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Practical Sailor Reviews Seven Performance-Sailing Dinghies

Agile, fun boats like the classic sunfish and new hobie bravo keep the smile in summer sailing..

fastest dinghy sailboat

Photos by Ralph Naranjo

Messing around in small boats is a global theme-one thats embraced by pond-bound pram sailors, river riders, lake voyagers, and all of us who call salt water home. The purpose of this sailing dinghy profile is to highlight seven very interesting little sailboats. Some are new designs, and others have stood the test of time, but all are currently being manufactured, and each drives home just how much fun sailing close to the water can be.

This isn’t a shootout among anorexic speedsters or a report on the best tender that doubles as a sailing dinghy. Its a look at perennials like the Optimist, Sunfish, and Laser-legendary competitors that have helped spawn some of the best sailors in the world. But its also a look at three of the newest entries in the dinghy-sailing circle: Bics Open, Hobies Bravo, and Laser Performances Bug. These agile, new sailing dinghies are chock full of fun and boat-handling features to inspire kids of all ages to go sailing.

Well also take a look at Chesapeake Light Crafts kit approach to getting started-one that offers meaningful lessons and tangible rewards well before the boat ever hits the water.

Scale down an Open 60, add sail technology long favored by windsurfers, and put it into play in a tough thermo-formed hull, and you have the makings for a new kind of watercraft. The result is a very interesting blend of performance and reliability that targets adolescent interest. When all is said and done, Bics boat is more akin to a sit-down windsurfer than a traditional Blue Jay. And like all good boats, its vying for attention not just based on performance, construction quality, and style, but just as importantly, on the price tag stuck to the hull.

The Open Bics light weight and wide, flat stern section means that even small chop can be surfed; and bursts of planing on a reach add a zing factor to dinghy sailing. The Open Bic is already an International Sailing Federation (ISAF)-sanctioned class, and fleets are developing around the US. Another bonus: Its an easily portable boat that can be carried like a windsurfer, adding excitement to a Sunday picnic at the beach.

The thermo-formed polyethylene hull is a modified hard-chine design with lots of beam aft. Sailed flat, the boat is agile enough to surf wavelets, and with a shape thats ergonomically friendly to hiking, the ensuing heel on the upwind leg puts just the right amount of chine into the water. In light air, careful control of heel can significantly reduce wetted surface.

The design team that developed the Open Bic saw it as a transition bridge from Optimist sailing to a more performance-oriented dinghy. An interesting innovation is that the Open Bic can be sailed with an Optimists rig and blades. This buy the hull only approach can be a significant incentive for parents with children outgrowing their Opti as fast as their boat shoes. However it wont be long before the kids want the fully turbo-charged feel delivered with the Open Bics well-shaped 4.5-square-meters rig, sail, and nicely foiled blades.

Bottom line: The Open Bic is fast, agile, and buckets of fun for kids uninspired by sailing in the slow lane.

Just when you think that Hobie Cat Co. has covered whats possible in beach-cat innovation, their design/engineering crew comes up with a new twist that reinvents the wheel. The Hobie Bravo is a good case in point.

In a recent visit to Backyard Boats ( www.backyardboats.com ) in Annapolis, Md., we got a good look at the Bravo. Nearly as narrow as a monohull but still quite stable, this quick-to-launch beach cat packs plenty of get-up-and-go. Its a simple to sail, entry-level boat that fast tracks learning the steer, sheet, and hike trilogy. The boat features a single, midline rudder and roto-molded hulls. The shape of the hulls provides enough lateral plane to allow a crew to make headway to windward.

The narrow (4 feet), 12-foot Bravo uses crew weight and hiking straps to add to the righting moment once the breeze is up. Whats done with webbing on larger cats has been converted to a shallow, rigid deck well on the Bravo. It does raise the weight of the boat to 195 pounds, but it offers comfortable seating plus room for cushions and a cooler. Kids or grown ups can have a Tom Sawyer-Huck Finn type of adventure aboard this fun little sailing machine. Or the family on a beach picnic can set it up and take turns speed reaching along a sandy shoreline.

The furling mast supports a roachy sail with slightly slanted vertical battens, helping to shape the boomless mainsail. The result is convenient sail handling, decent performance, and superior safety. Theres no boom to clobber the crew, and the roller-furled sail and mast are easily stepped in the tripod-like receiver. This interesting set of struts raises the top bearing point of the mast step and spreads rig loads out to the hulls. The furling mainsail offers the ability to reef, a big plus in a building breeze or when teaching children to sail.

Like all of the boats in the Hobie lineup, theres a wide range of specialty parts and fittings that make the boats fast to rig and easy to handle. The kick-up rudder is hung on gudgeons mounted in the center of stern, and just as rig loads have been effectively spread via the tripod step, the energy radiating from the large rudder is spread athwartships via a contoured deck element.

Bottom line: The boat is quick to rig, easy to launch, and responsive to beginners-more experienced sailors will have just as much fun power reaching when the breeze is up.

The Bug

A pocket-sized club trainer, the Bug is an evolution of the kids trainer/club racer that leverages lessons learned in Optis, Dyers, and Sabots. It pulls together the logic of a stable hull shape and simple-to-sail rig, and puts it all in a cost-effective package.

Lending to its success is designer Jo Richardss ergonomic, roto-molded hull, a fabrication that is as close to zero maintenance as a boat can get. The straight out-of-the-mold polyethylene skin gets a few decals, and theres no wood to refinish or gelcoat to wax. These tough, abrasion-resistant hulls have a bumper boat tolerance thats a big plus when it comes to kids learning to sail. Best of all, owners can start with a learn-to-sail rig and upgrade to a more performance-oriented mast and sail package (41 or 56 square feet) that kicks performance into the fast lane.

Oars and an outboard motor bracket can be added to turn the little sailboat into a dual-purpose dinghy. Even the bow painters means of attachment makes sense-no projecting hardware ready to knick the topsides of unintended contacts. Instead, theres a recessed hole in the stem allowing a line to be lead through and a knot used to keep the painter in place.

Bottom line: Aimed at club programs and families look for boats that can be transported on the car top, the Bug is easy to rig and definitely kid friendly. The fact that its manufacturer, Laser Performance, is an international interest and a major player in the performance dinghy industry means that this boat and its parts will be around for a while.

Hobie Bravo

Photo courtesy of Hobie Cat Co.

Eastport Pram

Chesapeake Light Craft expedites boatbuilding for do-it-yourselfers looking to take their garage-built boats for a sail. The company pre-cuts parts, packs kits with all the materials, epoxy, and paint youll need, and leads homebuilders through a thoroughly detailed stitch-and-glue approach to assembly. Kits are available in various stages of completeness, ranging from plans only to the full package, including sail, hardware, running rigging, and paint.

The Eastport Pram is just shy of 8 feet, and the marine plywood and epoxy construction delivers a boat that weighs in, sans sailing rig, at just 62 pounds. Lighter than the comparatively sized Bug, this stiff, durable dinghy, rows like a real boat and sails comfortably with one or two aboard. In keeping with other good tender attributes, the Pram behaves under tow and is equally amicable when propelled by a small outboard or tacked up an estuary under sail.

Kit boatbuilding continues to have a niche following. Theres also an added-value feature worth noting: On one hand, the builder receives a box of pieces and the result of his or her endeavor leads to an aesthetic and utilitarian dinghy. In addition, the DIY skills the builder develops will be useful in other epoxy bonding, brightwork, or mono-urethane application projects. Such talents will benefit many other boat maintenance endeavors.

Whats hard to quantify is the sense of accomplishment derived from sailing a boat that you have built yourself. When the project is tackled in tandem with a child, spouse, or friend, the memories and the boat will last.

Bottom line: With neither sidedecks or a sealed hull, this is not a boat thats easy to recover from a capsize. So once the kids favor on-the-edge sailing in a building breeze, a non swamping, easier-righting boat is probably a better option. The Pram can then be put to use by their appreciative parents or grandparents.

Never in their wildest dreams did Bruce Kirby and Ian Bruce imagine that the Weekender (the Lasers original name) was destined to become an Olympic class sailboat and one of the most popular springboards for top-tier sailors in the world today. Originally envisioned as a car-topper for weekend campers, the cat-rigged, low freeboard sailing dinghy morphed from its original roots into a boat favored by college competitors and revered by generations of agile sailors of all ages. Even frostbiting winter sailors have locked onto the Laser.

