10 Best Sailboat Brands (And Why)

10 Best Sailboat Brands | Life of Sailing

Last Updated by

Daniel Wade

December 20, 2023

‍ There's no denying that sailors are certainly a passionate bunch. We’re so passionate about our boats that we always try going for the best sailboats. To make it a lot easier for you, here are the best sailboat brands.

Owning a sailboat is an indulgence that many of us only dream about but very few ever have the privilege of sailing the seas in what they can actually call their own.

While there's nothing wrong with renting a sailboat, the honor of owning one is certain what many sailors dream of.

With a perfectly crafted sailboat as company, gliding through the water, waves, and wind brings some sort of unmatched comfort and peace.

Add this to the fact that sailing takes you far away from the daily hustles and bustles that we've become accustomed to in our daily lives and you'll see why the life of sailing is very appealing to the masses.

But without a proper sailboat, all this fun and the good life of sailing are thrown out of the window.

Contrary to the widespread opinion, owning a sailboat isn't beyond anyone's reach. It's something that we can all achieve. But before getting into that, it's important to know some of the best sailboat brands.

The best sailboat brands will make your life as a sailor a lot easier and more fun. The best sailboat brands have, for decades if not centuries, mastered the art of woodworking. They've dedicated their skills and immense amount of their time to designing and manufacturing nothing but the best quality of sailboats in the industry.

So if you've been looking for the best sailboat brands from all over the world, you've come to the right place. We'll discuss the best of the best, something that will give you a perfect getaway from your normal life.

Table of contents

‍ Must-Have Features for Your Sailboat

Before highlighting the best sailboat brands, it would be appropriate to jog your mind a little with some of the features that must be available in your sailboat.

Choosing a sailboat can sometimes be a matter of compromises. In other words, it's sometimes sensible to accept that a sailboat cannot have all the features that you desire.

As such, it's all about going with a sailboat that has the features that matter to you most.

For this reason, let's look at the most basic features that can make the difference in both safety and comfort while improving your sailing experience.

A Safe and Comfortable Sailing Cockpit

You'll most definitely be spending a huge amount of time in the cockpit. Whether you're keeping watch, trimming sails , helming, or just enjoying the scenery, there's no better place to do all these than from the cockpit. That being said, a good cockpit should have the following.

  • Have a good depth for safety reasons and adequate drainage
  • Should give you a quick and easy access to jammers, cleats, and other important parts of the winch system
  • Should have a seat or seats that are about 35 cm high, 50 to 55 cm wide to provide ideal support
  • The seats should be adjustable to offer maximum comfort and allow you to change your position

GPS Chartplotter

Use a GPS Chartplotter once and your sailing will never be the same without it. It not only allows you to map a course but is also a great way of ensuring that your sailboat exactly follows that course. It also gives you constant updates on ocean conditions, weather conditions , and potential hazards such as deadly currents and sandbars.

A GPS Chartplotter is also an important safety device that can help you in some very critical situations while out there on the water.

For instance, it has a man-overboard button that is essentially meant to allow you to receive coordinates of the exact location should someone fall off your boat.

Electric Winch System

This is an amazing addition to any sailboat. It allows you to sheet a jib even in high and strong winds with a simple press of a button. It also gives you the chance of trimming a mainsail easily while still carry out other essential tasks in the sailboat.

An electric winch system can be of great importance, especially if you're short on crew. This is because it can free up some crew members to carry other important tasks. In other words, it can make duties that would otherwise require more crew members a lot easier.

More importantly, an electric winch system can maintain safety even in the roughest of conditions, thereby preventing you and your crew from getting injured. In essence, an electric winch system will make your sailing a lot safer, less stressful, and more enjoyable.

Reverse Osmosis Watermaker

This is a very valuable accessory, especially if you're going on long sea voyages. You can spend days on end without drinking clean and safe water.

As the name suggests, you can use this accessory to turn seawater into purified drinking water. It uses the reverse osmosis method that's essential not only in removing bacteria and parasites from the water but also in turning the water into purified and safe drinking water.

Even though this device is pricey, it's a great way to mitigate the over-reliance on huge water tanks. All you have to do is to ensure that it's properly maintained and you'll have an endless streak of safe drinking water no matter where you are.

Wide and Clutter-free Deck

While the deck is often an overlooked feature of a sailboat, it can be the difference between a great sailing experience and a stressful one. In essence, the deck of a sailboat should be wide enough and clutter-free.

This is significant as it can enable you to quickly access different parts of your sailboat with hindrance or getting tangled. As you can see, this is particularly important in improving safety and reducing stress.

With that in mind, make sure that the deck is organized in such a way that you can have easy access to sails, masts, and winches.

You should, therefore, avoid sailboats with decks that are designed in such a way that you have to climb on top of the cabin just to access these features. Needless to say, this can be quite unstable and very dangerous especially when conditions are rough.

The Best Sailboat Brands and Why

1. hallberg-rassy.

Hallberg-Rassy is a Swedish yacht maker that's very well-known in the blue water cruising circles for making some of the highest quality and sturdiest sailboats. For many sailors, this is the number one sailboat brand as it offers absolute comfort, utmost safety, and good and easy handling.

This brand is not only synonymous with sturdy construction but you won't worry getting soaking wet while out there on the water. This is because it has a well-protected deck and cockpit, finished with nice woodwork, and has a powerful engine with a big tankage just to ensure that you can go on long voyages.

When designing its sailboats, this brand has made it a norm to add some features that stand out from the rest. For instance, the bowsprit is an integral feature that makes sailing a Hallberg-Rassy quite easy and much enjoyable. This is because it grants easy access to and from the deck. Its electric anchor winches facilitate smooth maneuvering. Even more, its large steering wheels makes it much easier to control the boat even in the roughest of conditions. In essence, this brand has features that provide good control and an extra sense of safety.

Although this brand has evolved over the years, you'll easily recognize it even from a distance. And why is this? A Hallberg-Rassy never goes out of style. This is a unique sailboat brand that has always stayed true to its principles and concept. No matter which part of the world you go, Hallberg-Rassy will remain the undisputed king of blue water cruising.

