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An Overview of the Major Sail Boat Manufacturers

By Charles Hopkins Published 08/31/2006 | Fishing and Boating

If you're new to the world of sailing, the sheer number of sailboat manufacturers can sometimes be overwhelming. There are a number of manufacturers out there, and many of them are very good. But not all of them may be right for your individual needs.

The first question when you're looking at getting a sailboat and starting to compare manufacturers, what kind of sailboat are you looking at getting? Do you want a single-keel sailboat or a double-keeled Catamaran? What purpose do you want it to serve? Are you looking at racing, or purely recreation? Is it just for you, or for you and your significant other, or for your whole family? If you don't know yet what kind of sailboat you want or need, take a little while to decide before buying. Anywhere from two thousand to twenty thousand dollars for the boat, a sailboat is not a good place for making spur-of-the-moment impulse purchases. Take into consideration how you plan to use the sailboat, as this will determine, to a large extent, what kind of boat you will need. And the kind of boat you need, more than anything else, will narrow the field of sailboat manufacturers. The main sailboat manufacturers are, at least for the most part, highly specialized. The kind of boat you want will determine the manufacturer you turn to for your boat.

An exception to this is Vanguard Sailboats, which has a wide line of sailboats for racing and recreation, from boats for a single person to boats for a group of up to six people. But even so, you most likely would not turn to Vanguard, at least not at this time, for a Catamaran sail. That may change in the future but their selection, while wide, is still limited to single-keel sails, rather than Catamarans. And even though their selection is wide, they're still best known for one sailboat; their Laser, a sleek and powerful racing sail. If you're planning on racing a single-keel sail, either as a hobby or professionally, you'll probably turn to Vanguard's Lazer. But suppose you want to play around with a double-keel sail, something small and simple for a beginner. In that case, you might look at HobieCat, which makes small Catamarans for racing and personal use, and which is to the world of double-keel sails what Vanguard is to the realm of single-keels.

While these two are your most popular manufacturers, and you can probably find whatever kind of boat you're looking at from one or the other, it would be a mistake to assume that these two companies hold a monopoly on the sailboat market. Other excellent sail manufacturers include Beneteau, which has been in business for over 100 years, Catalina, a well known name in sailboats and Hinckley, a steady, reliable company.

Find your niche in sailboats, then look at the companies that offer yours. Look for quality, reliability, and trustworthiness over cost-cutting and bargain prices.