If you are considering taking up sailing as a hobby, one of the first and most fundamental questions that you’ll need to answer is what boat you should learn on. The choice of a boat is an individual decision, but there are a few things worth considering when choosing the best sailboat for you to learn on. Here are a few things to consider to help you choose the right sailboat as well as a couple great beginner options that work well for most people.
What Is The Best Boat To Learn To Sail In?
What is the best boat to learn to sail in? The best boat to learn to sail in depends on your particular needs, but it is best to choose a boat with a simple rig that isn’t too challenging for you to handle, like the lateen rig. A Sailing Dinghy, Sunfish, or West Wight Potter are all great options for the beginning sailor.
Things to Consider to Help You Choose
Choosing a sailboat is a personal decision, but there are some definitive things that you should consider to make sure you are making a good choice. Here are a couple of the key considerations to help you choose your first sailboat.
- Your lifestyle. If you want a boat that you can take out for overnight anchoring trips or sail significant distances under controlled conditions as you learn, you will choose a very different boat than if you want something fun and affordable that you don’t mind knocking over as you learn.
- Room to grow. Sailors choosing a beginner boat that they expect to grow out of are likely to make different decisions than those choosing a boat that they hope to have for the long-term. There are beginner boats that will likely still be teaching you and giving you room to expand a long time down the road, so don’t assume that you will need to buy another boat soon as you decide what boat is right for you.
- Safety. Some beginner boats are practically unsinkable, while others seem made to be tipped over. Consider how often you are okay with finding yourself in the water as you decide what is the best boat for your needs.
What to Look For in Your First Sailboat
Choosing the right sailboat is essential to your success and enjoyment of the hobby. Too many people believe that they aren’t good sailors just because they chose a boat that was not suitable to their needs or to the conditions in which they were sailing.
It’s best to try a few different sailboats before you make your final decision, but this is not reasonable for everybody. Knowing what to look for in a beginner sailboat makes success of your sailing hobby more probable.
Choose the Right Rig
Beginner sailors are often surprised to learn that there are a number of different rigs that can be used in sailing. Beginner sailors sometimes choose a rig because they like how it looks without taking into account how difficult it is to sail.
Some of the most visually appealing sailboats are also the boat most difficult to sail. If you can’t try out different rigs, you’ll want to choose one of the rigs that is typically easier to sail.
A beginner can learn to sail on a more challenging rig, so if you have your heart set on a different rig that may be more of a challenge, don’t be concerned, just make sure that you take the potentially more challenging nature of this rig into account as you learn to sail.
There is some argument to be made that learning to sail on a more difficult rig will prepare you to sail on any type of rig, but if you are just looking for a great beginner rig to try out the hobby, a challenging rig is probably not in your best interests.
This simple rig is composed of a mast, a boom, a spar, and a single halyard and mainsheet. You only have to worry about controlling two ropes, which makes this one of the easiest rigs to learn on.
This rig is typically featured on smaller boats, which are also a better choice for beginners than more complicated and larger boats. There is less risk in the initial investment, so many people prefer a smaller boat with a simple lateen-rig to any of the available alternatives.
Bermuda Sloop Rig
If you have your heart set on a larger boat and more complicated mechanism, the Bermuda Sloop rig might be the perfect choice for your needs. This is also a very simple rig, composed of a slightly larger configuration of sails.
Which Boat to Choose
Now that you know what kind of rigs you’ll be considering, here are a few individual boats that utilize easy to learn and handle rigs like the ones mentioned. Here are a few great options when you are deciding what will be the best boat for you to learn to sail on.
The Sailing Dinghy
The sailing dinghy brings back memories both fond and less fond for any sailors who started sailing as kids in sailing classes. These are extremely simple boats that also can go surprisingly fast, making them a great first sailboat to learn on and also help to get kids interested in the sport of sailing for the first time.
They are an inexpensive option which is none the less quite suitable as a racing boat. They come in a number of sizes to suit different people and age groups. While these boats are most typically associated with children who are learning to sail, the variety of sizes can also make them a good pick for adults learning to sail.
These aren’t the fastest racing sailboats, but if you are looking for an inexpensive boat to help you get addicted to this fun sport, it is a superb option.
It is also a great option for anyone who will only be sailing seasonally, since the mast is removable and you can conveniently stow away all of the various components.
The Optimist, or Opti , is the best-known of these little boats, but there are a number of options to choose from that come at various price points.
The Sunfish is a delightful, speedy little boat that will keep you close to the water and fully enjoying yourself. This is a little racing boat that’s only 13 feet long but can be a blast to use, whether you’ve been sailing all your life or you’re just getting started.
If you only want to buy one little sailboat that you can trust to still be fun years down the road, this may be the boat for you. It’s a shallow-draft boat that will enable you to get very close to islands and flats.
It’s a great choice if you live somewhere with many shallow areas or dramatic tidal changes or if you want to sail around a lake or other area with a somewhat unpredictable draft.
It has a big sail that performs even in very light winds, so this is a boat that you can take out most weekends and have fun, even if it’s not particularly breezy.
The Sunfish is a high-performing little boat that may offer more challenges to the beginner than some other options, but if you are committed to learning, you will likely love this little boat.
West Wight Potter
This handy little boat is 19 feet long and has a cabin, so if you want a boat that you can not only take out for a fun weekend but spend a night, weekend, or even liveaboard if you are committed to roughing it, this may be the boat for you. It is unsinkable, so if you’re worried about safety on your small sailboat, this boat is likely to appeal to you.
The rig is simple to set up and it is quite easy to handle. It is not at all a difficult boat to handle and it’s a superb starter boat for anyone for whom access to a good cabin is important.
While it isn’t a racing boat by anyone’s perspective, it is a fast little boat that you will likely have a lot of fun on. It can achieve higher than standard cruising speeds by getting on a plane.
Is Sailing a Difficult Hobby to Start?
If you have dreams of getting out in nature, you may be considering a couple of different options to get you there. Sailing can be a lot of fun for a wide variety of people.
Whether you have experience out on the water or not, you can get started falling in love with sailing. This is a great hobby for anyone who has access to open water. You may be surprised by how affordable it is to begin sailing.
If you prefer to choose a great boat for your needs in a price range that is reasonable for you, you are sure to find sailing to be a fun and very reasonable hobby for your family to enjoy.