2. Nautor's Swan

For over 50 years, Nautor's Swan has endlessly raised the sailing levels by designing and manufacturing new sailboat models that not only push the boundaries but also meet that many requirements and demands of sailors across the world. Thanks to its wide range of seaworthy, timeless, elegant, and highly-performing sailboats, the Nautor's Swan remains one of the best if not the best sailboat makers in the world.

Based in Jakobstad, Finland, this brand has severally set the industry standard with its speedy and sleek models such as the Swan 48, Swan 65, Swan 98, Swan 78, and Swan 120. These models have one thing in common: they never compromise on safety. As a brand that puts safety first, it ensures that its models are made of foam-cored glass fiber and reinforced both with carbon-fiber and epoxy. In essence, Nautor's Swan is widely revered for its unmatched seafaring and safety records.

Additionally, Nautor's Swan models are incredibly responsive. You can easily tell this just by the feel of the wheel. This brand has models that will gracefully slice through the biggest of waves with ease. That's not all; the interior of these models that are very comfortable even when the going gets tough. This is, without a doubt, a brand that strives to create self-contained worlds with each model.

3. Beneteau

This is perhaps the most selling sailboat brand in the world. For over a century now, this brand has based its models in a combination of simplicity and performance. This is a brand that will serve you just right across all latitudes and in all circumstances. Whether you prefer the Oceanis Yacht 62 or the Figaro Beneteau 3, this brand will never let you down on all fronts.

This brand revolves around a simple concept of creating a link around the world. From the deck space to its design and light, this brand does everything possible not just to uniformly transform life at sea but also to open doors to new horizons in a very luxurious yet practical way. Its models are designed with clear deck plans, stable hulls, simplified maneuvering and interior materials and equipment that can be easily personalized.

Whether you're looking for a racing sailboat or something that's designed to explore and enjoy the world in the company of friends and family, Beneteau is a true combination of sensations and simplicity. This is a brand that brings to the seas fun, simplicity, smartness, toughness, safety, intuitiveness, as well as dazzling reinvention.

4. Amel Yachts

Based on the ethos of designing and manufacturing comfortable, robust, and easy-to-handle boats, this French brand has, for over five decades, offered sailors and other sailing enthusiasts the perfect opportunity to explore the seas with the utmost quality, comfort, and more importantly, safety.

Using 100% French know-how, this brand has brought to the sailing world some of the best boats such as the Santorini, the Mango, the Super Maramu, and the Maramu. We would be doing this brand total injustice if we said that they're distinctive. Truth be told, there's nothing comparable to an Amel model. Well Amel was and still is, the ultimate standard by which other sailboat models are measured.

From items such as electric winches and furling, to generators, Watermaker , and washing machine down to the simplest of items such as towels. Spare filters, bathrobes, deck brush, and a boat safe, the Amel is in reality with what the real life of a sailor is and should be.

Although some may say that Amel still has room for improvement in terms of specifications and personalization, it cannot be denied that the Amel is a serious brand that designs and manufactures complete boats. With this brand, you'll be guaranteed of a higher degree of reliability, safety, and an edge of fun while out there on the water.

5. Hinckley Yachts

Based in Maine, United States, Hinckley Yachts is a brand that has been building robust, luxury, and safe sailboats for more than 90 years now. In its sailboat class, you'll find several sailboats that have classic shapes, inner strength, dramatic lines, and features that are absolutely essential in dealing with the challenges of the North Atlantic.

This brand has been successful in integrating impeccable craftsmanship with new technologies to ensure that their models always stand out while articulating advanced sailing practices, timeless aesthetic, robust construction, and the utmost safety. Whether you choose the Bermuda 50, the Sou'wester 53 or any model for that matter, you'll never be short of advanced performance based on the best design and technology.

In terms of features, this brand provides sailboat models with modern performance hulls. These hulls are constructed with inner layers of carbon, outer layers of Kevlar, and are aligned with computer-designed load paths. Every feature is designed without compromising comfort.

To this end, this brand offers you a perfect combination of both fun and sail. This brand offers more than just sailing. Instead, it offers a unique sailing experience that's combined with the pure joys of sailing in the blue waters with an ease of ownership and maneuverability.

6. Oyster Yachts

If you've been looking for luxury more than anything else, Oyster Yachts provides you with numerous solutions. This British brand is widely known for manufacturing a wide range of luxury cruising sailing yachts. Its sailboats are among the finest in the world and are immensely capable of taking you to some of the far-flung places in the world without having to worry about high winds and hellish waves.

Whether you choose the iconic Oyster 565 or the immense Oyster 595 you never fall short of experiencing the new world like never before. These are models that will enable you to own your adventure, choose your destination, set your courses, pick your anchorage, and stay safe at all times. If you want to hold the wheel and pull the sail while feeling the tang of salt spray on your face, Oyster Yachts is the way to go.

This is, unquestionably, a brand that's meant for you if you want to explore the seas in comfort, luxury and utmost safety. From craftsmanship, sailboat design, to hull, deck, and keel configurations, everything is designed to allow you to circumnavigate the world in comfort, elegance, and style.

7. Tartan Yachts

Based in Fairport Harbor, Ohio, there's arguably no better to begin your sailing adventures than with a sailboat designed and manufactured by Tartan Yachts. With several award-winning designs and construction, this brand is widely known for providing easy handling, great performance, and an ultimately stable platform.

This brand always strives to deliver a unique and the best possible experience to every sailor. As a brand, Tartan fully understands that every sailor has his/her unique sailing needs. As such every component of their models is designed with engineering levels that guarantee optimum performance, excellent on-deck visibility, and luxurious interior.

From the Tartan 5300, the Tartan 4300, the Tartan 345 to the New 365 and the Fantail, this brand makes it a priority to ensure that its models are among the strongest, lightest, and more importantly, the safest in the sailing industry. In essence, this brand can be ideal if you appreciate performance. It has rewarding sailing features both in narrow water lines and wider passages. Add this to its easy handling and you'll have a top-notch performer in virtually every condition.

