trailerable trimaran sailboats

6 Best Trailerable Trimarans For Bluewater and Coastal Sailing

trailerable trimaran sailboats

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Having a boat costs a lot of money, even when you are not using it, marina fees, etc. And once it is in the water most sailors never go very far from their “home marina” and sailing will be somewhat restricted. However, what if you could fold your trimaran and put it on a trailer, store it at your house, and go to a new sailing spot the next time?

Here are 6 of the best trailerable trimaran:

  • The Dragonfly series
  • Corsair Series
  • Windrider 17

Choosing the best trailerable trimaran (a multi-hull with three “hulls”) will depend on crucial factors like speed, durability, design, and ease of transportation. This article is here to help you get started with your research and hopefully help you on the way towards your dream boat!

Table of Contents

Cruising Trimarans That Can Be Transported

Cruising boats are made for multiday sailing either on the coast of your favorite sailing area or full-out blue-water ocean crossings. Extended living should be a priority in these designs.

1. The Dragonfly 25 and 28 (Dragon Fly Series)

Dragonfly is in the business of making the “best foldable trimarans on the planet” many would agree with this statement. Dragonfly is known for its commitment to easy trailering and ease of use, shown in designs for the Dragonfly 25 and Dragonfly 28.

The “Swing Wing” system on the linchpins is one of the key features of the dragonfly series. The system’s application makes it possible for the trimaran to narrow its beam as much as 50%.

Attesting to its Scandinavian manufacturing, most parts of the trimaran are made in-house. This guarantees quality and ensures that all used parts are above standard.

You don’t need to look further than the Dragonfly 25. Its centerboard slightly offset to port. Extra space is created in the main hull’s interior with a trunk buried under a settee. Performance-wise, the low drag and narrow hull shape allow the boat to reach blistering speeds.

Dragonfly 28 In Numbers

  • Length: 8.75m
  • Beam folded: 2.54m
  • Max crew: 5-7 people
  • Max Speed: 22+knots

Dragonfly 25 In Numbers

  • Length: 7.65m
  • Beam folded: 2.30m
  • Max crew: 4-6 people
  • Max Speed: 21+knots

2. Farrier F-22

New Zealand enters the trimaran manufacturing race with this premium sea goer. The vessel comes in two different versions: a performance variation with more horsepower and a full cabin cruising version. 

Compared to the dragon series the F-22 has the biggest allowance for space.

The F-22 is known for being one of the easiest trimarans to fold and load.

The sports version of the F-22 has some really good performance to offer. It has an aggressive spirit: you can mount a sail while leaving plenty of space for the boat’s fine entry and flared forward sections. The build quality is also topnotch—a lasting memorial to a principle that Ian Farrier always worked by: excellence.

Farrier F-22 In Numbers

  • Length: 7.0m
  • Beam folded: 2.5m
  • Max crew: 3-5 people
  • Max Speed: 20+knots

3. Corsair Series

This boat series has an exciting history. Farrier created it to promote his trailerable tri concept. However, the series is now independent with a top-class vehicle to its name.

The Corsair 760 is listed as providing some of the best performance and safety benefits to sailors.

Building off the spirit of excellence of the founder, the Corsair 760 has created a boat with comfort and racing potential. The boat can be tricky to handle at first, but it will be a breeze once you get the hang of it.

It is also worth noting that the corsair 37 is the largest trailerable trimaran on the market today.

Daysail Trimarans That Can Be Transported

Boats that are made for dayssailing are usually smaller, cheaper and more easily handled. They are perfect for those looking to enjoy a full day on the water in calm weather, but are usually less suitable for multiday events or rough sea sailing.

4. The Astus Models (20ft, 22.5ft, and 24ft)

If you’re looking for something small but still capable of doing day sailing, this 22.5-foot trimaran is for you. Built for speed and maneuverability, the Astus 22.5 has optional foils to optimize speed.

The modern design, coupled with the spacious interior, can fit up to four beds. Accordingly, this trimaran is suited for family outings. 

The Astus brand specializes in transportable trimarans, worth noting is that some models need a specific trailer whilst the smaller boats use a standard trailer.

5. Weta 14.5

The 2019 Weta trimaran is a 14.5-foot (4.4-meter) trimaran featuring a carbon frame, centerboard, rudder foil, and rudder shock. The hull is made from fiberglass and foam. The Weta is built for strength and speed based on these lightweight materials. 

The 2019 Weta trimaran is easy to sail and is worth considering whether you want to take a quiet sail, race with your friends, or take kids to a sailing lesson. It has a simple design and is easy to set up independently.

The small size makes it more suitable for daysailing in good weather rather than multiday cruising, although more experienced sailors will of course push the limits of this boat.

6. WindRider 17

The 17.4-foot (5.3-meter) WindRider 17 is one of the more versatile trimarans in the market. It packs high performance for a low cost. This trimaran has a light rotating mast to boost performance, and a full-battened mainsail optimizes visibility. 

This sailboat is made from rotomolded polyethylene, which is more durable than fiberglass and demands less maintenance.

The WindRider 17 has a comfortable interior and can fit six adults. This is an ideal choice for social sailing for a couple or a family and friends. It’s easy to ride, and a shallow draft allows easy maneuverability. 

What’s the Largest Trailerable Trimaran?

The largest trailerable trimaran is the Corsair 37 , this multihull is built for single-handed cruising while still maintaining the ability to comfortably seat 6 people.

The Corsair 37 provides comfort, speed, and safety. It also contains just enough space to accommodate amenities like a propane stove, a sink, and other equipment.

The vessel is designed to be a performance cruiser. It features an aluminum rotating wing mast, carbon fiber bowsprit, and premium deck hardware. The corsair can still cut through the water with ease despite its size, putting the wind in your sails.

What Is a Catamaran?

trailerable trimaran sailboats

A catamaran is a boat with two hulls (a trimaran has three) connected by a bridge deck. Catamarans usually offer more space than both monohulls and trimarans of the same length. The catamaran is usually somewhat slower than a trimaran but faster than a monohull. They are usually made of fiberglass or carbon fiber.

Catamarans come in all shapes and sizes. You can find straightforward sailing catamarans, perfect for those who are only starting their sailing journey. Larger sailing catamarans have become extremely popular for long-distance sailing.

There are also power catamarans, they have huge diesel-powered engines (sometimes electric) and no sails. Also called “power cats”, these boats can reach 30+kts.

Can a Trimaran Be Trailerable?

As discussed above, some trimarans are possible to put on a trailer and move to another sailing area or to be stored at home. This is usually not possible with catamarans but is sometimes possible with the trimarans that are fitted with foldable amas (the two outer “floats” or “hulls”).

Some trimarans can be trailerable, this is mainly due to the ability to drastically decrease the vessels beam, sometimes as much as 50%. This allows the trailer plus trimaran to be below the legal requirements of the road.

Final Thoughts

It has proven difficult to beat the trimaran in terms of speed. Through the ages, this type of vessel has proven to be immensely enjoyable in all kinds of sailing activities. These can range from sea adventures to waterborne relaxation in your free time.

Trimarans come in various types, foldable, for cruising or racing, etc. However, there is a common factor: many of the small ones are trailerable. This makes them easier to move than most other types of boats.

Owner of A minimalist that has lived in a caravan in Sweden, 35ft Monohull in the Bahamas, and right now in his self-built Van. He just started the next adventure, to circumnavigate the world on a Catamaran!

