What is the Difference Between a Yacht Club and a Sailing Club?

Many people dream of owning a yacht or a boat. There is a strong appeal of taking your boat out on the water and escaping from life’s stressors.  

Once you have made this dream a reality, many people also join a boating club of some kind, be it a yacht club or a sailing club. 

Being a part of a club can significantly enhance the experience of having a boat. It is a group of people that share your passion for being on the water. Additionally, boating clubs are a great way of learning and improving your boating skills.    

However, selecting the right kind of boating club is easier said than done. It seems like there are as many different kinds of boating clubs as there are boats! Joining the wrong type of club could be a waste of time and money.  

Keep reading to find out the difference between a yacht club and a sailing club so you can join the right group for you.  

Yacht Club vs. Sailing Club

Neither name is sanctioned or organized by a governing body. As a result, boating organizations are allowed to use them interchangeably. The difference between yacht clubs and sailing clubs comes down to the individual club.  

The ambiguity of yachting vs. sailing can create a lot of confusion. Depending on the club and the location, a yacht and sailing club could have the same services/amenities or completely different ones. 

To help you sort through this confusion, I’ve created a list of the crucial characteristics that boating clubs can have. Before joining a club, you should evaluate the benefits and identify the right club for you.    

Type of Boat

Before joining a club, know the type of boat you are interested in using. Boat type is a determining factor in the boating club you should join.  

The first thing you should consider when evaluating a boating club is the type of boat that the club uses and supports. Some yacht or sailing clubs only support sail-powered ships. Others will support powered boats or a combination of the two.  


The next characteristic of a boating club you should consider is its location. There are boating clubs all over the world, including Canada, Florida, Europe, etc. The club’s proximity to you is crucial. However, what is a more vital consideration is the type of boating you want to do. There are boat clubs on both freshwater lakes and the ocean.  

Additionally, depending on the location on the coast, a club can be more oriented towards large or small boats. The site of the boat club can be just as important as the type of boat that the club supports.  


The facilities offered by yacht and sailing clubs vary from club to club. Often, the facilities align with the type of boat that the club prioritizes (sailing or powered). Additionally, different clubs may have boat storage and repair facilities.  

Furthermore, some boating clubs offer wakeboarding, paddleboards, kayaks, and other water-related activities.   

In addition to the boat-specific equipment, clubs may have facilities aligned toward club members like a clubhouse, restaurant, or bar. If a boating club has these types of amenities, there is often an added emphasis on social events and outings.     

Type of Boating: Cruising or Racing

One of the most important differences that boating clubs can have is the type of boating they participate in, cruising or racing.  

Cruising-focused clubs will often go to sea together and visit other clubs in the vicinity or even abroad. This type of club is great for meeting like-minded people and improving your confidence as a sailor.  

A racing-focused club is more competitive. This type of boating club will host competitions within the club as well as with other clubs. The kind of racing club can vary in quality, quantity, and level of competition. A racing club is a great way to improve your boating skills but often requires a higher initial skill level.    


If it wasn’t already clear, different boating clubs have a variety of additional services and perks. Before selecting the right boat club for you, double-check the membership benefits offered at various boat clubs.

Some boating clubs will provide boats for you or have boats for rent. Others require you to bring your boat.  

Frequently, membership will give you discounted rates on sailing classes or renting a boat. The savings can be up to 30-50% compared to what is available to the public. Additionally, you might get access to special offers like weekend specials, flex time sailing, and extended trips.  

The social benefits of membership are also a key consideration. Some boating clubs function like social or country clubs. They will organize social events, parties, boat shows, and group sails, and these events are not usually open to the public.  

Social events will come at an additional cost. So, you must know what kind of experience you want from your boating club. If you are more focused on sailing, then a boat club that offers social benefits might not be for you.  

However, if you are interested in meeting people just as much as you are sailing, a more social-focused boat club would be an excellent choice.  

Finally, it would be best if you considered the youth programs that a club might offer. Some yacht or sailing clubs are focused on adults. If you have children or grandchildren that you are interested in teaching to sail, some boating clubs offer benefits specifically to kids. 

Youth programs might include sailing lessons, summer programs, and general sailing education. If you want to share your passion for open water with the next generation, it is highly recommended you find a boating club that offers benefits for the kids.  

Club Culture

Just like any organization or group, boating clubs have different vibes. Finding a club that has the right atmosphere is essential. Some clubs may be posher and formal. Others will be more salt of the earth and casual.

There is no right or wrong atmosphere for a boating club. What matters is personal preference, and the type of atmosphere you feel most comfortable boating in. 

The best way to identify if a boating club is a good match for you is to visit on a busy sailing day and get a feel for the character and atmosphere of the club and its members.      

What is the Difference Between a Yacht Club and a Sailing Club?


The cost of membership at different clubs can vary wildly. The fees and price reflect the location and the various amenities and services offered by a club. Carefully consider the benefits and activities you want and find a price point that matches your budget.  

A boating club membership is no good if you can’t afford to put your boat out on the water.   

In Conclusion

There isn’t a specific difference between a yacht club and a sailing club. The word is used somewhat interchangeably. However, some clubs use it to refer to particular types of boats (I.e., sailing or powered). 

Before joining any boating club, know what type of experience you are looking for and find a club that matches your wants and needs.