8. Catalina Yachts

As one of the most popular boat manufacturers in the world, this American brand is widely revered for building the sturdiest boats that can hold up perfectly well in real-world conditions. These are generally family-oriented boats that are intelligently designed to ensure that your entire family can have fun out there on the water.

Some of the models include the cruiser series such as the Catalina 315, the Catalina 385, the Catalina 425 while the sport series include the Catalina 12.5 Expo, the Catalina 16.5, and the Catalina 14.2 Expo. As the current winner of the "Boat of the Year" Cruising World, you'll rarely go wrong with a Catalina model.

It offers a wide range of sailboat sizes that suits your lifestyle. This brand makes it a priority to ensure that all their models are not only safe but offer the best ownership and sailing experience. If anything, this brand is widely known to have one of the most excellent resale values in the sailing industry.

9. Island Packet Yachts

From the IP 525, the IP 439 to the IP 379, the Island Packet Yachts is a brand that encourages its customers not to keep the world waiting. This brand is meant for sailors who want to explore the world in utmost comfort and safety.

The first thing you'll notice in an IP sailboat is its large aft deck. This is not only perfect for sunbathing but can also serve you well if you want an impromptu dinner with friends and family while out there on the water. The living space is also large enough to carry most of your belongings, which is an added advantage especially if you've been planning to spend longer periods in the seas.

With modern evolution and refinement, as well as proven features, this brand is known to offer sailors maximum comfort, luxury, and safety. You'll have better access to the cockpit, have enough space, and are excellently designed to provide superior seafaring and the best features to enable you to spend extended periods when cruising.

10. Sparkman & Stephens

For more than 90 years, Sparkman & Stephens has been at the forefront of the belief that sailboat excellence goes beyond hull lines and deck plans. Instead, this brand believes in excellent naval architecture, innovation, sophistication, and beauty. This is a brand that has laid the foundation of sailboat as a sport not just in America but all over the world.

These models have graced the world for decades and bring immense pleasure to their owners in terms of innovation, performance, and excellence. Though rooted in tradition, the brand has pushed sophistication, technology, and sailing experience to a whole new level. You'll be a proud owner of the Sparkman & Stephens model.

There you have it; these are the best sailboat brands in the world. Although there are several other sailboat brands to choose from, the-above described brands stand shoulder above others in terms of quality, safety, performances and luxury.

Hopefully, you're at a much better place when it comes to choosing a sailboat that suits your lifestyle, needs, and budget .

Happy sailing!

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I've personally had thousands of questions about sailing and sailboats over the years. As I learn and experience sailing, and the community, I share the answers that work and make sense to me, here on Life of Sailing.

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top 10 sailboat brands

14 Best Sailboat Brands in the World (Recommendations By A Pro!)

Explore top sailboat brands with our pro's guide to the best around the world. Perfect for travelers & sailors of all levels seeking quality & adventure.

top 10 sailboat brands

It really doesn’t matter if you are an accomplished sailor with a Master’s License or a novice who wants to charter a boat for a week on the water in the Caribbean. What does matter is that you want to find the boat that fulfills your dreams from a manufacturer you can trust. Finding that “just right” fit between boat and crew can lead to some magic experiences and remarkable memories.

Our goal is to give you some insight into what the many boat brands have to offer. We will look at quality, construction, features, and customer service.

Hopefully, this will give you some insight into finding the sailboat of your dreams.

top 10 sailboat brands

Wally Boats has to be at the top of our list as the best overall manufacturer of sailboats. In the sailing world, Wally is synonymous with quality and luxury. Unfortunately, that kind of reputation also comes with a hefty price. Wally Boats will typically also head up the list of the most expensive sailboats in the world.

You won’t find many Wally boats at your local lake marina or the typical coastal municipal marina. We are in a different class of boat here altogether. Wally produces 100-foot-long super yachts, each of which is custom designed.

If you can find one, purchasing a used Wally sailboat is a safe way to go. You will usually get a high-performance racing/cruising yacht that will outperform most other boats in this class day in and day out.

What Do You Get with a Wally?

  • Exquisite Design and Visual Appeal - Let’s face the facts. These are boats that look as good as they perform.
  • Above Average Performance - Wally boats took the Maxi Yacht Rolex Cup in 2019, 2018, and 2017.
  • Highest Quality Build You Can Buy – At this level, you get what you expect regarding the quality of materials and construction.
  • Innovative Design and Engineering – Wally boats incorporate the latest developments in construction techniques, materials, and engineering.

2. Hallberg-Rassy

top 10 sailboat brands

Ask cruising sailors their choice of sailboat manufacturers, and many will answer with Hallberg-Rassy. This Swedish yacht builder has built a reputation among cruising sailors for producing boats that are almost in a class by themselves. These are boats that are built to be sailed and provide sailors with the utmost in safety, comfort, and handling.

Hallberg-Rassy is a master at integrating form and function to produce blue water boats that perform as well as they look. Most savvy sailors will recognize a Hallberg-Rassy design almost instantly.

Hallberg-Rassy isn’t one of those static companies that finds a popular design and sticks with it year after year. This company studies its designs and listens to its owners to continually improve their designs. A used Hallberg-Rassy is a good bet if you want to move up to a world-class cruising boat.

What Do You Get with a Hallberg Rassy Designed Boat?

  • Integrated Bow Sprint – No tacked-on afterthought here. The bowsprit forms an integral part of the Hallberg-Rassy designs to make handling and sailing these boats a joy.
  • High-Quality Electric Winches – Electric winches are standard items and ease the effort of sailing these boats in even the toughest conditions.
  • A Cockpit Designed for Blue Water Sailing – A safe and dry place from which to steer your boat makes for a much more enjoyable experience when the weather gets rough.
  • Powerful Engines with Ample Fuel Storage – You can be confident that you have the power to maneuver your boat safely under power.