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7 Best Trailerable Sailboats for Cruising

Many sailors balk at the idea of leaving their boat in the water at a marina. Slip fees are expensive, and maintenance bills get bigger the longer you leave a boat in the water. However, if you want a boat under 30 feet long, there are trailerable sailboats that will fit the bill.

Like any boat purchase, you’ll need to analyze precisely what kind of trailer sailer you want. Will a simple weekend sailboat suffice, or do you really need the best trailerable cruising sailboat you can find? 

Here’s a look at some of the pros and cons of the best trailerable sailboat. Plus, we’ll look at how to compare them for your purposes.

trailerable sailboat

Table of Contents

Best trailerable sailboats, easy to launch trailerable sailboats, quick setup time, towing weight, catalina 22/25 “pop-top”, com-pac horizon cat for classic coastal cruising, marshall sanderling — small, portable, classy, west wight potter 19 — the tiny go-anywhere sailboat, seaward 26rk with retractable lead keel, corsair f-24 trimaran – sporty sailing, macgregor 26m — maximum speed meets maximum living space, long-range cruising boats, 7 best trailerable boats – a recap, what’s the best trailerable sailboat for a cruise, trailerable sailboats faqs.

  • Catalina 22/25
  • Com-Pac Horizon Cat
  • Marshall Sanderling
  • West Wight Potter 19
  • Seaward 26RK
  • Corsair F-24 Trimaran
  • MacGregor 26M

We’ll get into more detail about each brand in my post today, so hang tight!

What Is a Trailerable Sailboat, Exactly?

For this article, the priorities for a trailerable sailboat are:

  • Easy to launch
  • Require minimum setup to launch and store
  • Lightweight enough to be towed by the average vehicle

Before you can really classify a sailboat as trailerable, you need to evaluate and narrow your search criteria. Truthfully, 50-plus-foot ocean-going sailboats are regularly put on trailers. But that’s done commercially, on a big rig, with special permits for oversized loads, and even led cars.  

That probably isn’t what most people mean when they think of a trailerable sailboat. But what is the priority here, the trailerable part or the sailboat part? Compromises are going to have to be made somewhere. 

If you’re looking at the 20-foot-and-under sailboat crowd, finding a trailerable example should not be hard. Most sailboats this size are designed for trailers anyway since they aren’t the sort of boats people want to pay to leave in a slip year-round.

Things get more interesting when you look at the 20 to 30-foot boats. In this class, there are stout ocean-going cruisers with deep keels and lightweight centerboard trailer sailboats designed from the get-go to be trailered by the average car or SUV. The differences between these boats are night and day.

Sailboats often have a hard time at boat ramps. First, deep keels mean that the trailer must extend farther into the water than the average boat ramp allows. This means the ramp needs to go back far enough, and the trailer tongue needs to be long enough not to swamp the car. 

If you have a boat like this, you’ll need to find the right boat ramps. Unfortunately, not all ramps are created equally. If your boat draws more than two or three feet on the trailer, you’re going to be limited to steep, paved, and high-quality boat ramps. Unfortunately, those aren’t standard features, so your cruising grounds are going to be limited.

Usually, ramps aren’t built steeply because they are often slippery. Your tow vehicle will need excellent traction and torque to pull your fully loaded boat out of a steep ramp. The steeper the ramp, the more trouble you’ll have. 

The alternative to finding steep ramps is to use a trailer tongue extender. This lets you get the trailer into deeper water without swamping the tow vehicle. But it also means that the ramp needs to extend deep enough. Many ramps end abruptly. Allowing your trailer to sink off the edge is an excellent way to get stuck or pop a tire.

Pick a boat as easy to launch and retrieve as a similarly sized powerboat to remove all of these boat ramp problems. The soft chines of most sailboats will always require a little more water, but a swing keel and the hinged rudder raised mean that the boat can sit low on the trailer bunks. That way, you only need one or two feet of water to launch, an easy feat at nearly every boat ramp you can find.

The next consideration for a sailboat to be portable enough to call it “trailerable” is the amount of time it takes to step the mast and get it ready to cruise. 

To accomplish this, you need a mast that can be stepped by a two-person team–maximum. Ideally, it will have some tabernacle hardware to enable one person to do the task for solo sailing.

There is an entire family of pocket cruisers that could ideally fit on trailers. But you won’t find the Fickas or the Falmouth cutters on my list, simply because they aren’t easy to launch or easy to rig. But, of course, they’re also too heavy for most vehicles to tow, which leads us to the final point of excluding them this trailable pocket cruiser’s list.

One of the most significant financial burdens the trailer sailer faces is their tow vehicle. You are all set if you already drive a two-ton dually diesel pickup truck. But if your daily driver is an SUV or light pickup, you need to think long and hard about the math of the towing equation. 

Whatever boat you buy cannot exceed the towing rating limits of your tow vehicle. If you don’t have a tow vehicle, you’ll need to buy one. This will double or triple the cost of getting a trailer sailer in most cases. For the same money, you may want to look at a boat that stays in the water at a traditional boat slip. For the cost of a trailer sailer and a tow vehicle, you can probably step into a nice boat that is larger and more comfortable than any towable.

If you have a tow vehicle, you need a light enough vessel for it to tow. Most modern SUVs tow less than 2,500 pounds. Anything more than 5,000 will require a full-size pickup. Remember that the tow weight isn’t just the boat’s displacement—it’s the empty hull weight, plus the weight of the trailer and any extra gear you need to pack into the boat. 

Finding a vessel that fits these limitations on weight isn’t easy. If the manufacturer’s goal is to make it towable, immediate limits are placed on the materials they can use. This means less seaworthiness since boats are built light and thin. As far as stability goes, lead keels are generally out, and water ballast systems or centerboards might be used instead. It doesn’t mean these boats aren’t safe and fun, but they aren’t designed for rough conditions, crossing oceans, or living on in the water full-time .

Trailerable sailboats are usually limited to the best paved ramps

7 Best Trailerable Cruising Sailboats

There are more trailerable sailboats out there than you might imagine. Here’s a look at seven popular options of all shapes and sizes to give you a taste of what you might want to take to sea.

The boats here are selected for their storage and living space. With these boats and a little outfitting, you can spend weeks gunk-holing in the Chesapeake Bay or island hopping the Bahamas. If you broaden your scope to include daysailers with no cabin space, there are countless more options.

One of the worst parts of a small trailerable sailboat or pocket cruiser is the lack of stand-up headroom. One clever solution that you’ll find on some weekend sailboat types is the pop-top. 

The pop-top is simply an area around the companionway hatch that extends upward on struts. So when you’re at the dock or anchor, you get standing headroom down below—at least right inside the pop-top.

You can build a canvas enclosure for your pop-top to use it in all weather. A pop-top makes your boat feel much larger than it is and allows you to move freely to cook or get changed down below or even do a nice boat bed area. 

Later models of the Catalina Sport 22 and Capri 22s lacked this cool pop-top feature, so if you want it, you’ll need to seek out an older model on the used market.

Com-Pac has been building small sailboats since the early 1970s. They currently sell two lines, each with various-sized boats. All are well built, and a majority of their boats are trailerable. 

Most interesting at the Com-Pac traditional catboats . The rigging is more straightforward than modern sloops, with only one large mainsail. Com-Pac boats come with a unique quick-rig system to make getting on the water fast and simple.

