I want to get a recreational sailboat, what's the best daysailer available?
Dan Dickison responds:
Thanks for your question. What you ask is mostly a matter of personal preference, although there are some considerations that I would consider universal. A good daysailer is a boat that doesn't require much preparation to get out on the water under sail 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.
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, of course that might not offer a large enough cockpit, which is a consideration for many daysailors. 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? 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. And, if you're looking for a bullet-proof boat that you can trust to your friends, Escape Sailboats makes a line roto-molded craft that are supebly simple.
I'm sure you can tell by now that personal preference and geographic considerations are just two of the important factors that come into play 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.