3. Catalina

top 10 sailboat brands

If your budget is more modest, but you still want high quality and a feature-rich design, Catalina boats are a good place to start looking. Catalina takes a more practical approach to boat design and building, creating sailboats that meet the needs for practicality, sailability, and price to create sturdy boats that can take you anywhere in the world safely and economically.

Catalina is a manufacturer that is recognizable from weekend inland water sailors to experienced blue water live aboard families. Cataline has been on the scene for many years and remains a mover and shaker in the sailboat industry.

One of the big attractions of Catalina as a boat manufacturer is its across-the-board market appeal. This company has something for everyone, from small, easy-to-manage daysailers to 50-foot blue water cruisers.

What Do You Get with Catalina Sailboats?

  • Customer Service – Catalina has been in business for a long time and has a reputation as one of the most customer-responsive sailboat manufacturers in the business.
  • Consistency and Quality – Catalina owners frequently point out the consistency of Catalina’s designs and the quality of their manufacturing as reasons to buy one of these boats.
  • Financial and Economic Choices – Catalina sailboats offer customers one of the best values on the market in terms of the purchase price and long-term operating costs.
  • Handling and Performance – Catalina owners rave about how their sailboats perform with easy handling in both light seas and heavy weather.

4. Bavaria Yachts

top 10 sailboat brands

If you are shopping in Europe for an economically priced blue water sailboat, Bavaria Yachts is a company that you will learn quickly. Sailors in the United States know the name, Catalina. In Europe, Bavaria Yachts have the same sort of recognition and reputation.

The reputation of German manufacturing and engineering shows itself in the Bavaria Yachts operation. Leading-edge technology in manufacturing and production helps Bavaria Yachts keep costs as low as possible while producing very high-quality products.

Bavaria Yachts is focused on its customer base and has a good understanding of who purchases its boats and how those boats are used. These boats are designed to be easy to sail, comfortable to be aboard and to provide service without the constant need for expensive repairs and maintenance.

What Do You Get with a Bavaria Yacht?

  • Comfort and Liveability – No matter if you are day sailing or cruising the world, Bavaria Yachts’ designs excel in comfort and onboard amenities that make them great for long-term cruising.
  • Reliability – Owners point to the quality of the construction of these boats and the reliability they enjoy, which keeps them sailing without constant visits to the boatyard for maintenance and upkeep.
  • Smaller May Be Better – Bavaria Yachts has a large following among smaller to midsized boat owners, and the company pays particular attention to designing boats that offer more to this class of owners.
  • Overall Value and Economy – Many owners choose their first Bavaria Yacht because of the perceived value of these boats.

5. Beneteau

top 10 sailboat brands

Catalina may be a bit better known than Beneteau, but Beneteau may lead the way in the actual number of sailboats sold around the world. This is one of the top-selling sailboat brands of all time. Beneteau has been building boats for well over a century, and their knowledge shows in the quality of their designs and construction. From its blue water boats like the Oceanis 62 to its tiny First 14.

Beneteau prides itself on filling the needs of every class of sailor, from the racing dinghy to the blue water cruiser. Simplicity is a keyword when describing Beneteau boats.

There is no skimping on quality or on the essential equipment needed to be safe and secure. There are also no unneeded extras to cause you unwanted hassles or maintenance issues.

Being a French company, you would expect style to be a primary focus of the design of Beneteau boats, and you won’t be wrong. With an eye to clean lines and family cruising comfort, Beneteau produces a line of sailboats that catch the eye without straining the pocketbook.

What Do You Get with a Beneteau Boat?

  • Unique and Comfortable Interior Layouts – Your crew or family will feel pampered when onboard a Beneteau boat.  
  • Easy Docking System – Beneteau’s 360-degree docking system allows you to maneuver your boat with a joystick to make tight marina spaces a breeze to navigate.
  • A Finer Hull for a Better Ride – Even the most seasoned sailors comment on how well Beneteau boats move through the water and minimize pitching and rolling.
  • Clear Deck Plans – Beneteau understands that most sailboats are intended for pleasure which makes deck space a premium factor, especially among sailing families who express their love for the clean deck lines of their boats.

6. Island Packet Yachts

top 10 sailboat brands

I have always thought that Island Packet Yachts build some of the most beautiful cruising sailboats in the world. This company focuses on cruising, and its boat designs reflect the needs of cruising families. Safety, stability, and comfort are the three key ingredients that make Island Packet Yachts outstanding choices for cruising the world.

Anyone who has spent time on a sailboat knows space is at a premium. Island Packet Yachts have some of the most spacious interior designs on the market, which makes living aboard these boats much more pleasant. If you plan on spending much time aboard your sailboat, all the extra interior space you can claim become a luxury.

The focus on extended cruising requires an eye for safety and stability for your boat. Island Packet excels in these categories. The seafaring capabilities of Island Packet Yachts are well documented and one of the favorite features of these boats among owners. A boat that handles conditions well is easier and more comfortable to sail in the long run.

What Do You Get with an Island Packet Yacht?

  • Build and Material Qualities – Most Island Packet owners are quick to point out the quality of the construction and material used in their boats, which means fewer problems over the years.
  • Full Foil Keel and a Skeg-Hung Rudder - The
  • last place you want to have problems when on a cruise is below the waterline. Island Packet continues to include a traditional well-constructed full foil keel and the extra support of a skeg-hung rudder to ensure that below-waterline problems are kept to a minimum.
  • Sail Handling and Performance – Island Packet Yachts are not built for racing, but they outperform many comparable boats. The self-tacking jib and 170-percent genoa are favorites among cruising sailors when talking about sails and performance.
  • Security Onboard – Island Packet routinely includes a built-in lockbox in their boats to provide a secure place to store your valuables, documents, and other items when onboard.

7. Amel Yachts

top 10 sailboat brands

If you are looking for innovation and technological sophistication on your sailboat, Amel Yachts should offer you exactly what you want. This company has been building some of the finest blue water cruising yachts in the world for 50+ years and has always had an eye on staying just ahead of the technology curve.

These are not production boatyard sailboats. Amel Yachts works closely with each customer to produce a boat this is uniquely tailored to the owner’s needs and specifications while ensuring the highest quality in the build and the best performance on the water.

In addition, you will probably need to go to France several times during the construction of your yacht, which might be seen as a bonus.

With an eye for tradition, Amel Yachts is always looking forward as well. Advanced engineering and materials have made Amel Yachts some of the most sought-after boats on the water. Such things as the use of carbon fiber in mast construction, flexible couplings on propellor drive shafts, and the latest in electronic controls and navigational equipment are standard issue items.

What Do You Get with an Amel Yacht?

  • Eye Catching Lines – Owners are understandably proud of their Amel Yachts and often mention how these boats look on the water.
  • Technologically Advanced Designs – Among the most popular and often spoken about features on Amel Yachts are the solar panels fitted to these boats.
  • Environmentally Sound Concepts – Sailors are usually much more attuned to the environment than their land-based counterparts. Amel Yachts’ use of environmentally friendly anti-fouling paints and the bonus of extra grey water holding tanks are popular among owners who understand the need to protect the water they love.
  • Comfortable on the Water Experiences – Most Amel owners comment on how well these boats ride due to the lower center of gravity that is a feature in most Amel Yacht designs.

8. Nautor’s Swan

top 10 sailboat brands

On the flip side of the coin, if you want a fast and dependable sailboat that you can also cruise, a Nautor’s Swan should be on your top choice list. Based in Finland, this company has built a reputation for designing and building high-quality sailboats that match speed with stability and safety. Yes, you can go fast in comfort.

These boats are not only fast and comfortable, but they are also surprisingly responsive and easy to handle. Using foam=filled fiberglass construction coupled with space-age material like carbon fiber, Nautor’s Swan has an unmatched record for performance and safety. You can cruise leisurely with your family or put on your best crew and expect to compete successfully with almost any other boat.

You don’t have to sacrifice comfort to gain an advantage in speed and performance. Nautor’s Swan boats are designed for cruising comfort and performance results. The hull designs give stable safe rides through even the roughest water to give you a feeling of confidence with your sailboat.

What Do You Get with a Nautor’s Swan?

  • Production Boat or Custom Build Choices – Customers of Swan have two choices. You can buy a production model or visit their custom design shop to get a boat tailored to your exact needs. Most customers choose the middle ground and have one of the production designs customized to their tastes.
  • Elegance without Sacrifice – One of the most mentioned features of Nautor’s Swan sailboats are the teak decks featured on their designs which customers love for the elegance this feature yields to their boats.
  • Self-Launching Anchors and Electric Winches – Even the most die-hard competitive sailor is fond of the convenience features of Nautor’s Swan boats, such as the self-launching anchor systems and electric winched.

9. Pacific Seacraft

top 10 sailboat brands

If it is traditional lines you want, take a look at the boats built by Pacific Seacraft. This North Carolina-based yacht builder produces some of the most elegant and eye-catching cruising yachts in the world. These boats are built for comfort and cruising, so don’t expect to win any speed prizes if you choose a Pacific Seacraft design.

On the other hand, if comfort and enjoyment are at the top of your list, you won’t find a better boat. Pacific Seacraft boats are probably a bit overbuilt, making them one of the heavier sailboats per foot on the market. This translates into less speed overall but a more stable and better-handling boat that tends to be less tender when sailing than higher-performance boats.

The stability of these boats is unmatched, and the design lends itself well to safe handling, even with a short-handed crew. This feature alone makes Pacific Seacraft yachts a favorite among live-aboard cruising families that routinely don’t have full crews onboard.

What Do You Get with a Pacific Seacraft Yacht?

  • Comfort and Confidence – Families that liveaboard to take extended cruises always mention the space, comfort, and convenience of Pacific Seacraft Yachts as one of the main advantages of these boats.
  • Solid Construction for Easy Maintenance – Anyone who does extended cruising knows the importance of regular maintenance. Owners of Pacific Seacraft extoll the solid construction of these boats that make ongoing maintenance chores less intimidating.
  • Unmatched Customer Service – Pacific Seacraft supports their boats and their customers with some of the best services in the world. Owners regularly report that Pacific Seacraft is easy to contact, quick to respond, and always helpful.
  • Spacious Below Deck Layouts – Live aboard families almost always speak about the creature comforts built into their Pacific Seacraft yacht and in particular, mention how spacious these boats seem below decks.

10. Tartan Yachts

top 10 sailboat brands

Tartan Yachts has taken a slightly different approach to the concept of cruising with] its sailboat designs. Tartan has made building the strongest, lightest, and safest sailboats in the industry a priority in the business model. They have approached this priority with narrow designs at the water line but provide wider passages.

For those sailors who want comfort, safety, and above-average sailing performance, this makes a perfect combination. In addition, if you want to purchase a boat that holds its value with time better than many other models, you should investigate Tartan. By and large, used Tartans almost always go for a premium price among used sailboats.

You won’t be sacrificing comfort or dependability with a Tartan design. Tartan is well known among owners and enthusiasts as easy to live aboard boats that are simple to maintain, providing years of service. If you anticipate long cruises, a Tartan can be a solid choice.

What Do You Get with a Tartan Yacht?

  • A Reputation for Solid Construction – Many Tartan owners admit that Tartan’s reputation for building well-constructed boats that are safe and easy to sail was one of the biggest selling points.
  • Performance without Sacrificing Comfort – No one wants to be the last one to port when you are cruising with a group. Tartan designs put performance and comfort side by side.
  • Easy Sailing – Most Tartan owners feel like their Tartan Yacht is a forgiving and solid boat that provides an extra level of safety.
  • Value – You may not anticipate trading boats very often, but it is nice to know that Tartan boats seem to hold their value better than many other comparable sailboats from other manufacturers.

11. Oyster Sailboats

top 10 sailboat brands

If I were to use automobiles as an analogy for sailboats, the Wally Yachts would be on par with Mercedes Benz, while Beneteau and Cataline would be comparable to Cadillac or Lexus. I would have to put Oyster Sailboats on par with Bentley as some of the most luxurious sailing yachts on the market today.

