While motorboats are the preferred choice for watersports, they are loud, noisy, and don’t offer you the best experience for a clam boating experience. However, the sailboat provides a serene sailing experience that’s quiet, relaxing, offering you plenty of fun on the water.
Sailboats come in a wide variety of configurations, lengths, and features, giving you passenger capacities from one person to 15-people or more, depending on the size of the model. Learning to sail is a skill all watermen should have in their repertoire; it’s the original form of boating and a highly sought-after skill.
This brief guide to sailboats gives you everything you need to know about choosing the right sailboat for your aquatic adventures.
- What is a Sailboat?
- Different Types of Sailboats
- The Fastest Sailing Boats
- How Much Does a Sailboat Cost?
- Benefits of Sailboats
- Disadvantages of Sailboats
- Top Sailboat Brands & Models
- Wrapping Up
What is a Sailboat?
A sailboat is a broad term defining many different boats. There are several categories of sailboats with plenty of sail options. The types of sails define your boat, and here are the most popular choices for these watercraft.
- The modern sloop, featuring a single mast and two sails.
- The macaroni or Bermuda rig offers tall triangular-shaped sails.
- A racing sloop for higher speeds and competitive sailing.
- The masthead sloop, with the jib reaching to the end of the masthead.
- The fractional sloop rig features a proportionately larger mainsail and smaller jib.
- The single-sail cat rig.
- The ketch rig features a smaller mast aft, also known as a mizzenmast.
- The yawl is similar in design to a ketch rig.
- The schooner featuring two to four masts positioned further forward in the boat.
While these are the most common sail types, several others are less common with modern sailing techniques. The topsail featuring multi-flying jibs are better suited to long journeys, and many recreational sailors aren’t going to be out on the water for months at a time.
The rule of thumb is that the larger the sail and the more sails you have, the bigger the crew required to operate the boat. However, if you’re looking for a solo rig, there are plenty of smaller options available.
The Laser is an excellent example of a popular single-person sailboat designed for recreational and competitive use. These boats make the ideal starter vessel for someone who’s learning the ropes of sailing.
Different Types of Sailboats
Sailboats rely on the wind to power the vessel through the water. However, there are those days on the lake or ocean where the wind is flat. As a result, most sailboats come with small outboard or trolling motors to power them through the water on windless days.
You have several options for sailboat design, with the most popular options being the following.
The catamaran uses two hulls to power the boat through the water, offering less drag and faster sailing speeds. They are often the choice for professional racing boats, allowing the vessel to cut through rough seas.
These boats also come in luxury models allowing for spending days or weeks out on the water. The most advanced models will also feature hydrofoils that lift the hull out of the water at high speeds, providing more stability, less drag, and higher cruising speeds.
The beach catamaran operates with a sail, while the cruising model relies on an outboard motor for a backup to the sail on calm days.
The cruising sailboat features a design for covering long distances on the ocean. The cruiser will offer you the benefits of long-term liveaboard conditions, featuring luxury accommodations and amenities like full kitchens, heads, and bedrooms.
As the name implies, the daysailer is suitable for day trips out on the ocean or the lake. These models feature a multi-hull or monohull design, and some come with sleeping accommodations.
Due to the smaller size of these vessels, they are often trailerable, providing easy transport between launch locations. The motorsailer gives you the advantages of the daysailer, with an additional engine for powering the boat on windless days out on the water.
The daysailer will also feature amenities like a kitchen and head, and they often come with sleeping accommodation.
The racing sailboat or yacht offers you a competitive vessel focusing on speed and maneuverability. Many models come with lightweight carbon fiber designs for higher speeds and hull stability when cutting through the water.
Most models also feature hydrofoils that lift the hull from the water, providing stable cruising speeds and fast sailing.
These boats are not suitable for beginners, and they require a competent, experienced team. You get full amenities, but they are more bare-bones, and don’t expect any luxury features because they need to save on weight with the design.
The sailing dinghy is a small sailboat suitable for one or two people. They are not ideal for open-ocean use as they present a sinking risk in rough water conditions.
However, they are great for learning how to sail, and many models come with a single-person operation for easy sailing. It’s a great boat for building your sailing skills in preparation for a larger model.
Kiteboards and Windsurfers
Kiteboards and windsurfers aren’t technically boats, but they rely on wind power for operation. They are a great choice for a sporty time out on the water and suitable for freshwater and ocean use.
The Fastest Sailing Boats
While they don’t have motors, and can’t reach the same speeds as powerboats, sailing yachts can reach high speeds in favorable wind conditions. If you have the need for speed with your sailing, then try one of the following models for a thrilling experience on the water.
The fastest sailboats include the following models.
- Specialized high-performance boats (up to 65-knots)
- Kiteboards and Windsurfers (50-knots)
- Hydrofoil monohulls (50-knots)
- Hydrofoil multi-hulls (44-knots)
- High-performance multi-hull boats (20-knots)
- Offshore racer monohulls (less than 20-knots)
The hydrofoil technology found in more expensive models lifts the hull from the water as the boat engages its top-end speed. The foil adds a smooth sailing experience that’s unlike any other hull type when engaged.
