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Water babies of the UK: The most popular water sports revealed holiday cottages

Water babies of the UK: The most popular water sports revealed

Sarah P 11 February 2021

How many of the UK’s top water sports have you tried? We put this question to the Great British public in a recent survey to find out what the most popular water sports across the country are, and which of them most people would like to try in 2021. With more people than ever set to embark on a staycation this year, outdoor activities and water sports are likely to grow in popularity, but what tops the list? 

The results proved for an interesting read, revealing the most tried water sport across all age groups is sea swimming, while the water sport that more than 40% of all age groups would like to try is stand-up paddleboarding. 

The most popular water sports revealed

We’ve picked out the top-level results across all demographics - including where in the UK you can find the biggest water babies (the people who have tried the most water sports), as well as the most and least tried water sports, and those that made the must-try list for 2021:


The top water sports the Great British public have tried: 

Water sport

Percentage of people who have tried it2

Sea swimming

83%

Kayaking

42%

Canoeing

40%

Bodyboarding

34%

Sailing

31%

Rowing

30%

Surfing

21%

Stand-up paddleboarding

17%

Diving

13%

Windsurfing

12%

Jet skiing

9%

Wakeboarding

4%

Kitesurfing

1%


Sea swimming was the most popular water sport across the board with over 83% of people having tried it. Interestingly, it was the most popular among the over 55s with more than 91% of them saying they had given it a go. While only 9% of people have tried jet skiing, it ranked highly as one to try with 29% of people choosing it. 

Surprisingly, the survey revealed that 79% of the Great British public have not tried surfing and only 20% want to give it a go! Kayaking appears as a firm favourite throughout, appearing in second place for both the water sports that have been tried and those that the public would like to try! 

The top water sports the Great British public would like to try:

Water sports

Percentage of people who would like to try 

Stand-up paddleboarding

49%

Kayaking

32%

Sailing

31%

Jet skiing

29%

Canoeing

27%

Sea swimming

26%

Diving

21%

Surfing

20%

Rowing

19%

Kitesurfing

18%

Windsurfing

16%

Bodyboarding

16%

Wakeboarding

14%


Water sports popularity by destination 

So where can you find the UK's biggest water babies? The answer is the home of Stay in Cornwall itself - the South West - where, on average, people have tried 3.58 water sports. On the other hand, people in the North East have tried the least, tallying up an average of just 1.43 water sports. Throughout the country, however, Brits have tried on average just 2 water sports, but younger people have tried the most with an average of 4 and the over 55s just 2. 

Water sports and mental health

Did you know that cold water immersion, and therefore water sports, can have a huge mental health benefit? To offer a bit more of an insight into this, we spoke to Chill, a provider of swimming courses for people suffering from anxiety and depression.

The benefits of immersion in cold water gradually reduce stress levels and help to generate a greater sense of wellbeing. Chill, founded by Mike Morris, currently runs free sea swimming sessions on the North Devon coast to show participants how it works, including essential safety. As the organisation continues to grow, they are looking to roll out these courses across the rest of the UK. Founder, Mike Morris commented on our findings: 

"It is wonderful that so many people have a yearning to take to the water in the UK. It's in our blood! I am, of course, an advocate of the pastime. The healing qualities associated with ‘blue therapy' are so evident in the research that we have carried out that it is a no-brainer you feel good afterwards. I was surprised that 83% of people have swum in the sea; we just need to make sure people partake more often!"

Do you think you would benefit from Chill's courses? Watch the video above, and check out their website to learn more: https://chilluk.org/

If you've been inspired to try a new water sport, or get back in the sea in 2021, why not combine it with a stay in one of our Cornwall cottages? It's important to ensure that if you would like to try a new water sport, that you do under the guidance of experts and professionals who can teach you important skills, safety and also, how to take care of our oceans while you do this. We've put together a guide to Cornwall water sports, where you'll find all the best places to hire equipment and book lessons in Cornwall. 

View the full data breakdown here

This data was collected by holidaycottages.co.uk, flagship brand of The Travel Chapter group, which includes Stay in Cornwall.



Disclaimer: Whilst every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of the information at the time of writing, please ensure you check carefully before making any decisions based on the contents within this article.

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