13 Best Cruising Sailboats in 2023 & Why They're Better

If you're interested in long-distance exploration at sea, cruising sailboats are a popular choice. The best cruising sailboats are designed to provide comfort, durability, and seaworthiness. From high-performance cruisers with heirloom-quality materials to versatile boats, there's something in this lineup for your skill level and preference. These boats have raised the bar and are set to provide memorable sailing experiences.

The best cruising sailboats are:

Beneteau Oceanis Yacht 54

Jeanneau sun odyssey 490, x-yachts x49, dufour grand large 460, hallberg-rassy 340, tartan 4300, island packet 420, fountaine pajot saona 47, lagoon 450f, bavaria cruiser 46.

One aspect that sets these sailboats apart is their focus on innovation and performance. Let's take a closer look at the 13 best cruising sailboats of 2023 and explore what makes them stand out from the rest.

  • These cruising sailboats feature spacious interiors, sturdy hulls, and versatile sail configurations.
  • These sailboats are equipped with navigation and communication systems, as well as additional features such as watermakers, generators, and refrigeration systems.
  • You can buy these boats for anything between $250,000 and $1.4 million or more.
  • A cruiser is a type of sailboat that is generally larger and more comfortable than a racing sailboat.

best cruising racing sailboats

On this page:

Best cruising sailboats, why these sailboats are better, the most popular cruising sailboat.

In this section, we'll explore the 13 best cruising sailboats of 2023, highlighting their unique features and reasons why they stand out in the market.

Comfortable living space : A cruising sailboat should have a comfortable living space that can accommodate the crew for an extended period of time. This includes a spacious cabin, galley, head, and berths.

Seaworthiness : A cruising sailboat should be able to handle rough seas and adverse weather conditions. It should have a sturdy hull, a well-designed keel, and a balanced rigging system.

Sailing performance : A cruising sailboat should have good sailing performance, which includes speed, stability, and ease of handling. It should be able to sail efficiently in different wind conditions.

Safety features : A cruising sailboat should have safety features such as a reliable navigation system, adequate safety equipment, and a strong anchoring system.

Storage space : A cruising sailboat should have enough storage space for provisions, equipment, and personal belongings. This includes storage lockers, shelves, and compartments.

Energy efficiency : A cruising sailboat should have an energy-efficient system that can provide power for lighting, electronics, and other equipment without relying on shore power.

Durability : A cruising sailboat should be built to last and withstand the wear and tear of extended cruising. This includes using high-quality materials and construction techniques.

best cruising racing sailboats

The Amel 50 is known for its luxurious and comfortable accommodations, and excellent seaworthiness. Its unique features include a spacious interior with modern design, an innovative cockpit layout, and a powerful yet easy-to-handle sailing system.

The Amel 50 has a unique feature called the "Amel Easy Docking" system, which allows for easy and precise maneuvering in tight spaces. It also has a unique "Amel Silent Block" system, which reduces noise and vibration for a more comfortable ride.

The Oyster 565 is known for its high-quality construction, attention to detail, and luxurious accommodations, as well as its excellent safety features. It provides you with exceptional performance and comfort. Its sleek hull design offers fast, stable sailing, while the spacious, high-quality interior ensures you'll enjoy your time onboard.

The Oyster 565 has a unique feature called the "Oyster Deck Saloon," which provides 360-degree views and adequate natural light in the living space. It also has a unique "Oyster DNA" system, which allows for customization of the boat to suit the owner's preferences.

With its cutting-edge design and performance, the Beneteau Oceanis Yacht 54 lets you sail in style. Its chined hull, twin rudders, and easy handling make it a pleasure to sail, while the spacious, modern interior ensures your comfort on longer voyages.

The Beneteau Oceanis Yacht 54 has a unique feature called the "Dock & Go" system, which allows for easy and precise maneuvering in tight spaces. It also has a unique "Beneteau Smart Sailing" system, which includes a suite of electronic and navigational tools for easy and safe sailing.

The Jeanneau Sun Odyssey 490 is known for its hard chine design, and excellent performance and stability. It offers innovative design and functionality. Its walk-around decks, unique cockpit layout, and high-quality interior make it ideal for cruising in comfort.

The Jeanneau Sun Odyssey 490 has a unique feature called the "Walk-Around Deck," which allows for easy and safe movement around the boat. It also has a unique "Jeanneau Sun Loft" system, which provides a flexible and customizable living space.

The X-Yachts X49 combines performance, luxury, and comfort. It is known for its high-performance hull design, excellent speed and stability. With its fast hull, advanced sailing systems, and plush interior, the X49 is perfect for both racing and cruising.

The X-Yachts X49 has a unique feature called the "X-Yachts Pure X" system, which includes a suite of performance-enhancing features such as a carbon fiber mast and boom, a racing-inspired sail plan, and a deep lead keel.

The Dufour Grand Large 460 provides you with both comfort and performance. It is known for its innovative design, featuring a self-tacking jib and retractable bow thruster for easy handling. Its spacious interior, ergonomic deck layout, and powerful sailing capabilities make it an excellent choice for long-distance cruising.

The Dufour Grand Large 460 has a unique feature called the "Dufour Easy" system, which includes a suite of tools for easy and safe sailing, such as a self-tacking jib and retractable bow thruster. It also has a unique "Dufour Grand Large Lounge" system, which provides a flexible and customizable living space.

Experience easy handling and modern style with the Hanse 458. It is known for its sleek and modern design, self-tacking jib, large swim platform. Its innovative self-tacking jib, efficient deck layout, and comfortable accommodation make it perfect for family cruising.

The Hanse 458 has a unique feature called the "Hanse Easy Sailing" system, which includes a suite of tools for easy and safe sailing, such as a self-tacking jib and retractable bow thruster. It also has a unique "Hanse Individual Cabin Concept" system, which allows for customization of the living space to suit the owner's preferences.

Known for its quality and craftsmanship, the Hallberg-Rassy 340 offers you comfort and performance in a compact package. It is known for its classic design, long waterline, spacious cockpit, and comfortable and practical accommodations. With its stable hull, efficient sailplan, and well-designed interior, it's ideal for long-range cruising on a smaller scale.

The Hallberg-Rassy 340 has a unique feature called the "Hallberg-Rassy Hardtop," which provides protection from the elements and a spacious cockpit area. It also has a unique "Hallberg-Rassy Quality Concept" system, which includes high-quality construction materials and techniques for durability and longevity.

The Tartan 4300 delivers a perfect balance of performance and comfort. It is known for its high-quality construction, cored hull and deck for added strength and durability. Its epoxy-infused hull provides lightweight strength, while the spacious, beautifully crafted interior ensures a luxurious cruising experience.

The Tartan 4300 has a unique feature called the "Tartan Infusion Molding Process," which allows for precise and consistent construction of the hull and deck for added strength and durability. It also has a unique "Tartan Smart Sailing" system, which includes a suite of electronic and navigational tools for easy and safe sailing.

For those who value comfort and classic design, the Island Packet 420 won't disappoint. It is known for its full keel design, excellent stability and seaworthiness. Its spacious, well-appointed interior and solid construction make it a reliable choice for long voyages.

The Island Packet 420 has a unique feature called the "Island Packet Full Foil Keel," which provides excellent stability and seaworthiness. It also has a unique "Island Packet Anchoring System," which includes a powerful windlass and a custom-designed anchor roller for easy and safe anchoring.

The Fountaine Pajot Saona 47 catamaran offers you the perfect combination of speed, stability, and space. Its sleek hulls and spacious, well-designed living areas make it an excellent choice for cruising with friends and family.

The Fountaine Pajot Saona 47 has a unique feature called the "Fountaine Pajot Helmsman's Position," which provides excellent visibility and control of the boat. It also has a unique "Fountaine Pajot Lounge Deck" system, which provides a spacious and comfortable living space.

Cruise in style on the Lagoon 450F, known for its spacious accommodations and excellent performance under sail. With its distinctive flybridge, comfortable cabins, and efficient sailing system, it's ideal for multi-day getaways.

The Lagoon 450F has a unique feature called the "Lagoon Flybridge," which provides excellent visibility and control of the boat. It also has a unique "Lagoon Spacious Cockpit" system, which provides a comfortable and practical living space.

The Bavaria Cruiser 46 is a versatile and stylish cruiser that offers excellent performance and comfort. It is known for its innovative design, featuring a drop-down transom for easy access to the water. Its user-friendly sailing systems, attractive interior, and practical deck layout make it an ideal choice for a wide range of cruising adventures.

The Bavaria Cruiser 46 has a unique feature called the "Bavaria Hybrid Propulsion System," which allows for energy-efficient sailing and propulsion. It also has a unique "Bavaria Smart Storage" system, which provides enough storage space for gear and supplies. Additionally, the Bavaria Cruiser 46 has a unique "Bavaria Vision" design concept, which includes a spacious and comfortable living space with plenty of natural light and ventilation.

best cruising racing sailboats

Cruising Gear Essentials

best cruising racing sailboats

Key features to look for

Versatile hull design.

This allows your sailboat to navigate in various conditions, making it ideal for long-distance cruising.

Efficient sail plan

By having a well-designed sail layout, your boat provides better control, handling, and propulsion.

High-quality construction

Top-quality materials and craftsmanship not only increase the boat's durability, but also enhance its performance.

Comfortable accommodations

When you spend extended periods at sea, you want your sailboat to feel like home, with adequate living space and modern amenities. For an extended sailing trip, you are going to need these 41 sailboat cruising essentials .

best cruising racing sailboats

How they improve sailing experience

Easier boat handling.

Advanced rigging systems, self-tacking jibs, and other innovative technologies make it easier for you to manage your boat, allowing for more time spent enjoying the sea.

Increased safety

State-of-the-art navigation equipment and weather forecasting systems help you anticipate environmental changes, ensuring a safe voyage.

Sustainable power options

Many sailboats in 2023 come with solar panels, hydro generators, or hybrid propulsion options, reducing your environmental impact and providing more sustainable choices while out at sea.

Integrated connectivity

These boats boast digital systems that allow you to stay connected, monitor your journey, and update your friends and family with your adventures.

best cruising racing sailboats

Their advantages over others

Better performance.

These boats have been designed with speed, stability, and maneuverability in mind, ensuring top-notch sailing experiences.

Longevity and value

Since they're built with high-quality materials and expert craftsmanship, these boats are certain to last, making them a wise investment.

Customization options

Many of these sailboats offer customizable features, allowing you to tailor the boat to your specific needs and preferences.

Award-winning designs

Several of these boats have received prestigious awards for their innovative features and performance, making them the ultimate cruising sailboats for any passionate sailor.

The Island Packet 420 and Lagoon 450F are the two most popular cruising sailboats known for their comfort, seaworthiness, and versatility.

The Island Packet 420 is a well-regarded cruising sailboat that has a loyal following. It is known for its spacious interior, comfortable accommodations, and good sailing performance.

The Island Packet 420 features a full keel and a cutter rig, which makes it a stable and seaworthy vessel that can handle a variety of weather conditions. The sailboat has a large master cabin, a well-equipped galley, and a comfortable salon area, making it a popular choice for those who enjoy extended periods of time at sea.

The Lagoon 450F is a popular choice for those who want to explore the world by boat. It is known for its spacious interior, stable platform, and good sailing performance.

The Lagoon 450F features a catamaran hull design, which provides a stable and comfortable platform that is ideal for long-distance cruising. The sailboat has a spacious cockpit, multiple sleeping quarters, and a well-equipped galley, making it a popular choice for those who want to travel with family or friends.

The best size cruising sailboat

The best size cruising sailboat is in the range of 40 to 50 feet. Sailboats in this size range are large enough to provide comfortable accommodations for an extended period of time at sea, yet small enough to be easily handled by a small crew or even single-handed.

Sailboats that are too small may lack the necessary amenities and space for long-distance cruising, while sailboats that are too large may be difficult to handle and require a larger crew. Ultimately, the best size cruising sailboat will depend on individual preferences, needs, and intended use, and it's important to consider factors such as comfort, safety, and ease of handling when choosing a cruising sailboat.

