What Is Sailgating? Tailgating meets the open water

Have you ever wondered what could bring tailgating to the next level? I mean what could possibly top the atmosphere, food, games, camaraderie, and fun that tailgating brings? One option could be the emergence of Sailgating. What is Sailgating? It is exactly what you think it is: tailgating on a boat. Fan bases in certain parts of the country have long known about and have partaken in Sailgating for many years but it is unknown amongst many others. This article will highlight some sailgating basics and provide a shout out to some of the pioneering fan bases who began all of this.

Sailgating basics

It’s pretty straightforward, but you take the food, drinks, music, and fun from the parking lot and pack it all on to a boat, kayak, or canoe. Now there may be some limitations of what you can bring on to your boat but as long as you have the essentials (food, drinks, waterproof bags, sun block, team apparel, stereo, etc.) you should be well set. If you’re like me and don’t own a boat, there are typically some local options that will allow you to rent a boat for the day. Or you may find that you can purchase a spot on a local charter boat that will provide food and drinks to you for a price.

Once you have your boat and essentials all in place, you are ready to head out into the open waters and join your fellow sailgaters. Safety will be of big concern, so make sure you are following your local rules and guidelines for boating. After you’ve cruised around you’ll eventually want to find a good place to drop anchor and enjoy the festivities and atmosphere. This would also be a good time to make friends with your boating neighbors around you. As it gets closer to game time you’ll need to head back to marina, boat slip, or wherever it is that you need to tie your boat up. Or if your boat happens to have a TV then you can catch the game from the water. It’s certainly a unique experience that adds to the game day festivities.

Baylor University

What Is Sailgating? Baylor

Beginning in 2014 after construction of the new McLane Stadium on the banks of the Brazos River, fans at Baylor University have been able to sailgate before every home game. This has added to the overall tailgating experience at Baylor that hadn’t been realized before. It also provides a really cool view on TV when you see all the boats right outside of the stadium. The Baylor faithful even started the “Bearmada”, a group consisting of fans and alumni, who proudly sailgate each and every home game. I met someone who is a Baylor alum and we were comparing tailgating in both the North and the South. He is the one who first told me about sailgating and how unique it is, so I’m hoping someday to be able to check out a game day down in Waco, TX.

University of Washington

What Is Sailgating? University of Washington

Going back all the way to the 1950’s (and even longer, depending on who you ask), the University of Washington has been taking part (and even pioneering) in sailgating before home games. As Husky Stadium sits right on Lake Washington, and with the views of the Olympic Mountains, Cascade Range, and Mount Rainer, it makes for a truly special scene. It’s been said that as many as 8,000 fans arrive to the game by boat. There are plenty of options available to take in a sailgating experience, either by renting a boat or buying a charter package from a variety of local businesses. I once visited Seattle back in 2004 but if I make it back during college football season this will be at the top of my “things to do” list.

University of Tennessee

What Is Sailgating? - University of Tennessee

The University of Tennessee’s Neyland Stadium is located on the banks of the Tennessee River and plays host to 150-200+ boats on Saturdays. The river is 652 miles long and stretches across 4 states, making it possible to arrive to the game from a variety of places. This tradition started in the 1960s when Tennessee play-by-play announcer George Mooney became so fed up with traffic on game days that he decided to take his boat to and from the game and tie up on a tree outside the stadium. This eventually caught on to others and it has evolved to what it is today. In 2002 the Vol Navy Boater’s Association was formed and continues to grow and support the pre-game sailgating activities in Knoxville, TN.


It’s safe to say that sailgating is a pretty cool idea. It’s great to see the support from the fans, cities, and universities for this kind of pre-gamming activity. Football fans can be pretty creative with their tailgating and I can’t wait to see what the next installment will look like. Now it’s your turn, have you sailgated before? What has been your most memorable tailgating/sailgating experience? What would you like to see next? Sound off in the comments below!

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