The Different Types of Sailing Boats – Part 1The Different Types of Sailing Boats – Part 1

The are many different kinds of sailing and racing boats around the world, some are state-of-the-art crafts that you would see competing in the likes of the America’s Cup, and some are simpler affairs that compete in regattas held by their local yacht club. A sailing boat includes a plethora of different sizes, shapes with varying hull designs. In this blog we will be looking at the more common ones and throw light upon various nautical terms that sometimes confuse the boating world.


As it might sound, a sail boat is powered by the wind. These boats have different names such as yachts, dinghies and simply boats, mostly arising from their size. Sailboats can be as large as two hundred feet long and as small as eight foot, and are commonly referred to as LOA, which means overall length. LOA differs from LWL which is the length of the boat on the waterline. These two measurements can differ greatly, especially on older craft.

The are three basic types of sailboats: Keel type, Hull type and Mast configuration type. The keel type include centerboard, bilge keel and fin keel. Hull type are known as catamarans, trimarans and mono-hulls. And the mast configuration types are known as schooners, sloops, cutters, and ketches.

Keel Type

All boats have some sort of perpendicular surface for balance, these are commonly called keels. The keel helps the crafts balance as a counter force of crosswinds and propel the boats in a forward motion. Another really important job of a keel is to provide ballast, generally the heavier a boat is the more stable it is. Keels come in different shapes and sizes including: the full-length, fin, bulb or wing, bilge, dagger-board and center-board. Each keel has a different purpose but generally they act as we have already highlighted above, and as with everything there are pros and cons to each.

Hull Type

The hull is the main part for any boat, it dictates almost everything on a boat from speed to size and can be made from a number or combination of materials which include, wood, metal or fiberglass. There are three main hull-types. Mono-hull, catamaran and trimaran. Old traditional boats generally have one hull or a mono-hull. This is the most common type of hull on a boat, but in the pursuit of both speed and more stability two or three hull are commonly used in racing boats. Whereas a single hulled boat relies on stability via ballast, a catamaran or trimaran get their stability from the distance that is formed between the hulls.

The way a mast or sail is configured on a boat dictates on how the boat is categorized, and there are many different types. In part two of this blog we will be looking at the differences between boats called, sloops, cutters, ketch and schooners to name just a few.

We will also be seeing which boats were designed for what uses and why. Going back right to Ancient Egypt and how the boats built commerce and forged nations, right up to the present day when most sailboats are simply used for pleasure purposes.