Chesapeake Light Craft

Designed in 1969, the Lasers first few years were anything but smooth sailing. Popularity grew quickly, but along with the limelight came plenty of consternation. Dubbed a surfboard not a sailboat by a growing cross-section of the yachting elite-many parents warned junior sailors to steer as clear of Lasers as they did sex, drugs and rock-n-roll. The campaign failed, and junior sailors in yacht club programs around the country fell into the grip of the new one-design dinghy-discovering the sailboats proclivity to plane.

one-design Laser

Dyer Dhows languished in boat sheds across the country as a new theme in sailing took hold. Dubbed fast is fun by sailor/engineer Bill Lee, the young Merlin of Santa Cruz, Calif., took the theme to big-boat sailing, merging California culture with the Laser logic of light displacement and planing hull shapes.

Best of all, the Laser embraced the ideal of a tightly controlled one-design class that put people on the water in identical boats and left winning and losing races up to sailing skill and tactics rather than a boats performance edge. For decades, the boat has been the single-handed sailors choice among junior sailing programs, and with the addition of the Radial, 4.7 and M rigs, smaller competitors have also found the boat to be a great sailing platform. Today, theres some lawyer saber-rattling over the sale of the design rights, but the boat remains more popular than ever.

The sleeved sail, two-part spar, daggerboard, and kick-up rudder make the boat a quick-to-rig and fast-to-get underway dinghy. Light-air efficiency is good for a one-design sailboat, but this means that as the breeze builds, the non-reefable sail can become a handful in a hurry. In fact, the boats Dr. Jekyll-and-Mr. Hyde demeanor is what builds talent among Laser practitioners. The big boys block the mainsail and blast off for the layline, while lighter sailors heavy-weather tactics include more nuanced de-powering and feathering. In light air, the tables turn, and the winner is often the sailor who planes quickest on the reaches. The old guards surfboard slam may have held some credence after all.

Bottom line: The Laser is a timeless classic thats easily transported and is built for performance. Its well suited to adrenaline-seeking teens as well as the more fit adult crowd.

Designed in 1947 by Floridian Clark Mills, the utilitarian Optimist could be made out of two sheets of plywood-and from its inception, the Optimist was meant to link kids with the water. Slipping into obscurity in the U.S., the little pram found fertile ground to grow in northern Europe. With just a few tweaks, the Scandinavians took Millss lines and parlayed them into whats become the favored junior sailing trainer for kids from Detroit to Timbuktu. Statistics show that there are about 30 builders worldwide putting out approximately 4,000 boats each year. With about 130,000 boats class registered and an estimated 300,000 total hulls built (amateur and pro), theres plenty of reasons to get excited about an Opti.

Performance boats

The example weve chosen is the USA-built McLaughlin boat, both a demonstration of high-quality FRP construction and modern manufacturing techniques. Its also a boat that can be purchased in a range of performance-inducing iterations-upgrades designated as club, intermediate, advanced, and professional versions. Like all performance sailboats, stiffness and strength-to-weight ratio is important. But class rules include a minimum weight, so the most competitive hulls meet the mandatory lower limit but use good engineering and building technique to reinforce the daggerboard slot and mast step and produce overall stiffness.


The low mast height and high aspect ratio sprit sail is very versatile, affording young (and small, 65 to 130 pounds) sailors a wide window of decent performance. The flat bottom, slab-sided hull is responsive to crew weight-driven trim changes, and the better the sailor, the more agile they become. Light-air performance is all about minimizing wetted surface and maximizing sail area projection. When the breeze starts to kick up, the sailor becomes the ballast, and the art of hiking, sheet handling, and tiller wiggling come into play.

Under careful adult supervision, two 6- to 8-year-olds can double-hand the friendly little dinghy, or one more-confident child can solo sail it. In fact, introducing kids to sailing with similar proportioned small prams has been a right of passage around for decades. A set of oarlock gudgeons can turn the pram into a functional dinghy thats also adaptable to the smaller Torqeedo outboard (www.torqeedo.com).

McLaughlin also markets a Roto-molded polyethylene version of the Opti and sells DIY kits for those who want to create their own wood version.

Bottom line: The Opti is like a first bicycle without the need for training wheels. The fact that at the last Olympics, over 80 percent of the winning sailors had gotten their start in an Optimist speaks well to the value of messing around in this particular dinghy.

Open Bic

Designed in 1951 by ice boaters Alexander Bryan and Cortland Heyniger, the hard chine Sunfish was the prototype board boat. In 1959, it made the transition into fiberglass, and over the following half-century, more than a quarter-million hulls would hit the water. Simplicity and decent sailing attributes combined with an attractive price to make the Sunfish the most popular one-design dinghy ever raced.

Far more than a platform for racers, these boats are an excellent training tool for sailors of all ages. Also built by Laser Performance, they reflect the fun of summer and put sailors in close contact with the water on which they sail. Its no surprise that the larger fleets coincide with warm water and many see going for a swim to be part and parcel of the low-freeboard experience.

The lateen rig is in keeping with the overall design concept and simplifies rigging. A short stub of a mast is stepped and a single halyard hoists the sail along with tilting V-shaped upper and lower booms.

The total sail area is nearly the same as the Laser, but the halyard hoist versatility of the lateen rig make it a handy beach boat and a little less daunting when the wind begins to build. The clean sail shape on one tack and deformation caused by the mast on the other tack are a slight drawback. The Laser rig is more efficient, but when caught out in a squall, its nice to be able to ease the halyard and dump the sail. Its also handy to be able to leave the boat tethered to a mooring, and the doused sail and short mast make it possible.

Multiple generations of sailors are often found sailing Sunfish, and the boat represents one of the best bargains to be found in the used boat market. When considering a pre owned boat, the potential buyer needs to take a close look at the daggerboard-to-hull junction and mast step, points where previous damage can create hard-to-fix leaks.

Bottom line: The Sunfish is a great beach boat that can turn a hot afternoon into a fun-filled water experience.

There were no losers in this group, and picking winners and runners-up proved a difficult task. The outcome had to be based on assumptions about how these boats would be used. For example, parents with a competitive 9-year-old who swims like a fish, always sprints for the head of the lunch line, and likes to steal bases in Little League probably have an Opti racer in the making. Less competitive junior sailors-future cruisers in the making-will do better learning aboard a Bug. Many newly formed sailing clubs target the boat as their trainer of choice.

The Bravo holds plenty of appeal for those with a lakeside cottage or a favored campground destination. Whether its a solo sail just before sunset or a fun race on Sunday, the quick to set up and put away features are a plus, and for those who feel that two hulls are better-the Bravo will hold plenty of appeal.

Serious competitors can campaign a Laser for life, and whether youre headed for a local district regatta or getting ready for the Olympic trials, the hull, rig, and sail remains identical-sort of like the Monaco Grand Prix being raced in a street legal Mustang.

Bic Opens new little speedster tickled our fancy, and as a trainer/performance boat crossover, it drew a strong nod of approval. Watching the junior sailors smiles as they sailed their Open Bics endorsed our opinion.

And if there is any boat that defines the essence of summer, the Sunfish takes the prize.

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Become the Confident Skipper of Your Own Sailboat

The best dinghy sailboats for all your sailing activities..

  • Post author: Anns
  • Post published: October 12, 2022
  • Post category: Uncategorized
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If you’re looking to go sailing, it’s important to know what type of boat you should use. Here are some of the best dinghy sailboats that can help you get started:

The Sunfish is a small, easy-to-sail dinghy that’s perfect for beginners. With its large sail area relative to its size, the Sunfish can be sailed with a single person (though it’s typically raced in pairs).

The Sunfish is incredibly popular and has been around since 1957; it’s estimated that more than 1 million have been built worldwide. In fact, many people start their sailing careers on this very boat! You can find them throughout the world: from Florida to Australia and everywhere in between.

Racing dinghies are often called “cruising” boats because they’re so much fun to sail on open water—even if you don’t plan on racing. They’re easy enough to tow behind your car or truck when you need transportation, but still fast enough for some serious action once you get out there!

The Laser is a single-handed dinghy that can reach speeds of over 20 mph. This is because it’s lightweight, making it easy to move with one hand and accelerate quickly. The Laser is also very responsive, which means you’ll feel like you’re in complete control of your boat while sailing. This makes the Laser great for racing because it will let you get ahead of your competition easily.

The best part about this boat is its versatility—you can take out family members or friends if they have never sailed before, or if they aren’t very experienced sailors!

Hobie Bravo

If you’re looking for a dinghy sailboat that is great for racing, the Hobie Bravo is your best bet. It’s easy to sail and can be handled by anyone. This boat can also be enjoyed by kids, teens, and adults alike—making it a fun option for your whole family.

If you’re looking for a dinghy sailboat, the Optimist is the smallest but most popular of all. It’s a single-handed boat that is ideal for kids to learn to sail in. The stability of this boat makes it safe even for young kids to use.

The Optimist can be used as an introductory experience or as a stepping stone towards bigger boats like the Laser, which we’ll discuss later.

