Best Small Sailboat for Beginners

If you’re in the market for the best small sailboat for beginners, a few factors to consider are the boat’s durability, size, and it should be tiller steered. You should also make sure that it does not have any winches. To help you select the ideal boat for you, we’ve compiled some of the best sailboats for beginners.

Best Small Sailboat for Beginners

Beginners take sailing lessons for a variety of reasons. It is a wonderful endeavor to take on, and many people do it for the chance to explore. Others do it because they enjoy the calmness of being out in the open water, while others may do it for competitive reasons.

Whatever reasons you might have for learning to sail, you need a dependable sailboat—particularly if you are new to sailing.

Luckily, you can learn to sail on any sailboat, but small ones are more beginner-friendly since they respond rapidly to your weight movements, wind shifts, and every command on the tiller. It wouldn’t make sense to see a novice helming a large sailboat in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean.

There are several sailboats available at various price points. However, it’s hard to tell which small boats are the best without naming the brands and models.

In this article, we’ll be bringing you some of the top small sailboats to get you started with your sailing journey. These sailboats are all easy to use and great for beginners. You’ll also know a bit more about sailboats and the features you need to look for.

Tell Tale Signs of a Good Beginner Sailboat

All these brands will tell you why you should choose one over the other. But how can you know whether a beginner sailboat is any good? Let’s find out!

Easy to sail

A good beginner sailboat is easy to captain. It shouldn’t capsize quickly and can withstand minor mishaps without dumping you into the water. And you don’t want something that’s too overpowered that it will terrify you when the wind kicks up.

Easy to rig

The best small sailboat for beginners should be simple to rig and assemble. For a trailerable boat, you’ll need a mast that you can raise and lower without straining your back or requiring a lot of maneuvering.

In the case of sailboats with a number of controls, there may be a variety of components to connect and change based on the wind conditions. And a recreational sailing boat could have just a few. For a beginner, you don’t want too many complexities in your sailing.

Small size

An excellent beginner sailboat can measure from 14 feet and can hold one to two adults. For your first sailboat, you should avoid going any larger than that.

Larger sailboats respond to steering and sail controls more slowly. And in case you try to get on and off the dock, it will have much more momentum. Keep in mind that the larger the boat, the greater the weight and force on all lines and sails.

Minimal controls

If you’re just learning to sail, you need to start with the basics. You’ll only need a halyard to hoist the mainsail and a sheet to manage it. That’s all you need to sail upwind, downwind, or in whatever direction. All the other controls are just extras.

Things To Consider in Finding the Best Small Sailboat for Beginners

Before buying a small sailboat, there are a few things you must consider.

Tiller Steering

Your sailboat should have tiller steering. Some people might confuse it for wheel steering, which is a different mechanism. The steering wheel will have a lot of drag and slop, which means you won’t be able to perceive how the boat reacts.

Since the tiller is tied directly to the rudder, feedback from your boat’s speed, course, and wind impact will be quickly observable. With a wheel, on the other hand, there is latency, and you won’t feel the rudder immediately.

Tiller steering is an excellent approach to learning how to sense your boat’s motions. It will be much simpler to maneuver your sailboat if you have an instinctive connection with it.

No Winches

Make sure the sailboat you’re getting has cleats instead of winches. This can make learning to sail much easier. Sailboats with cleats are significantly easier to operate, endure less force from heavy winds, and are suitable for beginners of any age.

These boats often do not face the same stresses on the sails and gear as larger boats, which can be difficult to handle when the wind picks up.

With smaller boats, though, they may come equipped with winches, however, this is not the case. It is always critical to consult with the dealer if your boat includes winches to operate the sheets or halyards.


As a beginner, smaller boats will be easier for you to operate. You may benefit more from the stability of a larger boat, but it will be more difficult to navigate. If you’re just getting into sailing, a smaller boat will be a good place to start.

You can always up your boat size once you have a good grasp on everything associated with a smaller boat.


You will have the best buck for your money with a durable sailboat. You will be making some mistakes and that is expected. Finding a sailboat that can handle all of the bumps and bruises you will avoid a lot of problems.

