The Different Types of Sailing Boats – Part 2The Different Types of Sailing Boats – Part 2

The second part of our blog to look at the different types of sailing boats there are concentrates initially on the classification of mast configuration and sails. Many boats are named after how their sails or masts are configured and we learn how they differ.


A sloop is the most common type of sailboat that there is, a sloop has a single mast and two sails attached to it, namely a mainsail and a headsail. Depending on the shape and size of the latter it can be called different names such as a spinnaker, genoa or even jib. The headsail is configured onto the top of the mast and is supported by a rope down to the bow.

A sloop has a variation called a fractional rig sloop, where the rope fixing it does not stretch from the bow to the top of the mast, it is connected lower down. These types of sloops were really popular in the 1960’s and 70’s as the configuration allows the crew to bend the top of the mast and flatten the sails, particularly useful when full power is not needed. 


A cutter also has two main sails, but the difference is that the main mast is positioned further towards the aft which allows room for two forestays and two headsails. The jib is fixed to the main headstay and the second stay has the staysail fixed to it. This combination of stays and sails makes the boat more flexible to different wind conditions.

Different Uses for Sailboats

The Ancient Egyptians were the first sailors to use sails on boats, these boats were rudimentary craft made from reeds and extra power was needed to take them further down the main waterway which of course was the Nile. The advantages of the sail were soon realized, and boats got bigger and more sophisticated that longer distances and bigger waterways could be navigated on. This then opened up trade between different countries and cultures.

Modern sailboats today are mostly used for recreation and racing boats or just taking a pleasure cruise are popular leisure pastimes.  Boats such as the highly popular Optimist can be seen at weekends on local marinas nearly all around the world.

There are also racing teams that are professional and enter competitions and, in some cases, big money in the form of prizes can be at stake. Taking a long cruise on a sailboat is something that many of us dream of but never have the opportunity or finance.

However, there are many ways that you can enjoy this pastime, without taking a world cruise. You can sail on lakes, canals, inland waterways, or enjoy hugging the coast in a small dingy. Most people who enjoy the water are just daysail or weekend sailors and that can be affordable to all.

If you are thinking of buying your own sailboat then you should take someone with you that is an experienced sailor. As with the motor trade there are many con men out there that will be happy to sell you a dud or a boat rotting under the waterline. Before you part with your money make sure you are buying a genuine fit-for-purpose craft and then you can set sail into the sunset.