The math is shockingly simple: 90 percent of the population has no idea what they’re missing. That’s because about 90 percent of people buy powerboats, while only 10 percent choose sailboats.
Wind-chasers may get the snub from stink-potters who just want to jam down the throttles and blast fast, but it’s the wind-chasers who are working with nature instead of against it, moving quietly instead of deafeningly through the world, and, let’s face it, looking elegant as all get out along the way. So, now it's time to consider a few reasons why you may opt for a sailboat instead of a powerboat next time you're shopping for a boat.
Top reasons for owning a sailboat:
- Sailboats are eco-friendly.
- Regattas await.
- You get the right of way.
- Technology continues to improve the sailing experience.
- You can sail off into the sunset, of course.
Sailboats are eco-friendly
Wind power is the past and the future, right? And solar power, too; countless sailboats are now adding solar power to their arsenals, allowing them to enjoy plenty of creature comforts on the hook while staying true to their quiet ambience. Harnessing wind in the sails involves zero carbon emissions, and the near-silent nature of sailing means there’s precious little noise pollution, as well. Fellow boaters as well as marine animals thank you for respecting the calm.
Regattas await you
Want to feel your heart pound as fast as it did when you were a kid sledding down the first giant, snow-covered hill of your life? Climb aboard a performance sailing yacht and aim for the buoys in a regatta or race. Whether it’s the annual excitement of the Newport to Bermuda Race or the constant exhilaration that defines Antigua Race Week, you can match your wits and mettle against other sailors who think that they know all the angles, too. Regatta matches are as much about brains as brawn, which is what’s made them the gentlemanly adrenaline rush of choice for generations’ worth of sailors.
You get the right of way
This is the really fun part of owning a sailboat. Yes, you often have the right of way out on the water, given that it’s a lot harder for you to slow down than it is for a powerboat skipper to simply pull back on his throttles. But even better is the fact that a lot of today’s powerboaters don’t truly understand all the rules of the road, and they’ll often give you the right of way whether you actually deserve it or not. You can cruise around like the Queen of the World, and fellow boaters will actually wave at you and smile while you do it.
Technology is amazing
Remember the days when a roller-furling system turned heads, simply because it made managing headsails easier? Or when the first electric winches allowed for raising sails with nothing more than the touch of a button? Today’s sailboat designers are taking things even farther into the technology age, adding elements such as foils that lift sailboats wholly out of the water, reducing resistance and increasing speed. You can whip around on those things like America’s Cup experts, watching jaws drop all around.
Ready to sail off into the sunset?
Be honest: You want to do this. Everybody wants to do this. Quit your job, sell the lawnmower and snow thrower, step barefoot onto a boat in a well-worn pair of shorts, and wave goodbye to every stress that exists on land. Now, think about living that dream with a revving engine pounding into your eardrums in the background. Not the same! It’s raising the sails and being at peace with the sounds of the wind, the water and your own thoughts that makes the dream great—and only achievable aboard a sailboat.
Want more sailing action?
Be sure to check out all our sailboat listings on boats.com, or read through our Sailing explore page. You may also be interested in...
- Sailing Terms: Sailboat Types, Rigs, Uses, and Definitions
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Editor's Note: This article was originally published in July 2013 and updated in December 2018.