Oyster Yachts, a British manufacturer, likes to call their sailboats hybrid adventure machines that bring owners life-enhancing experiences. I would say it more simply. If you want the best performance, comfort, and visual appeal, Oyster Sailboats should be your first stop. Oyster provides the utmost luxury but doesn’t come up short in the performance or safety categories.

Oyster Sailboats are considered thoroughbreds in the sailing world. These boats have logged over 20 million sailing miles and can account for more than 90 sailing circumnavigations of the globe. These numbers support the assertion that Oyster Sailboats are among the best and most prestigious sailing vessels available.

What Do You Get with an Oyster Sailboat?

  • Unmatched Elegance – Ask an owner what sets their Oyster Sailboat apart and without hesitation, most will say the elegant and luxurious appointments that these boats bring.
  • Unrivaled Construction – Sailors rarely equate luxury with sailing ability, but in the case of Oyster Boats, most owners consider their Oyster sailboats to be among the safest available based on the quality of construction and materials.
  • Handling and Performance – Being at the helm of an Oyster Sailboat prompts owners of these boats to make statements like, “the best handling sailboat I have ever sailed,” and “I wouldn’t hesitate to take my family and this boat anywhere under any conditions.”
  • Classic Looks – Despite the leading-edge technologies and designs that incorporate the best new ideas, Oyster sailboats are respected among veteran sailors for their classic looks.

12. Hinckley Yachts

top 10 sailboat brands

Since 1928, Hinckley has been building top-of-the-line sailboats. This veteran company continues to bring designs with classic shapes, strong construction, and dramatic lines. Based in Maine, Hinckley is intimately acquainted with the challenges of sailing the North Atlantic and building boats to meet these challenges head-on. Impeccable craftsmanship is the name of Hinckley’s game, and the results speak for themselves.

Despite the classic lines of their boats, Hinckley manages to incorporate the best of modern performance design and technologies for construction. Utilizing carbon fiber, Kevlar and computer-designed load paths, the boats are some of the most structurally advanced on the market.

However, advanced technology and performance don’t detract from the comfort of these boats. From the ease with which they sail to the small details and amenities that are often overlooked by other boat manufacturers, Oyster Sailboats put customer satisfaction, safety, and comfort front and center.

What Do You Get with a Hinckley Yacht?

  • Above Average Construction – Hinckley owners make no secret of how much they hold the construction of their boats in high regard. The quality of Hinckley’s construction is one of the most often noted reasons for purchasing a boat.
  • Rich Appointments for a Warm Feel – Many boat owners understand that fiberglass just doesn’t give a feeling of comfort. Hinckley combats this perception by generously using wood inside their boats to bring a rich feeling of luxury.
  • Stability and Comfort – Thanks to the Hinckley gyro-stabilization system, owners are assured one of the most comfortable rides in almost any kind of sea.
  • Customer Service – Hinckley’s Yachtcare program is often cited as one of the best reasons to own a Hinckley sailboat. This program features mobile service teams, yacht delivery, and routine maintenance, which is often the bane of owning this kind of boat.

13. Hylas Sailing Yachts

top 10 sailboat brands

Our modern consumable society has spawned a tradition of throw-away products produced in China that are focused more on price than on quality. Wrapping our heads around the idea that one of the best yacht manufacturers is, in fact, based in Taiwan is almost unfathomable. However, in the case of Hylas Sailing Yachts, this is the case.

Hylas, a division of Queen Long Marine Shipyard, has built a reputation for building bespoke yachts for discriminating customers in the custom luxury yacht area. Hylas doesn’t work through brokers or dealers. This innovative company prefers to deal directly with their customer to ensure that complete satisfaction is the result.

The center cockpit design of Hylas’ popular yachts is the centerpiece of their designs. In addition to incorporating the latest in technological designs and materials, Hylas uses almost complete wooden linings on their composite hulls to give their boats rich and warm interiors that exhibit the finest of joinery.

What Do You Get with a Hylas Sailing Yacht?

  • Solid Core Fiberglass Construction – Owners of Hylas yachts rave about solid core construction. Foam core is much lighter but tends also to be much less rigid than solid core construction.
  • Uncompromising Quality – Those who sail Hylas yachts brag about the quality of the materials used in these boats. Stainless steel tankage, skeg-hung rudders, and the use of Twaron bulletproof fabric in the hulls provide a level of trust that many boat owners can’t understand.
  • Immaculate Construction Standards – How many other boat owners brag about the neatness of the wiring on their boats?  Some even make it a point to show off the meticulous way the wiring and plumbing in Hylas boats are installed.
  • Unbelievable Storage and Stowage – The innovative use of space and the care with which these boats are designed to allow Hylas owners to enjoy an above-average amount of storage space.

14. Sparkman & Stephens

top 10 sailboat brands

Sparkman & Stephens are a bit different in the way they view themselves. This company is not just a sailboat manufacturer. Sparkman & Stephens consider themselves more of a naval architecture firm than just a boat-building company. It is this way of thinking that affects each boat that is spawned from the Sparkman & Stephens shops.

Tradition is a huge part of the Sparkman & Stephens design philosophy, but it doesn’t get in the way of innovation and sophistication. Incorporating the best of traditional designs and concepts with the latest and greatest in materials, technologies and engineering is at the core of the boat designs from this company. These concepts tend to take the sailing experience to an entirely new level.

Sparkman and Stephens take a very analytical approach to boat design. Every hull form is thoroughly analyzed and tested using the latest in computer modeling technology. Tank testing is done on most designs to ensure the performance and safety characteristics of each design meet their exacting standards.

What Do You Get with A Sparkman & Stephens Sailboat?