The 470 is the largest of our dinghy sailboats, designed for three people. It’s just as much fun to sail with two or even one person though! The 470 also comes in a super light version that you can use with a spinnaker.

The 420 is a small, two-person racing dinghy that’s ideal for beginners. It’s also a great boat for experienced sailors looking to get into competitive sailing. With its fast hull design and lightweight rig, the 420 can travel faster than most other dinghies.

The 420 is simple enough that you’ll be able to learn how to sail it in just a few hours—but it still offers plenty of challenge as your skills improve. A well-built boat will be easy to balance on the water and responsive when handled correctly by both crew members at once.

The Snipe is a small, fast boat that is known for its maneuverability. It can be sailed by one person and is popular with beginners because it’s so easily handled. The boat will also accommodate two people for short periods of time, but because it was designed to be single-handed, having two crew on board does make things more difficult.

The Snipe is a good choice for lakes and ponds because its shallow draft allows it to skim over shallow waters (which often have rocks or other obstacles in them). This makes the Snipe especially useful as a dinghy sailing boat for racing around buoys or around markers in open water races that use buoys as markers instead of land-based marks like lighthouses or buoys tethered near shorelines.

If you want to go out sailing, here are the boats you can use.

If you’re looking to go out sailing, here is a list of the boats you can use:

Sunfish: A great boat to start on. It’s inexpensive and easy to sail.

Laser: The Laser is a one-design class dinghy that is used for racing around the world. It’s fast and stable, so it’s perfect for racing or just having fun in smooth water conditions.

Hobie Bravo: This boat has been designed by Hobie Cat Company specifically for beginners who want more freedom when sailing their boats on lakes, rivers or calm waters. They are compact enough that they can fit into most vehicles easily, making them very portable! The Hobie Bravo has an adjustable centerboard that lets you adjust the draft of your sailboat depending on how much wind there will be during your trip (or if there isn’t any). This makes it easier than ever before!

We hope you enjoyed reading about the best dinghy sailboats for all your sailing activities. We know there are a lot of options out there and we tried to give a variety of different boats so you can find what works best for where you live (or want to sail).

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World’s Fastest Sailboat: Quantum Leap

  • By James Boyd
  • Updated: June 18, 2013

Vestas SailRocket 2

Vestas SailRocket 2

Last November, in southwest Africa, a landmark moment occurred in the history of sailing when Paul Larsen pegged the outright world sailing speed record. In recent years the record was eclipsed in small increments, usually a fraction of a knot, but the Australian’s innovative Vestas SailRocket 2 flew down the 500-meter course at an average speed just over 75 mph, almost 10 knots faster than the previous record held by American kiteboarder Rob Douglas.

Tim Colman’s asymmetric Crossbow established the first 500-meter record in 1972 with a heady 26.3 knots. Windsurfers took hold of the record in 1986 and held it until 1993 when Simon McKeon’s asymmetric yacht Yellow Pages took it and held it until 2004. Windsurfers reigned again for a few years, but it was the kiteboarders who shattered the mythical 50-knot barrier in 2008. In 2009 Alain Thebault’s foiler L’Hydroptère managed 51.36 knots. But the kiteboarders quickly won it back when Douglas pushed the record to 55.65 knots.

With the latest record Larsen not only reclaimed it on behalf of “the boats,” but set a benchmark—65.45 knots to be precise—that will be hard to surpass.

Despite the stunning margin of increase, the record did not come easily. The feat was the culmination of 10 years of hard graft, fiscal uncertainty, and severe setbacks.

The Australian-born Larsen had been best known in the sailing world for his offshore adventures. He crewed on Pete Goss’s ill-fated Team Philips , then ended up sailing around the world in The Race with Tony Bullimore. He completed another lap aboard Doha 2006 , winner of the Oryx Quest.

In 2002, he and his Swedish girlfriend, Helena Darvelid, herself an accomplished offshore sailor, teamed up with English naval architect and speed sailing junkie Malcolm Barnsley.

The catalyst for the SailRocket project was the book The 40-knot Sailboat written in 1963 by American rocket scientist and yacht design visionary Bernard Smith. At a time when yachts still had long keels, Smith described the idea of a sailing vessel dubbed the “aero-hydrofoil” with neutral stability: where the heeling moment from the rig is completely offset by a foil located to windward. Smith built models to prove his concept, but it was only when the first Vestas SailRocket was launched in the spring of 2004 that his concept was proven at full scale.

Initial progress was slow. In 2005, after two seasons getting to know the platform, they replaced its softsail rig with a wing. The first trials with the boat were on Portland Harbour, close to Larsen and Darvelid’s home in Weymouth, Great Britain. In 2007, the duo decamped to Walvis Bay, Namibia, a venue with perfect characteristics that offered more opportunity to carry out runs: a gently sloping beach, regular winds, and a 1,000-meter stretch of obstruction-free water. In recent years, Namibia has taken over from The French Trench in Saintes Maries de la Mer, France, as the preferred location for breaking sailing speed records. All the speed records set by kiteboarders were done in Luderitz, Namibia, some 250 miles south of Walvis Bay.

The first big speeds came in 2007, with SailRocket hitting an instantaneous speed of 42.4 knots during one run. It was well short of the record at the time, but fast enough to prove Smith’s concept. That number also enabled Larsen and Darvelid to gain vital sponsorship from wind turbine manufacturer Vestas.

With such a groundbreaking boat, teething problems were inevitable. They were getting faster, but the boat, rather than the pilot, was still mostly in control. A significant issue was the steering. “The back of the boat looked like Edward Scissorhands,” says Larsen. “We had three rudders hanging off the back; one system was confusing the other. It was a mess.”

After nearly destroying the boat in a crash, Larsen and Darvelid, along with Barnsley and engineer George Dadd, set out to create a better steering system. With this fitted, and_ Vestas SailRocket_ rebuilt, they set off again, as Larsen says “on one of the wildest runs I’ve ever had in that boat.” The steering was better—the boat would bear away to some degree—but far from perfect. On one run, Vestas SailRocket ran onto the beach at 35 knots.

But despite the troubles controlling the boat, Larsen knew they were on the right track. After tweaking the rudder over the next few days, they did one run, in big winds and relatively rough conditions, where Larsen felt for the first time that he was in control of the beast. It was a landmark moment.

“After that run, we booked the WSSRC for the first time,” he says, referring to the World Speed Sailing Record Council, which administers and validates all sailing speed records.

While the boat continued to get faster, a more fundamental design issue became apparent. With the pilot’s seat in the rear of the main hull, trying to keep the boat pointed in the right direction was a challenge. It was, Larsen describes, “like trying to fly an arrow backwards. It would try to turn around and fly the proper way with the weight at the front and the feathers at the back, by turning laterally into the wind, or vertically if it had to.”

On one memorable occasion, Vestas SailRocket took off and performed a complete backflip, leaving Larsen upside down in the water and the boat once again in pieces. The video of this crash went viral on YouTube and has been played more than 400,000 times. But this was one of many incidents: “We had rounded up into the wind, smashed the wing, and folded up the beam at least four times before we even got to the flip,” he recalls. “Each one of those was a big crash, big repair, damaged wing, broken struts; once we got the boat going really quick, then she started to somersault.”

Amid all of this, the world record was being pushed further down the track by the kiteboarders with Douglas stealing it from the windsurfers and then Frenchman Sebastien Cattelan being the first sailor to break the 50-knot barrier. But Vestas SailRocket also made its mark. The same day as the backflip, SailRocket became the world’s fastest boat, as opposed to board, at a speed of 47.3 knots.

The following season Larsen and company realized time was running out for Vestas SailRocket . They had an unofficial run of 49.38 knots and a peak speed of 52.78 knots, but the runs were still very much do or die. Larsen endured another full backflip and a separate catastrophe when the forward beamstay broke, causing the beam to fly back into the main hull and the boat to fold up, putting the pilot in the hospital. “It went from over 47 knots to a standstill, and the beam came back at me like a cricket bat,” says Larsen. “I still rate that as the most violent crash in yachting yet.”

With Vestas SailRocket reaching the limit of its potential, the team was already deep into the design of Vestas SailRocket 2 , harnessing all the knowledge they’d learned from the first boat.

While Barnsley spearheaded the design of the first boat, the principle designer of the second was Chris Hornzee-Jones, a structural engineer and aerodynamicist, who heads the company AeroTrope and designed the wingsail for the first Vestas SailRocket .

Launched in March 2011, Vestas SailRocket 2 incorporated all the fundamental features of the first boat: a hull to windward incorporating the all-important foil, a single crossbeam, and a wingsail inclined to weather by 30 degrees. In other ways, however, it was a significant step forward. At 40 feet long by 40 feet wide, it was slightly bigger, and the hull was now more like a glider fuselage sitting on two short floats at the bow and stern, with the rudder mounted on the forward one. To leeward the wingmast sat atop a third float.