The Horizon Cat Coastal Cruising has a displacement of 2,500 pounds with a 2’2″ draft when the board is up. She has a separate head forward and space to lounge either topside or down below. The smaller Sun Cat has slightly few amenities but shaves off a few feet and pounds, making it easier to tow and it is one of these amazing small sailboats. Com-Pacs features stub keels, so their centerboard and hinged rudder do not take up space in the cabin.

On the sloop rig side, the Com-Pac 23 comes in a 3,000-pound traditional sailboat or a very interesting pilothouse. Both are incredibly livable for their size , with shallow two-foot-long fixed keels and high-quality construction.

Another option if you like catboats is the Marshall Sanderling. This salty 18-footer oozes traditional charm , all while being easy to sail and easier to tow. And while she has wooden boat lines, she has a modern laminated fiberglass hull.

The Sanderling has a 2,200-pound displacement, so tow weights will be around 3,000 pounds. At only 18-feet, she’s on the small side for cruising. The cuddy cabin has no galley, and the portable toilet is not enclosed. But that small size means a simple boat that’s easy to maintain and take anywhere. 

An electric motor package is an exciting option on this weekend sailboat!

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You can’t mention tiny trailer sailers without touching on the famous West Wight Potter . These 15 and 19-foot pocket cruisers have earned a worldwide reputation as the ultimate go-anywhere coastal cruiser.

The West Wight Potter 19 offers the most living space for staying aboard and cruising. So even though its dimensions are diminutive, this little boat packs a lot in. There’s a single burner hotplate and sink and a porta-potty tucked under a cushion. Yes, it’s tight—but the company claims the little boat can sleep five people. Any more than two will feel pretty crowded, however.

The boat comes standard with a mast-raising system that a single person can manage alone. It has a daggerboard for a shallow draft of a half-foot when the board is up. The total towing weight is around 1,500 pounds, which means nearly any car can tow a West Wight Potter.

This little-known trailer sailer is produced at the same Florida factory that makes Island Packet Yachts. That should give you a little bit of an idea of what sort of boat it is—trailerable, yes, but also high-quality, beautiful, and built for cruising. In other words, it’s one of the nicest all round pocket cruisers and it feels like a much larger boat.

The Seaward is easily the saltiest boat on this list . It’s beefy and seaworthy. Instead of a lightweight centerboard, Seaward fits the RK with a bulb-shaped retracting keel. Other big-boat items include a Yanmar diesel inboard motor and an enclosed head. The spacious cabin of the boat features a double berth and is ready for salt water cruising.

According to , the tow weight of the 26RK is 6,000 pounds. With the keel up, the draft is 1.25 feet.

Multihull sailors need not feel left out from the trailer sailer club and the pocket cruiser. Beyond the ubiquitous beach Hobie Cat, there are not many options for catamarans. But trimarans are uniquely suited to be towed.

Why? For one thing, performance oriented boats like trimarans are based on it being built light. There is no ballast—a trimaran’s stability comes from its two outer hulls. Additionally, the living space is entirely housed in the central hull–the outer floats are small and sometimes foldable. Finally, there are no keels on tris, so they are extremely shallow draft and perfect for trailering.

If you’re looking for adrenaline-pumping sporty and fun sailing, it’s impossible to beat what a trimaran will offer. Let’s not beat around the bush—most of the trailer sailers on this list have hull speeds around five knots. The Corsair has no such limits, routinely sailing at 15 knots or more .

The new Corsair 880 trimaran has an unloaded weight of 3,659 pounds. It is trailerable behind a big SUV or small pickup and is probably the most fun sailing option that is trailerable at all.

An even more portable option is the older Corsair F-24. It has a light displacement of under 2,000 pounds—so nearly any SUV can tow it.

MacGregor owns the market on trailerable motor sailers since they more or less created the product to fit the bill. The MacGregor 26 is not like other boats. The design combines a planing powerboat with a centerboard sailboat. Imagine scooting along at 20 knots or more when the wind is down or enjoying a sporty sail on a breezy day–in the same boat.

The entire boat is built from the ground up for towing and long-range sailing. So if you want a big sailboat that you can tow behind pretty much any SUV, the MacGregor has to be on your list. 

Depending on the model, the 26-foot-long boats have incredibly light dry weights of between 1,650 and 2,350 pounds. Considering the massive volume of the roomy cabin, the ability to tow such a large vessel opens up an entire world of opportunities for owners. 

It’s not all good news, of course. MacGregor owners love their boats, but they are built light and are not ideally suited for offshore cruising or rough weather. But in bays and for coastal sailing on nice days, few boats can get as much use as a MacGregor. 

The motorboat capability of the 26M and 26X might not appeal to hardcore sailors, but for those looking to maximize their use of the boat depending on the weather, their mood, or location, it makes a lot of sense. 

MacGregor shut down in 2015, but the daughter and son-in-law of the original owners took over production and renamed the boat the Tattoo 26 . The company will soon release a smaller version, the Tattoo 22 .

If the 26 is a bit big to make your list of best trailerable small sailboats, consider the smaller Powersailer 19. It’s nearly identical to the 26, just smaller and lighter.

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What Do You Want Your Trailer Sailer To Do?

After you’ve settled on how you will tow and launch your trailer sailer, now it’s time to dream about what you want it to do. Where will it take you? 

The beauty of a towable boat is that you can travel anywhere. A boat in the water might take weeks or months to move a few hundred miles. But if you can attach it to your car and do 65 mph on the interstate, you could sail on the Pacific on Monday, the Gulf of Mexico on Wednesday, and the Atlantic on Friday.

We can divide our trailerable sailboats into three groups – daysailers, weekenders, and cruisers.

These are designed with open cockpits and no space to sleep. This is a majority of the sub-22-foot boats on the market. They are designed to be launched, play for the day, and return to the ramp or dock.

A weekender will have rudimentary sleeping facilities. Think of it as a floating tent—it’s not a five-star hotel, but you can sleep under the stars or get out of the rain. Conceivably you could stay aboard indefinitely, but it doesn’t have much room for gear. So most people are ready to get off after a day or two. 

A cruising boat has sleeping, cooking, and toilet facilities built-in. These might be small and simple, but in any quantity, they mean you can disconnect from shore for a long time. Unfortunately, squeezing all of this into a tow-friendly package isn’t easy, and very few boats do it well. 

Trailer sailer adventures

The best trailer sailor for your adventures will depend on many factors. Like any boat, whatever you decide on will be a compromise – boats always are. But there are plenty of choices out there, no matter what size your tow vehicle is and no matter what sailing adventures you have in mind.

What size sailboat is trailerable?

Even large yachts are routinely transported by towing across land, so the question is more of how big a sailboat can you tow? Your tow vehicle will be the limiting factor. The upper limit for most large SUVs and trucks is usually a sailboat around 26 feet long.

Sailboats are generally very heavily built, with ballast and lead keels. Sailboats specifically made to be trailer sailers are lighter. They may use drainable water ballast tanks instead of fixed ballast and have fewer fixtures and amenities.

To find the best trailer sailer, you need to balance the total tow weight, the ease of rig setup at the boat ramp, and the boat’s draft. Shallow draft boats with centerboards are the easiest to launch and retrieve.

Is a Hunter 27 trailerable?