The safest cruising sailboat

Hallberg-Rassy 340, and Island Packet 420 are considered among the safest cruising sailboats. These sailboats are known for their sturdy construction, well-designed hulls, and reliable systems. They are also known for their ability to handle a variety of weather conditions and their comfortable accommodations. However, safety can also depend on the boat maintenance, and the skill and experience of the crew.

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2022 Boat of the Year: Best Offshore Racer

  • By Dave Reed
  • December 17, 2021

Sailing World Magazine’s annual Boat of the Year tests are conducted in Annapolis, Maryland, following the US Sailboat Show. With independent judges exhaustively inspecting the boats on land and putting them through their paces on the water, this year’s fleet of new performance-sailing boats spanned from small dinghies to high-tech bluewater catamarans. Here’s the best of the best from our 2022 Boat of the Year nominees »

As interest in doublehanded offshore racing piqued with the expectations it would be an Olympic sailing discipline in 2024, so too did the development and production of several purpose-built 30-footers. Dehler Yachts, Germany’s big production boatbuilder, jumped into the action with its own 30-footer, and as we’d expect of a Judel/Vrolijk and Co.-designed race boat, this one is an all-business shorthanded racing machine jam-packed with cool features found on grand‑prix boats twice its size.

“You can tell they started with a blank slate because the boat is so well-integrated with the design and construction—from bow to stern,” Greg Stewart says. “It hits its design purpose spot on. It’s a complete small offshore one-design, and it’s obvious there was a lot of development required to get things so right.”

Prototypes and mock-ups after mock-ups were required, Dehler says, to efficiently accommodate a lot of boat handling and living in such a compact craft. Virtually every rope on the boat spills into the cockpit, which is the way of life in shorthanded sailing, where everything happens at the back of the boat. Vigilance with line keeping, therefore, is paramount. That and carefully executed and planned maneuvers. In full-tilt conditions, there will be a lot going on in the cockpit, Stewart says, but everything’s easily at hand.

“All the control-line leads are well thought out,” he adds, pointing to the smooth-operating traveler controls and the individual gross and fine-tuned mainsheet flip cleats mounted on the cockpit floor.

Dehler 30 One Design

Powlison’s first impression at the dock was that the boat would be challenging to manage, but “once we went sailing, it all was logical. Yes, there’s a lot of line management, but once you’re disciplined to do that, the boat is much easier to sail than it looks.”

With the trio of judges and the owner piled on board during the test sail, it was immediately obvious that two is company and three is definitely a crowd. “It’s also not the type of boat where you’ll want to spontaneously invite an inexperienced crew [to go race],” Powlison says. “You will really need to know what you’re doing, but once you do get comfortable with everything, it will be a really easy boat to sail well.”

Ben Corson, the Annapolis-based owner of our test boat, had spent the better part of a year racing with his female partner and tinkering with the boat, and consequently, the boat is meticulously prepared, race-ready and offshore-compliant. There’s no mistaking what’s what and where—labels pasted throughout the boat identify halyards, sail and ballast controls, safety gear and even the electronics manuals.

Dehler 30 One Design

As a tightly controlled one-design class with ratified rules, owners like Corson can’t do much to the boat as it is, but there’s not much—if anything—an owner would need to change anyway. Everything on the boat, the judges agreed, works as it should. Adjustable backstays, for example, lead forward to clutches mounted on the cockpit wall, which allows the backstays to be kept taut or released without having to worry about loading to a winch during a maneuver. With the turn of a locking nut on the tiller arm, the steering system can be adjusted to change rudder toe-in on either side. The traveler track runs nearly the full width of the wide transom, opening up a wide range of adjustability for the 361-square-foot mainsail, and as a bonus, small removable reaching struts open up headsail sheeting angles. Stainless-steel foot braces are easy to deploy and stow, and allow the skipper to lock into a comfortable position over the angled coaming, with great visibility over the bow.

When the boat is powered up and leaning on the chine, Allen says, the sensation is exceptional: “This delivered the best sailing experience of all of the boats we tested. It was easy to tack and jibe, it tracked great, it’s easy to get to the sail controls, and we had no problems whatsoever with wiping out—and we tried hard a few times.”

With Allen on the tiller and Powlison managing the sheets as they started upwind into a 15-knot breeze, Stewart hit the chamfered rail. “My first impression from the rail was how high I was and how it was charging upwind—like a big boat. I couldn’t feel the chop, I didn’t get wet, it didn’t skid out at all. I was also amazed at how solid it felt; there wasn’t one bit of pounding, creaking or anything.”

Dehler 30 One Design

Eventually, Stewart came off the rail and they filled the ballast tank instead—to the equivalent of 400-plus pounds of rail meat. Allen says the gravity-fed water-ballast system took about five minutes to top off, roughly 30 seconds to transfer during a tack, and less than a minute to drain.

“Once we added the water ballast, the boat just powered forward,” Powlison says. “You can really feel the difference when the boat sits on the chine and just tracks straight ahead.”

Impressed as they were with the Dehler 30’s upwind pace, when they set the big red A2 spinnaker (1,076 square feet) and took off down the bay, they had no doubts about the boat’s downwind potential. They only used three of the five class-sail inventory on board, which includes an A2, an A5, a spinnaker staysail and a Code Zero, and if they had more time and distance, they would have certainly piled on more sail area.

“I could see going with the A5, the J3 and the staysail, and maybe a reefed main in a big breeze,” Allen says. “That would be fun—and wicked fast.”

Lightweight and strong is, of course, the holy grail of every race boat, and here too Dehler delivers with what the judges say is an immaculate cored-hull laminate and good detail in the finish work throughout the boat. Dehler was also keen to leave out extraneous weight from the interior to get the boat to weigh in at just over 6,000 pounds. Without any floorboards (there’s thin foam padding glued to the inner hull skin instead), they’re able to get 6 feet of standing headroom at the companionway (which has a sliding hatch hood on rails) and plenty of sitting headroom forward of the mast and into the V-berth.

To achieve a higher level of the camper-sailor experience, comfortable V-berth cushions and removable mesh hull liners are standard, as is a folding centerline table, rounded wooden bench seats, and backrests that double as pipe berths. With storage cubbies scattered about the boat, a marine toilet with a graywater tank, a two-burner stove and two quarter berths, this little race rocket is definitely a legit weekender too. Lithium-ion batteries and a 9.9 diesel with a retractable Stealth Drive shaft that pulls up flush with the hull will get you where you need to go and keep the electronics suite powered up just fine.

The Dehler 30 was a strong contender for Boat of the Year, but the judges couldn’t dismiss the boat’s biggest limitation: It will get hammered by most rating systems, which makes it a one-trick one-design offshore-racing pony. It is, however, an outstanding design for keen shorthanded sailors looking for a race-ready platform for just over $240,000. If—or when—international class racing ever becomes a real thing, the offshore sailing world will be a better place.

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Best sailing watches: 16 options for racing and cruising

  • October 17, 2023

Fox Morgan, Phil Sampson and Roger Hughes test and review 16 of the best sailing watches available with functions for racing and cruising sailors


The best sailing watches can offer a multitude of functions, from MOB alerts to tidal calculations and large faced race count down timers. And yet still there’s utter simplicity of a waterproof self winding timepiece.

Just as tablets and even smartphones have revolutionised how sailors use multifunction displays and instruments, so the latest smart watch technology has now firmly filtered into sailing. While we’re now familiar with using our watches to give us directions, make calls and send messages, and act as a repeater screen on our wrists ashore, so the latest sailing watches also make navigation, data and comms technology wearable afloat.

You’ll see that Garmin have several entries in our best sailing watches guide and if you’re specifically after a Garmin, we have rounded up the best of those in this guide to the best Garmin watch for yachting sailing and more .

However, the cleverest watch is not always the best watch for sailing. For racing an extremely simple and speedy to operate model may suit better. Price is not always an indicator of functionality either; even some of the least expensive sailing watches, like the Casio we showcase below, can be packed with features.

At the other end of the scale,  luxury horology brands – including Rolex, Panerai, and Omega among others – have long been closely associated with sailing, seeing it as the perfect sport to demonstrate their style, waterproof and ruggedised qualities, and accuracy.

In making our selection of the best sailing watches, we’ve chosen those with features specifically suitable for wearing aboard. That doesn’t mean, however, that they float, so be sure to do the clasp up securely and be wary of pulling off jacket sleeves in a hurry and losing your prized timepiece overboard!

Editor’s top choices at a glance

Best sailing smart watch – Garmin Quatix 7 Best premium sailing watch – Garmin MARQ Captain Best value sailing watch – Casio Lithium Quartz Best racing sailing watch – Ronstan Clear Start Race Timer

Best sailing watch for multifunction use

Garmin quatix 7.

Best sailing smart watch

Specifications: Apple or android smart phone compatible,  Sizes: 47mm / 51mm, Weight 70g, Battery life: up to 16 days with screen on by demand, GPS tracking, waterproof to 10 ATM

Reasons to Buy: Large easy to read face | incredible versatility for an array of lifestyle activity | healthy wellbeing and boat interactivity | customisable to suit individual needs Reasons to Avoid: Battery life not as good as the Quatix 6 if screen is always visible | bright facia can be distracting | touchscreen is pointless without the additional kit it interfaces with

Garmin’s latest sailing smartwatch includes improvements to strengthen integration with onboard electronics.

It’s a touchscreen model that can, for instance, be used to control MFD displays or Fusion audio systems, as well as Garmin autopilots.

You can also pay for things with contactless payments, but you’ll need to use an intermediary app, such as Curve if you are in the UK as British banks haven’t signed up for that function directly yet.

So let’s address the major change for the Quatix 7 over the Quatix 6, and that’s the display. Plenty of folks complained about the darkness or difficulty seeing the Quatix 6 screen, so they’ve addressed that with a much brighter lit up style of screen.  It is very bright even when turned to its dimmest setting. To save the battery from being drained unnecessarily at night, there’s a night time version of the watch screen where you can view it as a digital numeric mono display, on demand, otherwise the screen is completely blank. This brighter clearer display does come at a compromise of battery life or screen saver settings.

The extra screen size in the same outer bezel size though is really very nice. Maps and other tracking options can be easily seen.

High end Sapphire models add a new ultra-clear AMOLED touchscreen.

The watch can output directly to Strava and myfitnesspal along with other apps according to your preference. We like this watch very much indeed and it is currently the best smart sailing watch for all round functionality. Pricey though, but worth it.

best cruising racing sailboats

Garmin MARQ Captain

Best premium sailing watch

Specifications: Type: Smart | Size: 46mm

Reasons to buy: Weather and tidal data | MOB and GPS functions | Stream boat data to your wrist Reasons to avoid: Full extent of capabilities is governed by the onboard technology it’s connected to | Premium price

Tested by: MBY Editor, Hugo Andreae

Our top priced pick comes from wearable tech-specialists, Garmin. The MARQ Captain sailing watch comes packed with marine-relevant features.

Functions include weather and tidal data for your home port, a regatta timer to pinpoint starting times, a ‘tack assist’ function to determine whether you’re on lift or a header, a man overboard button and GPS.

The full extent of its capabilities is governed by the onboard technology to which it is connected, but possibilities include streaming boat data direct to your wrist wherever you are on the boat and controlling products from the Garmin-owned Fusion range of audio systems.

best cruising racing sailboats

Garmin Instinct 2S Solar

Specifications: Type: Smart | Size: 40mm / 45mm / 50mm, weight 53g(2oz)

Reasons to buy: GPS positioning on charts | barometric pressure and compass | Smartphone connectivity | An incredible amount of styles and colours | A single charge lasts 14 days Reasons to avoid: Premium price without a premium design

Tested by: Tech Editor, Fox Morgan

The Instinct 2, launched in February 2022 is Garmin’s all-round watch, which they call their outdoors watch. Features that are particularly relevant to sailors include GPS positioning on charts; barometric pressure and a compass.

