There are some fantastic sailboats available on today's market, fresh from the factory, with modern or updated designs, the latest equipment, quality features and a significant range of price points. Each of us has a different definition of what constitutes a "bargain", but for this article, the boats.com team did its best to select boats across multiple categories that we think offer great value and pack a lot of fun for the price. These are not necessarily the cheapest boats in every case, but we think they maximize value for what they provide best—comfort, speed, safety, fun.
Daysailers and Dinghies under $10K
If you’re searching for a great dinghy, check out the RS Aero. It’s been on the market for a couple years and is selling well in the U.S. with a growing number of fleets and events. Below is a short video we made on its introduction; it's been called the 21st century Laser, with characteristics that make it a likely winner in the next generation of single-handers. It’s light enough to carry, easy to rig, and offers blistering performance on the water—especially downwind. For around $7,500 this boat is great value.
See RS sailboat listings.
The Hunter 15 ticks the box as a fun, safe and versatile daysailer. With a wide beam, high freeboard and deep cockpit, the boat is great for both the novice sailor and older salt. The open transom gives the boat a sporty look, while a covered area by the mast offers protection for your gear. While many boats in this price range have gone for roto-molded construction, Hunter has stayed with fiberglass – which gives the 15 a quality feel for the $9,000 price tag.
Click here for Hunter 15 Listings.
Small Weekender for $30K
Many people have a story about a time they spent on a Catalina 22. Like the Sunfish, it’s one of the legends, and a boat you see on most harbors. While the Capri version has a fixed keel, we really like the Sport version, which comes with a retractable keel—one of the key tenets of the original design that helped make it so popular.
According to Catalina, this was to create a boat that is not only a great trailerable cruiser but is suitable for family racing. The boat depth is 2 feet with the board up, and 5 feet with board down, enabling you to keep it on a trailer, take to different destinations, or get in close into a beach.
The sport version has the same core features as the Capri—fractional rig, roller-furling jib and a small, open cabin with room to sleep a family of four. They also have a new mast-raising system that makes launching so much easier.
The Sport version costs $22K for the base model, and a typical sailaway price is around $31K including trailer, motor and safety gear.
Click here for Catalina listings.
If you are looking for maximum cockpit space, and less space below, an alternative is the Beneteau 22. This new design is more expensive than the Catalina at $40K, but you get some of the latest trickle-down design features including dual rudders and a flat head main, making it a faster ride for recreational racing.
Click here for Beneteau First 22 listings.
Best performance for $100K
If you’re looking for speed, then look no further than the new Dragonfly 25. This Danish trimaran is the new baby in the Dragonfly family (they also have a 28, 32 and 35; read our full review of the Dragonfly 32) bringing great sailing performance and a lower cost compared to the other models. While these trimarans are not cheap, if you're looking for the least expensive boat that can hit double-digit speeds and then sleep two to four for the weekend afterwards, check out this rocket.
Folding arms enable the Dragonfly 25 to be moored in a standard slip and towed easily on the road. Design features include a reverse bow for more buoyancy, exterior tent for additional covered space, and an offset centerboard that maximizes interior cabin space.
Watch our First Look Video of the Dragonfly 25.
As of this writing, there are a couple Dragonfly dealers in the US and several brokerage listings on Yachtworld.com.
Cruising Boats Under $200K
In the competitive cruising boat category, take a look at the Varianta 37. Built off an existing Hanse hull design, the Varianta is a bare-bones cruiser that offers the amenities you need in a 37-foot boat, but with a price tag of only $150,000—a price you typically see on much smaller models. The builder has achieved this through utilizing an existing hull shape and sticking to the basics. The interior is utilitarian, and if you can get past all the white, there’s attention to detail and quality equipment including tabbed bulkheads. This is a nice touch that you won’t find on every production boat.
The Beneteau Oceanis 38 is also a great option in this category. This model has three interior options and a modern design, including hard chines and a clean cockpit. Depending on the daysailer, weekender, or cruising package you choose, plus extras, you can spend over $200,000, but you can keep the price down and get a good cruiser for the money.
For Beneteau Oceanis 38 listings.
A smaller option in this range is the Hanse 315, which at a price of $130,000 offers impressive cabin space and nice features such as a self-tacking jib. Like the Oceanis 38 did the year before, the 315 won a European Yacht of the Year Award.
For Hanse 315 listings.
Best Racer/Cruisers under $250K
If you want cruising capability but more spirited performance, you’ll like the versatility and value of the new 32-foot J/Boats 97E. According to J/Boats, the “E” is for elegance and evolution in performance cruising design; it also represents the evolution from the 2009 original launch of the J/97. With the E series, you still get the slippery hull form together with the full interior and cruising potential that’s lacking from their more racing-oriented models.
The 97E is the smallest of the new E series and has a cost, at the lowest, of around $215,000. Check out our First Look Video.
Click here for J/97 E Listings.
If you want great performance and cruising amenities, the new Salona 35 is a good value at a somewhat lower price. The 35 has combined a comfortable cabin, solid hull with stainless steel frame with layers of carbon, deep T keel to maximize ballast, and a retractable bowsprit.
Click here for Salona 35 listings.
While ultimately your boating needs should drive your boat-buying decisions, these new models we’ve selected offer tremendous opportunity. Each and every one is a sailboat that offers quality, fun, and—most importantly for bargain hunters—a lot of bang for the buck.
Editor's Note: This article was originally published in March 2016 and updated in January of 2017.