  • Unmistakable Designs – Owners of Sparkman & Stephens sailboats enjoy almost instant recognition at any port they visit. The combination of hull forms and profile ensures everyone knows you are sailing an S&S design.
  • A Most Functional Cockpit – Experienced sailors often remark that the S&S sailboats have the most functional cockpit designs and layouts they have encountered.
  • Trim and Finish Details – The quality of S&S sailboats doesn’t stop at the boat’s exterior. Inside, owners find the finest in joinery and finish possible to complete the overall feeling of luxury in these boats.
  • Sailing Characteristics – Ask an S&S owner to describe the way their boat sails, and you will usually get a huge grin and an exuberant “GREAT” as the answer. By and large S&S owners rave about the way these boats handle, maneuver, and perform on the water.

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The Top Sailboat Manufacturers (According to Sailors)

Whether you are buying or chartering a boat, or whether you simply want to stay informed, you might be asking the question: who are the top sailboat manufacturers? As is the case with most 'who's the best' questions, the answer isn't simple. So this article takes a stroll among the crowds and asks - “who's your favorite?” .

top 10 sailboat brands

What are the top sailboat manufacturers?

Groupe beneteau.

This is the ultimate all-star list. Now let’s see why.

First of all - I want to make this lineup relatively short. There are tens of names that bounce around when you ask about favorite manufacturers, and if I had made this a long list, in the end, it wouldn’t represent the famous all-stars that really stand out in the eyes of the people. If you want a longer, less detailed list, check out our article about 50 popular sailboat brands . This time though, we are looking only at the manufacturer champions of the ‘popular choice’ contest.

“This is a loaded question!”, the internet forums yell, “there are thousands of options!”, they cry, enraged, “it’s not about the boat, but about the crew!” they scream. But we don’t give up and continue, determined to find out who you all like the most.

Cover Image : Bavaria Cruiser 55 - Copyright BavariaYachtbau under CC BY-SA 4.0

I know, I know, I hear you. Let’s start with the cons of these boats to quench the thirst of the bloodthirsty critics. Yes, Wallys are very costly, they go all the way up to tens of millions of dollars and so won’t be more than a bedroom poster for most of the readers.

That’s about it when it comes to the negatives, though. The reason they made it on this list despite their price tag is that they are pioneers in many aspects. Visually they are beyond gorgeous, and their price allows for exquisite build quality. The cost of these hi-end racer/cruisers means they aren’t particularly user friendly since most users won’t be able to use them, but just as Rolls Royce belongs on the list of the best cars, Wally belongs on the list of the best boats. They are the brainchild of Luca Bassani, founder and chief of the brand, a stylish Italian man who knows what’s right.

And it is this poster worthiness that gained them popularity among the crowds. A video of a simple Atlantic crossing on a 100 foot Wally has millions of views not necessarily because that particular journey would be exciting, in fact, it is quite an uneventful one, but because it is on a boat that makes the design junkies salivate. The Wally designs alone were the reason these boats made it into Hollywood feature films and series, and if you look at one, you’ll understand why. This is what happens when extravaganza meets good taste and has all the money in the world to realize the idea.

What do they make in terms of sailboats? Superyachts around 100 ft long, each focused on sporty cruising, design, and comfort. They only make custom sailboats, no factory models here. Buying a used one is a safe situation, they hold up even after a long time both in terms of quality, performance as well as design. During their existence, Wally only made a handful of boats, so if you ever stumble upon one, take a selfie. It is like meeting a celebrity.

top 10 sailboat brands

To level the scales, let’s now jump at the opposite side of the spectrum and have a look at Catalina, the people pleaser. If Wally was the Rolls Royce of the boating world, Catalina is the Ford, making, as they say, “honest, sturdy boats that hold up to real-world conditions, perform well and cost less to maintain”. The mission of this company then seems to be to make boats as practical as possible for the common folk. That means: a practical interior layout, practical handling, and last but definitely not least, a practical price.

And this strategy has worked out well - according to experiences of hundreds of thousands of sailors, Catalinas stand up to their reputation of a boat that’s got your back. It is one of the largest boat producers in the world, with over sixty thousand of its boats sailing the world. Boat manufacturers oftentimes go through quite a lot of rough patches, that turn into bankruptcy for many, it isn’t an easy business to be in, but Catalina has been on a roll for decades. And this success has come with its perks - the business stability allowed for some impressive manufacturing facilities, which helps mass production, which in turn helps drive the price down. So with Catalina, you’ll likely be getting more bang for your buck than from their competition.

They make boats ranging from tiny daysailers all the way to 50-foot seaworthy vessels. What made them the most famous though are their mid-sized cruisers - the staple of the classical American sailing fan. Whether you like it or not, slow and steady is the name of the game when it comes to mainstream, and that is precisely what Catalina understands so well. They don’t take large risks. Their models are long-running with slight tweaks and facelifts, concepts that don’t surprise or insult, but offer stability. This conservativeness has been what some sailors hold against Catalinas, which is easy to understand when looking at many other brands that offer more in terms of fanciness, but this is the Catalina way, and it has worked out splendidly for them.

The long years of experience make for a great manufacturer that makes boats which won’t be the fastest, won’t be the prettiest or the boldest in terms of design or technological innovation, but they will do precisely what they are made to do - their job.

top 10 sailboat brands

Bavaria is to Europe what Catalina is to the United States. Affordable, practical, nothing special, but does what it’s supposed to. It is the main diet of many Mediterranean sailors. To stay with the cars equivalent, just because I like it so much, if Catalinas were the Ford, Bavarias would be the Volkswagen. They are generally cheaper than Catalinas but don’t see that as an indicator, sailors can’t seem to find one or the other significantly worse or better in build quality. There are of course a few voices rooting for one or the other, but that can be assigned to fandom rather than to actual benefits. The price difference is there partly due to a different manufacturing process, the Bavaria factories are more efficient (they are German after all), and the production is more streamlined, allowing cutting costs without cutting corners.

Reliability, ease of use, and affordability are aspects that lead the design decisions here - which is what makes them so prevalent in charter companies. Even a nonexperienced sailor can get on a Bavaria and operate it with relative ease. But as I’ve been told by the boss of an unnamed charter company, after five or so years, you will start to feel the lower price tag as their reliability starts to go down unless money is put into repairs. With an older Bavaria, you will feel its age more than with other manufacturers. As one owner puts it, they tend to get “quite exhausted”.