It has smartphone connectivity, receives emails and texts, and can control music via a phone. This watch also has an inbuilt thermometer and heart rate monitor.

The Garmin Instinct is available in no fewer than 20 different styles and colours. It’s actual diameter is 47mm (1 13/16” in) but the viewable face is 32mm (1 1/4”). The Instinct is 16mm (5/8” in) thick and weighs 53g (2 oz).

For racing sailors, it also has multiple start sequence options. We have an indepth review from long term testing of this watch coming soon.

The Garmin Instinct watch is a good alternative for anyone seeking a more moderately priced alternative to the Quatix 6.

best cruising racing sailboats

Garmin Quatix 6 Multisport Marine Smartwatch

Specifications: Apple or android smart phone compatible,  Sizes: 47mm / 51mm, weight 82g, Battery life: up to 16 days with screen always visible, GPS tracking, waterproof to 10 ATM

Reasons to buy: Suits a multitude of water activity | Highly customisable | An incredible amount of data available on your wrist | A single charge lasts 14 days Reasons to avoid: High level of functionality is not for the technologically phobic

This watch I tested comprehensively for several weeks/months – it is a very smart design, with functions for every type of pastime on the water and off it.

Garmin is well known for superior boating instruments and they have now managed to squeeze all the data of a ten-inch chartplotter into a 1.3” inch round sailing watch. Bluetooth functionality means you can connect it to a Garmin chartplotter using the free Garmin Connect app, and to other makes of plotter using the Garmin transceiver (a $150 extra).

This allows all the features of a chartplotter to be displayed on the watch, including charts and even autopilot control to allow you to change heading or follow a GPS route – provided it is also connected through the chartplotter.

The Quatix 6 also offers more typical smartwatch functions including the ability to receive email and texts, can be used to control music on board, and monitors the user’s heart-rate.

It’s simple to switch between ‘boat display’ and ‘stylish watch’ modes, as hundreds of different watch faces that can be downloaded to customise it to the wearer’s preference, including an antique style face and even a copy of Big Ben. The Quatix 6 can also be switched between analogue and digital.

It’s overall diameter is 51mm (2” in) with a 36mm (1 5/8” in) viewable face, and it is 17mm (11/16”) thick. The Quatix 6’s weight is 83g (3oz) with the plastic strap or 156g (5.5oz) with the stainless band, which is quite a bit heavier than a conventional watch.

Note: We may earn a commission when you buy through links on our site, at no extra cost to you. This doesn’t affect our editorial independence.

Spinnaker haas automatic.

Specifications: Type: Analogue | Size: 43mm

Reasons to buy: S mart styling | easy to read day and night | electronics free | self winding Reasons to avoid: Due to self winding mechanism the watch is not as slim as a quartz movement watch which might mean that cuffs on shirts and foulies are tight.

Tested by: Professional TopSail Schooner Skipper, Phil Pryor

The joy of a traditional analogue watch is right here in this stylish all metal timepiece from Spinnaker.

Spinnaker Watches collaborated with the Marine Conservation Society to produce this limited edition model that’s a tribute to marine biologist and pioneering diver Hans Hass.

If you want to ditch the computers and keep it simple then this is definitely worth a look.

It feels reassuringly sturdy with it’s all metal band and easy to read rating bezel.

It’s waterproof to 300m and requires no batteries as this watch self winds from the motion of your hand through every day movement.

The winder unscrews to allow time, day and date adjustment and that my friends is all there is to this gorgeous watch. At least as far as the wearer is concerned. Behind that metal back is the smooth Japanese workings of a self winding watch. When it arrived in the box the watch was still and inactive. But the moment I removed it from the box it started to self wind. With just a small amount of movement, the second hand was moving.

For sailors who want to a sleek non electric time piece and for those divers who like to go under the water as well as on it.

I love this safety yellow colourway as it really stands out and is easy to read. This might not be to everyone’s taste though which is fine because the Spinnaker Hass comes in 9 different colourways.

Buy the Spinnaker Hass now on eBay

Buy Spinnaker Hass from Spinnaker

Casio Lithium Quartz

Best value sailing watch

Specifications: Type: Digital | Size: 48mm

Reasons to buy: Great value | Highly functional | 2 year warranty Reasons to avoid: Lacking in design | Lacking extensive features of premium alternatives

There’s no question that when it comes to affordable innovation, Casio is right up there.

Despite being one of the lowest-priced watches in our selection, the Casio Tide Watch Orange is a highly functional piece of kit which, in addition to all the usual time, day and auto date functions also features a tide graph and lunar phase display.

More conventional sailing watch functions include a timer, stopwatch and LED might. It is water resistant to 100m/10 bars and has a 2 year warranty, all packed into a 48mm diameter, 13 mm thick case.

Best sailing watch for racing


Ronstan Clear Start Race Timer

Best racing sailing watch

Specifications: Type: Digital | Size 65mm

Reasons to buy: Robust design with secure strap | Extra-large | easy to press silicon buttons | Great display Reasons to avoid: Some consumers report issues with clasp/strap

With wrist, hull, mast or boom mount options, the Swiss-made Ronstan ClearStart Race Timer is aimed squarely at racing sailors.

Made by renowned rigging and hardware company Ronstan, it’s a robust design with a secure elastic strap and substantial ‘bumper’ around the digital display.

The ClearStart Race Timer’s features include extra-large, easy-press silicon buttons, a highlighted start/stop button, oversized 16 mm digits set in a 65mm rotating face and a double line display simultaneously showing the race countdown and time.

In addition, the ClearStart Race Timer offers ‘5-4-1-0’ and Match Racing start sequence programmes, making it a great choice for competitive sailors. Ruggedly constructed and built to last, this sailing watch weighs in at 92 grammes and is water-resistant to 50 metres.

Buy the Ronstan ClearStart Race Timer now from West Marine


Optimum Time Series 14 Rechargeable sailing watch

Specifications: Type: Digital | Size: 68mm

Reasons to buy: Rechargeable battery | Packed with features | Suitable for mounting Reasons to avoid: Basic design

Optimum Time’s bold coloured watches are popular among racing sailors from dinghies upwards, and the new rechargeable design makes it more sustainable for anyone who uses theirs frequently.

Featuring a 36mm diameter LCD display mounted within a bright red and black 68mm ABS case, Optimum Time’s Series 14 watch is a substantial device that is equally suited to being mounted on a mast or boom as your wrist, while the digits are large enough to allow crew to see the same timer as the skipper.

Waterproof to 5 ATM (i.e. capable of withstanding a pressure of 5 bar), the sailing watch is packed with useful features and comes complete with a bespoke USB charger clamp for convenient charging.

Buy the Optimum Time Series 14 now on Amazon


Timex Intelligent Quartz Yacht Racer watch

Best analogue racing sailing watch

Specifications: Type: Analogue | Size 46mm

Reasons to buy: Striking analogue display | Countdown timers Reasons to avoid: Larger than average design | Complex to set up | lacks reset button | Expensive

This is a very striking analogue watch, designed to appeal specifically to racing sailors who don’t want a digital display. It features a racing countdown timers (from 5 mins, 3 mins or 1 minute), then after the start the chronometer automatically starts a race timer for up to one hour.

This is a larger than average design, at 46 mm (1.81” in) diameter and 14mm (0.55” in) thick.

However, this watch is complex to set up, as some functions require three buttons to be pressed in sequence. There is also no ‘reset’ button for anyone who misses their start sequence timer.

Buy the Timex Intelligent Quartz Yacht Racer now on the Watch Shop


Optimum Time Series 3 sailing watch

Best all-round racing sailing watch

Specifications: Type: Digital | Size: 65mm

Reasons to buy: Great price | Highly functional | Easy to read Reasons to avoid: It’s really big

The popular ‘big yellow’ Optimum Time Series 3 is a lower-priced, yet highly functional racing watch. And it truly is big – far too large for my wrist at a gigantic 65mm (2.56” in) diameter and 16mm (0.62” in) thick. It’s also available in colours other than yellow – including white, blue and pink.

An advantage for racing is that this watch is easy to read at a distance thanks to its huge 16mm digits. A bracket is supplied to fix it to a mast. It also has a sync button if you miss the start gun, and can then run a repeat sequence or race timer for handicap competitions.

Robust, and water resistant to 5 ATM, with a wide elasticated strap.

Buy the Optimum Time Series 3 now on Amazon


Ronstan Clearstart RF4055 sailing watch

Best specialist racing sailing watch

Specifications: Type: Digital | Size: 50mm

Reasons to buy: Multiple start sequence options | Match racing timer | Can sync for early/late start Reasons to avoid: Larger than average design

This sailing watch is another specialist racing design. Race mode features include multiple start sequence options, match racing timer and the ability to sync for an early or late start.

The Clearstart RF4055 is unusual in that it has a fibreglass case, which is available in striking yellow and red as well as the more subtle black. It has a 50mm (2″) diameter face, which is larger than most watches, with a 13mm (0.5″ in) digital display, and the weight is 74gm (2.61oz), though the buttons have a lower profile than some other race watches making it neater to wear on shore.

Buy the Ronstan Clearstart RF4055 now on Amazon

Buy the Ronstan Clearstart RF4055 now on eBay


Optimum Time Series 12 sailing watch

Best audible racing sailing watch

Specifications: Type: Digital | Size: 26mm

Reasons to buy: Audible warning features | Many colour choices Reasons to avoid: No GPS or interconnectivity | Small display is hard to read in hectic moments

Another race timer with countdown time and pre-programmed start and audible warnings. Despite its more smart watch-style appearance, there is no GPS or interconnectivity, but you do get a countdown repeat option, World Sailing 5-4-1-0 start sequence pre-programmed with audible warning signals, and a sync button.

The Optimum Time Series 12 is available in many colours, but has a small 26mm (1.02” in) display, with 10mm (0.34” in) figures, which will make it hard to read in the middle of a hectic race start.

Buy the Optimum Time Series 12 now on eBay


Gill Race Watch Timer

Best racing sailing watch for watersports

Specifications: Type: Digital | Size 44mm

Reasons to buy: Water-resistant to 30 metres | Carbon housing | The sleep feature preserves battery life Reasons to avoid: Basic design and functions

This striking red and black Race Watch Timer is a sailing-specific watch developed exclusively for watersports apparel company Gill. It’s water-resistant to an impressive 30 metres, with the timepiece unit encased in a reinforced carbon ABS plastic housing with a stainless steel back.

As well as telling the time, the sailing watch’s functions include a countdown with synchro, day, date and alarm. There’s a keyboard lock feature to you don’t accidentally change the settings and an electro-luminescent backlight allows the wearer to check the data day or night.

A neat sleep feature preserves and prolongs battery life in a ruggedly constructed unit designed for durability and years of trouble-free service.


Limit ProXR Countdown sailing watch

Best value racing sailing watch

Reasons to buy: Large, clear, easy to read display | Multiple design options | Dual time, stopwatch, countdown and pacer functions Reasons to avoid: Lacks features/functions of more premium competitors | Chunky

Limit has been producing watches for more than 110 years and specialises in offering a wide variety of styles at great value prices.

For a budget-friendly sailing watch option, the Limit ProXR Countdown comes with a large, clear and easily readable display and is backed by a two-year guarantee.

It also has a dual time display and stopwatch, countdown and pacer functionality. No fewer than five alarms can be set and there’s a night time illumination facility.

Available in a choice of orange/black or blue/black, the looks of this chunky 50 mm case diameter sailing watch certainly belie its low price tag.

Buy the Limit ProXR Countdown now on gooutdoors.co.uk


Ulysse-Nardin The Ocean Race Diver

Specifications: Type: Analogue | Size: 44mm

Reasons to buy: manufacturer with a strong history in watch making | ‘green’ credentials | classy and collectible Reasons to avoid: Lacks features/functions of more sailing-specific watches | you’ll need deep pockets

Swiss watchmaker Ulysse Nardin sourced discarded fishing nets to upcycle into the base material for this watch, highlighting the 640,000 tonnes of nets that are discarded at sea each year.

In addition, 95% of components for the mechanical movement are sourced from within 30km of Ulysse Nardin’s site.

