Different Types of Sailboats

Many sea lovers are already familiar with the different types of boats, their features, and performance, but if you are just into boats and sailing in general and consider maybe buying one or renting for a cruise, here is what you need to know about sailboats.
For starters, there are five general boat types; sloops, cutters, ketches, yawls, and schooners. All of these boats have one hull and go by the characterization as monohulls, while others can have two (catamarans) or three hulls (trimarans).


sloopsThis type of sailboat is characterized by two sails, the foresail, and the mainsail, and represents the simplest form of a sailboat. The rig is otherwise called the Bermuda/Marconi rig. It also falls under the category of monohulls. The rigs can be high, moderate and high-aspect rigs, whereby the high-aspect are long and narrow. This type of rigs is suitable for races where the wind plays the major role. These rigs can slow down the boat if there is no wind. The high rigs are not appropriate for normal cruises, but the moderate are. They are not that expensive and are easy to operate.


ketchesKetches have two masts. They are most often confused with yawls. They can be differentiated by the location of the mast. Both have a foremast and a short mizzen mast at the back. The mizzen of the ketch is in front of the rudder post, while the mizzen of yawls is in the back of the rudder post. Also, the mizzen sail of a ketch is larger and serves as a driving force when there is no wind. When the wind comes, it rather drags than pushes, and can and should be put down. Ketches are very convenient for sailing off the wind. The mizzen of the yawls has a different purpose by enabling trimming the boat and following a compass course despite wind changes.

Cat Ketches

cat ketchesThese boats can be recognized by standing masts with no rigs at all. This sailboat was designed by the Finn Olympian Gary Hoyt, who turned the rig-free boat into a sailboat. The masts are made of carbon fiber which makes the masts stiff, light-weighted and strong. The advantages of rig-free boats are a.) lighter weight on board b.) masts are flexible and can bend in strong gusts, c.) easier change of course- ease of jibing, d.) downwind sailing is flawless and uncomplicated


We already mentioned yawns in comparison to ketches. It developed from a fishing sailboat where the vessel was kept steady by trimming the mizzle sail. There is also the sub-type known as cutter-rigged yawl which has a staysail.


schoonersA schooner can have two or more masts in which the mainmast is the same height as the foremast or sometimes even taller. The modern schooners usually have a Bermuda rig. They are of Dutch origin and go as back as the 16th century. They were famous for speed and a great windward capacity. A schooner can actually have seven masts, but still, two-masted schooners prevail in usage.



Gaffer is the sub-category of schooners. The mainsail of gaffers or gaffed-rigged sailboats is supported by a gaff or spar or pole. The gaff rig has four corners and is controlled at the peak. This kind of rig carries around 20% more sail than the most common Bermuda rig.

Catamaran sailboats

catamaran sailboatsAll of the above-listed boats are monohull boats. The Catamaran boats are more convenient for sailing in some locations in the world as in the Caribbean. There, they are very popular with safe leeward anchors which means that the captain does not have to look for marinas to anchor the boat. In other destinations where these anchors are not widely used (or cannot be found), anchoring in marinas can cost a lot of money, significantly more than tying up a monohull, because of the size and the space it is occupying.

They are often unable to absorb the wind variations by heeling which influences their movement and one has to get used to the uneven movement. All of this does not mean that they are unfit for sailing, they are, if build properly by designers who do not only build them to meet the requirements of the charter market (since catamarans are very popular as charters).