Sailing involves a variety of competitive sailing formats and racing disciplines including matches within a fleet of sailing boats, between a pair or among teams and specialised competitions that include setting speed records. 

Racing formats include both closed courses and point-to-point contests; they may be in sheltered waters, coast-wise or on the open ocean.

Sailing is recognised by the Commonwealth Games Federation as a sport which has potential for inclusion in future Commonwealth Games. Sailing is eligible for inclusion by prospective cities within their selection of up to seven additional sports. The earliest Games in which sailing could have been included was at the Gold Coast 2018 Games.