Buy The Ocean Race Diver now on ulysse-nardin.com

FAQ: What makes the best sailing watch?

The ability to read the time, countdown or data in a hurry or at an angle is key, so look out for digital readouts with large numbers – some sailing watches have the ability to switch from digital to analogue readouts – and screens that can be viewed in different qualities of daylight. Backlit functions are essential for anyone heading offshore, whether racing or cruising.

A well-fitting wristband or strap with a secure clasp is vital to keep the watch on your arm. Most sailing watches have soft rubber or synthetic wristbands, which are more durable in a marine environment, and safer than steel. Rubber straps are also lighter and easier to adjust.

If you plan to use your watch for race start timing, look for programmable start sequence options, a sync button, countdowns that switch to seconds in the final stages. A loud, clear alarm or ‘beep’ function that tells you time to the gun is particularly useful, so you can keep watching your course, trim and other boats around you during the final approach to the line rather than having to glance at your wrist.

You can read more about other types of GPS enabled and waterproof fitness trackers and smart watches at YBW.com

Didn’t find what you’re looking for? Head to Amazon’s dedicated boating page for more marine products.

best cruising racing sailboats

  • Oceanis 30.1
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We built with you in mind for over 138 years. We’ve transformed living spaces and the list of innovations in hull design and navigation continues to grow at a rapidly increasing pace. Since 1884, BENETEAU's philosophy of building the strongest, safest, most beautiful boats on the water is alive and well. The BENETEAU family’s pride in craftsmanship and passion for performance can easily be recognized in every FIRST, FIRST SE, FIGARO, OCEANIS, and OCEANIS YACHT built today.  

best cruising racing sailboats

The  world reference  in cruising. Oceanis is our range of long-distance, blue water cruisers that for years has set the standard for sailboat design and construction, with a hull that is a marvel in hydrodynamics,  Oceanis delivers superior performance  while providing stability and safety while under sail. Despite her strong sea legs, she doesn’t sacrifice luxury and comfort. You can choose your layout based on different configurations below deck and also have  your choice  of interior finishes. Your Oceanis will be a joy to sail and be  your home away from home . The Oceanis range continues to  appeal to all sailors  around the world.

best cruising racing sailboats

Oceanis Yacht

The  Oceanis Yacht  is the culmination of our Oceanis philosophy where cruising comfort, performance, and customization reign supreme. Her elegant design and luxurious interiors add a new dimension to life at sea with an enormous salon, impressive galley, spacious staterooms, and plenty of ambient light from the many large windows and skylights. Despite her lavish details, our Oceanis Yacht maneuvers as easily as a smaller yacht thanks to a perfectly centered sail plan and twin rudders. She is a yacht that represents the  art of sailing  at its regal best.

best cruising racing sailboats

40 years of iconic  brand heritage. The signature features of the FIRST range have not changed since its conception in 1977 – these boats have always been designed for  sailors  who enjoy club racing as much as cruising, joining them into one cohesive product line, the proverbial  best  of both worlds. Today, BENETEAU takes another step in this direction with the launch of the new FIRST range.  These boats offer simplicity, performances, and comfortable interiors and cockpits geared towards daysailing and coastal cruising. Renewing the competition spirit of the brand, they represent a true adaptation to the  needs and expectations  of the widest variety of sailors.

best cruising racing sailboats

High-tech performance from the cutting edge of racing into the hands of the recreational sailors.  First SE - Seascape Edition encourages and empowers sailors to expand their comfort zone by joining competitive one-design racing and adventure sailing . It grows a community of owners linked by shared values and a drive to strengthen their sailing skills. Whether owners are racing against others in one-design classes or are engaging in adventure sailing, the First SE connects them to the elements and helps them experience nature in the most authentic way. A carbon rig, laminate sails and other technological features give sailors the ultimate sailing experience, performance and control.

best cruising racing sailboats

A true legend. The Figaro is an ode to excellence in offshore racing. The one-design sailing yacht was initially designed for the Solitaire du Figaro, allowing some of the greatest skippers to compete at sea on equal terms, much to their pleasure. The sailor makes the difference on a Figaro.   

best cruising racing sailboats

Heritage BENETEAU sailboats

Our history has been told many times in these last fifty years, but, to understand it, you need to grasp our company values, and return to its origins, since it is nothing but continuity and progression.

- Annette ROUX

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Are you looking for a  sailing yacht dealer ? Leisure boating, short trips, competitive sailing, regattas – whatever type of sailing you like, BENETEAU has a wide range of  sailing yachts  and  luxury yachts , so there’s bound to be a boat to fulfill your dreams. 


We built our first sailboats over 138 years ago and many things have changed since then. The oak we once relied on has been replaced with strong but lightweight resin and carbon fiber. Where canvas once caught the wind, now it’s Kevlar and Vectran. We’ve transformed dark, confining salons and cabins into bright, open living spaces. And the list of innovations in hull design and navigation continues to grow at a rapidly increasing pace.

However, some things haven’t changed and never will. Benjamin BENETEAU’s philosophy of building the strongest, safest, most beautiful boats on the water is alive and well. The BENETEAU family’s pride in craftsmanship and passion for performance can easily be recognized in every FIRST, FIGARO, OCEANIS, and OCEANIS YACHT built today.  

Knowing what to keep and what to change – that’s why BENETEAU continues to set the bar in sailing.


Oceanis is our range of long-distance, blue water cruisers and for years has set the standard for sailboat design and construction. With a hull that is a marvel in hydrodynamics, Oceanis delivers superior performance while providing stability and safety under sail. Despite her strong sea legs, she doesn’t sacrifice luxury and comfort. You can choose your layout based on different configurations below deck and also have your choice of interior finishes. Your Oceanis will be a joy to sail and be your home away from home.


BENETEAU is also there to help you buy a top-quality boat. The OCEANIS Yacht line delivers  luxury sailing yachts  that satisfy this requirement perfectly. The line comprises two luxury craft of over 50 feet, designed by renowned architects and designers. 


 Our 7th generation of the First range offers you the experience of pure sailing joy while staying true to our standards for safety and stability. She is lightweight with a streamlined design, making her highly adaptable to whatever the wind and water have in store. The First is fast but forgiving, spicy but safe – perfect for the thrill-seeking novice or seasoned competitive sailor alike.


First SE - Seascape Edition encourages and empowers sailors to expand their comfort zone by joining competitive one-design racing and adventure sailing. It grows a community of owners linked by shared values and a drive to strengthen their sailing skills. Whether owners are racing against others in one-design classes or are engaging in adventure sailing, the First SE connects them to the elements and helps them experience nature in the most authentic way.


A marvel in racing innovation, the Figaro BENETEAU 3 is the first production foiling one-design monohull to ever grace the seas. Designed in collaboration between BENETEAU and Van Peteghem Lauriot-Prévost (the architects of the last two Vendée Globe winners), her greatest and most visible feature is the inverted foiling system created to reduce drift and improve the righting moment without increasing movement. The Figaro BENETEAU 3’s radical design makes her the logical choice when winning isn’t everything, it’s the only thing.


This diversity has led to the BENETEAU brand being represented on all the world’s seas. But wherever they are, BENETEAU boats are easily recognizable for their taut lines, innovative design, robustness and performance. No doubt this will continue, since BENETEAU is constantly reinventing itself to provide ever more enjoyable, high performing, safe and user-friendly recreational craft. BENETEAU achieves this by making the most of current and future innovations such as ship control, dock and go, foils, etc.

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Types of Racing Sailboats

Types of Racing Sailboats | Life of Sailing

Last Updated by

Jacob Collier

August 30, 2022

Sailboats come in many different shapes and sizes depending on a variety of factors. This means there are a variety of sailboat racing boat types on the market.

When you look specifically at racing sailboats, you will notice several different aspects that separate them from other sailboats. You might be wondering, what are the types of racing sailboats?

There are many types of racing sailboats that range from one-man dinghies all the way to 100-foot yachts. Some racing sailboats are classified as keel boats, multi-hull, and even a tower ship. These boats are built primarily for speed, so comfort is usually an afterthought depending on the brand.

For racing sailboats, each one is going to fit within a specific race category. So depending on the type of race will dictate the types of sailboats you will see.

According to sailboat data, racing boats have slightly different designs that stand out compared to bluewater sailboats. Looking at the Olympics is another example of what other racing sailboats are out there.

Table of contents

‍ Characteristics of Racing Sailboats

There are quite a few sailboats made today that are geared specifically towards racing. They have one purpose, which is to go as fast as possible.

Some racing sailboats are advanced far more than the average ones, which is completely up to the buyer. For example, America’s Cup race showcases “foiling boats” that run on foils under the hulls. These allow the sailboats to go faster than 50 MPH.

If you are searching for boats that have characteristics to fit within a specific race type, you will find that many boats can enter different races depending on the rules. The most popular sailboat races are:

  • Offshore/Oceanic

There are key features that separate racing boats from other sailboats and allow them to enter specific races. These can be narrowed down to the hull design, the type of keel, how many masts it has, and what type of sails are used.

Size of Racing Sailboats

As mentioned, these boats range from smaller dinghies to 100-foot yachts. Depending on the type of race will determine the type of boat that is being used.

The size of certain boats might prevent them from entering races where only smaller ones are allowed. There are exceptions in some races, like a handicapped fleet race, that will adjust the rating to allow their final time to be adjusted. The reason some races are handicapped to a certain extent is so a captain and his crew can determine the outcome and not a boat that is at an advantage.

Overall Design

With racing sailboats, they are subject to racing against the wind about half of the time. The angles of the boats are still similar to cruisers but greatly differ in the size of the sails to allow the sheets to have a better shape.

As racing boats are typically trying to sheet the sails hard, they are trying to keep them within the centerline. This allows the sails to be flatter and change them as needed.

Over time, the sails will typically wear out faster than the ones being used on regular sailboats. Since they are aggressively being used to stretch in the wind, they are subject to more use than regular sailboats.

Similar Looking Sailboats

There are races that only accept sailboats called one-design. These sailboats are built to exact specifications and are nearly identical to one another.

The reason that these boats are designed is to help combat any potential advantages from one boat to the next. It does not really set itself apart from other boats, but it is a good start to get into racing.

Lack of Interior Accommodations

Racing sailboats typically lack anything special on the inside to help save weight and go faster. Since a lot of features are not available, this means it would be nearly impossible to liveaboard full time.

In most scenarios, a true racing sailboat strictly has one purpose: to go fast. This does not mean that all racing sailboats cannot have luxury or comfort, since boat racing has been in existence since boats were first invented for water.

You would need to find boats that have a great balance between using them on weekends and racing. There are plenty of options to consider for what you want to accomplish in racing and comfort.

Types of Sails Being Used

Another characteristic that separates racing boats from cruisers is the types of sails that are being used. Both are designed for performance but are measured a bit differently. Racing sails are meant for speed, as regular sails are meant for cruising.

Depending on the goal of sailing, such as racing, you could look into purchasing sails that are specific to racing. Would you rather take off an extra minute or two of your time with a long upwind leg during a race or have the same durable sail for another five years out?

This opens up the door to endless possibilities of sail-making materials to get the job done. Most cruisers use Dacron or laminates that use a high-stretch fiber. With racing boats, light laminate sails have proven to be more durable and last longer than previous racing sails.

Popular Types of Racing Sailboats

Since the goal is to be around 50 MPH and have the best handling, many options have to be considered for the type of boat to possess both. Since comfort is not a deciding factor, it is somewhat easier to narrow down a racing boat over a bluewater or cruiser boat.

The types of racing sailboats that cater to you will all depend on your budget and your main goal of use. Each series of boats has its main purpose, with some having a little bit of comfort with racing.

Yachts and Super-Sized Sailboats

Yachts that specialize in racing tend to have a solid mix between speed and comfort. With a fiberglass hull and roughly 50 feet or so in length, these boats are not easily handled by just one or two people like others or there.

With that being said, they are also the most expensive out of the group. Even with exceptionally older models, you are still easily looking at $100,000.

