We all need to start somewhere and getting into sailing with the wrong type of yacht for your experience level can leave you feeling frustrated and demoralised. While the temptation to buy something filled with gadgets and plenty of space is there, remember that a love of sailing comes from feeling in control and at one with the ocean as you learn its every move. All you really need is a hull, mast, rudder and sail and you can be soaring along the coast or lake soaking up the inimitable freedom that sailing brings.
While it seems logical that the smaller the boat, the easier it will be to handle, that’s not always true. It’s less the size that affects its beginner-friendliness and more its rig simplicity and handling. Opt for something easy to rig, lightweight, transportable, and simple to sail. From dinghies to day sailers, weekender sailboats and trailerable boats, beginner boats are nifty and a lot of fun. And don’t forget, this doesn’t have to be your forever boat. As your skills improve, you can upgrade to larger or more complex sailboats, so consider the here and now and what boat will suit you in this moment.
There is a huge selection of beginner sailboats on the market, and different sailing clubs will favour particular models. It’s always worth seeing what models are popular at your local club as advice will always be on hand.
These small, lightweight sailboats are a good choice for a very first sailboat, their simplicity and ease of handling allowing beginners to get to grips with the skills they would need to advance to a more complex rig system. The Optimist is the best known choice for children under 15 years of age, these bath-tub sized boats offering a lot of fun as well as safety and a great learning experience. For adults wanting to learn to sail, there are many similar boats on the market. The Pico, Sabot, Harteley 10 and RS Quba are commonly seen zipping across the waves near sailing clubs, while the Laser Bahia, Laser Vago, Topper Xenon and Topper Topaz are popular models for those looking for slightly bigger dinghies. (Buy this 14ft Sail Dinghy Online)
Whilst safety and ease of handling are the main considerations for most beginners, you also want to decide whether you want to be sailing by yourself or with a partner or whole family. Singlehanders and doublehanders accommodate one or two people, the obvious benefit of a doublehander being that you can get guidance from someone else and it’s more sociable. Dinghy cruising boats can accommodate the whole family and are perfect little day boats, where everyone can earn together and develop a passion for cruising. No beginners list would be complete without mentioning multi-hulls. Quick yet stable, they offer tons of fun as well as the opportunity to learn new skills like trapezing.
There are many models to choose from, with brand-new designs being launched each year alongside ever-popular models which have stood the test of time.
Here we take a look at some best-loved beginner sailboats on the market.
Catalina 16.5 and 22
Catalina is one of the best-known manufacturers of weekend sailboats and their range is extensive. The mid-range 16.5 and slightly larger 22 models both offer a simple set-up, fibreglass hull and deck, and a retractable keel for easy trailering. The 22 model offers a cabin which can sleep four, making it a cosy family boat for overnight trips. A large cockpit and swim ladder are added luxuries, but the real benefits for beginners is the simple fractional rig with a mainsail and a roller-furling jib.
Hunter 15 and 22
These comfortable daysailer or weekend sailboats by popular manufacturer Hunter offer plenty of space with their large, open-transom cockpit, easy handling and fibreglass hulls. Whether you opt for the Hunter 15, 18 or the larger 22 with its twin bunks, they’re a great choice for teaching a child to sail, or for adult beginners to gain their confidence. But don’t be fooled into thinking it can’t get a real move on! A moulded, anti-skid fibreglass and foam flotation hull means they have added safety and can easily be manned by one person.
The Hobie crafts are loved all over the world and the trailerable, fun Hobie 16 sailboats are celebrating 50 years in manufacture – some 100,000 have been made during this time, a true testament to their popularity. As a multi-hull with a fibreglass and foam hull and a kick up rudder board, the Hobie 16 (along with other models in the range) can be sailed right up to the beach, and its trampoline allows for plenty of space to move around whilst learning new skills. They have a for those beach landings
West Wight Potter P 19
Another well-loved yacht approaching its 50th birthday is the West Wight Potter P19. For a weekend sailboat it packs a lot into a compact space, with berths for four people as well as a galley equipped with cooler, sink and cooker. Its retractable keel and flat-bottomed hull means you can explore virtually anywhere without even getting your feet wet, and it’s a great choice for trailering. For beginners the West Wight Potter P19 is ideal thanks to its simple rig, good handling characteristics, easy handling and safety features – foam fore and aft means even if it is flooded the boat is unsinkable.
If you’re thinking about learning to sail, then check out our comprehensive and downloadable Guide to Getting into Sailing with all the advice and step-by-step guidance you could need to get you off on the right path. When it’s time for that all-exciting first purchase Rightboat.com lists hundreds of dinghies and small sailboats all over the world so you can choose the perfect one(Boats for Sale) for you and your family and embark on a whole new adventure.
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