How Much Does a Sailboat Cost?
Sailboats come in various models, from small single-person models to boats requiring a full crew to operate. The cost of the vessel depends on the design materials (carbon fiber models are the most expensive), the length of the boat, the sail design, accessories and amenities, and the manufacturing brand.
Small to mid-sized boast can cost anything from $10,000 to $80,000, with sports models costing up to $150,000. Luxury models with longer lengths and sports cats can cost you anywhere up to $500,000 or more, depending on the features.
Benefits of Sailboats
The sailboat has plenty of advantages out on the water. Here are some of the top benefits of sailboats.
Sailboats rely on the sail to power the vessel. As a result, you get no motor noise, and you can enjoy the sound of the ocean as you sail along. Some models come with motors to propel the boat if it’s a calm day with low winds.
Most larger models come with V-berths and living accommodations for spending several days out on the water. The type of accommodations varies from basic in racing models to pure luxury in cruisers. However, the luxury models will add dollars to the price tag, depending on your customizations.
The smaller models of sailing boats are easy to trailer. The Laser is a good example, with easy trailering suitable for a single person to navigate.
Multiple Sizing Options
Sailboats come in designs and lengths to suit any activity out on the water. Whether you want a boat to cruise the lakes by yourself or tackle the oceans with a crew, there is a model to suit your needs.
Disadvantages of Sailboats
The sailboat offers you a fantastic cruising experience out on the water. However, these boats do come with a few drawbacks.
Since the boat relies on the sail to do the work, most models don’t come with large backup motors. You can expect low-power outboards or trolling motors to power the vessel when the wind is low.
Large Models Don’t Suit Trailers
The large sailboats over 30-feet don’t suit trailers. The larger keels and foils on these boats mean that they can’t reach shallow waters. As a result, you need a professional towing service to take the boat from the marina to the shipyard for repairs or alterations.
Not Suitable for Watersports
While some sailboats might be okay for diving, they are not suitable for watersports like skiing, tubing, and wakeboarding.
Some of the high-end luxury models come with so many customizations your head will spin. It’s important to set your budget when looking at sailboats, or you could end up spending more than you expect on the customizations and accessories for these boats.
If your sail is up in stormy conditions, you run the risk of tearing the material. Sails can be costly to replace or repair, and it may take weeks to find the right sailor to make the repair, keeping your boat out of the water.
Top Sailboat Brands & Models
There are dozens of sailboat brands and hundreds of models available. We chose the following sailboats as the best option for your first boat.
The Bavaria C57 is the company’s flagship model, offering you a sleek, streamlined version of the cruiser-line model.
This boat features a design from Maurizio Cossutti. It comes with a smooth hull featuring nanotechnology to help the boat glide through the water effortlessly. The vinyl ester resin construction is durable and lightweight, adding speed to the boat in good wind conditions.
You get twin helms and dual rudders, along with a huge drop-down transom. This model comes with some surprising accessories, including a grill and refrigerator in the boat’s aft for fun on the water.
You have three lounges on the deck, with a large cockpit for the crew and captain.
The X-Yachts X4.6 model is a performance cruiser offering you a vacuum-sealed epoxy hull for lightweight strength and durability. The boat comes with the signature galvanized steel grid found on X-Yacht models adding strength and rigidity to the frame for use in rough water conditions.
The boat features a self-tacking jib for easy coming about and total control of the vessel in turns. You get twin helms and an open cockpit design for racing or cruising. This model also includes a dedicated locker for a life raft under the cockpit bench on the vessel’s starboard side.
Beneteau Oceanis 30.1
The Beneteau Oceanis 30.1 is easy to sail, with a setup that suits any sailing style. This boat is a classic, offering purists a fantastic option for their sailboat. You get twin rudders with a fixed spirit, a plumb bow for fine entry, and a backstay-free rig accommodating a square-top design for easy sailing.
This model is a great choice for overnight sailing trips, offering you two full-size cabins kitted with luxury finishes. There are saloon benches that double as a berth, and you get an astounding 6’6″ of headroom below deck in the berth.
You also have the choice of a tiller or steering wheel for a truly authentic sailing experience purists will appreciate. You also have options for a swing keel version allowing for easy sailing along rivers and canals without the threat of hitting submerged rocks or logs or running the vessel aground.
This sailboat is the best choice for beginners. You get an easy-to-manage sail configuration that teaches you the basics of sailing and enough space on the boat for two people.
This model is a great choice for an affordable entry-level sailboat with a fiberglass design for lightweight movement and speed and the option of sailing the boat along with its user-friendly rigging system.
Whether you’re a purist, modern sailor, or competitor, you’ll find that there’s a sailboat model to suit your needs and sailing style. These boats offer you the most authentic experience when out on the water, and you don’t have to worry about filling up the gas tank to get home.