You can expect to see racing yacht sailboats to reach about 17 MPH. Depending on the size, they can go faster or slower.

High-Performance Cruisers

Some boats can do it all when it comes to all-around performance . If you are looking for a boat that you can race for fun but still want to take it out offshore and live on, then you need to look at high-performance cruisers that can do both.

These boats generally range between 25 to 40 feet and are similar to yachts. However, they do not have as much luxury in comparison but the price tag is not nearly as heavy.

Trailerable Sailboats

Trailerable sailboats fall into similar categories like the dinghy and small racing boats. These boats can range in length up to 27 feet but are limited in their height and weight.

These serve a purpose for just about anything to do with sailing, but the racing ones are strictly for racing. Their design is meant for speed, not the comfort of heavy-duty performance offshore.

Small Racing Sailboats

Smaller racing sailboats are built to be lighter and have practically nothing on board compared to cruisers or dinghies. Due to their smaller size, they often get mistaken for larger dinghies even though they typically range between 20 and 70 feet.

These smaller racing sailboats are related to cruising sailboats but are a bit smaller. They are cousins to sailing dinghy boats that are used for racing. They also have fin keels and utilize laminate sails.

Sailing Dinghies

Dinghies are a category of small boats that have a wide variety of uses. If you are new to boating, it is a great place to start learning due to its size and simplicity.

These typically only need one or two people at most and are no longer than 15 feet in length at max. Many of these boats are competitively raced and will also result in a wet ride no matter what you do. You will see these types of boats used in certain Olympic events.

Racing Cruising Sailboats

Cruisers have a wide range in size and length, as they range between 16 and 50 feet or more. They feature cabins for extended cruising and have standing headroom below deck if over 26 feet.

Popular brands on the market have introduced models that are fit for racing. These are great for fleet races or for boats that are associated with cruising. With that being said, it is a great compromise for boaters that enjoy racing but also want to cruise whenever they want.

The cutter features a single mast and mainsail, which is very similar to common sailboats like a sloop. A cutter sailboat has the mast further aft which allows the attachment of the jib and staysail.

In high winds, a smaller staysail can still be flown from the inner stay. This used to be a traditional racing design back in the day.

Cutters are great for both offshore and coastal cruising. In addition, they can still be utilized as a racing boat depending on the conditions.

Fractional Rig Sloop

Fractional rig sloop sailboats were popular in the 60s and 70s, but have steadily made a comeback in today's market. This sloop’s forestay will not cross at the highest point of the mast, meaning it attaches at a lower position.

On fairly windy days when you do not have to utilize full power, the fractional rig allows the crew to slightly bend the tops of the mast and flatten out sails. This greatly affects performance and is a great option for cruising, one-design races, and even handicap sailing.

Schooner Sailboats

These particular sailboats have multiple sails which are protected by two masts. These are known as the mainmast and foremast, with the foremast being close to the ship’s foredeck and a lot shorter than the mainmast.

Depending on the size of the schooner, additional masts can be added to allow more sails. These are great for offshore cruising and sailing but can be an effective racing boat.

Trimarans and Catamarans

Trimarans have three of their hulls side by side and “cats” only have two. In comparison, they both share very similar characteristics for racing and overall performance.

Trimarans are quicker and easier to build than catamarans, so, therefore, they are more common. They both have similar restrictions on space and can be used for day sailing.

In addition, they are not as stable as compared to other sailboats out there. There are still various ways to use them and they make for great racing boats since they can reach up to 10 MPH.

How Can These Boats Go Faster?

Each person will select a racing boat that fits their needs accordingly. If you enjoy racing, but continue to lose against boats that are the same, you might want to consider either your team, the technique behind it all, or the boat itself. Routine maintenance is going to be the best thing you can do when checking to see if your racing sailboat can go any faster.

The hull has to be in top shape and needs to be able to hold tension. The sails also need to be checked to make sure they are not overly stretched or worn out.

The masts also need to be of the right stiffness, as they are bending with tension from the rigging. This one might have to be professionally calibrated if you do not know how to do it, especially since every boat with its mast is going to measure differently based on size and shape.

Finally, the weight of the boat could be the determining factor in winning or losing. Make sure the weight is appropriate and the maximum amount for the boat is not exceeded.

Related Articles

Types of Sailboats: A Complete Guide

Born into a family of sailing enthusiasts, words like “ballast” and “jibing” were often a part of dinner conversations. These days Jacob sails a Hallberg-Rassy 44, having covered almost 6000 NM. While he’s made several voyages, his favorite one is the trip from California to Hawaii as it was his first fully independent voyage.

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7 Bluewater Cruising Sailboats We Love

bluewater sailboats

Our editorial staff selected 7  bluewater cruising sailboats from 26 to 42 feet, from all over the world. Bluewater sailing is a type of ocean cruising: it refers to long-term open sea cruising, for example, passages (ocean crossings). Bluewater sailing implies a lack of support and requires a certain amount of self-sufficiency, since you’re away from land for long periods of time. An example is crossing the Atlantic. But you can’t just stock up any boat and go at it: not all boats can handle ‘blue water’. You need a different boat type and also some add-ons. Which is your preferred among these bluewater cruising sailboats?

Bluewater Sailboats cal 40

Designed by Bill Lapworth and built by Jensen Marine, the Cal 40 was nothing less than revolutionary, and displaced a mere 15,000 pounds, unheard of when first launched in 1964.

Contessa 26

Bluewater Sailboats

This cruiser was designed by David Sadler, built by J.J. Taylor & Sons of Toronto, Canada and a few other builders, and made forever famous by then 18-year-old Tania Aebi, who completed her solo circumnavigation aboard  Varuna  at the age of 21.

Dufour Arpège 30

Bluewater Sailboats dufour arpege 30

The Arpege 30 was introduced in 1966 and had a fairly long production run of approximately 1,500 boats. The Dufour Arpege hull is solid fiberglass and the deck may or may not have been cored.

Hinckley Bermuda 40

Bluewater Sailboats Hinckley Bermuda 40

This Bill Tripp -designed sailboat, produced in Maine by one of America’s greatest Builders, might just define elegance afloat. Production began in 1959 and continued into the 1990s with a few changes.


Island Packet 420

Bluewater Sailboats island packet 420

Island Packet builds distinctive, full-keel bluewater sailboats that have almost a cult following. They’re solid glass, heavy cruisers that won’t set any speed records but will get you there in safety and comfort. Designed by Bob Johnson, it is not offered as a new build anymore.

Tartan 3700

Bluewater Sailboats tartan 3700

On-deck, the 3700 features details that deliver excellent aesthetics, comfort and security. Wide side decks provide safe and secure fore and aft movement, while abundant ventilation offerings include all-opening stainless steel house side portlights, cockpit portlights, stainless steel deck hatches and 2 stainless steel dorade ventilators with stainless guards.

Westsail 32

Bluewater Sailboats westsail 32

The Westsail 32 was a production fiberglass sailboat built between the years of 1971 and 1980. Approximately 830 were built, about half of them in kit form. The “W32”, as they are often referred to, was very heavily built and has taken many people on trouble-free voyages and several circumnavigations.

Hanse Unveils the New Hanse 590 Signed Berret-Racoupeau

Group beneteau: record full-year earnings in 2023, five best places where to sail at least one time in your life, the countdown has begun for the new ice 66 rs, live your passion, subscribe to our mailing list.

Hans Christian 41

Hinkley 40…wow!

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best cruising racing sailboats

6 Best Performance Cruising Catamarans (Buyer’s Guide)

best cruising racing sailboats

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Performance cruising catamarans are impressive-looking vessels that focus on speed above comfort. These fast boats are ideal for racing and long cruising vacations. But with the numerous brands and models on the market, how do you know which is the best one?  

The best high-speed performance cruising catamarans are the Outremer 4x, McConaghy MC50, Nautitech 44, Gunboat 62, Balance 526, and Marsaudon Composites ORC50. All these boats deliver outstanding speeds and are light in weight, relatively comfortable, and incredibly safe.  

This article will explore the brands and models that I believe have the best combination of performance and comfort . We’ll look at their speeds and what makes them cruise so fast. We’ll also examine the factors to consider when shopping for a performance cruising cat.  

Table of Contents

How Fast Are Performance Cruising Catamarans? 

Cruising catamarans are generally faster than monohulls of similar lengths. This means most well-built and well-balanced cats will arrive at their destination much sooner, and the cruise is much more comfortable. Performance cruising cats like the Nautitech include deep daggerboards and rudders, narrow waterline beams, hull chines, and big sail plans that allow for faster sailing than a standard cruising cat.

Outremer 4X

Outremer Catamarans are well-known for their high speeds. These exciting cats sport brilliant designs, narrow bows, and large rigs. Built in Southern France, the vessels are strong and long-lasting since their structures feature materials such as carbon, glass, and vinyl ester. 

The Outremer 4x is a stable and comfortable high-speeding cruising catamaran that performs ocean crossings and confronts any weather with remarkable ease. Named the European Boat of the Year in 2017, this 48-foot (14.6 m) bluewater cruiser sails faster than wind speed and attains maximum cruising speeds of 20 knots.

The 4x is an upgrade of the extremely popular Outremer 45, thus retaining Outremer’s core values of speed, safety, and comfort. It’s built for maximum performance and enjoyment, with the lightweight, carbon fiber structure allowing for additional speed under sail . 

Featuring comfort typical of much larger vessels, the Outremer 4X features 4 double cabins, hot water showers, a full kitchen, spacious storage, and excellent ventilation. There’s also an expansive deck, an unobstructed cockpit, and large trampoline areas. Most importantly, your safety is assured through the cat’s unique features including a robust structure, offshore design, stability, and unrivaled speed potential.

The 4x’s cutting-edge design makes it ideal for competitive racing or blue water cruising, and it does both without compromising your comfort, safety, or onboard livability. However, to sail at maximum speed, the boat must remain lightweight, requiring your interior to be fitted out quite minimally. The other downside is the high price tag; the Outremer 4X commands a price between $912,322 and $1,202,945 .

best cruising racing sailboats

McConaghy MC52

The McConaghy MC52 is a performance luxury cruising cat reflective of McConaghy’s 50 years of experience in building high-tech composite projects. The luxurious boat features a flybridge, retracting centerboards, optimized hulls, and an open space bridgedeck combining the salon with the cockpit. You can also customize the boat to your specifications.

best cruising racing sailboats

This hi-tech cat comes with sizeable sliding salon windows and frameless doors that provide fantastic views. Its wave-piercing bows can cut through waves, thus helping to increase performance by minimizing pitch resistance, while still retaining a smooth ride. Also, the saloon offers spacious dining space for up to 8 people, and the galley area is more like a penthouse.

best cruising racing sailboats

The manufacturer’s background in building high-end racing yachts has resulted in an incredibly strong and lightweight vessel capable of reaching 22 knots (40.7 km/h or 25.29 mph). The main downside to this boat is the boom placement on the mast, which is much higher than other high-performance cats. This makes accessing the mainsail somewhat challenging. It also increases the MC50’s center of gravity and center of effort.

best cruising racing sailboats

You can get the MC52 for about $1.6 million.

Nautitech 44

The Nautitech 44 easily blends comfort and fun to deliver an impressive sailing performance, whether you take short trips or long ocean crossings. The boat offers a good balance under sail, and it features helming stations on each hull. Plus, there’s an integrated hardtop bimini complete with sunroof opening. Slim hulls translate to higher speeds, with the vessel reaching up to 17 knots (31.4 km/h or 19.51 mph).

The well-laid-out interior boasts a functional design, ample storage space, plus all the equipment you require for ocean cruising, such as a fridge, watermaker, and solar. 

Nautitech 44’s twin helms give you the real sailing experience with a fantastic view of the sails and great visibility when maneuvering into port. However, you might not appreciate being stuck in the aft helm position without protection in lousy weather or during hot days.

Nevertheless, the boat’s responsiveness makes sailing more pleasurable. Plus, it’s affordable; the price is between $236,000 and $334,000.