Purchasing a Rotomolded boat is perfect. It’s a tough plastic material that, while it may not look as attractive as finished wood or even fiberglass, can survive much longer. These boats are also far less expensive, which makes them ideal for a beginner.

Why Should You Learn How To Sail?

Learning to sail is an exciting experience. It’s a practical skill that can turn into passion and open new opportunities for you. Sailing can also improve critical thinking and teamwork skills. If you are still on the fence about learning to sail, perhaps these benefits will help you decide to get into sailing.

It gives a sense of freedom

Sailing on the open water gives you a sense of freedom. With the right weather condition, there’s no other way to explore the waters than being able to set off at any moment. Any sailor will tell you how calming and liberating it is to be out in the water.

Creates community

Sailing forms tight-knit communities like sailing clubs and tournaments. Sailors ranging from professionals to casual amateurs share the same love for everything about messing around with boats.

Sailors see themselves as part of a unified community. This is regardless of their level of devotion to the sport. You can visit a local sailing club if you’re seeking a venue where you’ll be greeted warmly and accepted by the community.

Trains you for competition

Sailing competitions are both intense and entertaining. And it is a means of discovering your ability and willpower. Learning to sail prepares you for the potential of participating in a sailing competition. That tournament doesn’t have to be a huge one. You can go on a transatlantic race or a monthly event at your local club.

Things Beginner Sailors Should Know Before Buying a Sailboat

As a beginner, you are expected to experience some setbacks here and there. Sailing doesn’t always come easy to many novices. And this is true even for individuals who grew up among sailboats or from a family of sailors. It takes knowledge, talent, discipline, and instincts.

Below are a few of the most common hurdles that beginner sailors face. Understanding each one brings you awareness so you’d know that it’s alright to fail sometimes and you can always try again.

Familiarizing With Jargons

It might be difficult to learn the vocabulary and common sailing jargon. Those who grew up around sailboats may have learned a lot about such over the years. And for beginners, it might feel like you’re learning a whole new language. Understanding sailing terminology and basic regulations are critical as you learn to sail.


Much like learning how to drive a car on road and adhering to traffic rules, following maritime laws and safety regulations are crucial parts of being a sailor. Most states have a specific regulation that you need to follow. It is critical to understand who has the right of way, how to ask for help, and how and when to help others.

Knot Tying

Many beginners struggle to tie a knot, which is fine. You could have trouble tying all of these tricky knots you’ve never done before. And you’ll also need to learn the different types of knots. This may sound like a lot of work, but it’s an essential part of learning to sail.

These knots have a purpose and need to be tied in the same manner otherwise the one attempting to untie them will be in danger.

Boat Parts

Boats have complex structures. Understanding each element of a sailing boat and what function they perform is important. Since boats are small and have no extra space, you realize that everything on board has a function and is valuable in its own way.

You have a lot to discover in this area, so it could be necessary to spend some time learning in addition to time at the water.

The Best Small Sailboats for Beginners

Sailing, especially for beginners, is one of the best ways to spend a day on the water. However, it won’t be as fun without the right small sailboat. Here are some of the best sailboats for beginners you should know.

Sailing Dinghies

Sailing dinghies are classic beginner sailboats, making them an excellent choice if you’re just learning to sail. They are small, lightweight, low-cost vessels that are easy to operate. The dinghy cruising boats are also a popular type of sailing boat, particularly in the US and the UK

Sailing Dinghies

It’s not extremely fast, though, however, these sailboats offer superb steering qualities. And since they are lightweight they can capsize in some situations. It may be due to a blast of wind or a rapid shift in the weight of a crew. So make sure to wear your lifejacket and you know how to swim.

A sailing dinghy is an open-cockpit boat that includes a centerboard and a removable tiller, and it’s easy to beach or transport atop a vehicle. It’s typically equipped with one mast and one sail, making sailing dinghies simple for children and beginner sailors to get started.

And since these boats are small, you could probably imagine how convenient it is to store their removable parts. These boats are often constructed of plastic, which is why they are inexpensive, durable, and light.

They can be a great option designed for one or two people, so they are great for studying with an instructor and practicing by yourself.