Most noticeable was that while the floats pointed in its direction of travel, the fuselage was offset to starboard by 20 degrees to point into the direction of the apparent wind in order to minimize drag at high speed. They also “reversed the arrow,” putting the cockpit in the bow of the fuselage. They enlarged the wing from 172 sq. ft. to 193 sq. ft., added a hooked section at the bottom of the wing (giving it a hockey stick profile), which acts as an endplate for the wing and also provides some control over how high the leeward float flys.

In the cockpit, in addition to the steering wheel, the controls Larsen uses during a run are the mainsheet and the control for the flap on the outboard extension of the wing. There are also controls for raising and lowering the main foil and the low-speed skeg, and controlling the wing when stationary.

During the 2011 season, the team made solid progress. Vestas SailRocket 2 proved more controllable and stable than the previous boat, and in two seasons of use it experienced none of the same catastrophes that afflicted the first boat. However, regardless of the wind speed, the new boat couldn’t surpass the low 50-knot range. By this stage, Douglas had pushed the record to 55.65 knots.

The culprit proved to be the foil, mounted on a bracket well aft on the windward side of the fuselage.

In 2011, the team trialed two foils. Both were L-shaped, one a conventional asymmetric teardrop shape—with a similar section to an IMOCA 60/Volvo 70 daggerboard—the other a ventilating foil. With the former both the low- and high-pressure sides of the foil are put to use, but when traveling at speeds approaching 60 knots the foil cavitated. This is a common problem for propellers, caused when pressure on the low-pressure side of the foil becomes so low it causes the water to vaporize, effectively detaching it from the foil. With only one side of the foil working, the performance of the foil drops suddenly, with potentially disastrous effects.

A ventilating foil with more of bullet shape (a sharp leading edge, and a blunt trailing edge) is, in hydrodynamic terms, much less efficient: Its effective working area is much reduced, and it creates more drag. However, this shape theoretically removes the cavitation issue and allows the foil to operate smoothly at speeds well in excess of those where a conventional foil starts to struggle. During the 2011 season Vestas SailRocket was mostly being sailed with this foil, only it failed to ventilate properly. In desperation the team took out the grinder and progressively shortened the foil in 6″ chunks, down from 3’3″ to 1’9″, before returning to base to consider the data.

Back in Great Britain, the team planned to build a new foil, but was unsure what exactly to build. Talking to the experts only caused more confusion. They were advised a ventilating foil shouldn’t be able to get beyond 30 knots, but they had achieved speeds in excess of 50 knots with it. So they reverted to their original concept of a ventilated foil, only a depth of around 2′ submerged and a chord of 10″ at its maximum—about 60 percent of its original area. They also fitted Cosworth data loggers to the foil to establish where cavitation or ventilation was occurring.

The eureka moment came not with the new foil on its own, but when they added a strategically placed fence to prevent ventilation in an area of the foil that shouldn’t have been ventilated. And the rest, as they say, is history. Initially they set a new record of 59.23 knots, and 10 days later Larsen managed 65.45 knots with a peak speed of 67.74 knots.

What’s it like at 60 knots? “It depends on how close I get into the beach,” says Larsen. “If I stay out of the rough stuff, it is a short, sharp, bumpy ride, like on a high speed powerboat. This thing doesn’t knife through the waves, it skips over the top of the small chop. At the back of the boat it is pretty good, just riding on a foil, it is pretty civilized. The visibility is brilliant. I have got no sunglasses or visor on. There is no spray coming into the cockpit, compared to the last boat. I only feel a little bit of spray just when I start up.”

At present there are no plans to progress with Vestas SailRocket . The point has been proven. From the heavens Bernard Smith, who passed away on Feb. 10, 2010, can smile. Larsen is adamant the concept will go faster; in theory there is nothing to stop this genre of boat from hitting 100 knots. But it will require another foil. With his offshore background Larsen is intrigued to see if the neutral stability concept can be developed for more practical applications, but only if it makes boats like the 131-foot Banque Populaire maxi tri [the outright ’round the world record holder at 45 days] look like pedestrian dinosaurs.

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Fastest yacht: The giant record breakers

  • Toby Heppell
  • October 29, 2021

Skorpios is the latest in a long list of giant monohulls designed with a view to becoming the fastest yacht on the planet. We take a look at some of her predecessors

fastest dinghy sailboat

Every so often the yacht racing world sees an ambitious owner with pockets deep enough to want to step things up a gear and produce a new record-smashing fastest yacht.

The latest of these to hit the water is the jaw-dropping ClubSwan 125 Skorpios built for its Russian owner, Dmitry Rybolovlev. Almost everything about this new monster yacht is bigger, stronger, faster and higher tech than any boat which came before it.

Pretty much any metric you care to look at on Skorpios is mind-boggling. The five-spreader Southern Spars mast stands at 175 feet tall, and she can carry 11,324 square feet of sail upwind, and 21,108 square feet downwind.

fastest dinghy sailboat

Enough sail? Skorpios off the Dorset coast. The ClubSwan 125 is named after owner Rybolovlev’s famous Greek island, where Jackie Kennedy married Aristotle Onassis. Photo: Mark Lloyd / Lloyd Images

Skorpios has been built with the express brief to break offshore records as the world’s fastest yacht. Her recent win in the 2021 Fastnet Race – only weeks after hitting the water for the first time – shows she certainly has what it takes to take line honours in big races.

And the numbers Skorpios has shown while racing initially seem to indicate that it is really only a matter of time until she starts claiming some of the biggest records on offer in the sailing world.

But Skorpios is only the latest in a long line of new yachts built with the express purpose of winning line honours and taking records, each bigger, faster and more technologically advanced than that which came before.

The current transatlantic record holder, Comanche , is probably the yacht that most readily springs to mind when we’re looking at the development path for Skorpios .

Before Skorpios , Comanche was the most recent, highly ambitious racing yacht on the planet. She was built with one thing in mind and one thing only, to break ocean records and win line honours in some of the world’s most famous races.


Comanche showing off her considerable beam. Photo: Carlo Borlenghi

“The design office were told specifically by me that if this boat wasn’t the worst rated boat in history they have failed,” stated the owner Jim Clark on Maxi, Comanche ’s launch, reaffirming the aim of the boat to break records and win line honours without any consideration for handicap wins.

Comanche was something of a revelation when she was first launched. Over the years boats had been carrying more beam (width) towards the transom to create more power – at the expense of outright light weather, upwind and VMG running performance.

Comanche took this line of thought to the extreme with what seemed an impossibly wide stern, which led to the boat being nicknamed the aircraft carrier.

Although Skorpios is technically beamier than Comanche (8.75m vs 7.85m) the ClubSwan’s hull shape has a more modest beam-to-length ratio, and far greater internal volume and higher freeboard, all products of the project starting out with some focus on cruising in addition to outright performance.

But despite a slightly less powerful hull shape compared to Comanche , when you look at the rig, you see that this will likely be overcome by sheer grunt in terms of sail area. Skorpios ’ mainsail alone is 7,093 square feet, compared to Comanche ’s 4,413 square feet.

Comanche was, indeed is, a yacht that pushed technology to the absolute limit and when she was launched her extreme design caused quite a stir.

She is still considered one of the fastest yachts on the face of the earth and, in addition to her transatlantic record, Comanche also holds the monohull 24 hour sailing record at an impressive 618.01nm (averaging 25.75 knots) in a 24 hour period.

These two records will almost certainly be two of the key prize scalps Skorpios will be hoping to take.

Mari Cha IV

Although for many Comanche is the most obvious boat to which Skorpios can be compared, arguably a closer comparison could be that of Mari Cha IV , particularly when you consider length and ambition to break oceanic records.

The 140ft Mari Cha IV was launched in 2003, at this size both Mari Cha IV and (140ft) Skorpios face a similar problem, there are several top races that have an upper LOA limit of 100ft – neither could take part in the Sydney Hobart race for example.


Mari-Cha IV held the Atlantic record for 12 years. Photo: Thierry Martinez

In 2003, Mari-Cha IV set a new west-east transatlantic record with a total time of 6 days, 17 hours. During the run, she also set a new 24 hour monohull distance record of 525.5 nautical miles . This record stood until Comanche snatched the crown in 2016.

Due to her size and the sail area needed to power the giant, Mari Cha IV was built as a two-masted schooner. This meant that each mast could be smaller – within the bounds of the technology available at the time.

The twin rig on Mari Cha IV also meant each of the sails could be smaller than would be needed on a single masted yacht, reducing loads and enabling the boat to be sailed without resorting to powered winches.