Marsaudon Composites ORC50

Marsaudon Composites vessels are ideal for both racing and cruising. The sporty-looking ORC 50 comes with large inverted bows, an angular coachroof, a high freeboard, and a sturdy rotating carbon mast. In addition, the vessel is light which allows it to accelerate quickly, while the angular coachroof offers lots of space and excellent visibility. 

The ORC50 can attain 23+ knots (42.5+ km/h or 26.41+ mph) and is among the fastest high-performance livable multihulls. It’s capable of doing more than 350 miles (563.27 km) per day.   

The downside to the ORC50 is it’s a bit technical to sail, thus requiring a skilled sailor. Furthermore, its immense power and speed can be intimidating to less experienced sailors. Solely designed for speed, the ORC50’s interior is simple, less roomy, and somewhat spartan; hence the boat might not be all that comfy. Still, it’ll get you where you want to go pretty fast, and it’s an excellent value for money at approximately $787,751.25.

Gunboat 62 

The Gunboat 62 is a true high-speed catamaran capable of sailing at 20 knots (37 km/h or 23 mph) over true wind speeds and known to notch up speeds of 36+ knots (66.7+ km/h or 41.45 mph) on a surf. The initial 3 Gunboat 62 boats featured epoxy, E-glass, and carbon fiber construction, but the fourth vessel was all carbon, sported a taller rig and a more expansive sail area. 

These structural features made the Gunboat 62s extremely light, and they formed the original luxury high-performance cruising cats.

This multihull sailboat boasts a carbon mast, round hull sections for a minimized wetted surface area, high-aspect rudders, and retractable daggerboards. The steering station offers 360-degree visibility and sports overhead hatches that you can use to monitor the mainsail trim. The boat also contains 3 private cabins with queen berths, 2 spacious heads with showers, an aft cockpit, galley, and lounge.

On the downside, Gunboats are pricey cats; hence they’re also expensive to maintain. The Gunboat 62 isn’t that spacious either as it’s more focused on speed, but it’s extremely comfortable, plus there’s plenty of space for hanging out. You can buy this catamaran starting from $2 million .

Balance 526

Built with a combination of carbon fiber, E-glass, epoxy, closed-cell foam, and composite bulkheads, this boat is strong, light, and can withstand terrible weather. The retractable daggerboards allow for good upwind performance. All high load areas contain carbon fiber, while furniture and cabinets feature cored sandwich construction, producing the lightest yet most robust catamaran. 

A Balance 526 will reach speeds of up to 20knots without stressing the rig too much.

The boat is available in various layouts and comfortably accommodates 6 people. The spacious aft cockpit and saloon provide panoramic visibility. And since Balance 526 can handle the extra weight, you get performance plus all the creature comforts you desire.

Still, Balance 526’s pricing is on the higher end, beginning at $1,440,000 . Also, the slender hulls result in less space down below. Nevertheless, the boat lives up to its name, achieving the perfect balance between superb performance and comfort.

What Makes Performance Cruising Catamarans So Fast? 

best cruising racing sailboats

Performance Cruising Catamarans Have Narrow Hulls 

Performance catamarans contain two small narrow hulls, which cause them to have less water resistance. Smaller hulls mean the vessels have much smaller bow waves to fight, allowing them to move extremely fast. In addition, the less hull area is underwater, the faster the boat is capable of moving since there’s less drag.

Having said that, it’s important to note that a narrow hull is more prone to burying its bows in rough seas. The wider the hull, the more buoyancy it offers, but only up to a given point. After which, the excessive width becomes unmanageable and performance suffers. The key lies in finding the right balance.

best cruising racing sailboats

Performance Cruising Catamarans Have Considerable Length

The longer a cruising cat is, the faster it’ll move. While each vessel bears a maximum hull speed, in most cases, the lengthier the boat, the higher the speed it can reach. The length of the hull (length on the waterline) also has a significant impact on the speed performance. Thus, the cat attains maximum speeds when the wavelength is equal to the length on the waterline (hull speed).

Therefore, the longer the length of the hull, the better the performance of a high-speed cruising cat. You can also compare two cruising cats’ speeds based on this measure. 

Performance Cruising Catamarans Have Quality Builds

Modern cat manufacturers continue designing more innovative high-performance cruising cats that deliver a new blend of performance and cruising features. They achieve this by using advanced construction materials, better daggerboard designs, and creative weight allocation. They also keep a keener focus on onboard amenities. For instance, asymmetrical daggerboards placed midships in each hull can help achieve proper balance and hull trim.

The overall goal is to design cruising cats that offer high speeds, outstanding performance, and enough offshore comfort. 

Here’s an article if you are wondering what daggerboards and centerboards are and why they impact performance so much.

best cruising racing sailboats

Performance Cruising Catamarans Are Light-weight

The lighter a cruising catamaran, the greater its performance. And some of the most popular high-performance catamarans find an optimal balance between performance and comfort. As a result, modern performance-based cruising cats have embraced the use of carbon composite construction for hulls, daggerboards, and rigging, instead of the somewhat heavier glass fiber materials.

A weighed-down cat produces less speed, which means excess immersion of the hulls renders the boat sluggish . The hull submersion also reduces the bridge deck clearance, promoting uncomfortable hull slamming.

You won’t find much difference in top speed between performance catamarans bearing similar lengths because they all have displacement hulls and mostly sail to hull speed with occasional surfing. This means that under skilled hands, these cats should exhibit roughly the same performance. A cruising cat’s performance is also highly dependent on the state of the sea, wind direction, and speed, amongst many other factors.

Performance Cruising Catamaran

What To Consider When Choosing a Performance Cruising Catamaran

Speed is the number one consideration when choosing a high-speed cruising cat. Yet there are other factors just as important since they contribute to the overall cruising performance, including:

  •  What you’ll use the vessel for and where. Are you planning on doing coastal cruising or serious offshore cruising? Consider the number of people that you’ll be sailing with and the activities you’ll engage in. This also helps determine the size catamaran you’ll need.  
  • Comfort. While some racing enthusiasts might prefer spartan accommodation plans, most enjoy relative comfort on the high seas. In any case, modern high-speed cruising cats are designed to provide a certain level of creature comforts. And since most performance cats are custom-made, new boat owners may decide precisely which features to include in their cats. 
  • Quality. To produce light boats, builders employ the use of fine resins, carbon, epoxies, foam cores, and fiberglass. They build using a combination of vacuum-bagged techniques, foam cores, foam composite bulkheads, and make furniture and cabinetry with cored sandwich construction . 
  • Livability. One cannot underrate the appeal of sailing in a vessel with no heeling, not to mention the high privacy attained from separate living and sleeping areas. Panoramic views and exceptional deck space for lounging and entertaining are also essential in ensuring maximum cruising comfort. Fortunately, most high-speed cruising cats offer all these features and more.
  • Equipment. Sailing upwind is a challenge for cruising cats since they tend to make lots of leeway. To make things easier, high-speed cruising cats come equipped with bigger rigs and either daggerboards or centerboards. However, this also means skilled sailors are required to operate them. 
  • Cost. Catamarans are generally expensive, but a cat built with longer, leaner hulls and less costly materials can still give an outstanding performance. Such materials include foam cores, epoxy bulkheads, and epoxy resins. Furthermore, it’s not necessary to use only carbon to build a lightweight boat. 

Final Thoughts

Performance cruising catamarans are built using exotic, high-tech, lightweight materials to deliver an electrifying sailing experience. And as we’ve seen from the above list, these boats deliver performance plus much more. They’re not only speed cruisers, but they also provide a smooth, comfortable, and enjoyable cruising experience. 

So, whichever option you go for – from the luxurious Gunboat 62 to the much more affordable Nautitech 44 – you’re sure to get a boat that suits your needs. 

  • Wikipedia: Spinnaker
  • Wikipedia: High-Performance Sailing  
  • Yachting World: Fountaine Pajot Elba 45 Review
  • Aeroyacht: Catamaran Speed
  • Cruiser’s Forum: Nautitech 44…
  • Nautitech Catamarans: Nautitech
  • Katamarans: Marsaudon Composites ORC50 (TS5) Review
  • Outremer USA: New Outremer 4x Performance Catamaran
  • Dutoit Yacht Design: Balance 526 Review
  • Go Downsize: How Fast Do Catamarans Go?
  • Catamaran Guru: The Cruising Catamaran Performance Debate
  • The Boat App: The Fastest Cruising Catamarans of 2020
  • Sail Magazine: Performance Cruising Cats Set New Standards in Sailing Speed
  • Cruisers Forum: Fast Cruising Catamarans – How Fast?
  • Lagoon – Inside: The Secrets of a Catamaran’s Performance
  • Sail Magazine: 10 Great Cruising Cats
  • Cruising World: 40 Best Sailing Catamarans and Trimarans, Cruising Catamarans…

Owner of CatamaranFreedom.com. A minimalist that has lived in a caravan in Sweden, 35ft Monohull in the Bahamas, and right now in his self-built Van. He just started the next adventure, to circumnavigate the world on a Catamaran!

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best cruising racing sailboats

Mastering Sailboat Racing Tactics: A Winning Approach

By: Zeke Quezada, ASA Sailing Races

Sailboat racing demands a unique blend of skills and expertise. The dynamic nature of racing, with its ever-changing winds and currents, requires sailors to excel in various aspects to secure victory. One of the biggest challenges is dealing with the fluid playing field upon which we play.  At North U, experts understand that sailboat racing success is built on a pyramid comprising Boat Handling, Boat Speed, and Tactics, with Tactics reigning supreme at the pinnacle.

Building the Foundation: Boat Handling and Boat Speed

Before delving into the intricacies of racing tactics, it’s crucial to lay a solid foundation. Boat Handling forms the base of the pyramid, emphasizing the importance of mastering the art of sailing. Without proficient boat handling skills, even the best tactics would falter. Next in line is Boat Speed, a universal requirement across all forms of racing. Whether it’s bicycles, bobsleds, or sailboats, speed is the essence of victory in any race.

best cruising racing sailboats

Reaching the Summit: Racing Tactics

Atop the Racing Pyramid stands Tactics, the ultimate decider in the world of sailboat racing. Once you’ve honed your boat handling and achieved exceptional speed, mastering tactics becomes the key to clinching victories. Tactics, in its broadest sense, encompasses Strategy and Tactical execution, each playing a pivotal role in the race.

Understanding Strategy and Tactics

Strategy is the overarching plan that revolves around wind, wind shifts, and current. It is an overall gameplan detailing how a sailor would navigate the course independently while factoring in the complex interplay of natural elements. On the other hand, Tactics involve the practical implementation of the strategy and the adept handling of other boats in the race. Understanding and adhering to Racing Rules are part of Tactics, as the rules dictate your rights and obligations as you deal with other boats.

General Tactical Tips: 

  • Craft a Comprehensive Strategy: Formulate a game plan based on your expectations of the wind’s behavior. A well-thought-out strategy provides a roadmap for your race.
  • Get a Good Start: While a perfect start is ideal, it’s not mandatory for victory. Focus on launching at full speed from the starting line, ensuring you have clear air near the favored end. A strong start sets the tone for the race.
  • Chase the Wind: Seek out areas with more wind and navigate your boat towards these pockets. Sailing in favorable wind conditions gives you a significant advantage over competitors.
  • Embrace Speed: Sailing at maximum speed is a game-changer. Position your boat in a way that allows you to maintain top speed throughout the race. Sometimes, the simplest strategy is the most effective.
  • Master the Shifts: Tacking and jibing strategically based on wind shifts is crucial. Upwind, tack when you’re headed away from the mark and sail on the lifts that push you towards it. Downwind, jibe when lifted away from the mark and sail on the headers, guiding you in the right direction.

Sailboat racing tactics are the culmination of strategic planning, meticulous execution, and adaptability to the ever-changing elements. By mastering the art of strategy and tactical maneuvers, sailors can elevate their racing performance. 

Ready to Become a Master?

Choose from among American Sailing’s many resources to help you improve your racing — from online courses, to textbooks, to week-long events, you can choose one or all to upgrade your sailing racing skills.