No. The Hunter 27 is a one of those fixed-keel larger boats built from 1974 to 1984. The boat’s displacement is 7,000 pounds, not including trailer and gear. That alone makes it too heavy to tow by all but the beefiest diesel trucks. 

Furthermore, the fixed keels had drafts between 3.25 and 5 feet, all of which are too much for most boat ramps. In short, the standard Hunter Marine 27 is too big to tow for most people.

On the other hand, Hunter has made several good trailer sailers over the years. For example, the Hunter 240 and 260 were explicitly designed for trailering. They have drainable water ballast and shallow keel/centerboard drafts less than two feet. 

Is a Catalina 22 trailerable?

Yes, the Catalina 22 is easily trailerable and makes a wonderful weekend sailboat. In fact, there were over 15,000 Catalina 22s made and sold over the years. 

The boat’s displacement is 2,250 pounds, which means your total tow weight with trailer and gear will be under 3,000 pounds. This is within the capabilities of most mid to full-size SUVs and light trucks. Be sure to check your vehicle’s towing capacity, of course.

The centerboard on the Catalina 22 is another factor in its easy towing. With the board up, the boat draws only two feet. This makes it easy to float off the trailer at nearly any boat ramp. You should avoid fixed keel versions of the 22 for towing unless you have access to extra deep ramps. 

trailerable trimaran sailboats

Matt has been boating around Florida for over 25 years in everything from small powerboats to large cruising catamarans. He currently lives aboard a 38-foot Cabo Rico sailboat with his wife Lucy and adventure dog Chelsea. Together, they cruise between winters in The Bahamas and summers in the Chesapeake Bay.

Can someone tell me why no other manufacturer makes pop tops? Those who have them, love them. Makes sense for head space with a trailerable boat too. Catalina stopped making them decades ago, yet people still swear by them. So, why isn’t there any newer models?

MacGregor put pop tops on many of its trailerables

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7 Trailerable Sailboats That Have Standing Headroom

Trailering your boat is a great way to sail in a lot of different places while keeping your boat budget in control. You can take a smaller boat a long way to launch it somewhere new, and you don't get saddled with a lot of mooring and dockage fees while your boat sits around unused.

That sounds great, but one key word in about trailerable sailboats is small . To move a boat on a street legal trailer without special permits and problems, it has to stay within certain size limits.

You may struggle to find a trailer sailer with head room when you're down below. But there are some out there that an average person doesn't have to sit to work in the galley, and we've put together a list of seven great pocket cruisers you can stand up in (if you're not too tall!).

trailerable trimaran sailboats

On this page:

Standing headroom and trailering, westerly pageant, catalina 25, grampian 26, beneteau first 27, macgregor 26m / tattoo 26, corsair 760.

Our list includes some old classics dating back to the 70s, new boats in production today, and even a high performance multihull. The range of trailer sailers to pick from is enormous, but if you want something you can stand up in, here's a good place to start.

  • Catalina 25 (poptop)
  • MacGregor 26

The terms "trailerable" and "standing headroom" are both a little vague. Many boats can be moved by trailer, but you wouldn't want to move them that way every weekend. Bigger boats require heavier trucks and trailers, and once they get past eight feet of beam, you may need permits, special routing, and commercial equipment. Just because you can get it on a trailer doesn't mean it's "trailerable" in this context.

And standing headroom means something very different to different people. It's not just tall and short people who need different space, but what space in the boat you can stand in. Most people can stand up inside a small boat with the companionway open, but can you cook standing up with your head out in the cockpit? Or stand and stretch on a rainy day?

For our purposes, we're going to use the following definitions:

A trailerable boat is one you can launched, rig, and recover with the crew which sails it, an move on normal roads with no special permits or commercial tow vehicles. Many boats will fit on a trailer, but to be "trailerable" it needs to be reasonable to use for a trip on a long weekend, starting from and ending on a trailer. Most roads in North America have a vehicle width limit of a little over eight feet without special permits. This eliminates any boat with a beam much over eight and a half feet.

Standing headroom for this discussion means a person of average height (5'10" or 178 cm for men) can stand inside the main saloon, out of the elements. It doesn't mean you can stand everywhere down below, but you should be able to stand and move around a bit, get dressed and undressed without doing calisthenics, and hopefully work in the galley if there is one. "Headroom" on a boat is a very fuzzy measurement, and is distorted by marketing hype and wishful thinking. There isn't a standardized measurement for it, so we'll work with our own.

Within these parameters, there are many boats. If you can deal with some inconvenience in your trailering, or you only plan to move your boat by trailer once or twice a season, you can get more boat and still get the headroom you want. But that's not what's on our list.

Built by Westerly Marine in the 1970s, the Pageant is a 23' bilge keeled cruiser with full standing headroom in the saloon. At 4,300 pounds, it's heavy for its size and is known more for comfort than speed. The bilge keels may make getting onto a trailer interesting and require modifications to accommodate its under water layout.

There is a fin keeled version marketed as the Kendal 23/24, with a four-foot draft and two hundred pounds less displacement. They built only a few, so they're difficult to find.

The Catalina 25 is one of the most popular pocket cruisers built, with almost 6,000 hulls built between 1978 and 1994. A variety of keel styles and rigs were built, including a fin keel, swing keel, winged keel, and a tall rig. But the most distinctive feature of these boats is the "pop top" over the companionway, which enabled the entire area in the saloon under the companionway to lift for standing headroom. Some owners built covers and sides, enclosing this area into a true part of the belowdecks space.

The pop top was an option prior to 1987, but became standard after that through the end of the production run. It's important to know the build year for any Catalina 25 you consider, since the features varied considerably. Always check pictures for the pop top!

This trimaran is fast, but still has six feet of headroom. With the amas folded, the boat is narrow enough to trailer and with a 3,000 displacement is light and easy to move. While you won't have the interior beam of an eight-foot wide monohull in the living space, you will have quite a comfortable space with room to stand. But unlike most of the shallow draft, trailerable monohulls on this list, this one can hit fifteen knots under sail.

The Canadian-built Grampian 26 was built from the late sixties through the late seventies, and many of the almost 1,000 boats that were built are still around. It has six feet of headroom inside, an enclosed head, and a galley. It's an ideal weekender for a couple, or even a couple with a small child. Some boats had inboard engines, others had outboards. Additional options were for a keel or a centerboard model; with 4'3" of draft, the keel model is still easy to trailer.

One of the few new and in production boats in this list, the Beneteau First 27 is a fraction of an inch under our 5'10" qualifier (technically 5′9 5/16"), but it's such a roomy and quick boat that it seems appropriate to waive a few millimeters. This lightweight boat has sleeping space for up to six, and has a galley, fridge, and a proper marine head.

Don't confuse this boat with the earlier First 27 from 1978 or the First 27 SE (for "Seascape"), sold as the First 27 from 2018 to 2020 after Beneteau acquired Seascape. Those were quite different boats, though they had their own merits and strengths. They didn't have quite the headroom or interior volume as the newest model, and the earlier boat had too much beam for easy trailering.

Finds specs here

The MacGregor 26 series of boats is the most popular trailer sailor ever built. The first "Mac 26" was built in 1986, and went through several design upgrades and enhancements, including the 25D (dagger board), 26S (centerboard), 26X (dual rudder, motor sailing) culminating in the 26M (motorsailor with a rotating spar) built from 2002 though 2013. Earlier models have less headroom, but all are water ballasted, lightweight trailerable boats. The later 26X and 26M models can be equipped with rather large outboards (for sailboats) which could hit almost 20 knots under power.