The sunfish would be a great option if you want something small and incredibly fast. It’s essentially a smaller racing dinghy, usually about 13 feet long, but it can be a lot of fun for both beginner and experienced sailors. Handing this boat will be tender. However, mastering this little vessel is simple.


The boat has a relatively large sail space and a very short draft. It also comes with a tiny cockpit that you can easily manage. The sunfish boasts a broad beam for added stability, a wider freeboard, and a foot-well that provides a more comfy sailing position.

It has a very flat, boardlike hull with a crab claw or the Oceanic lateen sail attached to an unsupported mast. The Sunfish’s lateen rig broad sail design allows for outstanding performance. Particularly in mild breezes and incredible speed on high winds.

It’s made of fiberglass and lightweight with a basic rig that is an excellent alternative to a sailing dinghy. You can learn to sail with a sunfish, however, any sailor who has spent a lot of time on one will likely advise you to pack a towel.

For one, it is relatively easy to capsize and heels strongly, yet these features may teach you valuable skills. The boat’s heeling features may help beginners become acquainted with the experience, as well as grasp the constraints of a sailboat and ways to minimize capsizing.

You can opt for upgrades to improve sail control for competitive sailing, but the Sunfish is probably the best boat for learning to sail. Many sailors can learn how to sail a Sunfish in a single day along with trial and error. However, we recommend getting lessons.

Small Sloops

Small Sloops

Small sloops can accommodate 1 to 4 people, but it’s best for two. The sailboat is a little larger than a dinghy and with only one mast, but it may have one to three sails. These boats are frequently equipped with cleats rather than winches, making them simple to use for beginners.

They are available in a range of sizes. So, think carefully about which one is right for your needs. For beginners, smaller sloops are ideal. But if you’re one who has sailed in a dinghy before and is competent, a larger sloop rig might be a reasonable option.

Small sloops with a mast carrying head and mainsails are the next stage in teaching beginners how sails function together. Some sloops may be scaled up to provide a more demanding challenge for sailors as they gain expertise.

With certain models equipped with spinnakers and bigger headsails for teaching sail configurations and sail trim practices, you’ll be able to unlock some levels in your sailing practice.

Other sloop models allow you to trek out or crew weight shifts far outboard in order to stabilize the boat against the winds in the sails. But this will be a more complex type of sailing.

Small Catamarans

Small catamarans also make the best small sailboat for beginners. These sailboats can be a wonderful reliable option, even though their price range can be on the more expensive side. So, if you are willing to pay a bit extra money, a small catamaran could be a great option for you.

Small Catamarans

A catamaran typically has two hulls and therefore has a much wider, sturdy platform. As a result, your chances of capsizing are quite minimal. Catamarans are extremely light and agile, allowing them to respond quickly. These boats often include a mast and are operated using a tiller.

They are also usually equipped with trampoline seats rather than a solid deck. The seat makes a lot of difference when you plan to go offshore and large wave sailing.

A trampoline will reduce the amount of time that it takes from when the bows are submerged by a large wave to when all water has been swept off the deck and the sailboat can run thereafter. This is critical to minimize pitchpoling and capsizing your sailboat.

One of the things we love about small catamarans is that they offer added stability for anyone who is afraid of capsizing or dread heeling. Catamarans are good for beginners, and their wide hull and large, durable platform may explain why resorts usually adopt them as beach sailing tourist boats.

West Wight Potters & Other Trailerable Sailboats

The key to learning to sail involves all of your senses and requires a calm head and a great deal of practice. Despite the various approaches to learning, the ideal option is to start with a simple, small, comfy, and sturdy boat.

Small sailboats that can be trailered to various sites offer diversity and make learning to sail more exciting. These trailerable boats allow you to learn to sail in a variety of wind and sea situations. They also make you appreciate the boats in new ways when on a trip or with traveling companions.

West Wight Potters & Other Trailerable Sailboats

West Wight Potters are small cruising keelboats that are great for beginners. They are an excellent choice for a small keelboat for learning to sail and towing around. These sailboats are available in 15 and 19 feet lengths. You can tow the 15-footer behind practically any vehicle, while the 19-footer requires a large SUV.

