Survey finds UK boating participation dropped 0.6% in 2015

The latest survey from British Marine shows a slight decline in overall boating participation, with motor cruising attracting 421,000 people

Poor weather conditions and an overall downward trend in recreational sports led to a 0.6 percentage point decline in boating participation last year, according to the latest survey from British Marine.

The industry body surveyed a representative sample of 12,000 Britons as part of its annual Watersports Participation Survey, the results of which are published today.

The study looked at 12 core boating activities (ranging from motor cruising and sailing to canoeing and surfing), and concludes that they were hindered by worse than average weather during 2015.

Canoeing remains the UK’s most popular boating activity by far, with 1.42million people actively involved in 2015, up 28.8% over the past decade.

By contrast, motor cruising and sailing attract less than 1% of the UK population (421,000 and 418,000 respectively).

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Meanwhile domestic boating continues to rise, with 95% of boaters keeping their vessel in the UK. This figure has been rising steadily since 2010.

What’s more, those who do choose to take part in boating activities are becoming more frequent hobbyists, with the average boater taking six trips in 2016, compared with five trips in 2013.

Other findings included a 1.6% year-on-year decline in watersports participation, although the total figure of 12.4million is still higher than it was before the 2012 London Olympics.

Despite the overall downward trend for 2015, Howard Pridding, chief executive of British Marine, sees many reasons to be upbeat about the prospects for a rebound in 2016:

“The forthcoming months offer tremendous opportunities to encourage more people to get out on the water.

“By building on the exposure that the 2016 Olympics & Paralympics and the Louis Vuitton America’s Cup World Series brings to our industry, more people will be able to take the chance to safely enjoy the rich experiences that being on the water can provide.”

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