Though the rigs on these boats are undersized and they're lightly built, they're spacious near shore and inland cruisers you can easily rig and de-rig for a weekend of sailing.

The founder of MacGregor Boats, Roger MacGregor, retired in 2013, and his daughter Laura founded Tattoo Yachts and bought the tooling for the 26M. Tattoo continues to build the Tattoo 26, which is a Macgregor 26M with a few modernizations and enhancements.

Corsair Trimarans offers several trailerable tris which meet the headroom test. The Corsair 760 is the smallest current production model, and like the Catalina 25, this 24' trimaran uses a clever pop-top over the companionway to get more headroom. It's sleeps two in the default configuration, though a foldable table can convert to sleep four.

Corsair designs their trimarans for easy setup and breakdown of the amas, and can be setup and launched in under an hour. The very shallow draft allows for anchoring in areas many boats can not, and even beaching.

The larger Corsair 970 is also trailerable with standing headroom, as is the older F-31.

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Corsair 880 Trimaran

New corsair 880 trimaran.

Fast, fun and stable the all-new Corsair 880 trimaran has been designed and built from the ground up by Corsair Marine. Inspired by the very popular and hall of fame F27. She is completely safe and comfortable and perfect for people of all skill levels.

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Full Boat Systems

Designed with comfort in mind, the Corsair 880 is fully kitted out for cruising or weekends away. Electric lighting, refrigeration, manual or electric toilet, and even air conditioning is available. Furthermore, a small generator complements a lightweight air conditioning or heating unit and providing comfortable electrical independence when cruising in hot or cold climates. In true Corsair fashion, that generator and air conditioner are removable to reduce excess weight when racing or reduce trailer weight when on the road.

Trailerable To Your Destinations

This is where the 880 is the revolutionary boat it promises – all of that comes in a folding, trailerable package well below the trailering weight limit of most passenger cars. In other words, drive to your ideal cruising or racing destination and spend more time on the water.

2020 05 12 Corsair 880 Quick Selection HR ForPrint ZI4 6834

In-stock 2024 Corsair 880

2024 New Corsair 880

AVAILABLE FOR IMMEDIATE DELIVERY This just launched Corsair 880 is ready to go to anywhere in Australia.

Fitted with a comprehensive range of options including screecher, jib and main sails by Doyle, Bimini, dodger, full instruments, motor, refrigeration , LPG stove, solar power and an Aluminium trailer just to mention a few.

363x200 3

  • Beam Folded 2.5m
  • Draft 0.45m
  • Displacement 1,660kg

Boat Description

The all-new Corsair 880 brings effortlessly fast performance sailing while being completely safe and comfortable for people of all skill levels. First of all, she features a protected cockpit, high-aspect hulls and foils and a huge unfolded beam. Furthermore, she has full boat systems for cruising comfort including electric lighting, refrigeration and an enclosed head. Finally and probably most noteworthy she is fully trailerable. Well below the trailerable weight limit for most passenger cars, also quick and easy to pack away on and take out of the water.

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Windcraft Multihulls offers a variety of multihull sailboats for sale. We specialize in great sailing trimarans, in particular the sporty trailerable 20-37 ft trimarans built by Corsair Marine, the high quality 25-40 ft. swing wing trimarans built by Dragonfly, and the magnificent 40-60 ft fast ocean cruising trimarans built by Rapido Trimarans. Windcraft Multihulls is located on the Emerald Coast of Florida, near Destin, with excellent sailing access to the Gulf of Mexico and Okaloosa Bay. Windcraft Multihulls is owned and operated by Don Wigston, a veteran trimaran racer and owner. We have been dedicated to sailing and brokering the highest quality multihulls in the world since 1995, and we have leveraged this experience to offer what we believe is an excellent variety of premium multihull sailboats. We are here to discuss your sailing goals and help to choose the right trimaran for you.

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Corsair Cruze 970

  • By Tim Murphy; Photos By Billy Black
  • Updated: August 7, 2014

Since 1985 the Corsair 31 has been a familiar trimaran on the racing and cruising scene. At yards in Australia and California, 303 of that model were built, with subtle design tweaks over the years. This year, the Corsair Cruze 970 replaces the 31 — and it’s all for the better.

Longer amas, as well as bows that are more plumb and hull forms with less rocker, add 20 percent more buoyancy to this boat, while retaining similar beam dimensions. The result is a more stable platform. The keel and rudder for the original 31 had been optimized for boat speeds between 3 and 10 knots. Incorporating the lessons from those 300 boats, today’s 970 features much thinner, higher-aspect-ratio foils that are optimized for speeds in the teens and higher. (A note to those who haven’t sailed Corsairs before: Those boat speeds are real. Try it!)

Living spaces, both inside and out, are improved in the 970. Boat of the Year judge Mark Schrader was a dealer for Corsair years ago and raced the boats many miles. “They’ve added two very comfortable park benches in the cockpit,” he said of the 970. On the 31, he said, “there wasn’t really any place for more than four people to sit, stand or do anything without hugging each other.” The 31 was offered with either an aft cabin or an aft cockpit arrangement; the 970 deftly manages to make space for both, while also adding headroom in the cabin. Using careful building techniques, including vacuum bagging, Corsair has added more furniture in the cabin yet kept the weight the same.

As with other Corsairs, the amas of the 970 can be folded inboard for trailering. The well-refined mechanisms for doing so are the same as in the previous versions.

We sailed the 970 in light air. With the screacher up in 8 to 10 knots of breeze, we posted 6.6 knots just above 60 degrees apparent, then cracked off and made 7.6 knots. Steve Marsh, a Florida-based Corsair dealer, said you can sail 15 degrees closer to the wind with the blade jib. Propulsion on the boat we sailed is a Yamaha 9.9-horsepower outboard on the transom, with a steering arm affixed to the 970’s tiller and remote engine controls in the cockpit. The 970 offers no inboard option.

Several years ago Australia-based Seawind Yachts purchased the Corsair brand. These days both lines are built at a single factory in Vietnam. The construction quality is quite good — better than the California-built 31s, observed Schrader. The company offers a five-year warranty on the structure, as well as manufacturers’ warranties on installed hardware.

Schrader summed up the pleasures of this boat: “You can park it on the beach. You can run around on the trampolines. You can get into a foot and a half of water. It’s your platform to go park in some little lagoon somewhere.”

And yet, all that idyllic parking doesn’t account for even half the fun. Because in getting there, you’ll learn what boat speeds of 20-plus knots feel like.

Click here to see more images of the Corsair Cruze 970.

Tim Murphy, a CW editor at large and a 2014 Boat of the Year judge, is the co-author of Fundamentals of Marine Service Technology (ABYC, 2012).

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Trailerable trimaran.

Trailerable trimarans are small sailboats with three hulls whose dimensions when folded, allows them to be easily towed by a car. Compared to a trailerable monohull , trimaran can be longer because it is much lighter to equivalent size.

Less spacious than monohulls, trimarans have the advantage of being faster especially when you alter course.

There are 16 "Trailerable trimaran" sailboats on Sailboat-Data.

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The complete list of trimarans.