These are basic sloop-rigged boats with no further racing gear. They are stable and also have a retractable keel. The West Wight Potter isn’t the quickest or most flashy boat on the market, though. These trailerable sailboats offer sailed and rig simplicity. And they are suitable for trailer sailing.

If there’s something you must know about these vessels is that they are well-known for being well-built, with no usual failure areas.

We recommend that you get the West Wight Potter 19. It might be the best cabin sailboat for beginners, and definitely one of the safest. This sailboat is typically made of fiberglass for safety, ease of handling, and accessibility to beginners. The 19-foot boat has a vee-berth cabin, a basic rig, and a retractable keel.

Since the hull is packed with buoyant elements, it can stay afloat even when flooded. And with a flat bottom, it’s simple to beach and maneuver.


A laser is a 14-foot, one or two-person sailboat. They are board boats that are popular and great for racing. These boats are also now Olympic class boats since they have been used in every summer Olympics since 1996. Lasers are slightly speedier and a more powerful option if you want a bit more kick.


This type of small sailboat is thought to be the Sunfish’s main rival.

They are less stable and more prone to capsize than Sunfish. And, since it behaves more like a racer, many consider lasers to be a more challenging boat than the Sunfish. Plus, they are one of the simplest boats to right after a capsize.

We recommend practicing on days with light winds to get the feel of the boat.

Lasers come in a variety of sail sizes. The traditional laser is the most popular. You can also go for Laser Radial which has a smaller sail and mast and is the second most popular type. Certain sailboats will feature both. But if a laser will be your first boat, we highly urge you to search for one with a radial rig.

The mast step on lasers is something you need to keep an eye out for, though. It is the point at which the mast enters your boat’s hull. You can try and pour a glass of water into the hole and watch if it remains there or drains into the hull.

If it drips into the hull, get off the boat. With such types of boats, the mast-to-hull junction deteriorates over time and with repeated use.

While they are popular in sailing competitions, these boats are small enough for beginners. However, operating one may require some skills.

Rotomolded Boats

Due to their tough build, small rotomolded boats are particularly accommodating. Rotomolding is a type of plastic construction technology. This process may also be used to create dinghy cruising boats and catamarans.

And rotomolded boats, unlike fiberglass or wooden crafts, may bounce off docks or other boats causing minimal to no damage.

The rotomolded wave catamaran is ideal for young and inexperienced sailors. This simple boat typically offers a straightforward setup and is easy to sail.


What are mini sailboats called?

A dinghy is a small sailboat that is typically 8 to 15 feet long, with some being somewhat larger. Sailors use sailing dinghies in a variety of ways, but a motor can drive them, sailed with a detachable mast, or propelled with oars.

Can a novice sail around the world?

When it comes to circumnavigation, most beginner sailors believe they are on their own. However, this is not true. Besides the DIY version, there are other circumnavigation choices for new sailors to consider. And these situations are interesting to explore.

What is a good size sailboat to live on?

A sailboat must be at least 30 feet long to be considered a liveaboard. If you for something smaller, the sailboat will be too small for anyone except a solo sailor. Conversely, the higher the expense of ownership, the larger the sailboat. For many boaters, the perfect sailboat size to live on is 35 to 45 feet.

Can you sleep while sailing?

Cabins with sleeping quarters are typical on most sailboats. The crews sleep in shifts ranging from two to six hours long out on the open ocean. Make sure to light the boat on overnight trips since you won’t have to estimate the distance and course of other boats.

Ready To Go Sailing?

No matter how mentally and physically prepared you are for a voyage to the open water, if you do not have the right sailboat to go with and don’t have all of the necessary skills, you will not have an edge over other sailors. 

But, that’s what makes you a beginner and everything can be learned. And it is at this point that the best small sailboat for beginners comes in handy. Good, dependable beginner sailboats should be durable and easy to handle. Anything large with complex controls will just be optional and come at a bigger price point. 

We hope we were able to help give you a general idea of what makes good beginner sailboats as well as what to look for in one. You may want to check out the links we’ve attached to each type of beginner sailboat so you can start your journey to mastering the art of sailing.

After all, renting a boat is expensive. So, owning a beginner-friendly sailboat is the way to go. Good luck and keep it fun!

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