Ultimate Guide to the Best Small Sailboats [2023 Reviews]

By Mike Sellers •  Updated: 09/20/22 •  5 min read

When I first started looking into buying a small sailboat I found it all very confusing.

I had learned to sail in the San Francisco bay on fairly large keelboats. (J-22, J-105s, Beneteau tktks, etc.)

But I didn’t nessarilly have the money or time to justify the investment in a big yacht like that.

ANd when I started looking at the different classes of small boats out there, it took me some time to try to understand the different kinds.

 

So I put together this post to try to organize that information.

So if you’re in the market for a small sailboat keep reading and I promise you’ll get a better understanding of everything out there. Tk

Advantages of Buying a Small Sailboat

There’s nothing wrong with owning a large sailboat (if you have endless time, money, and patience.) But there are some advantages to going with a smaller boat. Here are a few of the big ones:

100+ Small Sailboats Compared

Sailboat Length (LOA)Builder~Price
Small laser sailbotLaser13'9"/4.2m
Laser Performance$5,000-7,500
Sunfish13'9"/4.2mLaser Performance$4,500-5,000
RS 2000 sailboatRS 2000 (laser)14'6"/4.4mRS Sailing$8,995
American 14.6 sailboatAmerican 14.614'6"/4.4mAmerican Sail Inc.
American 18' sailboatAmerican 1817'9"/5.4mAmerican Sail Inc.$11,795
Aqua Cat 12.5 CatamaranAqua Cat 12.5 Catamaran12'6"/3.8mAmerican Sail Inc.$4,200
Aqua Cat 14 CatamaranAqua Cat 14 Catamaran14'/4.3mAmerican Sail Inc.$4,400
Aqua Finn DaysailerAqua Finn Daysailer14'/4.3mAmerican Sail Inc.$3,995
Laser BahiaBahia15'3"/4.65mLaser Performance$8,750
Bay Raider 20BayRaider 2019'10"/6.05mSwallow Yachts$27,750
Bay Raider ExpeditionBayRaider Expedition19'10"/6.05mSwallow Yachts
Beneteau First 14Beneteau First 1414'1"/4.3mBeneteau $10,800
Beneteau First 18Beneteau First 1818’3"/5.56mBeneteau $28,800
Buccaneer 18Buccaneer 1818'/5.5mNickels Boat Works
Laser BugLaser Bug8'8"/2.64mLaser Performance$2,200
Catalina 12.5 ExpoCatalina 12.5 Expo
Catalina 14.2Catalina 14.2
Catalina 14.2 ExpoCatalina 14.2 Expo
Catalina 16.5Catalina 16.5
Catalina 22 CapriCatalina 22 Capri
Catalina 22 SportCatalina 22 Sport
Laser Club 420Laser Club 420
Laser Club FJLaser Club FJ
Laser Dart 16Laser Dart 16
Doughdish SailboatDoughdish12'6''/3.81m
Flying ScotFlying Scot19'/5.8mFlying Scot Inc.$27,400
Laser FunboatLaser Funboat12'6"/3.9mLaser Performance$3,218
Hartley 10Hartley 1010'/3.04mHartley Boats$4,130