That Skorpios is a single masted 140 footer demonstrates two things. The ClubSwan 125 shows the advances in technology with a single 175ft mast now being much more easily managed and understood – thanks, in no small part to advancements in load sensing technology which have filtered down from the America’s Cup and high tech offshore yachts such as the Ultime trimaran and IMOCA 60 fleets.

However, sail handling for sails of the size needed on Skorpios is still an issue and the ClubSwan 125 still needs powered winches, which will put her out of contention for a number of records that require exclusively human power.

In 2008, Speedboat was launched . The Juan Kouyoumdjian -designed 100ft Maxi was a yacht designed to produce blistering speeds and was built with the express purpose of ocean record breaking.

Speedboat, Newport Bermuda Race 2010

Speedboat , Newport Bermuda Race 2010

The yacht was built by Mick Cookson at Cookson Boats in New Zealand and her radical underwater features, including an incredibly flat run aft were all features that would later be included in the design of Comanche – features that demonstrate a yacht built for record breaking as they offer serious compromises in lighter winds.

In many respects Speedboat was the first to take the wide flat hull concept and transplant it wholesale into a 100ft Maxi.

Speedboat was also the first Maxi to have a deck-stepped rig, which was produced by Southern Spars, and she has plenty of other radical features.

To an extent Speedboat was built as a scaled up version of the Volvo 70 ’s which had been impressing in the Volvo Ocean Race . As such it is hardly a surprise the boat was the product of Kouyoumdjian’s design house, as he had created several of the fastest Volvo 70s then racing.

Unfortunately Speedboat arrived at the very start of the financial crisis and she only sailed in a number of events before she was mothballed and eventually sold.

She went through a couple of incarnations before being purchased by George David and was sailed as Rambler 100 during which time she dramatically lost her keel and capsized while competing in the Fastnet Race .

For his part David would go on to commission Kouyoumdjian to draw Rambler 88 , an impressive bit of kit in its own right and aimed at winning line honours and races outright in an 88ft package.

Wild Oats XI

No list of record breakers and record holders would be complete without a mention of Wild Oats XI , the 100 ft Maxi belonging to the Oatley family, which has won the Sydney Hobart no less than seven times.

Wild Oats XI ( WOXI for short) was actually launched back in 2005 and is a prime example of what can be done to a yacht to keep her on pace with current trends and developments.

In 2009 she was lengthened at bow and stern from 98ft to 100ft. In 2011 her forward balanced spade canard was removed and twin daggerboards were added amidships. In 2012 she received a bow centreboard as well as caudal fin winglets on her torpedo bulb.

fastest dinghy sailboat

Wild Oats XI . Photo: Kurt Arigo / Rolex

In 2013 she was equipped with a Dynamic Stability System (DSS) foil, which is a retractable horizontal foil deployed on the leeward side of the boat.

In 2015 her stern was shortened by 2m and her 12m forward sections were replaced by a 14m longer, sleeker bow, keeping her midship sections unmodified and in effect moving her entire existing sailplan aft by 2m, a trend which had been seen in many of the newer maxis to be produced since.

The various appendages which have been added and removed over the years have lent the yacht the affectionate nickname the ‘Swiss army knife’.

By today’s standards WOXI remains a very skinny boat in the Maxi world – she and almost-sistership at the time of launch, Alfa Romeo II both had a max beam of a little over 5m.

Wild Oats XI remains a potent race boat and particularly for races like the Sydney Hobart, her relatively narrow beam gives her an edge in light winds, VMG running and beating, all of which mean she is still very hard to beat over a race with mixed conditions – if ultimately working against her should she ever look to set oceanic records.

Leopard 3 ( ICAP Leopard as she was launched) hit the water in 2007 for serial Maxi owner, Mike Slade. The Farr design had a number of unique features at the time of launch, which made her one of the most impressive superyachts on the circuit.

ICAP Round Britain and Ireland Race 2010

ICAP Round Britain and Ireland Race 2010

Leopard ’s mast was a towering 154ft and she could set a total downwind sail area of 17,265 sq ft. At the time this was a vast amount of sail – though Skorpios ’ 21,108 sq ft is something of a stark comparison.

Leopard is capable of speeds of over 35 knots. But her similarities to Skorpios actually centre around the plans the British boat had from the start to enable cruising and racing in a little more comfort.

Leopard featured a luxurious removable interior, which could be removed for racing and refitted for cruising or for charter – for which she had also been specifically designed and built.

Although Skorpios does not go quite as far as a fully removable interior, there is, at least, a nod to comfort in her design when compared to the out and out racer that is Comanche .

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Fastest Cruising Sailboats

Fastest Cruising Sailboats | Life of Sailing

Last Updated by

Jacob Collier

August 30, 2022

If you're looking to buy a sailboat, getting a cruising sailboat may have crossed your mind. So, what are the fastest cruising sailboats out there?

Like everything else in life, not all sailboats are created equal. Cruising sailboats have a lot to offer if you are looking for a reliable boat that allows you to take a long getaway and is easy to navigate.

Some of the fastest cruising sailboats include the Beneteau Oceanis 30.1, which can travel at 20 knots; the Grand Soleil 34, which touches 20 knots; and the Italia 9.98, which can reach up to 40 knots. Of course, there are many other high-speed cruising sailboats that you can choose from.

If you love to cruise but still want to reach your destination fast, then a fast cruising sailboat will be your best option. After asking many sailing experts and cruising sailboat owners, we finally have the skinny on the fastest cruising sailboats.

As avid watersports enthusiasts and sailboat owners, we can help guide you through the process of choosing between some of the fastest cruising sailboats in the world.

Table of contents

‍ Fastest Cruising Sailboats

The boat you buy should be influenced by your local waters or where you plan to travel. Because many portions of the coastline are exposed to the ocean, if our coastal cruising grounds were in New England, we’d want our boat to be able to manage offshore conditions Due to the logs and debris floating about in the Pacific Northwest, we’d want a sturdy rudderpost and a shielded prop; a tall rig would be a godsend in the light airs that are common during summer. It would be pointless to buy a boat without a centerboard if I lived near the Florida Keys.

Because her cruising gear makes up lesser of the overall displacement than a bluewater liveaboard yacht, a coastal boat can be a relatively light design. However, going offshore does not require sacrificing sailing performance. The classic Valiant 40 by Bob Perry is a wonderful example. Its low displacement, strong sailing ability, and comfortable layout make it an excellent candidate for long-distance cruising; many other recent designs are the same.

Italia 9.98

Italia Yachts created the Italia 9.98 Fuoriserie, which won the ORC - C - 2015 World Championship. She is a racing yacht that may also be used for cruising. However, the design is intended to race and win, and the mast and boom are composed of carbon fiber. The interior features include two double bedrooms, two sleepers in the saloon, a kitchen, and a chart table.

The 34-foot Italia 9.98 was clearly the most striking of the five boats that made up the Performance Cruiser class in terms of pure look. The boat comes in two versions: the 34 Club, designed for cruising and is distinguished by its twin wheels, and the 34 Fuoriserie, designed for racing.

Both versions have the same interior, which is extremely welcoming and modern for cruising. A wide trimmed in a teak cutaway that can also be used as a ring frame lead to the spacious double-berth forward, which virtually beckons you to climb in and kick far back. The drop-leaf table, crossed by the keel-stepped spar, is flanked by two huge center settees.

The galley and the navigation station, located to port and starboard, are welcome surprises. The galley contains a huge fridge and a two-burner stove gimballed, while the navigation station is bigger than you could anticipate for a boat this size.

Innovative, detachable cloth lockers may be offloaded while in race mode. Cabin doors encased in metal for durability are among the many appealing touches to this vessel. There's a large double stateroom to port and a tiny double cabin to starboard. Except for some teak trim, all furnishings and fixtures are sleek, white composite constructions that appear more aeronautical than nautical. Overall, the entire design and aesthetics are very nice and contemporary.

The cockpit is roomy on the inside; the molded-in bench seats may be enlarged with specialized storage bins, which can be left at the dock for racing and reinstalled when cruising. A large lazarette locker is located aft of the beam-width traveler, which is located aft of the tiller.

The open transom gives the impression of being aboard a larger boat. The German-style double-ended mainsheet is led below deck, adding to the modern motif; sheet leads are, of course, changeable. The genuinely exceptional nonskid is molded into the deck.

The boat has an optional sprit that could be used to fly, reaching, and off-wind sails. Another version of the sprit incorporates an anchor roller; the boat we were on did not have a windlass, but one is available. It would be simple to adapt this boat from racing to cruising mode.

The Grand Soleil 34

When the Italian boatyard Grand Soleil was established in the 1970s, its first model was a 34-footer designed by Finot. It was an instant success, with over 300 units sold. It set the firm on the path to success that lasted decades, mainly with a succession of considerably bigger, more complicated racer/cruisers. The maker opted to go back to its origins with the Grand Soleil 34 for 2020, and it's a fantastic boat.

