Although it’s possible that the sailboats existed long beforehand, archaeologists attribute their creation too the ancient Egyptians. The degradable materials from which these boats were made makes it difficult to pinpoint to the exact start of the use of wind power in boats, but depictions can be found within ancient Egyptian records. It is believed they were being used commonly dating back as far as 3000 BC.
These boats were made mostly of papyrus reeds at first, but as wind power grew more prevalent, so did the use of wood when constructing boats since it was more sturdy. These early models of sailboats featured a single mast fitted with a square sail, which only allowed the sails to be useful when sailing downwind (meaning that the wind was blowing behind them). In order to sail upwind, the captains needed a team of rowers that would paddle the boat whenever wind power was not available.