Explore the Different Types of Sailboats

Explore the Different Types of Sailboats - Merchant Navy Info - Blog

Traditionally, different types of sailboats were made of marine wood and other materials. Also, modern ones use premium marine lumber products. Sailboats are divided into sub groups, and one such is the catamaran, which is made of fibreglass, which makes it more durable and low-maintenance.

Sailboats are propelled by wind captured using their sails, masts and rigging lines. Some are equipped with generators, windmakers, and other technologies to generate more power and speed. Since their hydrodynamic characteristics differ. They are considered a distinct class of vessels independent of motor-powered crafts.

This article will go through the different types of sailboats and their key features.

Hull-Based Types of Sailboats

Sailboats can be classified into three types based on their primary hull type.

These include

  • monohulls,
  • catamarans, and
  • multihull crafts.

Monohulls are single-hulled creations, much like conventional vessels, with a large hull beam (breadth) that provides stability while sailing.

Catamarans are twin-hulled structures to which specialized members attach to provide strength. The term comes from the South Indian phrase meaning “tied pieces of wood,” as this was how traditional sailboats were built in the subcontinent.

SWATH is the Small Waterplane Area, Twin Hull. Also, it achieves unprecedented levels of speed because of a considerably small waterplane area. 

Common Monohull Designs for Saliboats

Monohulls are relatively easier to manufacture than multihull structures. Thus, this hull type has seen a wider range of innovations over the last thousand years.

The common classes of monohull vessels are – sailing dinghies, cutters, sloops, catboats, ketchs, and schooners.

dinghy is a relatively common sailboat because of its short overall length and ease of maneuvering. These are used in competitions and the port industry.

Generally, dinghies transport people or tiny cargo to and from a larger vessel, for instance a cruise ship anchored from the shore.

Due to size and tonnage regulations, such vessels may not be able to enter a port.

Sloops are similar to cutters and are the very commonly found sailboats. They are the typical in sail designs, with a two-sail configuration for added manoeuvrability. They have a big sail and a headsail called jib or genoa.

The ketch is a sailboat with two main masts- the main mast around the midship and the mizzen mast at the aft. The mizzen mast is always smaller than the lead mast and adds speed to the craft. 

Schooners are a class of sailboats that sometimes have more than two sails supported on masts called the main mast also foremast. The foremast is found near the vessel’s fore and is a little bit shorter than the main mast. 

Keel Based Classification

The keel is a vessel’s base, providing a central backbone for the making of the entire structure. The boat keel is structure wise relevant since it often has to carry the vessel’s weight.

Several sailing boat variants are available based on keel type. These generally have modified keels that integrate hydrodynamic features such as hydrofoils to improve performance and speed.

Kinds of keels

As the name indicates, full-length keels have keels that exist in the form of a long fin below the ship’s main structure. The fin runs along the ship’s length and often has an integrated rudder mechanism attached at the stern.

The upside of this type of keel is that it is easy to manufacture and requires little development. The extra weight of the full-length keel provides the ballast effect.

Some keels are more challenging for sailboats

Due to the large draft of this type of keel, it can be difficult to enter certain ports or quays. Therefore, manufacturers attempt to reduce fin depth and increase length instead.

Fin keels, on the other hand, run only along some regions of the sailboat. Found on the underside of the vessel. It sticks out similar to the tail end of a fish, giving rise to this vocabulary.

The centerboard keel employs a type of fin pivoted about a point on the vessel’s keel. By having a pivot, the smooth flow of the vessel also surrounding water varies the depth at which the keel is below the vessel. Like the fin keel, it only runs along a certain vessel length.

Another variation of the centerboard keel is the daggerboard keel. This allows the fin to integrate completely into the underside of the vessel.

A bay on the underside allows the fin to be raised or lowered from the slot. In this kind of keel, the raised configuration allows for greater speeds and reduced resistive forces. Also,, when lowered into the water, the vessel gains increased stability and makes up for the loss in speed by bettering hydrodynamic features.

Bilge keels 

is about protrusions on the sides of the vessel’s hull, commonly called the bilges. These protrusions run along the vessel’s length while tapering into the hull area at both ends.

The primary aim of bilge keels is to improve the craft’s rolling stability. The fins stick perpendicular to the hull and can be of different length depending on the purpose. For example, sailboats require larger anti-roll stability and thus have long tapering bilge keels.

bulb keel is a protrusion sticking straight below the craft and terminating in an oblong-shape like hydrodynamic item called the bulb. The bulb works as a 3D hydrofoil that betters the stability and handling of the vessel. 

For more tiny crafts, longer bulb keels are required; as this length increases, the chance of the vessel’s accidental grounding increases.

The last commonly found kind of keel is the wing keel. The wing keel is like the bulb keel, except that horizontal hydrofoils extend from the central shaft instead of a bulb, terminating a vertical protrusion.S

Sailboat Mast-Based Classifications

The vessel’s mast is a vertical shaft extending out of the deck that supports the sails and rigging. Older models of sailing ships and ancient ships had masts constructed of wood, while modern speed-oriented versions use galvanized steel or aluminum.

The sloop is the most common kind of mast where a single mast supports two sails called the headsail (also foresail) and the mainsail.

In a fractional rig sloop,or forestay cable used to hoist the headsail is placed below the top of the mast. This configuration is particularly useful for performance.

This is useful on days when wind power can propel the sailboat without the sails having to be fully extended.

The ketch has a two-mast layout. One with the aft mast known as the mizzen mast. 

The main mast supports two sails which are called the mainsail and the headsail.

The schooner sailboat is another configuration comparable to the ketch, but where the aft mast is longer than the foremast.

Sailboats have been in use for over five thousand years, whether for transportation in Ancient Egypt or for sailing events in modern times. 

Sailboats and other such crafts continue to be a favoured choice for sailors, whether for cruises or racing events.

Scroll to Top