By definition, a sailboat, or a sailing boat, is a boat that operates partly or completely by sails. A hobby once enjoyed only by the wealthy, sailing today is an incredibly popular pastime by boating enthusiasts. Here, we are going to explore the various kinds of sailboats so that you can be aware of all your options before you start shopping.
Sailboats are simple and elegant boats, with the boat sail made of a piece of fabric used to catch the wind, which drives the boat along; different types of sailboats have differing numbers of boat sails. Because of what the boat sail is constructed out of, the wind cannot get through the small pores in the fabric.
There are two major categories of boat sails - square and triangular. Square boat sails use wind pressure to operate the boat, while the triangular boat sail has "fore sails" at the front of the boat and "aft sails" at the rear. The triangular boat sail can be adjusted to best fit how the wind is blowing.
The term "rigs" refers to the way the boat sail or boat sails are set. The main segments of a rig are the mast, the boom, the stays, and the actual sails. The mast supports the halyard (line used for hoisting sails) and the front edge of the mainsail. The boom supports the bottom edge of the mainsail. And, the stays refer to the wire or ropes which support the mast.
Although there are many subcategories of types of sailboats, we are going to cover the major ones here. Single rig sailboats consist of the following types: sloop, catboat, sunfish, and catamaran.
Sloop sailboats have one mast and two boat sails. They are efficient, simple, and the most common type of sailboat. Catboats have one mast and one boat sail and are easier to operate - they are good for kids who are interested in sailing. Sunfish sailboats have one mast with a lateen boat sail and a daggerboard; a lateen is a rig with a triangular boat sail connected to a low mast, and a daggerboard is a center board that does not pivot. Finally we have a catamaran sailboat which consists of one mast, one boat sail or possibly two, and two hulls (the hull is the body of the boat). These are faster sailboats than the aforementioned types.
Double rig sailboats include schooners, ketches, and yawls. Schooner sailboats have two, three, or even four masts, and three or four boat sails - these are quite large sailboats. Ketch sailboats have two masts with one being much shorter than the other; the shorter mast is called the mizzenmast, or just a mizzen sail. Ketch sailboats have three or four sails and were originally used just for trading purposes.
A yawl is quite similar to a ketch sailboat, as it also has two masts, including the mizzenmast, as well as three our four boat sails. The main difference between a yawl and a ketch is that the mizzenmast on a yawl is not in front of the rudder as it is in the ketch; the rudder is a plate which controls the steering of the boat.
There are also dingys, which are a smaller type of sailboat. Like catboat sailboats, dingys are recommended for children because they are easier to handle and are popular with kids. Dingys consist of three or less boat sails including the mainsail, jib, and spinnaker.
For further resources on familiarizing yourself with sailing terms and types of sailboats, please see the links below: