Everyone wants the best of the best – and it’s no different when it comes to sailboats and yachts.
If you are looking for a new sailboat, you are going to want one bought from a reliable and trusted brand that has a history of producing some of the best sailboats out there.
Us sailors can be a finicky bunch, but that is just because we care so much about our sailboats and we want the most perfect experience possible when out on the water.
That is why choosing the right kind of brand is important when buying a sailboat – every sailor wants a beautifully crafted sailboat that can glide through waves and water effortlessly, allowing you to have all the fun and comfort that comes with a good sailing experience.
Choose the wrong sailboat, and all the ease and fun goes out of the window.
But that is why we have pulled together this handy guide. Here are ten of the best sailboat brands available along with some must-have features that will ensure you have the perfect sailboat for your time out on the water.
What To Look Out For
When you are looking to buy a sailboat, the first thing you need to think of is what you are going to use your sailboat for. Are you looking for a sailboat to cruise around some steady waters with the whole family onboard, or do you want to race in some choppier waters?
There are also a bunch of features and advantages you will want to consider when you are looking for the perfect sailboat. You shouldn’t have to be forced to choose one feature over another, but sometimes compromises have to be made.
However, this is not always the case, so researching your options is vitally important so you don’t miss out on any of the greatest features available with different brands and models of sailboats (see also our article on the price of sailboats).
Here are some things you need to consider when you are shopping around for your new sailboat, along with some extra features that you will be grateful to have once you take it out onto the water.
When you are out sailing on the open water, you are going to be spending a lot of time in the cockpit. Also, some sailors decide to stay in their sailboats for a couple of days – so comfort is key when you are browsing for your sailboat.
You will want to check that all the furniture and seating is to your liking, and that the seats in the cockpit are high and wide enough to provide the right amount of support. Another plus is if the seats are adjustable so you can find the right position for maximum comfort.
When you are in the cockpit, have a look around and see what the view is like. After all, this is where you will be sat for most of your time sailing, whether it’s trimming sails or keeping watch. You’ll want a good view and a nice, comfortable seat to enjoy the scenery from.
Unfortunately, sailing can be dangerous if done in poor weather conditions. While most sailboats are built to withstand choppy water, there are other hazards you should be aware of when sailing and see how your potential sailboat tackles this with its design.
A hazard that might not be initially clear is a cluttered and small deck space. The deck is a feature of the ship that is often overlooked, but yet it is one that is vitally important to your sailing experience. A small deck will make it more likely for you to get tangled up in different ropes, and this can sometimes be dangerous.
A wider deck space will mean that you have more room to move about and are less likely to be hindered or get tangled up. Avoid sailboats that do not feature easy access to your sails, masts, and winches, and this will reduce any stress you may feel while sailing.
A wide open deck doesn’t come without its own disadvantages, however. When the waters get choppy, all that deck space could mean that there is a lot of room for you to fall and bump around on – but still, it’s better than falling overboard.
The last thing you want to feel when you take a look at your sailboat is one of disgust and disappointment.
Although aesthetics and styles are completely superficial, there is no shame in admitting you don’t want to buy a sailboat you think is ugly.
There are a lot of different styles and makes and models of sailboats available out there, and this means that each one has a unique look. But even if a sailboat has everything you want, it’s perfectly fine to turn it down because you don’t like the look of it.
Keep looking around at as many sailboats as you can until you start to notice a pattern in the styles of sailboat you like. Eventually, you will find one that has everything you need and is easy on the eye.
With all this in mind, it’s time to move onto the top ten best sailboat brands available. Remember these features when we tell you what each brand is best known for, as some brands may focus more on style than substance, and others will aim to please all sailors with a mixture of all three. The best brand for you will be the one that meets your needs and expectations, and odds are – they’re just a little bit further below.
Best Sailboat Brands
Wally is definitely a brand to consider if you are looking for a beautiful sailboat that blends with technology.
Wally is one of the world’s leading brands combining technology with contemporary designs, constantly improving their sailboats to give optimum performance out on the water while not sacrificing any comfort or style.
Founded by the passionate and visionary yachtsman Luca Bassani in 1994, Wally creates custom made sailboats that will take your breath away with a single glance.
Their range of sailboats contain some of the most smoothly designed and sophisticated sailboats out there, including sailboats like Better Place and Open Season, but one that often catches a sailor’s eye is the Tango.
Tango is a fast and beautiful sailboat, combining both performance and style so you get the best of both worlds. Tango was made using engineering and naval architecture to optimise the layout and reduce structural weight, improving hull stiffness and centralizing the machinery weights to reduce pitching.
With an overall length of 30.48 metres and enough cabins to accommodate six guests, Tango provides you with a sporty and chic experience out on the water.
Overall, Wally creates beautiful and speedy sailboats that utilize cutting edge technology and design to optimize your sailing experience.
Whether you are looking to race your sailboat or just cruise out onto the open ocean (see also our article on sailing on the ocean vs a lake), it is worth giving this Italian sailboat brand a consideration as they make some of the most visually appealing sailboats in the world.
Sometimes with sailing, the best sailboats are the ones designed with tradition and years of experience in mind. Nautor’s Swan does just that, drawing from hundreds of years of Finnish boat building tradition to design sailboats that meet the needs of sailors.
Nautor’s Swan is a company born in Finland in 1966, where its founder Pekka Koskenkyla began to create high-quality sailboats that would survive the challenging Finnish sailing environment.
With freezing temperatures and icy seas, Finnish sailboats needed to be built tough enough to withstand the challenges thrown at Finnish sailors. However, Koskenkyla found a way to meet these needs without sacrificing elegance. Now, Nautor’s Swan has over fifty years of sailboat experience and still makes high performing sailboats today with timeless designs.
These beautiful sailboats are popular among sailors for their responsiveness at the helm and comfortable interior within the cabins. They are easy to handle and built from foam-cored glass fiber, reinforced with carbon-fiber and epoxy to keep you well protected when faced with choppier waters.
Safety is not compromised for beauty, however – the sleek design of Nautor’s Swan models such as the Swan 48, Swan 98, and Swan 120, are all easily recognisable.
So if you are after a sailboat with a brand that has decades of experience and built excellent boats that will meet your sailing requirements, then looking further into a Nautor’s Swan sailboat will be well worth your time.
Scandinavians know how to make a great bluewater sailboat, and one of the brands most well known and discussed in bluewater cruising circles is Hallberg-Rassy.
Hallberg-Rassy is another European sailboat company with a lot of history and experience. They have been making sailboats since 1943, when one of their founders Harry Hallberg opened his own boat building yard in Sweden. This means that Hallbery-Rassy have had years to perfect their sailboats, and are now one of the world leading brands for bluewater sailboats.
Many sailors agree that their sailboats are number one for comfort, safety, and easy handling. This is due to how Hallberg-Rassy sailboats are built with sturdy materials and good woodwork, designing their deck and cockpit to be well protected from splashing water – keeping you as dry as possible when you are out there on the water. Their sailboats also come with a powerful engine so you can go out on long voyages without running low on fuel.
What also makes Hallberg-Rassy a stand out brand against its competitors is how the company adds vital features to their sailboats. Examples include the electric anchor winch that makes maneuvering your sailboat a smooth process, and large steering wheels that give you full control over your sailboat even in rough sailing conditions.
Hallberg-Rassy is a brand that prioritizes safety and comfort when designing their sailboats for their sailors, but that does not mean that their sailboats are any less stunning than their competitors.
But with added features and design choices to maximize your comfort and keep you safe while out on the water, Hallberg-Rassy have cemented themselves as the favorite blue water cruising sailboat brand.
Beneteau is perhaps the biggest selling sailboat brand across the globe, and it is easy to see why. They have been making sailboats for over a century but have also kept improving their designs to keep up with modern boat architecture and technology. Their goal is to connect the world through sailing, and aim to build their sailboats to make new horizons available to every sailor.
The company was founded in France by Benjamin Beneteau, who built fishing boats in a French port. He built his boats to be strong enough to handle the rough North Atlantic waters but also made them fast enough to get to and from the port so the fish was fresh and could sell for a better price.
Once he passed the reins on the business over to his son Andre, this idea of creating fast but strong sailboats has continued even to today.
As for their sailboats, the reason behind their popularity is how their sailboats make sailing a luxurious experience. Their designs are light, and their deck plans are clear and spacious. Their sailboats’ stable hulls and simplified maneuvering makes them a favorite amongst racing sailors, but the comfortable and well made interior also means their sailboats can be used to explore the world.
Their magnum opus is the Figaro Beneteau 3, the first production foiling one-design monohull ever made. This innovative sailboat is the result of a collaboration between Beneteau’s best sailboat experts and architects. The keel is built with a deep, straight blade to create minimum drag and the versatile foils reduce drift and improve the boat’s performance.
If you are looking for a good American sailboat, then you should consider the Hinckley Company and their range of sailboats.
The company was founded in Maine in the United States, and has been building robust sailboats for nearly a century. The founder, Henry Hinckley, built both local lobster boats and summer yachts, including their first boat Ruthyeolyn which doubled as a fisherboat and then was chartered in the summer months to vacationers.
Ever since then, Hinckley yachts were kept to a very high standard, with Henry Hinckley himself commissioned custom designed hardware including masts, chocks, and pulpits. The intense attention to detail made Hinckley yachts well admired by sailors and yachtsmen alike, and distinguished them from their competitors. Henry Hinckley wanted his boats to be strong, yet light and was not afraid to get creative to see his visions come alive.
Thanks to the founder’s eye for detail and innovative ideas, Hinckley Yachts is a brand well known for creating sailboats with classic shapes and dramatic lines. The boats available in their sailboat class come with the features needed to sail out on North Atlantic waters, along with models dedicated to keeping sailors safe and maintaining that timeless sailboat aesthetic.
These features include modern performance hulls constructed with inner layers of carbon and outer layers of Kevlar, aligned with computer designed load paths, utilizing modern technology in groundbreaking ways.
Ultimately, if you are looking for a sailboat so you can enjoy the North Atlantic waters without compromising comfort, then Hinckley Yachts have sailboats available that are designed to handle those waters with ease.
For those sailors looking for an affordable sailboat without having to compromise on safety and style, then Bavaria is capable of making sailboats of reasonable quality for a lower price.
Bavaria Yachts (or Bavaria Yachtbau) was founded in 1978 in Germany, and is now one of Europe’s largest yacht manufacturers and is the biggest yacht yard in Germany.
Every Bavaria sailboat is built with the expertise of German engineering in mind while also drawing inspiration from the art of boat building. Bavaria makes use of the best materials and equipment available, utilizing their exquisite craftsmanship to create modern and classy sailboats.
Their most sought after sailboats is the Bavaria 46 Cruiser – a sailboat that is fast and maneuverable while featuring an elegant design that counters most sailboat’s more sporty look. The Bavaria 46 Cruiser gives its sailors plenty of space and is available with a three-cabin version to accommodate a larger crew.
The cockpit is wide and features two steering wheels and a central cockpit table for a spacious navigation station. It is considered by sailors to be a well equipped and elegant sailboat that maintains a good speed and finish for a more affordable brand.
So if you are looking for a brand that provides quality sailboats for a less hefty price tag, then Bavaria Yachts will have plenty available for you.
Another French brand, Dufour creates luxury sailboats that accumulate many years of research and progress into innovative designs.
Dufour Yachts were founded in 1957 by the mechanical engineer Michel Dufour, who believed that composite technologies and materials were the key to transforming the marine industry. His visions led to the creation of Dufour Yachts, and for decades after, Dufour Yachts continued to revolutionize sailboats in regards to their comfort and design.
Dufour Yachts have also continued to evolve but have kept their strong aesthetics by building sailboats with clean and simple shapes.
They can easily be recognised in the docks and out on the water with their signature designs, but other than simply looking good, Dufour’s sailboats are also built to give the perfect sailing experience.
These sailboats are more than just aesthetics – they are built using innovative methods such as contact moulding, and are created from light and sturdy materials such as fiberglass and solid wooden frames and trims.
One of their most universally used sailboats is the Dufour 360. This sailboat is both practical and enjoyable, featuring a quick and steady hull that can withstand whatever speed you choose to sail at. Despite being one of Dufour’s more smaller models of sailboat, the Dufour 360 still comes with an immensely sized cockpit and a fully equipped steering station.
It was designed to be a sailboat for all so no matter what you wish to use your sailboat for – whether it is sailing around the coast with your family or around the world solo – the Dufour 360 sailboat aims to make every voyage a sensational enjoyment.
Hanse is a sailboat company that aims to provide great quality sailboats to sailors that also help them discover a life of ease. Their main goal is to make sailboats that combine comfort with easy handling by creating sailboats with impressive sailing dynamics.
If you are looking for a sailboat that is fast, easy, and comfortable, then Hanse creates sailboats that fulfils the criteria.
Although Hanse does not have the near centuries of experience that other companies have (as Hanse built their first modern boatyard in 1990, which is relatively new compared to some other brands), Hanse does draw the expertise from the former Greifswald shipyard, so they are able to make up for their lack of years with Greifswald’s long craftsmanship tradition.
Their first yacht premiered in 1993, and ever since, Hanse has been amazing sailors with their sailboats and have been providing them with a pleasurable freetime experience of sailing.
One such model is the Hanse 548, a cleverly designed sailboat that does its own thing and stands out amongst other competitors.
The Hanse 548 makes handling a sailboat a breeze, with push button systems that are remarkable even by modern standards. Sailing this sailboat will give you an immense feeling of freedom as you glide through the waves without an issue.
Hanse is a brand known for breaking rules and setting trends, and is the perfect brand for sailors looking for something a bit more unorthodox in their sailboat.
Tradition and innovation go hand in hand at Sparkman and Stephens.
They’re an American based company with a history that dates back to 1929, and have ever since been responsible for creating and designing some of the most excellent sailboats in the world. The apparent key to this excellence? Well, Sparkman and Stephens believe that what makes a sailboat exceptional goes beyond hull lines and deck plans.
What makes Sparkman and Stephens sailboats a cut above the rest is the effort and care they put into designing their sailboats, and the credentials of the people involved. The experts who design the sailboats are amazing naval architects who are not afraid to push new technological advancements in their constructions while staying true to their roots.
Their sailboats draw on the rich history of sailing for guidance and inspiration, but without sacrificing the advantages that come with modern development. They pay major attention to every detail through every phase of the design and construction process, from conception to completion, to ensure their customers are receiving the finest quality of sailboat they can create.
Sparkman and Stephens are so well known for their high expertise when it comes to naval architecture, that they have even been involved in military activities – so if their work is good enough for the army, it’s going to be more than enough for you.
This is a brand that is known throughout the sailing community for bringing the sailing experience to a new level of sophistication and excellence. Their sailboats are designed to give optimum performance and to look exceptionally beautiful.
Purchasing a Sparkman and Stephens sailboat will make you a very proud owner, and you are sure to be the subject of envy among all your sailor friends. These sailboats go beyond just being sailboats – they are works of art that will give you an amazing sailing experience that will stay with you forever.
As one of the most popular brands of sailboats ever, Catalina Yachts represents American-made sailboats across the world – and they are doing us proud.
This widely revered company generally makes more family-orientated sailboats with enough space to fit everyone onboard. Catalina offers a wide selection of sturdy boats that perform well on the water and don’t cost much to maintain, making them a solid brand selection if you are looking for a lost-cost sailboat to share the sailing experience with the whole family.
Founded in 1969 in Hollywood by Frank Butler, a man who started out sailing boats before he switched to building them. Knowing exactly what sailors wanted in their sailboats, Frank Butler set up Catalina so sailors could have a whole fleet of sailboats to choose the best from.
Their goal is fun, fun, fun – building solid sailboats to last for ages so you can enjoy as much as you can out of sailing for even longer.
Their boats are simple and affordable, and Catalina has a solid reputation as one of the sailboat manufacturer behemoths as they produce and sell thousands of sailboats a year all over the globe.
They have a range of cruiser models available, including the Catalina 315 and the Catalina 425, and even a sport series including the Catalina 14.2 Expo. But the stand out sailboat is the Catalina 545.
The Catalina 545 is an award winning sailboat, praised for its collection of engineering and design features that make it an outstanding vessel in the eyes of a lot of sailors. It is noticeably different from any other Catalina sailboat before it, and is a major upgrade in size and handling.
Sailboats like the Catalina 545 are why a lot of sailors gravitate towards this brand, and are also why you should consider investing in a Catalina sailboat too. You are sure to have an amazing experience with this brand of sailboat, just as many other sailors before you have.
Prepare To Cast Off
And now, you know the top ten sailboat brands you should consider buying your sailboat from and all the reasons why they stand out against their competitors. A lot of them have years of experience and research behind them, along with unique ways to combine technology and history to create some of the finest sailing vessels out there.
Hopefully you are now in a position to go out and buy the right sailboat for you – so now it is time to cast off, and happy sailing!