Which type of boat would you recommend for daysailing?
Dan Dickison responds:
What you ask is mostly a matter of personal preference, although there are some considerations that I would deem universal, so they're worth noting. A good daysailer is a boat that doesn't require much preparation to get out on the water underway because by its definition, daysailing takes place in a finite amount of time. Given that, the less complex the boat, the better. However, if you're into speed, the best daysailer for you might be a foil-sailing multihull like Windrider's Rave, which isn't necessarily complex, but wouldn't qualify as simple relative to, say, an Escape Dinghy or a Blue Jay.
A good daysailer is also a stable boat that's nonetheless lively, but won't prompt fear in you or your passengers. So something like a Viper 640, which is definitely lively, might not be the right fit for some sailors because of its spirited performance. A less tippy vessel like a Capri 14.2 might be a better fit; however, it may not offer a large enough cockpit to suit your needs, which is a consideration for most daysailers. So how about a J/80, which has a huge cockpit? That might work because it's stable, easy to sail, has a large cockpit and some interior amenities for stowing a few necessities. But what if gunkholing in shallow waters is what you like to do when daysailing? Then the J/80's fixed keel might not allow you to get in as close as you'd like. Perhaps you'd like to consider a multihull like a Hobie 20, or 16?
I'm sure you can tell by now that personal preference and geographic conditions come into play as important factors in answering your question. In general, the best daysailer will be a stable, simple, easily sailed, and reliably built platform. There are a lot boats that fit this description, but they range from the classic Beetle Cat to the less conventional Windrider Rave, so you'll have to do the choosing. If money were no object, I'd choose to own either a comfortable, classic-looking yet performance-oriented craft like the Alerion Express 20, or a swift, 30-foot trimaran, both of which would allow me to take friends and family out on a whim. To me, that's daysailing.