There are a few key rating criteria that racing boats compete under these days, plus a rising movement of doublehanded classes in several major regattas. Since conditions vary dramatically depending on where you plan to sail, the Grand Soleil 34 doubles as a cruiser. The need for a versatile vessel has been taken into account by Grand Soleil and is evident in its exquisite design. The Grand Soleil 34 does this by offering a variety of keel, rig, and deck options, allowing owners to tailor their boat to their specific location or events.

The shallower of the two keel choices, which is also the ideal cruising configuration, draws under 6 feet and is equipped with a lead bulb; a deeper 7-foot-2-inch foil is also available. A conventional aluminum stick or one of two alternative carbon spars are available as rig options. The boat has dual rudders and wheels, but you can alternatively have a single rudder with a tiller. The power unit on our variant was a 20 hp diesel with saildrive, which was an option. The boat design has the optional 30 hp diesel with saildrive, with a 20 hp auxiliary as standard.

The accommodations are essentially the same regardless of the performance package you choose. You still have options, though. In cruising mode, the open layout features a wide double berth in the bow, but while racing, you can remove the cushions and their base to transform the area into massive sail stowage. For competitive sailors concerned with keeping weight to a minimum, most of the oak furnishings and floors may be replaced with composite materials or even carbon.

A pair of settees flank a drop-leaf table in the middle of the boat, and there's a wide double cabin aft, to port, and a capacious head on the opposite starboard side, via which you can reach a large storage compartment beneath the cockpit seat. The great news is that there is also plenty of storage space for sailing.

Impression 45.1

The Elan Impression 45.1 now features a longer and broader cockpit, defined by dual wheels, a split cockpit table, and a folding sunbed, as inspired by the Elan GT5. A contemporary vertical transom was built, and two big cockpit storage boxes that may be furnished with a grill, sink, or refrigerator. Because of its hull design and recognizable deck saloon windows, the Impression 45.1 is light and airy. The saloon has a big settee that completely surrounds the table without blocking the path.

The galley has been moved forward to provide greater space for living and navigation. You also get solid iroko wood for the interior furniture material after months of testing because it was discovered to have the best endurance characteristics, a lovely traditional aesthetic, and an acceptable pricing point. The Elan Impression 45.1 will be offered with two cabin configurations, one for friends and family and the other for demanding charter parties.

Customers may now select between an open transom for a sportier look and a closed transom with a wide swim platform for safety and comfort. One of the more noticeable improvements is a new window, which illuminates the back cabins and adds to her instantly identifiable appearance.

It's no wonder that many would-be bluewater cruisers have this German Frers design on their wish list. The hull is well-built, featuring a sturdy masthead sloop sail plan—200-mile days are not out of the question—and the deck arrangement is ergonomically efficient. Belowdecks, no two boats are alike, thanks to the builders' willingness to experiment with layout and finish. The RS (Raised saloon) model expands on the already spacious interior. The new Hylas 56 has a similar streamlined hull. It is no wonder that its owners praise the boat's seakeeping and maneuverability.

With the Atlantic Rally for Cruisers, more Lagoons than any other brand of a catamaran have crossed

the Atlantic and more 440s have participated than any other Lagoon. It's simple to understand why

this yacht is so popular among visitors visiting the tropics. The saloon, the spacious cockpit, the broad trampoline forward, and the flybridge provide plenty of opportunities for the crew to have quiet time on passage or assemble for meals and socialize in port. The 440 is not a Sportster when it comes to

sailing, but it is capable of decent trip times while keeping its crew safe and comfortable.

The Meta 50' is a strong and comfortable long-distance cruising sailing yacht. This beachable twin-keel offshore sailing yacht has a 1.80m draught, lovely sunbathing places, and a garage big enough to fit the semi-rigid tender with an outboard motor.

This enormous sailing boat has two double bedrooms in the back, a spacious saloon with an open kitchen and panoramic views, a chart table, a bathroom, and a large owner's stateroom with a dressing room and separate bathroom. In the forepeak, a skipper's cabin with an attached bathroom is also available, which is just one of the many comforts on the Meta.

The Meta 50' is constructed of ultra-resistant prestressed Strongall aluminum and may be customized to meet your exact requirements. Thanks to the ballastable dual keel system, the TurboKeels version will have performance comparable to a 3.50m draught keelboat while simultaneously reducing the list by 15-20°.

Domani introduces the S30, a one-of-a-kind sailing experience that combines sportiness, elegance, and design in a single exquisite sports boat. Less is more, and free time is valuable; that is what you get with this cruiser. The design also uses a back-to-basics approach, with fewer components and less upkeep. It's all about disconnecting from shore power and sailing away in minutes. With electronic sail propulsion, it's light and green, and its manageable size makes it easy to carry or store.

Summer in the Fjords is unlike any other, as is summer in St Tropez. Explore new beaches and seas, meet new people, and expand your sailing horizons beyond the neighborhood harbor. Isn't it true that the goal of every journey is to learn something new? It is easy to see what the brand is all about. The Domani is about Gran Turismo-style sailing: quick, exciting, and elegant.

The Beneteau Oceanis 30.1

The Beneteau Oceanis 30.1, a 31-foot-3-inch tiny yacht that was best-equipped and spec'd out as a specialized cruising boat, was also given the title of Best Performance Cruiser for 2020. But don't be fooled by her modest internal amenities; she is a lively small ship.

The sail layout emphasizes power aloft with a single-spreader fractional number rig with a square-top main. Our test boat has an optional bowsprit and a lap-streak genoa; the normal version features a self-tacking 100 percent headsail. Although dual wheels make handling straightforward, old-school men (like me) can choose a tiller.

A boarding ladder and a small fold-down boarding step are included on the transom. Also, a Facnor headsail furler is stationed alongside the Lewmar windlass on the opposite end. The overall level of attention to detail is outstanding.

The adaptability of the 30.1 was a strong selling point for the judging panel. There are four keel variations, as well as a centerboard. A tabernacle may be added to the deck-stepped mast for simple lowering and trailering to a new location or navigating waterways. It was also the most affordable option in the category, at $160,000. The benefits just kept on coming.

The forward V-berth is undoubtedly spectacular, and the deck-stepped spar described before freed up the space below, especially in the center saloon and eating area. The entire galley is to port at the foot of the companionway, and the enclosed head is to starboard, where there is also a practical tiny navigation station. A large aft double cabin may also be found to starboard. This is an ideal solution for a small family or a couple of couples.

There's plenty of natural light below deck thanks to the coachroof windows, and overhead hatches, which are supplemented by energy-efficient LED lighting. The eye-catching hull decorations grab attention, and the well-executed dodger is an excellent spot to get out of the rain.

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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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What Is The Fastest Point Of Sail?

Fastest Point Of Sail

Traditional wisdom has it that the beam reach is the fastest point of sail. But is this correct, and if so, why?

On a beam reach the hull travels at 90 degrees (perpendicular) to the wind angle. Sails are eased half way.

But is it the fastest point of sail? Well, that depends…

The best way to visualise boat speed at different sailing angles is to use a polar plot. This is one for a Hobie 20:

fastest dinghy sailboat

The bold black line shows the speed the boat achieves at different sailing angles. The furthest away from the centre of the circle this line gets shows us the fastest point of sail in that wind strength (in this case 10mph)

Sailing close-hauled the Hobie 20 achieves a speed of 5 mph. On a beam reach she reaches 14 mph and on a dead run, 4 mph.

This appears to support the view that a beam reach is the fastest point of sail. But what if we look at another Polar Plot…

fastest dinghy sailboat

This Polar Plot is for a laser dinghy. Unlike the last Polar Plot it has several bold lines (each for different wind strengths). The green line shows the speeds when the wind is 8.5 knots (Force 3), and the orange line shows the speeds in a Force 7 (30 knots).

As you can see, the fastest point of sail depends on the class of boat and the wind strength.

In a 19 knot breeze the laser dinghy travels at 10 knots on a beam reach (90 degrees to the wind). But it can reach 12 knots on a broad reach. In a Force 3 wind this disparity is reduced and it travels just as fast on a beam reach as a broad reach.

fastest dinghy sailboat

The polar plot above is for an RS 400. As you can see there is a clear speed increase on a broad reach in all conditions. The stronger the wind the lower the fastest angle moves.

This all goes to show that generally a beam or broad reach is the fastest point of sailing. Though this depends on your class and the wind strength. The sea state also has an effect.

Why is a reach usually the fastest point of sail?

Lift and drag determine what point of sail is fastest. The more lift you have the faster you go. But the higher the drag, the slower you go.

