Guest Post: 5 Benefits of Learning To Sail


Sailing in Hampton Roads

Arielle Darrow is a Team Member of HDsailing and Sailing Director at The Hampton Yacht Club.


Why enroll your child into a sailing program? Sailing is more than just a hobby, it is a competitive Olympic sport that requires muscle strength, endurance/agility, cardiovascular fitness, mental wellness, relaxation, concentration, and communication. Sailing can lead your child into getting into college, sailing around the world and more! 

1. Sailing Builds Strength and Endurance: Sailing can be relaxing, but hoisting and trimming in the sails, hiking and roll tacks or jibes all require muscle strength and endurance. Also, pulling on the lines (ropes) and having to move quickly in the boat can increase your child’s hand-eye coordination and motor skills.

The American Heart Association says “that in order to improve cardiovascular health, people should be getting at least 150 minutes of moderate exercise or 75 minutes of vigorous exercise a week.” (source). Improving cardiovascular health can help reduce the risk of hypertension, obesity and other heart illnesses. Sailing is definitely a cardio sport!

2. A Positive Mental Boost: It has been said that being near the sea air and water can make you calmer and improve your mental well-being. Researchers have said, “Minerals in the sea air reduce stress; negatively charged ions in the sea air combat free radicals, improving alertness and concentration; salt in the water preserves tryptamine, serotonin and melatonin levels in the brain, which aid in diminishing depression or increasing your overall sense of wellness; and research has demonstrated that the sounds of waves alter the brain’s wave patterns, producing a state of relaxation.” (source) Fortunately, sailing requires water, so calmness and mental well-being will follow.

3. Develops Teamwork: Concentration, communication and the use of science and math are key in sailing. You have to be able to concentrate in order to plan your next attack on the race course, and you have to focus on your sails to make sure they are trimmed correctly for the next wind line. You have to be able to communicate to your crew or to your skipper what the next maneuver will be and where you will be heading to next. If you are not working as a team and communicating properly, you will not be able to get anywhere.

4. Sailors Use Science & Math: Sailing is more than just who can be the strongest, you have to be a scientist and mathematician as well. You have to be able to read the wind, clouds and weather patterns to determine what side of the race course you will be sailing on. You have to calculate your moves and angles to the wind to make sure you are not sailing too far away from your next mark.

5. Sailing Can Be Affordable: Many people think sailing is expensive and for only the “elite”. Sailing camps all around the Chesapeake Bay are very affordable and are sometimes even cheaper than soccer, baseball or football camps. You do not even need to own your own sailboat for summer sailing, high school sailing or college sailing. Anyone can learn how to sail and continue on into their years!

All these reasons show that sailing not only provides an exciting experience, but it offers a lot of positive benefits to your child’s mental and physical health. Sailing can take your child anywhere! 

My Story: I started sailing at the age of 17 and then joined Old Dominion University’s Varsity Sailing Team with no parents to speak of, no money to my name and was working 5 jobs just to keep myself afloat. After college sailing, I knew that sport was going to change my life. Due to sailing, I have traveled all over the world for regattas, I have been able to take part in the Magenta Project’s Marstrom 32 clinic, I have won the Hinman Trophy for US Sailing Team Race Champs and I have trained with some of the top sailors and coaches from all over the world. I am now currently running an Olympic campaign on the Nacra 17 and I am a Director for a yacht club. 

Consider sending your child to sailing camp and see his/her future unfold!

photo credit: Arielle Darrow

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