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Sailing in Switzerland

Sailing - Katharina Wieland Müller  /

Remember Alinghi?  The Swiss sailing boat that won the Americas Cup in 2003 and 2004? Well, maybe you aren't into sailing or were not interested in anything Swiss back then. I remember the first victory in 2003 very clearly. It was all over the news and everyone was saying "Now, who is still claiming that a land-locked country cannot bring forth excellent sailors?!".

This year we also had some sailors at the olympics but they did not excel at their sport. Nevertheless, sailing is quite popular in Switzerland. Of course not as much as soccer or ice hockey but popular enough to flood lake Zurich with sailing boats once a week. If you've ever been around lake Zurich on a sunny and warm Sunday, you must have noticed the great number of white sails moving quietly over the water. Thousands of sailing boats are registered in the canton of Zurich alone and besides lake Zurich there isn't much water to sail on.

Here, in Switzerland you need a sailing license to sail boats with a sail area of more than 15sqm. I got my sailing license last year after a summer with little wind and cold fall afternoons. After putting in hours and hours on a beautiful wooden boat I heard the examiner say those longed for words: You passed! Since then I am allowed to rent and use sailing boats of any size here in Switzerland (and on every European lake).

And that is exactly what I plan to do this weekend. Not on lake Zurich (even if it would be much closer) but on lake Neuchatel which is in the French speaking part of Switzerland. Actually, lake Neuchatel is the largest lake of Switzerland that is completely inside Switzerland. Compared to lake Zurich the sailing conditions on lake Neuchatel are much better: more wind, more constant wind and larger distances that can be sailed.

So, I am off to a weekend of sailing, sun and some Swiss frenchness on this warm August weekend. Who knows, it might be the last real warm weekend this year....

For more information about sailing in Zurich consult the website of the Zurich Schiffahrtskontrolle. If you are looking for a sailing school I recommend Veleta in Kilchberg.



  1. did you know that zero sailors on the americas cups winning yacht alinghi were actually from switzerland? - they were all from New Zealand mate

    1. I didn't. Wikipedia says the Alinghi team that won the Americas Cup was mainly from NZ but with team members from Switzerland, Germany, Uk, Australia, etc. I haven't found a list of only the actual sailors.


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