Lift is created by air flowing over both sides of a curved foil (the sail in our case). Therefore optimal lift is achieved by sailing close to the wind (close-hauled). Think of an aeroplane. Aeroplanes like to take off into the wind as that creates maximum lift. Boats are just like aeroplanes turned on their side (with the sail like one wing and the board as the other wing).

However, there is more drag the closer you sail to the wind. Also, on a close-hauled course the component of lift in the direction of travel is less than on a reach. Imagine a juicy lemon pip. If you squeeze the tapered point of the pip between finger and thumb it will shoot out. But the pip won’t go anywhere if you squeeze the flat sides of the pip.

On a close-hauled course there is less lift force propelling you in your direction of travel. This, combined with increased drag, is why we slow down as we approach a close-hauled course.

Running is also never the fastest point of sail (as you see on the polar plots above). As you bear away onto a run the sail stops working like an aeroplane wing (creating lift) and starts to work like a plastic bag being pushed in the direction of the wind. The later being less efficient.

Somewhere in between a run and close-hauled you’ll find the fastest point of sail.

All sailors know that they go fastest on the plane. If there’s less hull dragging in the water you’ll sail faster. So the fastest point of sailing should be a point of sailing where you are planning. In marginal planing conditions it will be the first point of sail where you are able to get on the plane.

Optimum planing happens on beam and broad reaches as the centreboard must be lifted to achieve planing.

Apparent wind

If you stick your hand out of the car on a windless day you’ll feel a breeze. This is called a head wind. It’s the wind created by an object traveling through air. The faster you go the more of a head wind there will be.

With high-speed craft the head wind can be stronger than the true wind (if the boat is travelling faster than the wind). The AC72s used at the last America’s Cup are a good example of this. They travel so fast that they are effectively close-hauled even on a broad reach.

A beam reach is not necessarily the fastest point of sail. Generally, you’ll go fastest on a beam or broad reach. The exact angle of maximum speed will depend on the class you sail, the wind speed and the sea state.

Why not try creating a polar plot for your class? All you need is a GPS, a pen and some paper (preferably waterproof).

By Cloyd Adams

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fastest dinghy sailboat

Driver in suspected DUI crash that killed 2 children may have left Monroe County tavern earlier

B ERLIN TWP. — Police investigated and a community mourned Sunday, the morning after a car crashed into a boat club building where a birthday party was being held, killing two young siblings — ages 5 and 8 — and injuring more than a dozen other people.

A 66-year-old woman, whose name was not released, was driving the vehicle that crashed and was arrested for suspicion of driving while intoxicated causing death, a 15-year felony, and taken to the Monroe County Jail, authorities said. More criminal charges are expected, police said.

In addition, authorities said Verna’s Tavern in Newport, where the driver of the car may have been just before the crash, had been shut down and was under investigation. The bar was back in operation late Sunday morning when a Free Press reporter and a photographer stopped by.

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The Swan Boat Club — where the party was being held at 6332 Brancheau Road, about 30 minutes southwest of Detroit — posted on Facebook it would be closed Sunday, the result of the "terrible accident" with many injuries and much damage.

Monroe County Sheriff Troy Goodnough’s voice quivered as he spoke to news media.

He appeared to hold back tears as he read a statement that described the scene after the car went through a wall at about 3 p.m. Saturday. It was, he said, "extremely chaotic and with high level of emotions of those directly involved and those who witnessed this horrific incident."

Goodnough said 15 people, including adults, were injured.

The vehicle, he said, slammed into the north wall, moving fast enough to go about 25 feet into the building until it stopped. A doorbell cam video posted online shows what appears to be an SUV speeding toward the boat club, go out of view blocked by a stand of trees, and then a cloud of dust suddenly coming from offscreen. People can then be seen rushing out of the building.

Multiple agencies scrambled to reach the scene and try to provide aid.

During the news conference, those listening let out an audible ― and heartbreaking — gasp as the sheriff identified the dead children as brother and sister. The 5-year-old boy and his 8-year-old sister never had a chance to even get medical treatment. First responders pronounced them dead at the scene.

A GoFundMe fundraiser for the family, linked on the boat club's website , says the children's mother and older brother were also injured and remain hospitalized in critical condition.

The sheriff said that nine people, three of them children, were driven by ambulances and airlifted by two medical helicopters to area hospitals. As of late Saturday, they were facing serious, life-threatening injuries. Several other people, the sheriff added, were rushed away by nonemergency vehicles.

At the end of the news conference, the sheriff, in response to a reporter’s question, confirmed that the suspect may have been at Verna’s Tavern in Newport.

"We went in, we shut the business down," Goodnough added when pressed whether the tavern would be facing police scrutiny. "We are in the process of executing a search warrant for information as to the business conducted at that day."

A sign for the eatery describes it as "Home of the ½-pound Verna Burger" and a place for "good times & great friends since 1938."

After the crash, Goodnough said, investigators were working at the scene to process evidence, identify victims, interview witnesses and reunite family members separated in the sudden chaos of the deadly and tragic crash.

In a sad twist, the area where the tragedy unfolded has long been a place to enjoy life.

The boat club, which was started in the 1940s as a place for boating enthusiasts on Swan Creek to meet to play cards, have a beer and kickback, mostly during the hot summer months, has faced its share good and bad times over the years. It is just off Lake Erie.

The club, in its early years thrived, its website suggested .

The club history boasted of hosting "great regattas," "snow mobile races" and "famous chicken dinners," which it still offers. At one time, the club noted, its membership included Michigan’s Gov. G. Mennen (Soapy) Williams.

In the '70s, the website said its membership dropped to less than 50 members. But since then, the club — which now also offers dockage for more than 125 member boats up to 40 feet long — said its numbers have rebounded and was “sound and prosperous with a card-carrying membership of over 250!"

Names of the crash victims were not released.

Contact Frank Witsil: 313-222-5022 or [email protected].

This article originally appeared on Detroit Free Press: Driver in suspected DUI crash that killed 2 children may have left Monroe County tavern earlier

Flowers were left at a scene on Sunday, April 21, 2024, where an alleged drunken driver smashed through a wall at the Swan Boat Club during a child’s birthday party in Newport on Saturday.

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The 13 Fastest Superyachts in the World

These boats prove that size doesn't have to mean slow..

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13 Fastest superyachts

When American businessman John Staluppi embarked on his yachting journey, it was to break records. He wanted his first yacht to be the first boat over 100 feet to exceed 30 knots, or 34.5 mph. He achieved it with the 118-foot For Your Eyes Only, delivered in 1985. It was also the first motoryacht in the US to have a combination of MTU diesel engines with water-jet propulsion.

His second yacht would smash all previous records. Delivered by Heesen in 1988, Octopussy fulfilled the Bond enthusiast’s aim to break the then 50-knot barrier with a top end of 53.17 knots (61 mph)—a speed that every other shipyard at the time said couldn’t be done. Octopussy  immediately entered the record books as the world’s fastest yacht.

“That record was important to me because when you pull into any place there’s always a bigger boat or a prettier boat, but there aren’t many people who can say, ‘Hey, this is the fastest yacht in the world,’” Staluppi told Robb Report .

Heesen’s latest delivery, the 197-foot Ultra G , is one of the Dutch yard’s fastest projects these days, with a propulsion package totaling 22,000 horsepower, including four water jets that deliver a top speed of 37 knots (42.57 mph).

Of course, 43 mph is a paltry number compared to many of the yachts on this list, including the new Bolide 80. That Italian stallion, which will make its debut at the Monaco Yacht Show, runs at a blistering 84 mph. It shows that speed, even in the large motoryacht category, is very much alive.

Here are 13 of the fastest motoryachts, past and present, that have ever been on the water.

1. Bolide 80 | 84 mph

fastest dinghy sailboat

Victory Marine calls the Bolide 80 its first “Hyper Muscle Yacht,” which will be part of a limited-edition series from 60 to 170 feet. Designer Brunello Acampora and his tema of engineers pulled out all the stops on this 80, creating a full-carbon-fiber boat with more than 6,000 horsepower. The multi-stepped hull helps propel the Bolide to its top speed of 70 knots (84 mph), while accomplishing the seemingly impossible task of burning about half the fuel of a much smaller flybridge motoryacht at lower cruising speeds. The designer took care to give the Bolide a streamlined profile, with aerodynamic shapes to reduce resistance. The interior includes the captain’s cabin, a full-sized galley, open salon, and a forward owner’s area with a bedroom, en suite and wardrobe area. It will make its global debut at the Monaco Yacht Show.

2. ‘Foners’ | 80.56 mph

fastest dinghy sailboat

Clocking a thrilling 70.10 knots (80.56 mph), the 136-foot Foners has maintained pole position as the world’s fastest superyacht for over 20 years. Powered by two 1,280hp MAN engines coupled to three Rolls-Royce 6,700 hp gas turbines driving three KaMeWa water jets, the all-aluminum boat is less about piercing waves and more about parting the seas. Delivered in 2000 by Spanish shipyard Izar as the King of Spain’s royal yacht, no expense was spared, including a superstructure lined with Aramid fiber for the express purpose of bulletproofing the interior.