There is no single trimaran that is best for everyone. Where some prefer luxury cruisers for long trips with family and friends, others might opt for a high performance racing tri for thrilling rides at breakneck speeds. With the recent spike in trimaran popularity, these days there is a perfect tri for every sailor. So to help prospective trimaran owners decide which boat is just right for them, we here at WindRider have put together a comprehensive list of the best trimarans on the market today! Read through for simple at-a-glance trimaran comparisons of boats both big and small, exhilarating and relaxing, and for all price points.

Jump to a specific sailing trimaran: Neel Weta Corsair WindRider Dragonfly Catri Astus Hobie Sea Pearl Farrier Sea Cart Multi 23 Triak SeaRail Warren Lightcraft Diam Radikal Challenger

trailerable trimaran sailboats

Known for their award-winning luxury trimarans,   NEEL   is based in La Rochelle, the capital city of sailing in France. NEEL trimarans are built for fast cruising with an average cruising speed of about 10 knots, and are even configured to facilitate that sustained speed under motor propulsion. The NEEL 45 was notably named Cruising World’s Most Innovative Vessel in 2013, and by all accounts is an easy-to-sail, high performance boat that is just plain fun.

At a glance:

Models: NEEL 45, 65

Length: 45’ – 65’

Cost:   $$$$$

Use: Luxury cruiser

trailerable trimaran sailboats

A fan favorite,   Weta trimarans   are fast, stable, and remarkably easy to rig. This single-sailor tri has a capacity of up to three, and the ease with which it can be transported and stored makes this a great, versatile boat for beginners. The Weta was named Sailing World’s 2010 Boat of the Year, and one ride is enough to know why: simply put, the Weta is an absolute ton of fun to sail regardless of skill level.

Models: Weta

Length: 14’5”

Cost:   $$ $$$

trailerable trimaran sailboats

The high-end   Corsair trimaran   definitely holds its own in the categories of versatility, performance, and convenience. Boasting a rigging time of 30 minutes from trailer to sailor ,   the Corsair 42 – whose convenient folding amas makes trailering possible – is a simple option even for single sailors, though cabin space is suitable for two adults. These boats are wicked fast, capable of reaching speeds of 20+ knots, and were made for skilled sailors seeking solid construction and high performance vessels, not for beginners.

Models: Pulse 600, Sprint 750 MKII, Dash 750 MKII, Corsair 28, Cruze 970, Corsair 37, Corsair 42

Length: 19’8” – 37’

Cost:   $$$$ $

Use: Sports cruisers

trailerable trimaran sailboats

Built for the sailor who wants to maximize the joys of sailing while minimizing any hassle, WindRider trimarans are notoriously fast, very safe, and a blast to sail from start to finish. With several models that can hold between 1 and 6 riders, including adaptive designs to allow participation from sailors of all levels of mobility, there’s something to suit every sailor’s needs. The WindRider 17, an exhilarating ride perfect for families or camper sailors, has been known to reach speeds of up to 20mph. This easy day sailor goes from trailer to sailing in under 30 minutes and is sure to fit in perfectly with whatever adventures you have planned.

Models: WR 16, 17, Tango, Rave V

Length: 10’11” – 18’3”

Cost:   $ $$$$

Use: Day sailor

trailerable trimaran sailboats

The Danish-built   Dragonfly   trimarans come in a variety of models ranging from 25’ – 35’, all known for their spry performance, comfortable ride, and ease of use. Every model comes equipped with the unique “SwingWing” feature, a motorized system that can unfold the amas even while the boat is already underway – making it accessible to marinas and slips, and even makes trailering possible. Perfect for those who don’t want to sacrifice their comfort for high performance, the Dragonfly can breeze along at 13 knots while remaining one of the quietest compact cruisers out there.

Models: Dragonfly 25, 28, 32, 35, 1200

Length: 25’ – 39’

trailerable trimaran sailboats

Designed for both safe cruising as well as for high speed racing,   Catri trimarans   will make your day. Especially noteworthy is the Catri 25, a stable yet wildly fast foiling trimaran with accommodations for up to 6 people. With profiles optimized for speeds of 25+ knots when foiling, this is no beginner’s sailboat. The special attention paid to stability in the foil design allows the Catri to be a single sailor vessel, even at foiling speed, with no special physical abilities. Whether you’re taking a small crew for longer rides at shuddering speeds or bringing the whole family along for a shorter, but still thrilling sail, the Catri is truly one of a kind.

Models: Catri 25

Length: 25’

Use: Cruiser/racer

trailerable trimaran sailboats

A popular brand of trimaran in Europe,   Astus   has recently made its way to the US market to the delight of sailors on this side of the pond. Designed to offer maximum pleasure with minimum hassle, all models of Astus trimarans are fast to set up, quick on the water, inherently stable, and always a joy to sail. Their outriggers are mounted on telescopic tubes for easy stowage and towing, and can even be extended and retracted on the water for access to narrow passageways and monohull slips in marinas. With models in all sizes and price points, Astus trimarans are a great option for any sailor.

Models: Astus 16.5, 18.2, 20.2, 22, 24

Cabin: Some models

Length: 16’ – 24’

Use: Sport cruisers


trailerable trimaran sailboats

Great for beginners and adventurers alike, the   Hobie Mirage Adventure Island   series is nothing if not just plain fun. With the option to use as a kayak or as a very basic trimaran, the Hobie is transportable, versatile, unintimidating, lightweight, and wonderfully affordable. The pedal system known as “Mirage Drive” allows a person to pedal the kayak using their legs for an extra kick of movement in slow winds. Amas tuck close to the main hull for docking or car-topping, adding serious ease and convenience to the exhilarating experience of the Hobie.

Models: Hobie Mirage Adventure Island, Mirage Tandem Island

Length: 16’7” – 18’6”

Use: Convertible kayak/trimarans

trailerable trimaran sailboats

Best known for its use in camp cruising excursions, the   Sea Pearl   offers a roomy main hull and particular ability to sail in very shallow waters, making beaching and launching a breeze. The lightweight Sea Pearl trimaran is easy to tow, and the larger-than-expected cabin opens this vessel up for overnight adventures with plenty of storage space. The simple design makes the Sea Pearl notoriously low maintenance, and the ease it takes to rig and sail it add to the overall delight of owning this boat.

Models: Sea Pearl

Length: 21’

Use: Camper cruiser

trailerable trimaran sailboats

Quick, lightweight, roomy, and trailerable,   Farrier trimarans   are made for versatility to fit every sailor’s needs. Different Farrier models are available in plan or kit boat form for those who appreciate building their boat themselves, but of course, also as the full production sail-away boat for the rest of us. Single-handed rigging and launching takes under 10 minutes from start to finish, minimizing hassle and getting you on the water fast. All non-racing Farrier designs use a minimum wind capsize speed of 30 knots or more to ensure safety for all those aboard. Add the roomy cabin and high speed capabilities to the equation and you’ve got a boat that is great fun for everyone.

Models:   F-22, 24, 25, 82, 27, 28, 31, 9A, 9AX, 9R, 32, 33, 33R, 33ST, 36, 39, 41, 44R

Length: 23’ – 39’4”

Cost:   $$$ $$

Use: Sport cruisers/racers

trailerable trimaran sailboats

One of the biggest names in the game,   SeaCart   is internationally noted for its high performance trimarans that far exceed expectations for a production boat of its size. The SeaCart trimaran performs as brilliantly off the water as it does on with its super-light and efficient harbor folding system, making light work of trailering. Notoriously easy to manage and maintain, the SeaCart 26 One Design is the ultimate day racing trimaran, designed for both course and inshore/coastal distance racing. Absolutely worth the international buzz it has garnered, the SeaCart is a thrill from beginning to end.

