IYRU composed of the yachting authorities of Austria-Hungary, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Great Britain, Holland and Belgium, Italy, Norway, Spain, Sweden, and Switzerland.


History of sailing (4):

representatives from the North American Yacht Racing Union to make sure that the North American Yacht Racing Rules and the International Yacht Racing Rules were almost the same and none of the institution would change their rules without apprising the other, participated in the discussions in November 1929.finally, in 1960 common set of racing rules was accepted and achieved.

The International Sailing Federation is responsible for governing rules for yachting all around the world, development of the sailing internationally, managing sailing at the Olympic Games, expanding the international racing rules, arranging all sailing competitions and the training of judges, umpires and other administrators as well as representing sailors in all matters concerning the sport. These responsibilities are formally recognized by the International Olympic Committee.

The International Sailing Federation has created several events consist of Youth Sailing World Championship, Team Racing World Championship, Match Racing World Championship, Women’s Match Racing World Championship, Nations Cup along with endorsing and grading the top international match racing and Olympic Class regattas, in order to develop the sport of sailing worldwide. This Federation currently including 145 member nations who can take part in making decision that governs and influences the sailing world. (4)

Ocean racing is a difficult and hazardous sport particularly in long-distance solo events and got more attention these days. The main ocean racing events consist of the Newport-Bermuda Race, the Transpacific Race, the Volvo Ocean Race, the Vendée Globe, and the Velux 5 Oceans. After a year when Francis Chichester circumnavigated the world solo with only one stop in 1967, the nonstop worldwide solo sailing was started in a race that called the Golden Globe. nowadays, ocean sailors uses multihulled yachts and modern technology such as sophisticated communication apparatus and satellite-generated weather reports. Since 1900, sail boat racing has also been part of the Olympic Games. (7,8)

Sailing currently is a general sport that many people can take part in whereas It was the sport of the wealthy in the past. (7,8) Nowadays, it is often done for entertainment and sport and could be very challenging in the arduous circumstances and hazardous situations with the nature elements and the sea. Guidance and practice could be helpful for you to overcome the difficulties and to take the pleasure from the freedom and the beauties. (3,6)

Sailing equipment during the times:

In the ancient time, transportation was really dependent to the wind and sail-boats made from the stumps of trees with the pieces of cloth as sails to control the power of the wind and this saw a need for more novel naval architecture and navigation devices. (6) Hence, all over the history sailing has been helpful in the development of civilization. The earliest presentation of a boat with sail that made of cloth on single log, appeared in an Egypt about 3500 BC. (5) development in technology of sailing from the 15th century let the European adventurer in Canada to go longer voyages in to areas with different weather and climate. Colonization of America and Australia also were done by more improvement in sail’s equipment.

Maybe the invention of the boat initiated accidentally when somebody kept a segment of cloth up to the wind and paid attention that it could be more efficient and could move faster if made something like canoe/raft. This ordinary beginning was the introduction of the opinion that using boat to move across the ocean and continued to change the world forever. (2)

the ancient visual depictions that discovered on painted discs from Mesopotamia in modern day Kuwait indicated that the precedent of sailboat was inferenced from 5500 BC. These boats were simple, square-rigged reed ships with a single square papyrus sail attached to a pole and used for sailing on the Nile river. Sailboat was common in Egypt, Greek and Rome. In addition, many cultures and experts in millennia took part in development of sailing. (1)

square-rigger was the first kind of sailing boat for a thousand years ago. This kind of ship wasn’t exactly square, the naval architecture was how the wind struck the sails from the back and this made the ship move forward. This elementary and effective opinion, the square-rigged boats, paved the world for travel, business and war for the centuries. But there were some limitations. The major trouble was that you could only propelled the sailboat downwind or at a very limited angle to it. If your destination was somewhere in upwind, it wasn’t very easy to change your direction. The only solution was to start rowing (Egyptians and Romans made the slaves rowing). (2)

Invention of the yacht returns to 14th century by Dutch. In Holland small and quick yachts were used for following smugglers, pirates and criminals. The usage of these boats was changed by the Rich ship owners and merchants. They used these yachts to sail out and celebrate their returning ships.it became trendy to use yachts to take friends out just for pleasure. (9)

Traveling in ocean had been possible from 1000 BC. From that time to more than 2,000 years, merchant ships sailed only downwind. In 1189, when knights of the Third Crusade arrived to Mediterranean bustling with a lateener, sailing just in downwind started to change. In The lateener, there wasn’t square sail suspended from the pole. Instead, there was an enormous triangular sail that suspended from yardarm bound to the pole raked toward the bow. Lateener could sail to within 45 degrees of the wind direction and this is the reason why lateener could zigzag or tack into a stiff breeze. The rudder was already positioned on the starboard quarter. So, the range wasn’t vast. Vessels tended to be small, because the size of a side-mounted rudder had to increase in proportion to the size of a ship. (10)

The Mediterranean merchants lost their cargoes to Basque pirates in ships that it’s rudder mounted on the stern about 1300 AD. The Venetian shipwrights recognized that a ship with a stern rudder could grow in size, yet remain maneuverable.

Exploring the ocean started with stern-mounted rudders and lateen rigging. But the people who did this is important. In many references, Chinese mariners were more advanced. (10) lug-sails constructed of long bamboo patterns, was cheap to make and very easy to navigate with; was made by Chinese. These sails needed less crew-members. (6) The Chinese junk(lug-sail) with batwing sails had benefits like lateen rigging. In spite of these advantages, Chinese lacked keel: the design of the junks was just for the business in riverine and archipelagoes of Southeast Asia. Thus, in the open sea they foundered.