3. ‘World Is Not Enough’ | 77.1 mph

fastest dinghy sailboat

You need to only look at the 007-inspired name to know that World Is Not Enough is another rapid racer commissioned by John Staluppi, this time with an opulent interior designed by his wife Jeanette in partnership with Evan K Marshall. Delivered in 2004 by Millennium Super Yachts, the 139-footer is powered by two Paxman diesel engines and two Lycoming gas turbines to produce a staggering 20,600hp and a breathtaking 67 knots (77.1 mph). When not leaving other boats behind, World Is Not Enough has a cruising range of 3800 nautical miles at a comfortable speed of 10 knots.

4. ‘Galeocerdo’ | 74.8 mph

fastest dinghy sailboat

Wally founder Luca Bassani designed the 118-foot Galeocerdo to maintain speed in rough seas. Launched in 2003 by Rodriquez Yachts, the boat racks up an eye-watering 65 knots (74.8 mph), thanks to its three Vericor TF50 gas turbines, each driving a Rolls-Royce KaMeWa water jet. Another performance-enhancing feature is the lightweight titanium exhaust system designed to resist the extreme temperatures generated by the gas turbines. Wind tunnel tested at the Ferrari facility in Maranello, Italy, the boat generates 16,800hp and a 45-knot (51.8-mph) cruising speed that’s faster than most motoryachts running flat out. It also enjoys a highly futuristic exterior design.

5. Tecnomar for Lamborghini 63 | 72.5 mph

fastest dinghy sailboat

When Italian supercar brand Lamborghini teamed up with yachting stalwart The Italian Sea Group, the end result had to be style and performance. The Tecnomar for Lamborghini 63 is all about the power of ‘63’. Designed and built to celebrate the year 1963 when Ferruccio Lamborghini founded his car company, the 63-footer delivers a whiplashing top speed of 63 knots (72.5 mph). And naturally, it’s one of just 63 in the series that will ever be made. Built out of carbon fiber, it’s fitted with two MAN V12-2000HP engines. MMA fighter Conor McGregor took delivery of hull number one in 2020, which reportedly cost $4 million.

6. ‘Chato’ | 71.9 mph

fastest dinghy sailboat

Back in the mid-1980s, passionate Baglietto customer and leading US Porsche and VW dealer Baron John von Neumann, commissioned a new 85-ft. speed demon from the Italian builder. The entrepreneur was tired of his 34-knot (39-mph) Baglietto getting creamed from Monaco to St. Tropez by faster cruisers. With a hull design by the legendary Alcide Sculati, the all-aluminum Chato came with MTU’s latest 3,480hp V16s coupled to KaMeWa waterjets. Weighing 60 tons, and packing almost 7,000 hp, the military-looking superyacht with its battleship-gray paint and bright-red diagonal hull stripes, hit an astonishing top speed of 62.5 knots (71.9 mph) during sea trials. Chato is currently for sale in the South of France for $715,000.

7. ‘Oci Ciornie’ | 69.04 mph

fastest dinghy sailboat

Oci Ciornie’s Vripack-designed interior may take inspiration from aircraft designs, but it’s the boat’s naval architecture by Don Shead and the combination of two 1,800hp MTU 16V 2000 M90 engines, a 4,600 hp AVCO Lycoming gas turbine and Arneson surface drives that put it on this list. Delivered in 1998 by Palmer Johnson with an aluminum hull, the 82-foot boat thrusts through water at 60 knots (69.04 mph), giving all eight guests the waterborne ride of their lives.

8. ‘Destriero’ | 68 mph

fastest dinghy sailboat

The numbers almost defy logic. With a length of 224 feet, the all-aluminum superyacht Destriero is massive. Now add a trio of GE Aviation LM1600 gas turbines totaling an insane 60,000 hp and the incredulity only increases. Flat out, Destriero could scythe through waves at a staggering 59 knots, or 68 mph. Back in 1992, just one year after its launch, the Fincantieri-built rocketship showed its chops by challenging the famous Blue Riband trans-Atlantic speed record. Averaging 53.09 knots for the 3,106 nautical-mile run, Destriero shattered the record, only to be denied the trophy for being classed as a private yacht and not a commercial passenger vessel. Sadly, today the iconic yacht lies largely abandoned at one of Lurssen’s yards in Germany, awaiting rescue.

9. ‘Ermis²’ | 65.59 mph

fastest dinghy sailboat

Some yachts feature slippery hull designs, others are propelled by rockets, but the McMullen & Wing-built Ermis² is one of the fastest yachts on the superyacht circuit thanks to its lightweight materials. Built from a combination of carbon/epoxy, aerospace grade carbon fiber and titanium, the 123-foot boat taps out at 57 knots (65.59 mph.) Delivered in 2007, its 10,944 horsepower comes from three MTU 16V 4000 M90 engines. Designed inside and out by Rob Humphreys, its classic looks disguise the speed demon within.

10. ‘Why Not U’ | 63.3 mph

fastest dinghy sailboat

Why Not U is a yacht that comfortably cruises at 47 knots (54.1 mph)—a speed most owners only dream of reaching. When time is of the essence, the boat cranks up its Vericor TF40 gas turbine engines to max out at 55 knots (63.3 mph). Delivered by Overmarine in 2001, Why Not U ’s 4.3-foot draft makes it well suited for cruising shallow waters, while its sunbathing areas allow guests to catch some rays traveling at the speed of light.

11. ‘Alamshar’ | 52 mph

fastest dinghy sailboat

Alamshar is another custom collaboration between Donald Blount and Pininfarina commissioned by Aga Khan IV, this time with interiors by Redman Whiteley Dixon. It was reportedly built for an estimated $200 million at the Devonport shipyard in Falmouth, United Kingdom, and took 13 years to complete. When it was eventually delivered in 2014, Alamshar’s top speed of 45 knots (51.78 mph), generated by twin Rolls-Royce Marine engines and three waterjets, seemed worth the wait.

12. ‘Moon Goddess’ | 51.78 mph

fastest dinghy sailboat

Exterior designed by Espen Øino with an interior by Franco Zuretti, the all-aluminum Moon Goddess is a 115-foot yacht with a turquoise hull that matches the color of its oversized leather sunpads. When cruising at 30 knots (34.52 mph) or tearing up the oceans at 45 knots (51.78 mph), most other boats just catch a glimpse of sea spray that the planing yacht leaves in its wake. It’s powered by twin MTU 16V 4000 M90 diesel engines with twin water jets, which generate a combined 7,498 hp.

13. ‘Azzam’ | 35.7 mph

fastest dinghy sailboat

At a staggering 590 feet bow-to-stern, the Lurssen-built Azzam earns the title of world’s longest privately owned gigayacht. But with its remarkable-for-the-size top speed of 31 knots (35.7 mph), it’s also the fastest. Twin 12,000hp MTU V20 turbo-diesels do the day-to-day powering at up to 18 knots (20.7 mph). But crank up the twin GE LM2500 gas turbines, coupled to four Wartsila waterjets, and there’s a staggering 94,000hp on tap. Of course, like Azzam ‘s original owner, it helps if you own a few oil wells: At max speed, the yacht reportedly burns 13 tons of fuel an hour. Launched in 2013 at a reported cost of some $600 million, Azzam accommodates 30 guests pampered by up to 80 crew.

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    Cruising sailboats have a lot to offer if you are looking for a reliable boat that allows you to take a long getaway and is easy to navigate. Some of the fastest cruising sailboats include the Beneteau Oceanis 30.1, which can travel at 20 knots; the Grand Soleil 34, which touches 20 knots; and the Italia 9.98, which can reach up to 40 knots.

  22. What Is The Fastest Point Of Sail?

    As you can see, the fastest point of sail depends on the class of boat and the wind strength. In a 19 knot breeze the laser dinghy travels at 10 knots on a beam reach (90 degrees to the wind). But it can reach 12 knots on a broad reach. In a Force 3 wind this disparity is reduced and it travels just as fast on a beam reach as a broad reach.

  23. Driver in suspected DUI crash that killed 2 children may have left

    The boat club, which was started in the 1940s as a place for boating enthusiasts on Swan Creek to meet to play cards, have a beer and kickback, mostly during the hot summer months, has faced its ...

  24. The 13 Fastest Superyachts in the World

    4. 'Galeocerdo' | 74.8 mph. Wally founder Luca Bassani designed the 118-foot Galeocerdo to maintain speed in rough seas. Launched in 2003 by Rodriquez Yachts, the boat racks up an eye-watering ...