For most of humanity’s history on the seas, we’ve had to rely on two main methods of propulsion through the water: oars, the preferred method for warships and some trade vessels in Europe, and still used on small boats worldwide, and the sail, designed to harness the power of wind currents. With wind power, various peoples were able to reach far-off lands, with the Polynesians managing to colonise many Pacific islands that couldn’t be reached without exploiting sailing power, and the development of large trading ships in Europe allowed for large-scale trade between the Old and New World.

But when the engine was developed, the disadvantages of sailing for trade and warfare were apparent: mainly their reliance on wind currents blowing in the right direction to get moving. By contrast, a ship with an engine and fuel can go just about anywhere within range. Once the teething problems with engine reliability were resolved, sails weren’t needed as a backup and large ship designs took the masts off.

Nevertheless the sailboat has some advantages over conventional ship motors: they’re quiet, don’t require fuel, and in ideal conditions, can get up to speeds of up to 30MPH. For this reason, sailboats are commonly used for leisure and relaxation, and due to their differences between motorised boats, sailing has been a professional sport of its own since the early 20th Century.

These ship designs have evolved and changed considerably as new building materials, rules and regulations have slowly honed the art of sailing to perfection. While the fastest and lightest sailing craft aren’t exactly comfortable to live on, as nearly everything has been cut out to lose weight, they represent the pinnacle of sailing speed. Sailboats can vary significantly in size and weight, from the huge yet agile J-Class yachts to the diminutive world-crossing IDEC trimarans, descended from thousands of years of catamaran and trimaran designs that allowed the Polynesians to explore the Pacific thousands of years ago.

If you’re looking for a super yacht charter based in The Mediterranean and Caribbean, You Charter Direct provides several cruising locations in the Mediterranean and Caribbean so you can see some of the history of the Mediterranean for yourself.