Busan Regional Office of Oceans & Fisheries



History of Yachts

The history of yachts may have begun with the origin of ships. However, the origin is not accurate and, generally, it is believed that it began by using the force of the wind, in other words, by using the sail. Since the ancient society, people have used ships jointly utilizing paddles and sails for trade or military purposes. As the Ancient Egyptian murals going back to the year 3400 BC show the drawings of ships with large rectangular sails and oars, we can presume that vessels originated from the Nile River.

Since then, with development of civilization, for various purposes or as a means of transportation, there have been gradually developments from oar boats to sailing ships. From Phoenician merchant ships around the year 15 BC to the 4th century AD in the East Mediterranean to Greek and Roman Period (from the year 9 BC to the 5th century AD) and to Viking’s expedition voyage (9th – 10th Centuries), it was the era of ships jointly utilizing oars and sails as well as ships with large rectangular sails.

The fore-and-aft rigged which can sail against the wind is believed to be used by Orientals in 15th century after the Arabian’s Latin sail. In the middle of 17th century, with the competitive colonization of Netherlands, Portugal and Spain, large sailing ships began to be built as national policies.

In 1720, the first yacht club in history, ‘the Water Club of the Cork Harbor’ was established. Since then, the world entered into the sailing era of the triangular trade connecting the East Indies, West Indies and West Africa and experienced the golden age of sailing ships based on the importance of the sea. However, after the Industrial Revolution, due to invention of steam engines and locomotives, the role of sailing ships as a means of transportation began to decline.


The etymology of ‘yacht’ originates from the Dutch word ‘jacht’, which is derived from ‘jagen’. It has the meaning ‘to hunt’ or ‘to chase’. The beginning of modern yachts, designed to sail to any direction without big influence from the wind, can be traced to the two yachts presented to Charles II of England by the Netherlands to congratulate his ascending of the throne in 1660. After that, Charles II built more yachts of the similar kind, and began the yacht racing. The first officially recorded yacht racing was the one between Charles II and his brother the Duke of York James. It was a race competed for prize of 100 pounds sterling via the 37km course at the Thames from Greenwich to Gravesend. Since then, yachts for racing have spread and various yacht clubs and official races began. In Britain, the racing developed enthusiastically. In 1747, the racing rules appeared and in 1775, a grand-scale yacht racing held with participation of citizens. After discovery of the New Continent, the May Flower crossed to the New Continent, and yachts spread throughout the east coast of America. In 1844, the first yacht club was founded in New York. In 1851, the yacht America, which had come crossing the Atlantic Sea, won the race around the Isle of Wight in England beating 17 yachts and America emerged as the new power in yacht racing. It was the origin of the famous America’s Cup.

Yachting, which began from the Netherlands and then expanded as a leisure sport of Royal Europeans, saw the official establishment of International Yacht Racing Union (IYRU) in 1907 and Union later became the International Sailing Federation. As the Olympic events, sailing was planned for the program of the 1st Athens Olympics in 1896 but could not be staged due to bad weather. The yacht racing has been staged in the Olympics since the 2nd Paris Olympic in 1900.

In the 20th century, yachting settled as the complete sport and leisure activity. Major yacht racings include Americas Cup (which is a match race), Ocean Race (crossing the ocean), Dinghy Races in Olympics or Asian games. As a leisure sport to discipline the mind and body during the weekends or holidays, cruising sailing is widely enjoyed.


Types of yachts

Types of yachts are classified variously according to the usage, structure of the ship bottom, and type of masts.
According to the usage, it is classified as dinghy and cruiser. A dinghy is a small sailing yacht for 1-3 people, which sail using the force of wind without equipping engine or cabin. A cruiser is a 7-20m long deck boat, equipped with accommodation facility, drainage facility, and entertainment facility. So, it can be sailed to the far seas as well.