Watersports participation remains buoyant according to latest Watersports Participation Survey

Some 13.2 million UK adults tried a boating activity in 2022
30 May 23
Dinghy sailors on Budworth Lake
  • 13.2 million UK adults tried a boating activity in 2022
  • Popularity of Stand Up Paddleboarding continues to grow – numbers up by 536K 
  • Overseas participation is recovering well following the pandemic

Over 10 million people took part in one or more boating activities* once or twice in 2022, whilst the number of people taking part more frequently in on water activities (3+ times) remained similar to the previous year (3.2 million).

Read the Watersports Participation Survey 2022 report.

In 2021, with severe restrictions on international travel imposed on the population due to the pandemic, many people headed to the coast and inland waters to make the most of the good weather and spend their leisure time outdoors.  Compared to 2020, this resulted in massive growth in the number of people participating in watersports and it appears that the popularity for time on the water did not diminish with the lifting of covid-19 restrictions.

“It’s encouraging to see that watersports participation has continued to prove popular with the UK population post the pandemic boom”, commented Lesley Robinson, CEO, British Marine.  “Paddle sport activities, particularly stand up paddleboarding, which are easily accessible both on the coast and inland waterways, have remained extremely popular with participation figures continuing to rise, however it does appear that the trend is still for more infrequent, experiential participation rather than regular participation.

“As anticipated with the international travel restrictions being lifted, we saw an increase in the number of people travelling abroad to enjoy their watersports, but with so many opportunities in the UK we are confident anyone looking to try a new activity or undertake regular boating activities will be able to find just what they need on their doorstep.”

To find all the information you need to get on the water this summer visit Start Boating

The Watersports Participation Survey covers participation from October 2021 to September 2022, a full year in which the UK was starting to live with the pandemic and restrictions were largely removed. There were still some entry restrictions in some international destinations, which impacted international travel to a certain degree, but people could still get abroad on holiday if they wished.

The survey is conducted annually by a consortium of leading marine bodies including British Marine, Royal Yachting Association (RYA), Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA), Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI), British Canoeing (BC) Canal and River Trust and the Centre for Environment, Fisheries and Aquaculture Science (Cefas).

* The core boating activities include small sailboat racing, other small sailboat activities, yacht racing, yacht cruising, power boating, general motor boating/cruising, canal boating, canoeing, rowing/sculling, windsurfing, water skiing and wakeboarding and using personal watercraft.