How many types of sailing boats are?

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It is believed that the origin of the concept of the boat arose in ancient Egypt more than 11,000 years ago.

At that time there were only two types of propulsion: the oar and the sail. The sail is part of the ship’s rigging and has the function of receiving the kinetic force of the wind to transmit it to the masts and generate the necessary propulsion to allow the ship to move.

The origin of sails is inconclusive, but several sources suggest that they arose in ancient Egypt and were later improved by the Greeks and Romans.

The so-called «golden age of navigation» extends broadly from the Battle of Lepanto in 1571, the last battle in which rowing ships played a major role, to the Battle of Hampton Roads in 1862, in which the steamer CSS Virginia destroyed the sailing frigates USS Cumberland and USS Congress, culminating in the advance of steam power, rendering the power of the war fleet obsolete. Sailing vessels continued to be an economical mode of long-distance freight transportation until the 1920s.

Some would say that the Golden Age of shipping relates specifically to the clipper era, while others place it between 1850 and the early 20th century when sailing vessels reached their peak of size and complexity.

Today, the role of sailing vessels has changed from their primary use as a means of transporting goods and as an instrument of warfare to recreational and sporting use.

We no longer sail the seas and oceans in the same way and innovations in technology and engineering as well as the discovery of new materials have led to the development of much faster and more comfortable types of sailing ships that are a far cry from the old carracks, ships, caravels, galleons and frigates of the Middle Ages.

Choosing a boat is not always an easy task, knowing the purpose and functionality we are looking for is paramount when choosing the optimal boat and not getting surprises in the future.

In this article we are going to summarize and explain how many types of sailboats exist, their functionalities as well as their advantages and disadvantages depending on the use we want to give them.

Within the Modern Sailing the first determining factor will be the type of hull, very important, since it will mark the size of the boat, its maneuverability and the necessary space for its mooring in the port.


Types of sailboats by hull type


The Monohull (sailboat)

As its name indicates, it is the boat with a single hull, we find monohulls from ancient times until today and it is characterized by the use of triangular sails.


The multihull (catamarans and trimarans).

It has 2 or more hulls, such as the catamaran, which is the most popular multihull version, or the trimaran. These are more stable in navigation and have more comfortable and larger living spaces than monohulls, but they have the disadvantage of needing larger moorings.


On the other hand, we can differentiate sailboats by:

Types of sailboats by their functionality and characteristics:

Sailing dingui:

The perfect boat to get started and that does not involve a large economic outlay. It is the type of boat used by sailing schools for beginners. Characterized by not having a keel; they only have a daggerboard that replaces it due to its small size, its reduced length allows it to be transported with a trailer anywhere. It is a perfect option for beginner sailors without the need to make a large financial investment.

vela l


Race sailboat:

How its name indicates, the race sailboat is a boat designed for competition. With a light and aerodynamic design, they are made of very light materials such as carbon fiber, they use very light sails, therefore, more delicate, offering a much more efficient impulse and performance than other types of boats. In recent years the evolution of regatta sailboats has reached ultra-innovative designs. An example we can find in the new «foil» concept that we can observe in the current America’s Cup with the AC75 and in the Vendeé Globe 2020.

luna rossa prada pirelli


Sporty or Day Cruiser:

Midway between light and traditional or vintage in terms of size. They can be moored in marinas or stored in dry and covered places, and can be transported on specialized trailers, but not as easily as a light sailboat. Contrary to the light sailboat, they have a keel, wider sails and reach a greater impulse, they are boats characterized by the absence of engine so that the propulsion is purely and merely by sail. They are ideal for outings with family and friends, as well as to participate in non-competitive regattas.

The Jeanneau Sun Fast 3300, a fast alternative for lovers of sport cruisers.


Antique Sailboat:

Classic or antique sailboats are considered to be all those whose design is prior to 1980 and whose construction materials are wood or metallic materials. They are relatively small in size and quite easy to handle. They are not designed for life on board, so they are not recommended for long trips and overnight stays. They are very nice boats, ideal for the romantic sailor who wants to enjoy a classic. They require a lot of care and maintenance.

The famous Manitou is a 1937 sailboat that belonged to the Kennedy family and is still sailing and racing today.



As their name indicates, Cruising/regatta sailboats are boats designed to offer performance in both regatta and cruising. Larger and heavier than the previous ones, they have more aggressive and avant-garde designs.

We can find an infinite number of versions and proposals in the market, since it is a very popular and demanded type of sailboat nowadays. They are boats that offer very good autonomy for excursions of several days or weeks with the family, but at the same time offer very good performance in regatta sailing.

In this case, transport and land storage is a bit more complicated, although it is still possible, however, most owners usually prefer to leave them in moorings within marinas or similar facilities.

Grand Soleil 58

A perfect example of a cruiser-regatta is the Grand Soleil 58 Performance


Recreational sailing yacht:

It is the sailboat focused exclusively on the entertainment of its crew, of intermediate size, they are boats that prioritize comfort over speed. They are boats designed for life and enjoyment on board, heavier, usually with a well distributed interior space and with capacity for more than 10 people. They are the ideal sailboats for trips along the Mediterranean coast.

Jeanneau SO 349

The Jeanneau Sun Odyssey 349 is an excellent example



As the name suggests, they are sailboats characterized by having a propeller installed at the stern of the boat with an inboard engine as a general rule, they are usually boats that are mostly motor-driven, their performance in sailing is not so good, they use smaller sails and only use them if the conditions are ideal. They are usually fast boats, so comfort and performance are two elements that are usually extremely balanced.


Sailing Cruiser:

Our favorite, cruising sailboats are one of the most popular sailboat models, do you know the reason?

They are designed for long and prolonged voyages, they are generously sized boats, with well laid out and equipped interiors. They are boats designed for very long crossings, which obviously prioritizes comfort over speed.

They therefore have a large storage capacity for carrying provisions. They usually have a powerful engine, especially indicated for maneuvering when arriving to port or in case the wind conditions are not suitable.

Jeanneau SO 410 normal

A perfect example is Jeanneau’s Sun Odyssey range, in the 410 and 440 models.


Sailing Yacht:

This is the most luxurious and exclusive category. It should be noted that their imposing size requires well experienced and qualified skippers to pilot them, in many cases it is necessary to hire a crew, whose number of crew members will vary depending on the length of the boat and the needs of the owner.

They usually incorporate one or more engines and have wide sails to take advantage of the wind. They are boats with luxurious finishes and have amenities that make these boats homes on the sea.

Large sunbathing areas, crew area separated from the private cabins, super equipped kitchens and large storage spaces are examples that can be found in luxury sailing yachts.

Jeanneau Yacht 60

The new Jeanneau Yacht 60 meets all the requirements to become a success in its category.


Once explained the different categories of boats that we can find, with which category do you identify yourself?

Discover our novelties in types of sailing boats in our section of available units and brokerage.

Happy sailing sailors!

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