Models:   SeaCart 26

Length: 26’

trailerable trimaran sailboats

A high performance racer class, the   Multi 23   is a lightweight, powerful trimaran known for its wicked speed of up to 25 knots. Multi trimarans of both available configurations were designed to give beach cat thrills and speed without any of the stability or seaworthy concerns. Open ocean sailing is no issue for the Multi’s big bows, which do their job to keep her stable. Built for sailors with a need for speed, the Multi makes a perfect weekend boat for racers, especially those with a taste for boat camping.

Models:   Multi 23

Length: 23’

trailerable trimaran sailboats

Another dual outrigger sailing kayak/canoe design,   the Triak trimaran   was designed to be effortless and fun, especially for beginners. Paddle the kayak with sails furled, use the foot pedals for an extra kick of momentum, or sail with just the mainsail – the only boat in its class to feature an asymmetrical spinnaker – for exhilarating speeds and a blast on the water. Car-top the Triak anywhere for a quick sail or plan for a week long expedition, but always count on having a great time on this easy little boat.

Models:   Triak

Length: 18’

Use: Convertible kayak/trimaran

trailerable trimaran sailboats

SeaRail trimarans   are known for being affordable, light weight, trailerable trimarans that offer the perfect combination of exciting and relaxing experiences to a wide range of sailors. Whether it’s day sailing with your family, resort or camper sailing, SeaRail trimarans are ideal leisure vessels. Leave the hassle to the other boats – the SeaRail takes you from trailer to sailor in 15 minutes. But don’t let its reputation as a leisure tri fool you: if speed is what you want, rest assured that the SeaRail can deliver that as well.

Models:   SeaRail 19


trailerable trimaran sailboats

Warren Lightcraft trimarans , another example of a convertible kayak-to-sailboat option, are known for their aesthetically pleasing designs that are also, as the name implies, very light for simple transportation and ease of use. Convert the kayak into a fast, high performance sailboat in just minutes, fly around on the waves all day long, then simply car-top the 68lb Warren for a maximum enjoyment, low-hassle day on the water. Perfect for sailors and paddlers of all skill levels, the Warren Lightcraft is the best of both worlds and an absolute joy to sail.

Models:   Warren Lightcraft

Length: 15’6”

trailerable trimaran sailboats

Built strictly with racing in mind,   the Diam 24   is a light, powerful one-design class trimaran and a notoriously exceptional performer. Boasting blistering speeds of up to 30 knots, Diam trimarans are not intended for beginners. For racers who crave the very best in terms of intense speeds, smooth handling and impeccable performance, the Diam is the red-hot one-design racing tri for you.

Models:   Diam 24

Length: 24’

trailerable trimaran sailboats

For the sailor who prefers the finer things in life, the   Radikal 26   delivers. Perfect for bringing the whole family out for a day on the water, this high performance, trailerable sailing trimaran strikes the most luxurious balance between quicksilver speeds and a smooth, comfortable ride. The Radikal 26 trimaran is as convenient to transport and set up as it is pleasant to sail, with a folding system that minimizes rigging hassle and also makes this a trailerable tri. Built for a fast and comfortable sail rather than a hold-onto-your-seats thrill, one-the-water safety and overall pleasure makes the Radikal 26 what it is.

Models:   Radikal 26

Use: Sport cruiser

trailerable trimaran sailboats

A solidly-built, single-handed trimaran, the Challenger also doubles as an adaptive design – meaning it is made to accommodate sailors of all levels of physical mobility. Best suited to lakes, the Challenger is a very safe, seaworthy boat for sailors of all ages and experience levels. Add to this the ease of owning, transporting and maintaining the Challenger trimaran and what you get is a simple, fun sailboat perfect both for beginners and those seeking a cheap thrill alike.

Models:   Challenger

At a glance comparison:

Did we miss one? Let us know. Tell us what you sail and what you like about each boat in the comments below.

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Best Trailerable Sailboat Brands to Cruise or Race

18th dec 2023 by samantha wilson.

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Being able to trailer your sailboat opens up many possibilities, from cost saving  boat storage solutions to being able to take your boat to new cruising grounds. It's common to see trailered motorboats on the roads in the United States, Canada, and Europe, but sailboats tend to be trailered in smaller numbers.

Of course the act of trailering a sailboat involves a bit more preparation, namely lowering the mast, but as we'll see there are many excellent brands out there ensuring that the sailboats they build can be trailered nearly as easily as a RIB or center console. And they're not just bathtub-sized sailboats either. Some of the best trailerable sailboats are up to 30 feet in length. While it's trickier to trailer a large catamaran due to its wide beam, the multihull world hasn't been left behind, as you can find clever trimarans that fold up in different ways.

We have picked out some of our favorite trailerable sailboat brands in this article but it's important to remember there are many excellent brands building excellent boats.

Corsair Marine

Corsair Marine photo. 

What Is the Biggest Sailboat I Can Trailer?

Daysailers have long been trailered, thanks to their compact size, simple rigs, and easily lowered, relatively short mast. For those who want a slightly larger boat that they can take the whole family out on or use for overnight trips, then a 20- to 25-foot sailboat may be more useful than a 16- to 19-foot one. Going up a size category allows for a whole new range of activities, with proper galleys, running water, electricity, and an enclosed head to provide more substantial home comforts. But how big is too big to trailer?

You might be surprised to hear that in the United States, sailboats up to around 31 feet in length can be trailered legally. In fact, it typically depends less on length, and more on the weight, beam, and height of the vessel and the trailer together, must meet several legal requirements.

  • Weight : While there is no specific weight limit to be towed, the sailboat has to be able to be towed easily by your vehicle, usually a pickup-style truck or full-size SUV with substantial power. Most single- and tandem-axle trailers can handle a maximum combined load of 7,000 to 8,000 pounds, so your weight limit will also be dictated by your trailer.
  • Beam : To travel without permits, the trailer and vessel must fit on the road in regular traffic. In the US, that's a maximum width of 8 foot 6 inches (a couple inches less in the EU at 2.55 meters). Most trailerable monohull sailboats will be less than this for ease of maneuvering in traffic, but when it comes to catamarans and trimarans, adjustments have to be made (we'll look at those later).
  • Length : The upper length limit of a sailboat can be anything up to 65 feet , but that's a moot point because vessels of that size would never meet the width limits. In reality, a 30-footer is the longest sailboat you're likely to tow, with 15- to 25-footers being much more common.
  • Height : Your trailer and sailboat have to fit under bridges and highway overpasses and so for most states the maximum height is 14 feet. This will obviously require lowering the mast onto the deck and including that into your height calculation.

For more advice on the practicalities of trailering see our guide to Buying a Boat Trailer .

The Best Trailerable Cruising Sailboats

The best trailerable cruising sailboat brands.