Online Classes

Learn more about how to form winning racing strategies at the Racing Strategy, Tactics and Rules Online Class. This 4-session series hosted by Bill Gladstone starts October 17, 2023.

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The most complete books on modern racing tactics and trim, North U takes you all the way around the course. These textbooks are an essential part of any racing sailors library.

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At American Sailing Performance Race Weeks powered by North U, we spend five days exploring every facet of racing success through an enriching blend of practical on-water training and races complemented by shoreside seminars and insightful video reviews. With a coach on every boat, you’ll receive close personal attention to build on your strengths and eliminate your weaknesses. Join us for this unique opportunity to become a better, more versatile, and more accomplished sailor.

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Best Trailerable Sailboat Brands to Cruise or Race

18th dec 2023 by samantha wilson.

Rightboat logo

Being able to trailer your sailboat opens up many possibilities, from cost saving  boat storage solutions to being able to take your boat to new cruising grounds. It's common to see trailered motorboats on the roads in the United States, Canada, and Europe, but sailboats tend to be trailered in smaller numbers.

Of course the act of trailering a sailboat involves a bit more preparation, namely lowering the mast, but as we'll see there are many excellent brands out there ensuring that the sailboats they build can be trailered nearly as easily as a RIB or center console. And they're not just bathtub-sized sailboats either. Some of the best trailerable sailboats are up to 30 feet in length. While it's trickier to trailer a large catamaran due to its wide beam, the multihull world hasn't been left behind, as you can find clever trimarans that fold up in different ways.

We have picked out some of our favorite trailerable sailboat brands in this article but it's important to remember there are many excellent brands building excellent boats.

Corsair Marine

Corsair Marine photo. 

What Is the Biggest Sailboat I Can Trailer?

Daysailers have long been trailered, thanks to their compact size, simple rigs, and easily lowered, relatively short mast. For those who want a slightly larger boat that they can take the whole family out on or use for overnight trips, then a 20- to 25-foot sailboat may be more useful than a 16- to 19-foot one. Going up a size category allows for a whole new range of activities, with proper galleys, running water, electricity, and an enclosed head to provide more substantial home comforts. But how big is too big to trailer?

You might be surprised to hear that in the United States, sailboats up to around 31 feet in length can be trailered legally. In fact, it typically depends less on length, and more on the weight, beam, and height of the vessel and the trailer together, must meet several legal requirements.

  • Weight : While there is no specific weight limit to be towed, the sailboat has to be able to be towed easily by your vehicle, usually a pickup-style truck or full-size SUV with substantial power. Most single- and tandem-axle trailers can handle a maximum combined load of 7,000 to 8,000 pounds, so your weight limit will also be dictated by your trailer.
  • Beam : To travel without permits, the trailer and vessel must fit on the road in regular traffic. In the US, that's a maximum width of 8 foot 6 inches (a couple inches less in the EU at 2.55 meters). Most trailerable monohull sailboats will be less than this for ease of maneuvering in traffic, but when it comes to catamarans and trimarans, adjustments have to be made (we'll look at those later).
  • Length : The upper length limit of a sailboat can be anything up to 65 feet , but that's a moot point because vessels of that size would never meet the width limits. In reality, a 30-footer is the longest sailboat you're likely to tow, with 15- to 25-footers being much more common.
  • Height : Your trailer and sailboat have to fit under bridges and highway overpasses and so for most states the maximum height is 14 feet. This will obviously require lowering the mast onto the deck and including that into your height calculation.

For more advice on the practicalities of trailering see our guide to Buying a Boat Trailer .

The Best Trailerable Cruising Sailboats

The best trailerable cruising sailboat brands.

  • Catalina Yachts : As one of North America's best-known sailboat brands of sailboats, Catalina has a long history of building trailerable models. Their entire Sport line cruising boats—except for the 275—can easily be trailered, and the 22 and 22 Sport, in particular, make for a great step up from daysailing to enjoying a pocket cruiser.
  • Beneteau : Beneteau 's reputation for affordable, capable yachts spans the globe, and their skill at building trailerable sailboats up to 30 feet is just one of many attributes. Take the First 27SE and 24; they are not luxury cruiser (although the 27SE can sleep six crew!) but they sure can sail fast on short distance races or fast adventure cruises. With impeccable and high-quality design featuring double rudders, these are some of the nicest fast cruisers on the market.

Beneteau First 27SE

Beneteau First 27SE. Beneteau photo. 

The Best Trailerable Sport Sailboats

Several brands on this list create high performance sports sailboats , and one of the top names you think of in this sector is Laser whose speedy tiny racers are now an Olympic event in themselves. But there are many excellent brands building ultra-fast sports sailboats – several on our list are considerably bigger than a Laser too. Here we take a look at some of our favorite sports dinghies which are the quintessential trailerable sports boat.

The Best Trailerable Sport Sailboat Brands

  • Melges : Founded in 1945 by Harry C. Melges, Sr., this is an iconic Midwestern brand made famous, in part, by Harry's son, Harry “Buddy” Melges Jr, an Olympic medalist in the ‘60s and National Sailing Hall of Fame member. Today the business is run by Harry III, also a championship sailor, who oversees a range of high performance vessels from the award-winning Melges 14 and 15 dinghies, to A, C, E and MC scow classes, and international sportboat classes, the Melges 20 and 24—the latter has more than 900 boats sailing competitively all over the world. All of their models are trailerable, allowing them to be transported easily to competitions. Melges boats for sale
  • J/Boats : The most successful volume builder of trailerable, performance keelboats is also a family-run brand founded by brothers Rod and Bob Johnstone and now led by second-generation Johnstones—Jeff, Al and Stuart. Starting with the J/24 (more than 5,500 boats built) and most recently with the J/70, the company has popularized a series of international racing classes from 22 to 26 feet while also building many popular larger racer/cruiser-style models that don't fit easily on a trailer.  J/Boats for sale
  • RS Sailing : British-built RS Sailing performance dinghies and keelboats are spreading in popularity across the world. Distributed widely on the east coast of the US, they're excellent pocket racing dinghies, easily trailered and ultra-fast. Their range of boats runs from 12 feet and 21 feet and includes dinghies, catamarans, and keelboats, allowing you to find exactly the right boat for your experience level and interest, but it's their Racing Series which sets them apart as high performers in the market. They're lightweight, simple in their design, and well-suited to being trailered thanks to their compact sizes.

Melges 24

Melges 24. Melges photo. 

The Best Trailerable Youth Sailboats

Trailerable sailboats designed for younger sailors are lightweight, easy to rig, and easy to sail. They should offer a simple platform in which to learn the mechanics of sailing, the movement of the boat on the water, and the basic maintenance of a sailboat. For more guidance check out our guide to choosing the best beginner sailboat .

The Best Trailerable Youth Sailboat Brands

  • ILCA : Formerly known as the Laser, the ILCA design is one of the most popular sailboats of all time, a responsive yet high-performance one-person sailboat that is an excellent step up, particularly for sailors who outgrow their smaller dinghies as teenagers. As a racing class, ILCA offers three different mast sizes so sailors can start in what's called the ILCA 4 class and as they gain weight, move to ILCA 6 and 7. By that time, you're in a class of boat that can take you all the way to the Olympics. Designed in the 1970s by Canadian sailor Bruce Kirby, the 13'10.5” boat teaches high-performance skills, subtle steering and trimming techniques, and astounding speed once on a plane.
  • Hobie Cat : We've put Hobie Cat in this category simply because of the brand's long-standing legacy of creating fun, simple, and compact catamarans that are loved by families and easily trailered. The classic Hobie 16 model with more than 100,000 built remains an active international class worldwide for the young and the young at heart; newer models provide a good, stable platform for a variety of off-the-beach and daysailing contexts. Catamarans are obviously wider than their monohull counterparts, but beach cats like the ones made by Hobie are well within the maximum width allowance to be towed on American roads. And because of their lightweight fiberglass or rotomolded hulls, they can be towed by much less powerful vehicles too.

Laser sailboats

Laser sailboats. Laser Performance photo. 

The Best Small Trailerable Sailboats

There are many benefits to opting for a small towable sailboat , and plenty of excellent brands out there are producing high performance pocket cruisers. A smaller sailboat won't require a large trailer and together they will weigh less and be able to be towed by a regular family car rather than a pick-up truck. Navigating smaller roads or heavier traffic will be less of a consideration, plus getting your sailboat launched will be a simpler affair. Several brands on our list could be in this category but special mention must be made of:

The Best Small Trailerable Sailboats Brands

  • Cape Cutter : The traditional beauty of these sailboats, twinned with modern-day advancements, makes them really stand out from the rest. The design originates from the classic gaff cutter work boats, but today it's one of the fastest small gaffers in the world. The interior is cleverly spacious, with four berths, as well as a simple galley area. With quick rigging, it can be sailed solo, but is also able to accommodate small groups, making it a capable and hugely versatile pocket cruiser. At 22 feet long, 7 foot 7 inches wide, and under 5 foot in height with the mast lowered, it's perfect for trailering too. Cape Cutter boats for sale.
  • NorseBoat : These beautiful, hand-crafted, and impressively versatile Canadian-built sailboats offer good performance and are described by the manufacturer as "the Swiss Army Knives of sailboats". Whether it's the 12.5 model, which can be sailed, rowed, and motored, or the 17.5 or 21.5 models, they can all be trailered, easily beached, and even used as camp cruisers, allowing for overnight adventures. And with traditional styling they're absolute head-turners whether you're cruising along the road or water.

NorseBoat 17.5

NorseBoat 17.5. NorseBoat photo. 

The Best Trailerable Catamaran and Trimaran Sailboats

Multihulls have gained popularity in the last 20 years thanks to their stability, lack of keel, performance, and increased space on board compared to a monohull of the same length. Yet there are obvious challenges when it comes to trailering a sailboat with a very wide beam such as a catamaran or even more so a trimaran. In fact, by having three hulls, the trimaran type has bred for some innovative engineering, folding in the two outer hulls thus creating a smaller overall beam for transport. This is trickier with catamarans as they're not foldable in the same way. We've mentioned the well-known Hobie Cat brand of small beach cats above but there are some other innovative brands out there making it easier to trailer multihulls.

The Best Trailerable Catamaran and Trimaran Sailboat Brands

  • Nacra : Catamarans are difficult to trailer because their beam is likely to exceed the legal road limits due to their double hull structure. Having said that, small models such as Nacra's lightning fast racing cats will squeeze within the beam limits at 8 foot 5 inches wide including the 15, F16, and F18 Infusion. If you're after trailerable performance and some competition, these cats provide a whole different level for serious and athletic sailors.
  • Corsair : Corsair makes some of the best trailerable trimaran sailboats on the market and were pioneers in the folding trimaran sector for more than three decades. Yes you read that correctly…foldable trimarans up to 20 feet in length. With technology straight out of a Transformers movie, a 15-foot beam folds down into a neat little 8-foot wide package ready for trailering. Even the 31 foot 10 inch long 970 Cruze, with its standing room cabin, can be put on a trailer thanks to the folding system and retractable daggerboard and rudder.
  • Dragonfly : With a focus on beautiful, cruise-worthy, high-quality, and high-performance trimarans up to 40 feet, Dragonfly offers two models— the 25 and 28—that can be folded and trailered for ease of transport and to allow you the freedom to access different cruising grounds. At a folded width of 8 feet 3 inches, the 28 is still just within legal width for towing on US roads, while offering you a true weekend cruiser complete with saloon, cabin, and galley.

Dragonfly 28.1

Dragonfly 28.1. Dragonfly photo. 

Written By: Samantha Wilson

Samantha Wilson has spent her entire life on and around boats, from tiny sailing dinghies all the way up to superyachts. She writes for many boating and yachting publications, top charter agencies, and some of the largest travel businesses in the industry, combining her knowledge and passion of boating, travel and writing to create topical, useful and engaging content.