British and Dutch who built East Indiamen (huge boats with the capacity of 1000 tons of cargo) got control of the seas with the defeat of the Spanish Armada in 1588.  The architecture of the freighters of the merchant were “cod’s head and mackerel tail” shape that presented them bluff bow and a narrow, fin-like stern. European shipwrights considered they had borrowed nature’s perfect design. (10) The introduction of new materials, something which was rarely seen outside of each continent, was brought about after the Spanish Armada. The industrial revolution had increased the amount of material available and as the British Empire expanded, longer distances were starting to be travelled which required further innovation. (6)

Parliament’s insistence that all colonial trade be carried by East Indiamen, decreased The British sea power. The end was to make tax gathering easier, but instead it inspired Baltimore shipyards to design the frigate, a narrower, faster vessel that quickly became the ship of choice among smugglers. The demand for faster ships led in 1840 to the creation of the clipper ship.

American clippers sailed from China to New York in a week. This time is less than heretofore.
A narrow clipper powered by up to 60 sails and could cruise 250 miles a day.

Oceangoing steamers that had been introduced in 1810 started to challenge the clippers. Eventually could defeated the clippers in speed in 1880, but the effects of sail power didn’t reduce. (10)

Since the importance of yachting and navigation increased, the ancient people started to invent and develop the sailing technology. The steering oar was one of the main technological invention and led to manufacture of larger boats. The steering oar was a basic crowbar that added to the middle of the ship on the starboard side of the boat or at the stern. This invention helped the sailors to drive the craft more carefully. (1)

The stern-mounted rudder was the innovation of the Chinese. In or before the first century, they attached the steering device to the back of a ship’s hull and made the stern-mounted rudder. Western civilization after a thousand year added the stern-mounted rudders to the ships. (1)

For the first time, Vikings invented and used the keel as the basic rod that runs from a ship’s bow to its stern and sits lower than the rest of the hull. Keel stop the lateral movement of the ship, ascending the speed and stability of the ships. Many keels prevent capsizing of the boats by adding ballast to the ships and lower center of gravity. Primary keels were small and didn’t increase boats’ draughts a great deal. Modern fixed keels could be deep and restrained sailboats from yachting in shallow waters. The invention of fixed keels has also paved the way for designing of stability in modern boats much easier.(1)

Cutting of the sails became more different as well as the development of the technology. In these days triangular shape is familiar. The materials also changed, from natural fabrics like hemp and cotton to nylon and polyester. The shipwrights in the 18th and 19th centuries improved upon their design for example the wide and heavy tubes were changed to sleek and efficient keelboats. (2)

Lateen or Latin-rig sail was one of the major invention in the evolution of sailing technology. In the first century BC, it was used in Greece. Arabic and Persian sailors announced the Mediterranean about this innovation. The lateen is a triangular sail mounted at an angle and running in a fore-and-aft direction. With a maneuver called ‘tacking,’ the sail allows boats to make way to windward in a zig-zagging fashion.

The next major development in naval technology was the engine. Thomas Newcomen invented the first steam engine in 1712. William Symington, Scottish engineer, manufactured the first efficient steamboat in the world in 1802.17 years later in 1819, the first transatlantic travel took place by steamboat. The improvement of technology continued during 19th century and the invention of diesel-powered engines was observable in this time. Technology empowered the ship to sail in any condition and weather at consistent speed.

The safety of the sailing owes to the Emergency Position-Indicating Radio Beacons (EPIRBs). EIPRBs are tracking transmitters that communicate with the Cospas-Sarsat service, an international satellite system used for search and rescue (SAR) operations. EPIRBs prepare an additional amount of safety in fatal situations. they could be activated manually and automatically. When a ship capsizes, the EPIRBs are automatically activated and the beacons send out a distress signal monitored by a worldwide system of satellites that aid rescue efforts to find survivors. As reported by Cospas-Sarsat service, the EIPRBs were the elements of rescue of tens of thousands of people in catastrophic situations from it’s beginnings in 1979.

The latest leap forward in navigation came when boats began to be equipped with GPS units. Operating in fundamentally the same way as the Sat Nav that guides you while you drive, Global Positioning System (GPS) receivers have made marine navigation less dependent on paper charts and more dependent on electronic ones. GPS receivers are part of a space-based navigation system that provides location and time information in all weather conditions, anywhere on Earth where there is an unobstructed line of sight to four or more GPS satellites. (1)

Sails conquered earth’s watery frontiers, and space could be next. With the field of solar sails growing, who knows where sailing will take us next? (2)





1-10 Top innovations in the history of sailing – YBW. (n.d.) Retrieved September 03,2017, from ybw

2-The Evolution of Sail and Sailing Through the Ages. (n.d.) Retrieved January 30,2012, from asa

3-A Brief History of Sailing | LEARNZ. (n.d.) Retrieved August 08, 2018, from learnz

4-Jonathan Mcconnell. (2017) A Short History of World Sailing : World Sailing. Retrieved December 02,2017, from sailing

5-Sailboat history timeline – Newspaper – DAWN.COM. (n.d.) Retrieved April 02,2011, from dawn

6-A History of Sailing. (n.d.) Retrieved August 31, 2012, from thesailingpodcast

7-Charles Ii. (2012) sailing: History of Sport Sailing | Infoplease. Retrieved August 08, 2012, from infoplease

8-The History of Sailing. The America’s Cup. (n.d.) Retrieved August 08, 2001, from athleticscholarships

9-History of the Yacht & the Origins of Recreational Sailing. (2017) Retrieved December 16,2017, from asa

10-David DeVoss. (1986) Down to the Sea in Ships : A Short History of Sailing – latimes. Retrieved August 31,1986, from latimes


Check Also

Sailing Weather Forecast Watching Clouds!

Sailing Weather Forecast Watching Clouds!

Leave all the complicated Sailing Weather Forecast apps and gadgets behind as you’ll not need them …

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.