So in case you belong among the Bavaria fans and have your eye on a used one, keep the above sentences in mind and when shopping, make sure you understand the ‘health’ of the boat in question. Moreover, be aware of the difference between a boat that was used by a handful of sailors over the years versus one that was chartered to more people than you could count. In other words, you wouldn’t want to buy a few-year-old rental car because who knows what the poor thing had to suffer, - especially since you can bet that many of the clients weren’t particularly good sailors due to generous sailing license policies in Croatia, which allows virtually anybody to ‘become a sailor’ within hours for a friendly fee.

What can you expect when you get on one? Good things - the manufacturers know what their products are used for, and that is why Bavarias are designed as easy comfortable cruisers. Everything you need to have within reach will be within reach, to the point of you having something to hold on almost all the time wherever you go through the boat - Bavaria knows well that many of its users won’t have their ‘sea legs’ and act accordingly. Even smaller models have generous amounts of space because it is the smaller models that are charter kings - Bavaria gives a lot of attention to them. The layouts will be comfy, so Bavarias make good boats for longer voyages - pair that with reliability and price and you will understand why the vox populi speaks so fondly of them.

top 10 sailboat brands

The reason I am mentioning the name of the parent company here is that they own both Beneteau and Jeanneau, brands that are distinguishable on the surface, but if you look close enough, you will find them pretty similar, down to the fact that they are produced in the same factory. So since both Beneteau and Jeanneau are very popular sailor’s choices, both deserve a place on this list, but dedicating a subchapter to each would feel like making a duplicate.

By the way, Groupe Beneteau also owns Lagoon, a renowned catamaran maker, Prestige, luxury yacht manufacturer, Monte Carlo Yachts, CNB Yacht builder, the semi-custom sailboat maker, Four Winns, Glastron, Scarab, Wellcraft, Excess, and Delphia… some of these make motor yachts only, but if you combine fans of all of these, you get a sizable crowd. This company has figured out what people of various tastes want and serves quite a few of these niches.

top 10 sailboat brands

Business aside, let’s see how this French company managed to find its way into the hearts of so many. Well, first of all, they are French. So chic style is to be expected. And with this, fans come. Image wise (and design-wise to a bit) Jeanneau is the sporty one that sails better, while Beneteau aims at the family comfort market. But on both, you will feel loved by the designer. They are made to make you feel good when you use them, and they’ll spoil you with luxury that fits within the specific price tag.

Comfort is a big deal here. On Jeanneaus for instance, you will sometimes find quite unique layouts, often different from the traditional ones, to really pamper the sailors - such as their two master bedroom setup, with the stern one being under the cockpit. A lot of them come with the 360 docking system, which allows you to move the boat around with a joystick and makes maneuvering in marinas so easy you feel like you are cheating. Or consider their decision to make the hull finer to cut through the water better, resulting in less movement - something that helps with comfort. All of this comes for a price but less so than you would expect since the buying power of the enormous Groupe Beneteau helps with shaving off dollars where smaller manufacturers couldn’t. This is, for instance, the reason why they can afford to use wood on their crafts to an extent you wouldn’t expect from a production boat for that price - again, buying volume allows for this even without you necessarily having to pay the expected premium.

Of course, you will mostly find them in Europe, where they are plentiful in marinas, though the aforementioned Bavarias dominate as far as numbers go. But that is mostly because of charters, since last year, over 80 percent of chartered boats were Bavarias. As personal boats, products of Groupe Beneteau belong among the top choices.

top 10 sailboat brands

Now, this is a bit of a tricky one. The manufacturer doesn’t exist anymore, in fact, it produced boats from 1960 to 1989, making it over thirty years old, but despite that, the Cal models are still a favorite and worthy member of the cruising as well as performance world.

During the company’s existence, almost twenty thousand boats were built, partially because they were one of the first brands to mass-produce fiberglass sailboats. That, along with Cal models winning impressively in races, helped them to make a name for themselves, a name that still sounds to this day.

top 10 sailboat brands

Why is it on this list? Partially because of its prevalence on the seas, partially because of its prevalence in internet forums and pub talks. Cal sailboats are loved by their owners mostly for their responsiveness when under sail, good build quality, (even though many say the interior could have been done way better) as well as reliability even after long years of use. Many of the design features have indeed been improved since, so if thirty years ago you could dominate races with Cals, today you won’t be on the lightest and most up to date boat around anymore. But you won’t be sailing a cruiser either. The boat might not be a pureblood racer, but it was built with racing in mind. Which might give the more sporty ones of your peace of mind that no Bavaria or any traditional cruiser will provide.

Quite a few owners say though that the success from the sixties gained Cal a name that you will pay for when buying one. If you are one of those who want to make sure they are paying for physical value rather than reputation, this might be a dealbreaker for you. There is a certain portion of slight arrogance that comes with racing success, one that shows in later models. But given the brand’s popularity, this is not too big of a deal.

So if cruising is your goal, if long crossings are what you desire, if you simply want a boat that was built with honesty and can take you basically anywhere you want, Cals are a safe bet. You’ll be joining a big, happy and an old family. And an affordable one at that.

In conclusion

To sum it all up, it seems that practicality, affordability, and reliability are the main factors that influence whether a sailboat manufacturer will become popular among sailors or not. As well as extravagant design and beauty, but that’s another story.

There have been many shipyards throughout the ages, some long-lasting, some surviving but a couple of years. Each tried to come up with an angle to sell well. Sometimes it was quirky design, and sometimes it was an intriguing feature, sometimes it was the use of new technology. Sometimes it worked out quite well, other times it did not. But in the end what sailors seem to want is a boat that will not fail them when they need it the most, a boat that is well built enough to cross oceans, because that gives one a sense of freedom and a boat that is built with the user-friendliness in mind. Simply, a boat that is your good friend.

A road to a sailor’s heart is simple, after all.

Daniel O'Connell

Really good article. I was enlightened.

Dan O’Connell

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