More from: Samantha Wilson

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A record on the high seas: Cole Brauer becomes first US woman to sail solo around the world

best cruising racing sailboats

On Thursday, Cole Brauer made history, becoming the first American woman to sail solo nonstop around the world. The 29-year-old from Long Island, New York, celebrated at the finish line in Spain by drinking champagne from her trophy.

Friends, peers and sailing enthusiasts had been cheering Brauer on since last October, when she embarked on her more than four-month journey.

Race organizer Marco Nannini told USA TODAY he started the Global Solo Challenge to "create a platform for sailors like Cole to showcase her skills and move on to a pro sailor career."

While at sea Brauer kept her more than 400,000 Instagram followers updated − and entertained − with videos from onboard First Light. The trip was extremely challenging and physically exhausting, Brauer said in one video from December.

In the post, she describes how frustrated she felt when she had to fix and replace different parts of the boat.

"I don't want you guys to think I'm like Superwoman or something," Brauer said. "Right now I've been feeling just broken," she added, describing how she had to fix the boat's autopilot system after injuring her torso against the side of the boat's hull amid intense waves.

Who is Cole Brauer?

Brauer is from Long Island and competed for the University of Hawaii sailing team. She went to high school in East Hampton, New York, her university team website says. She was the youngest of more than a dozen sailors, or skippers, in the Global Solo Challenge.

The professional sailor lives in Boothbay, Maine, and during the spring and summer, she can be also found in Newport, Rhode Island, gearing up for races, the Newport Daily News reported last year .

Brauer has sailed on First Light, a 40-foot yacht, for over five years, the outlet reported.

"I always said I wanted to race around the world in this boat," she told the newspaper.

From above and below First Light's deck, Brauer shared aspects of her journey with followers and die-hard sailing fans.

On New Year's Eve, she donned a dress and danced at midnight , and in another post, she showed off how many pull-ups she can do.

As the only woman racing solo, nonstop around the world in the first Global Solo Challenge, Brauer said she was determined to prove there's nothing women and girls cannot accomplish.

"I push so much harder when someone's like, 'No, you can't do that,'" Brauer told NBC Nightly News . "And I'm like, 'OK, watch me.'"

Brauer is the first American woman to sail solo around the world. But Kay Cottee of Australia was the first woman in the world to accomplish the milestone, sailing off from Sydney Harbor in Australia in November 1987 and returning 189 days later.

On her profile page on the Global Solo Challenge website, Brauer said she wanted to send a message to the sailing community that it's time to leave its male-dominated culture in the past. In the profile, Brauer took aim at a lack of equal pay and what she describes as harassment in the sailing industry.

"Just as well as this community has built me up it has broken me and my fellow female teammates down. I am doing this race for them," Brauer said.

Brauer and her spokesperson did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

How long was Cole Brauer at sea?

Brauer was sailing for over four months after departing on Oct. 29.

She finished second in the race, behind a sailor who departed about a month before she did.

The start times differed because that first place boat, Phillipe Delamare's Mowgli, is much slower, Nannini said, explaining the race's staggered start times.

"The format means that if you enter on a slow, small boat you can still win, which makes it much more inclusive than an event where a bigger budget is a definite advantage," he said.

France's Delamare will win first-place prize money of 7,500 euros (about $8,140), Brauer will win 5,000 euros (about $5,430) and the third place finisher will win 2,500 euros (about $2,710), Nannini said.

How dangerous was Cole Brauer's sailing race?

A medical team including a nurse and a physician trained Brauer and sent her on her journey with medicines and medical supplies, in case of any health issues, according to her Instagram account.

Early in the race, Brauer administered her own IV with a saline solution after she became dehydrated, according to one video posted to her social media.

Brauer's most serious health scare happened in early December when she said gnarly ocean conditions caused the boat to jolt, throwing her across the inside of the boat and slamming her hard against a wall.

Her ribs were badly bruised as a result, and her medical team told her to alternate between taking Advil and Tylenol, Brauer said on Instagram.

"Rigging up a sleeping seat belt has been added to my priority list," she said in the post's caption. "I know I'm very lucky that this wasn't a lot worse."

What is the Global Solo Challenge?

The inaugural Global Solo Challenge is a nonstop sailing race in which competitors departed last year from A Coruña, Spain.

The race encompasses nearly 30,000 miles and takes place mostly in the southern hemisphere.

After leaving waters off the coast of Spain, sailors travel south and around Africa's Cape of Good Hope. The race then includes the two other capes that together make up the famous three great capes: Australia's Cape Leeuwin and South America's Cape Horn.

About half of the other competitors dropped out of the race, according to racing data posted online by the Global Solo Challenge.

Delamare finished the race late last month after embarking on his journey in late September 2023, according to race data.

Contributing: Associated Press

best cruising racing sailboats

The Ultimate Guide to Choosing Between a Sailboat or Catamaran for Your Sailing Adventures

C hoosing between a sailboat and a catamaran for your sailing adventures is a significant decision that depends on various factors, including your sailing preferences, experience level, budget, and intended use. Here's an ultimate guide to help you make an informed decision:

1. Sailing Experience:

  • Sailboats: Typically require more skill and experience to handle, especially in adverse weather conditions. Ideal for sailors who enjoy the traditional feel of sailing and are willing to invest time in learning and mastering the art.
  • Catamarans: Easier to handle, making them suitable for beginners. The dual-hull design provides stability, reducing the learning curve for those new to sailing.

2. Space and Comfort:

  • Sailboats: Generally have a narrower beam and less living space. However, some sailboats may offer comfortable cabins and amenities.
  • Catamarans: Wider beam creates more living space. Catamarans often have multiple cabins, spacious saloons, and expansive deck areas, providing a more comfortable living experience.

3. Stability:

  • Sailboats: Monohulls can heel (lean) while sailing, which some sailors enjoy for the thrill but can be discomforting for others.
  • Catamarans: Greater stability due to the dual hulls, providing a more level sailing experience. Reduced heeling makes catamarans suitable for those prone to seasickness.

4. Performance:

  • Sailboats: Known for their upwind performance and ability to sail close to the wind. Some sailors appreciate the challenge of optimizing sail trim for efficiency.
  • Catamarans: Faster on a reach and downwind due to their wide beam. However, they may not point as high into the wind as monohulls.
  • Sailboats: Typically have a deeper draft, limiting access to shallow anchorages and requiring deeper marina berths.
  • Catamarans: Shallow draft allows access to shallower waters and secluded anchorages, providing more flexibility in cruising destinations.
  • Sailboats: Generally more affordable upfront, with a wide range of options available to fit different budgets.
  • Catamarans: Often more expensive upfront due to their size and design. However, maintenance costs may be comparable or even lower in some cases.

7. Mooring and Docking:

  • Sailboats: Easier to find slips and moorings in marinas designed for monohulls.
  • Catamarans: Require wider slips and may have limited availability in certain marinas, especially in crowded anchorages.

8. Intended Use:

  • Sailboats: Ideal for traditional sailors who enjoy the art of sailing, racing enthusiasts, or those on a tighter budget.
  • Catamarans: Suited for those prioritizing comfort, stability, and spacious living areas, especially for long-term cruising and chartering.

9. Resale Value:

  • Sailboats: Generally have a more established resale market, with a wider range of buyers.
  • Catamarans: Growing in popularity, and well-maintained catamarans often retain their value.

10. Personal Preference:

  • Consider your personal preferences, the type of sailing you plan to do, and the kind of lifestyle you want aboard your vessel.

In conclusion, both sailboats and catamarans have their advantages and disadvantages. Your decision should be based on your individual preferences, experience level, budget, and intended use. If possible, charter both types of vessels to experience firsthand how they handle and to help make a more informed decision based on your own preferences and needs.

The post The Ultimate Guide to Choosing Between a Sailboat or Catamaran for Your Sailing Adventures appeared first on Things That Make People Go Aww .

Choosing between a sailboat and a catamaran for your sailing adventures is a significant decision that depends on various factors, including your sailing preferences, experience level, budget, and intended use. Here's an ultimate guide to help you make an informed decision: 1. Sailing Experience: 2. Space and Comfort: 3. Stability: 4. Performance: 5. Draft: 6....

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IMTRA Named Employee-owned Company of the Year

  • By Brinley Hineman
  • March 22, 2024

IMTRA, a leading manufacturer of products for the marine, energy and transportation industries, was honored as the employee-owned company of the year by the New England chapter of the ESOP Association. 

The Massachusetts company is fully owned by its employees and has spent more than 70 years in the commercial, industrial and marine markets. The award honors companies that show a strong commitment to employee ownership, a news release said. 

The award puts IMTRA in the running for national recognition. ESOP Association is the largest employee ownership advocacy organization in the world. 

“We place a high value on being part of the ESOP community, with all these companies that support each other, share best practices and help each other be better employee-owners and organizations,” Eric Braitmayer, IMTRA president and CEO, said in the news release. “I’m excited by how impactful becoming an ESOP has been for our company culture. Our team is embracing what it means to be owners of IMTRA and we expect our customers and suppliers will benefit from this enhanced engagement by our teammates.”

IMTRA’s service philosophy, across all its marine product lines, is to ensure that customers select the correct product for their specific boats. The company’s Learning Center is a great resource for everything boaters need to know about their boat’s equipment and systems. Everything from product overviews, product comparisons, buying guides, troubleshooting guides, maintenance tips and more can be found HERE , and it’s always being updated.

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WATCH: New Zealand SailGP - Stream Day 1 racing live from Christchurch

  • ITM New Zealand Sail Grand Prix

SailGP’s much-anticipated return to the epic location of Christchurch is finally here, with the 9th event of Season 4 kicking off this afternoon.

Two days of action-packed and boundary-breaking racing take place on the spectacular Whakaraupō, Lyttelton Harbour, with SailGP’s ten national teams going head-to-head for glory in front of packed crowds.

Following three opening fleet races on Saturday, March 23, there will be further racing on Sunday to determine the three Finalists who will proceed into the winner-takes-all, three boat Final.

New Zealand Sail Grand Prix | Christchurch | Season 3 | Fleet | Racing

After securing their first Season 4 victory in Sydney, Australia are the current season leaders, sitting in first place with 66 points ahead of New Zealand in second and ROCKWOOL DEN in third.

At the other end of the leaderboard, Switzerland has just 17 points - four points below Germany in ninth.

ITM New Zealand Sail Grand Prix | Christchurch: How to watch

The first day of racing in Christchurch takes place on March 23. Racing is scheduled to start at 15:00 NZDT.

You can watch the all of Christchurch's racing action using the below live stream. This stream may be blocked in some regions due to broadcast restrictions.

Season 3 // Fleet underway in Christchurch racing

SailGP will also broadcast the live racing stream on the SailGP APP , SailGP Facebook , SailGP YouTube and SailGP Insights . Broadcast restrictions may mean some/all of these viewing options are not available in your region.

If you cannot view the live stream, please visit our How to Watch page to discover broadcast options available to you.

Furthermore, SailGP.com will bring you live updates throughout the event on THIS page.

ITM New Zealand Sail Grand Prix | Christchurch: What has been said

SailGP veteran Nathan Outteridge will take the wheel of the Swiss F50 for the rest of the season, while co-driver Sebastien Schneiter focuses on other commitments.

"I've been without a drive in SailGP for the last couple of seasons, since driving for the Japan SailGP Team. I have pretty high expectations of myself and what I'd like to get out in terms of results for the remainder of Season 4, and those expectations will hopefully flow across the whole team," he said.

Looking ahead to his home event, New Zealand wing trimmer Blair Tuke said: "It's going to be great to get back down to Ōtautahi, Christchurch. You hear it from all of the different teams, it's some of the best sailing we've ever done in the F50s. To do that all again with an even bigger crowd - and obviously it's coming at a time of year when the season starts to ramp up - that's exciting too."

Meanwhile SailGP commentator Emily Nagel said the Kiwis will be gunning for a win on home waters. "You’ve got to say that the Kiwis will come out of the blocks firing. Pete’s going to be back on board, he’s going to have something to prove and on home waters as well, so they’ll definitely have a home advantage."

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