Essential Sailing Gear on the Cheap

Gone are the days of social class rule: there are no leisure activities that should be considered off limits – that includes sailing.

It might have been the case, some forty years ago, that starting out in the world of sailing and dinghy racing might have been a bit more difficult. Clubs were far more selective and particular about the kinds of people that they accepted. They didn’t have to give a reason for not accepting individuals, but it could be as simple as the selecting committee not liking ‘the cut of their jib’ or – more likely – not wanting to teach newcomers. Of course, one of the biggest obstacles for newcomers to the sport was the cost of purchasing the necessary equipment and gear.

Today, sailing is no longer ruled by the same kind of elitism that it once was. As long as you don’t mind roughing it with some second-hand gear at first, you can get ‘the sailing experience’ for relatively little money and you’ll find that you’ll have to jump through far fewer hoops wen joining a club or society.

Before you dive head first into the exciting world of sailing, there are a few pieces of essential gear that it might be worth purchasing…


It doesn’t matter what conditions you’re sailing in, a good pair of long fingered sailing clubs is essential if you wish to step beyond the role of spectator and into the realms of participant. Sailing is an all-weather sport where you are almost guaranteed to get wet. Sailing gloves (normal five fingered gloves which leave the top cap of the thumb and index finger exposed) are needed to ensure that you can keep a good grip on the ropes, as well as the boat itself!

Three Breathable Layers

As with any outdoors sports, especially the ones braved in the English weather, breathable layers are required in all seasons. Although it might seem a little excessive investing in so many garments, do this early on and you’ll be rewarded with comfort for the duration of your sailing experience. You’ll need a thermal base layer first, on top of that you’ll have a breathable fleece to keep out the cold and finally, you’ll need a light waterproof coat that keeps off the wind and the rain. Try approaching wholesale sports outlets first and see if they have any end of line stock before buying the newest models.

Boat Shoes

It might sound like a cliche but boat shoes are really a must if you’re thinking of heading out onto the water frequently. Although you might benefit from a traditional pair of shoes at social occasions and whilst your’re off-shore; when you’re getting some serious sailing done on the ocean, you’ll want to make sure that you have all the tread that you need. Consider purchasing a hybrid shoe type that balances the practical needs of sailing with the style of a traditional boat shoe.

Life Jacket

Safety really does come first, when it comes to sailing and it doesn’t matter how confident a swimmer you are – the sea should never be underestimated – a life jacket should always be worn. It should go without saying that skimping on this piece of equipment really wouldn’t be wise. Don’t buy second hand and make sure to test out your gear (in a safe environment) before you take it out onto open water. Don’t think that a simple buoyancy aid will be enough to keep you afloat, only a functioning life jacket will keep you afloat and your airways clear.