Hartley 12Hartley 1212'/3.66mHartley Boats$6,220

Hartley12.2Hartley 12.212'/3.66mHartley Boats$7,165

Hartley 15Hartley 15
HerreshoffHerreshoff 12 1/2
Hobie 16 CatamaranHobie 16
Hobie BravoHobie Bravo
Hobie Getaway CatamaranHobie Getaway
Hobie Mirage Adventure Island	Hobie Mirage Adventure Island
Hobie Mirage Tandem IslandHobie Mirage Tandem Island
Hobie Wave Club CatamaranHobie Wave
JY15 SailboatJY15
Lightning small sailboatLightning
Marblehead 22 small sailboatMarblehead 2222’9”Samoset Boatworks
Monomy 21Monomy 2120’10”
C.W. Hood Yachts
Marlowe-Hunter 15'Marlow Hunter 15Marlow-Hunter
Marlowe-Hunter 18Marlow Hunter 18Marlow-Hunter
Marlowe-Hunter 22Marlow Hunter 22Marlow-Hunter
Mclaughlin Advanced Racer OptimistMcLaughlin Advanced Racer Optimist
Mclaughlin Club Race OptimistMcLaughlin Club Racer Optimist
Mclaughlin Pro Race OptimistMcLaughlin Pro Racer Optimist
Mclaughlin Sail Cube DinghyMcLaughlin SailCube
Montgomery 6-8Montgomery 6-86'8''Montgomery Boats
Montgomery 15 sailboatMontgomery 1515'Montgomery Boats
Montgomery 17Montgomery 1717'Montgomery Boats
Mutineer 16 Mutineer 15
NorseBoat 12.5NorseBoat 12.512’6”/3.81mNorseBoats$18,995
NorseBoat 17.5NorseBoat 17.517’6”/5.33mNorseBoats$23,995
NorseBoat 21.5NorseBoat 21.521'10”/6.35mNorseBoats$45,495
Pennant DaysailerPennant Daysailer10'/3.04m$4,195
laser pico dinghyLaser Pico11'8"/3.58mLaser Performance$3,615
Rave V TrimaranRave V Trimaran 18'4"/5.58mWindRider International
Red Beard Happy CatRed Beard Happy CatRed Beard Sailing$7,000+
Red Beard MiniCatRed Beard MiniCatRed Beard Sailing$3-5,000
Red Beard XCATRed Beard XCATRed Beard Sailing$5-8,000
RS 100 SailboatRS 10014'2"/4.32mRS Sailing
RS 200RS 20013'0"/3.96mRS Sailing
RS 400RS 40014'10"/4.52mRS Sailing
RS 500 SailboatRS 50014'3"/4.34mRS Sailing
RS 700 SailboatRS 70015'5"/4.70mRS Sailing
RS 800 SailboatRS 80015'9"/4.80mRS Sailing
RS AeroRS Aero
RS CAT 14RS CAT 14
RS CAT 16 small catamaranRS CAT 16
RS FevaRS Feva
RS NeoRS Neo
RS QuestRS Quest
RS TeraRS Tera
RS VentureRS Venture
RS Venture ConnectRS Venture Connect
RS Zest DinghyRS Zest
RS 21 small sailboatRS 21 Club
Com-Pac Picnic CatCom-Pac Picnic Cat
Com-Pac Sun CatCom-Pac Sun Cat
Com-Pac Sunday CatCom-Pac Sunday Cat
Horizon Cat SailboatCom Pac Horizon Cat
The Com-Pac Horizon Day CatCom-Pac Horizon Day Cat
Com-Pac Legacy SailboatCom-Pac Legacy
Com-Pac Legacy SportCom-Pac Legacy Sport
Com-Pac Eclipse SailboatCom-Pac Eclipse
Super Snark SailboatSuper Snark
Sunflower 3.3Sunflower 3.3
Sea SkimmerSea Skimmer
Sunchaser ISunchaser I
Sunchaser IISunchaser II
The Gull SailboatThe Gull
The WandererThe Wanderer
The Wayfarer small sailboatThe Wayfarer
Tiwal Inflatable SailboatTiwal inflatable Sailboat
Topaz ArgoTopaz Argo
Topaz CatamaransTopaz Catamarans
Topaz OmegaTopaz Omega
Topaz RangerTopaz Ranger
Topaz Taz ClubTopaz Taz Club
Topaz Topper 4.2/5.3Topaz Topper 4.2/5.3
Topaz Uno & RaceTopaz Uno & Race
Topaz VibeTopaz Vibe
Laser VagoLaser Vago
Potter 15Potter 15
Potter 19Potter 19
Weta TrimaranWeta Trimaran
Wind BlazerWind Blazer
WindRider TrimaranWindRider Trimaran
World Wide Sailor PramWorld Wide Sailor Pram
Windrider 17 TrimaranWindRider 17
Windrider Tango TrimaranWindrider Tango
Laser z420Laser Z420

5 Questions to Answer Before Buying a Small Sailboat

Before you run off and buy one of these boats, take a second to answer the following 5 questions. These aren’t difficult but this simple step will ensure you get the right sailboat for your needs

1. How many people will be using this boat?
Small sailboats are obviously not designed to carry a ton of people. So you should buy the size that will best fit your needs.
If you plan on being the only person to sail in your sailboat, then you can opt for a smaller sized personal dinghy.
If your plan is for two, three, or four people to be on the sailboat at once, then you’re going to need a bigger boat

2. Where do you plan to sail? What kind of sailing do you want to do?
The sailboat you buy will need to be appropriate for the environment you’ll be sailing in. Open ocean sailing is different from sailing on a small lake.
The style of sailing you want to do matters as well. Do you want to race your sail boat or are you just looking to cruise around?
These are things that you have to consider before you buy your small sailboat.
If you’re planning to sleep overnight on the boat you will want to look at weekenders.
If you get a boat that is not fit for the environment you are in, then you could wind up in a dangerous situation. Or at the very least, have a bad time on the water.

3. How will you be transporting your new sailboat?
You also need to think about how you are going to get your new boat to the water.
You can haul a small dinghy in almost any trailer or truck. But for other boats you’re going to need to get a specialized trailer.
You can look into private professional boat shipping companies. They will handle transport for you but will generally be more expensive.

4. Where will you store your boat?
Now you need to think about where you will store the small sailboat. Will you be docking at a marina? Be sure to include docking fees in your budget below. Or do you have space to keep the boat in storage in your garage? Make sure your spouse is okay with this first!

5. How big is your budget? (time and money!)
Your budget will also help you narrow down which size and model boat is right for you. New sailboats are more expensive than used. Bigger boats are generally more expensive than smaller boats.
Don’t forget to factor in all the extra costs of owning a sailboat. Be sure to consider things like insurance, docking fees, repairs, and transportation.
Finally, make sure you have enough time to make owning a boat worthwhile. Often it’s better to make friends with a boat owner, than to become one yourself!

Mike Sellers

Hey there, my name is Mike Sellers. I’m the guy behind this website. I've been sailing for over a decade and I'm going to show you everything I know about how to sail better, cheaper, and smarter.