Knowing Your Vessel: The Ultimate Guide to the Different Types of Sailboats



In 2016, about 141 million Americans took some type of boat out onto the water for a day of fun.
If you want to join all of these people in having fun on the water, you should look into getting your own sailboat.

There are plenty of different types of sailboats for you to choose from, and you might find all the choices overwhelming. However, we’ll help make it easier for you and break it all down!

Types of Rigs

One way you can classify the different types of sailboats is by their type of rig.

The rigging includes the boom, the mast, and the stays that will help to hold up the mast.

With the different types of masts, you could get a cutter rig, a yawl or ketch, or a schooner.

Cutter Rig

A cutter rig normally has at least two headsails, but some of them have more than that.

With this rig configuration, it cuts the triangle between the head stay and the mainmast. With this type, you can have a flexible sail combo that will let you use your sailboat in any kind of wind condition.

Yawl or Ketch

A yawl or a ketch type of sailboat usually have another secondary mast that sits behind the main one. The additional mast is shorter than the usual one, which will leave you with more sale area.

If you get a ketch, the smaller mast goes behind the mainmast. With a yawl, the secondary mast will go behind the post.


A schooner will have more than three masts. Normally the mast in the front is shorter than the mainmast. Because of how many more sails this boat can have, it’s recommended for experts as you’ll have to be really good at multitasking to manage all of them.

Types of Hulls

Another way you could classify sailboats is by their types of hulls.

Instead of focusing on how many rigs the sailboat will have, the platform of the boat (or hull) can vary.


A monohull will only have a single hull. This might be the most common type of hull, and they have large beams to help keep the sailboat steady while you’re sailing over choppy waters.

One of the best things about monohulls is that it gives you more room for other additions on the sailboat, like navigation or extra seating.

One popular example of a monohull is the dinghy. This is a sailboat that isn’t too long in length and is great for beginners to figure out how to maneuver and work. You’ve probably seen this type of boat used in sailing competitions.


A catamaran has two hulls that are attached to each other in the middle. The word actually comes from South Indian and means “tied pieces of wood” which is the best way to describe this type of boat.
Having two hulls helps to give the sailboat some extra strength and stability. If it’s designed the right way, it can even go faster than a monohull sailboat.


A trimaran is a sailboat that has three different hulls.

With a trimaran, you’ll have one main hull in the middle, and then two other smaller hulls on the sides to help provide some stability for the boat.

Depending on what type of trimaran you have, the arms might be able to fold inward as well. With this ability, the boat can become smaller and fit in more narrow places. Because of this, these types of boats are normally used for cruising along the water.

If you were interested in more boats that are perfect for cruising along the water, you can read more now.

Types of Keels

Sailboats can also be classified by what type of keel they have. The keel is the lateral surface on the sailboat, and there can actually be more than one installed on the sailboat.

The purpose of the keel is to make sure that it doesn’t tip over when the wind carries it. It provides counter-balance for the sideways force that the wind brings. It can also help bring ballast to the boat, which is another way the boat will stay stable.

Wing Keel

The wing keel is also sometimes referred to as bulbed. That’s because you can either add wings or bulbs to the bottom of the keel.

For example, if you add two wings to the bottom of a keel, it can improve how easy it is to right the sailboat, but it won’t make the boat too much heavier.

You’ll be able to see the wings on each side of the keel because they normally poke out a little bit. You’ll normally find these types of keels on more expensive and high maintenance sailboats. However, these keels can make them perfect for shallow water.

Bilge Keel

If you have a bilge keel on your sailboat, your sailboat will be able to stand upright if it’s stuck in mud or sand. Without this keel, it would end up tilting toward the water.

If you live somewhere where the tide changes drastically, you might want to look into getting this type of keel.

Discover More of the Different Types of Sailboats

These are only a few of the different types of sailboats, but there are many more options out there!
We know that it can be overwhelming trying to make a decision on which boat to purchase, especially when they’re so expensive. But that’s why we’re here to help you out!


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