Small sailboats : definitions
a small sailboat is generally defined as a sailboat
- shorter than 20ft
- that can be either a sailing dinghy or a beach catamaran
- the key aspects are is the light weight and the ease of use
The most widely distributed is the sunfish, designed in the 1960's and claiming more than quarter million units sold. the fastest is the foiling moth, and the most innovative is probably the Reverso Air.
2 major innovations were introduced within the last ten years in small sailboats
- The addition of foils : with the International moth class, small sailboats started to foil above the water.
Despite being very exciting, this discipline requires extremely sensitive skills and some special sailing conditions (sheltered waters)
- Portability. Just like a macbook Air, some small sailboats can fold up and eliminate a major part of logistic hassles.
There are 2 technologies used : the inflatable technology, and the rigid-folding technology used to build the Reverso Air.
This portability feature enabled the market to grow beyond the usual sailing market, bringing nature enthusiasts, surfers and also to reactivate ex-sailors, tired of the logistics.
Small sailboat racing
Definitely an exciting part of the sport, the regattas are a social competitive and friendly events.
Even if you're quite new to the sport, we strongly recommend that you join an event. The proximity and advices of other sailors will definitely elevate your game and you'll learn a lot !
Who can sail a small sailboat ?
Almost anyone ! In 2021, small sailboat sailing is not anymore a tough and physical sport. If you want to keep the ability to handle the boat single handed, you should take care of picking a light and versatile sailboat.
Kid can start early with their parents and then start sailing solo, under supervision.
We are stocked to see more people joining the sport, year after year on what is truly a life-changing experience.
Anatomy of a small sailboat
A small sailboat has many components. Here are the most important ones :
- Hull - where you sit and control the boat. The hull shape and design influences stability, sailing style and performance.
A self bailing cockpit is auto draining the water that may comes from waves.
- Mast - traditionally made of wood, they are now made of alloy or carbon. Carbon is generally half the weight of ann alloy mast. Looking for mast weight is not a luxury. Considering the leverage effect of extra weight in the mast, it is one of the most important place to save weight, which will make the boat more stable , easier to rig and to recover in the event of capsizing.
- Boom - placed at 90° from the mast, at the sail's footer, the boom helps keeping the profile neat. The boom vang has an essential tuning role. Having a boom not too low is an important criteria to consider for smoother maneuvers.
- Sail - can be made of dacron, (white or colored basic sailcloth), mylar or sometimes membrane.
You'll find different shapes like the classic triangle and more elaborated shapes like square heads (like on racing sailboats) sustained by full battens.
- Centerboard - helps you go straight ! its position is essential in the boat design. A well balanced boat should allow a slight weather helm (slight tendency of the boat to turn towards the wind). A weather helm helps you feel the boat, and can even let you helm the boat with closed eyes. (exercise practiced during coaching sessions to develop sensations onboard)
- Rudder, tiller and tiller extension - this is your wheel ! it should be precise, with perfect adjustment for the maximum of pleasure.