  • Catalina Yachts : As one of North America's best-known sailboat brands of sailboats, Catalina has a long history of building trailerable models. Their entire Sport line cruising boats—except for the 275—can easily be trailered, and the 22 and 22 Sport, in particular, make for a great step up from daysailing to enjoying a pocket cruiser.
  • Beneteau : Beneteau 's reputation for affordable, capable yachts spans the globe, and their skill at building trailerable sailboats up to 30 feet is just one of many attributes. Take the First 27SE and 24; they are not luxury cruiser (although the 27SE can sleep six crew!) but they sure can sail fast on short distance races or fast adventure cruises. With impeccable and high-quality design featuring double rudders, these are some of the nicest fast cruisers on the market.

Beneteau First 27SE

Beneteau First 27SE. Beneteau photo. 

The Best Trailerable Sport Sailboats

Several brands on this list create high performance sports sailboats , and one of the top names you think of in this sector is Laser whose speedy tiny racers are now an Olympic event in themselves. But there are many excellent brands building ultra-fast sports sailboats – several on our list are considerably bigger than a Laser too. Here we take a look at some of our favorite sports dinghies which are the quintessential trailerable sports boat.

The Best Trailerable Sport Sailboat Brands

  • Melges : Founded in 1945 by Harry C. Melges, Sr., this is an iconic Midwestern brand made famous, in part, by Harry's son, Harry “Buddy” Melges Jr, an Olympic medalist in the ‘60s and National Sailing Hall of Fame member. Today the business is run by Harry III, also a championship sailor, who oversees a range of high performance vessels from the award-winning Melges 14 and 15 dinghies, to A, C, E and MC scow classes, and international sportboat classes, the Melges 20 and 24—the latter has more than 900 boats sailing competitively all over the world. All of their models are trailerable, allowing them to be transported easily to competitions. Melges boats for sale
  • J/Boats : The most successful volume builder of trailerable, performance keelboats is also a family-run brand founded by brothers Rod and Bob Johnstone and now led by second-generation Johnstones—Jeff, Al and Stuart. Starting with the J/24 (more than 5,500 boats built) and most recently with the J/70, the company has popularized a series of international racing classes from 22 to 26 feet while also building many popular larger racer/cruiser-style models that don't fit easily on a trailer.  J/Boats for sale
  • RS Sailing : British-built RS Sailing performance dinghies and keelboats are spreading in popularity across the world. Distributed widely on the east coast of the US, they're excellent pocket racing dinghies, easily trailered and ultra-fast. Their range of boats runs from 12 feet and 21 feet and includes dinghies, catamarans, and keelboats, allowing you to find exactly the right boat for your experience level and interest, but it's their Racing Series which sets them apart as high performers in the market. They're lightweight, simple in their design, and well-suited to being trailered thanks to their compact sizes.

Melges 24

Melges 24. Melges photo. 

The Best Trailerable Youth Sailboats

Trailerable sailboats designed for younger sailors are lightweight, easy to rig, and easy to sail. They should offer a simple platform in which to learn the mechanics of sailing, the movement of the boat on the water, and the basic maintenance of a sailboat. For more guidance check out our guide to choosing the best beginner sailboat .

The Best Trailerable Youth Sailboat Brands

  • ILCA : Formerly known as the Laser, the ILCA design is one of the most popular sailboats of all time, a responsive yet high-performance one-person sailboat that is an excellent step up, particularly for sailors who outgrow their smaller dinghies as teenagers. As a racing class, ILCA offers three different mast sizes so sailors can start in what's called the ILCA 4 class and as they gain weight, move to ILCA 6 and 7. By that time, you're in a class of boat that can take you all the way to the Olympics. Designed in the 1970s by Canadian sailor Bruce Kirby, the 13'10.5” boat teaches high-performance skills, subtle steering and trimming techniques, and astounding speed once on a plane.
  • Hobie Cat : We've put Hobie Cat in this category simply because of the brand's long-standing legacy of creating fun, simple, and compact catamarans that are loved by families and easily trailered. The classic Hobie 16 model with more than 100,000 built remains an active international class worldwide for the young and the young at heart; newer models provide a good, stable platform for a variety of off-the-beach and daysailing contexts. Catamarans are obviously wider than their monohull counterparts, but beach cats like the ones made by Hobie are well within the maximum width allowance to be towed on American roads. And because of their lightweight fiberglass or rotomolded hulls, they can be towed by much less powerful vehicles too.

Laser sailboats

Laser sailboats. Laser Performance photo. 

The Best Small Trailerable Sailboats

There are many benefits to opting for a small towable sailboat , and plenty of excellent brands out there are producing high performance pocket cruisers. A smaller sailboat won't require a large trailer and together they will weigh less and be able to be towed by a regular family car rather than a pick-up truck. Navigating smaller roads or heavier traffic will be less of a consideration, plus getting your sailboat launched will be a simpler affair. Several brands on our list could be in this category but special mention must be made of:

The Best Small Trailerable Sailboats Brands

  • Cape Cutter : The traditional beauty of these sailboats, twinned with modern-day advancements, makes them really stand out from the rest. The design originates from the classic gaff cutter work boats, but today it's one of the fastest small gaffers in the world. The interior is cleverly spacious, with four berths, as well as a simple galley area. With quick rigging, it can be sailed solo, but is also able to accommodate small groups, making it a capable and hugely versatile pocket cruiser. At 22 feet long, 7 foot 7 inches wide, and under 5 foot in height with the mast lowered, it's perfect for trailering too. Cape Cutter boats for sale.
  • NorseBoat : These beautiful, hand-crafted, and impressively versatile Canadian-built sailboats offer good performance and are described by the manufacturer as "the Swiss Army Knives of sailboats". Whether it's the 12.5 model, which can be sailed, rowed, and motored, or the 17.5 or 21.5 models, they can all be trailered, easily beached, and even used as camp cruisers, allowing for overnight adventures. And with traditional styling they're absolute head-turners whether you're cruising along the road or water.

NorseBoat 17.5

NorseBoat 17.5. NorseBoat photo. 

The Best Trailerable Catamaran and Trimaran Sailboats

Multihulls have gained popularity in the last 20 years thanks to their stability, lack of keel, performance, and increased space on board compared to a monohull of the same length. Yet there are obvious challenges when it comes to trailering a sailboat with a very wide beam such as a catamaran or even more so a trimaran. In fact, by having three hulls, the trimaran type has bred for some innovative engineering, folding in the two outer hulls thus creating a smaller overall beam for transport. This is trickier with catamarans as they're not foldable in the same way. We've mentioned the well-known Hobie Cat brand of small beach cats above but there are some other innovative brands out there making it easier to trailer multihulls.

The Best Trailerable Catamaran and Trimaran Sailboat Brands

  • Nacra : Catamarans are difficult to trailer because their beam is likely to exceed the legal road limits due to their double hull structure. Having said that, small models such as Nacra's lightning fast racing cats will squeeze within the beam limits at 8 foot 5 inches wide including the 15, F16, and F18 Infusion. If you're after trailerable performance and some competition, these cats provide a whole different level for serious and athletic sailors.
  • Corsair : Corsair makes some of the best trailerable trimaran sailboats on the market and were pioneers in the folding trimaran sector for more than three decades. Yes you read that correctly…foldable trimarans up to 20 feet in length. With technology straight out of a Transformers movie, a 15-foot beam folds down into a neat little 8-foot wide package ready for trailering. Even the 31 foot 10 inch long 970 Cruze, with its standing room cabin, can be put on a trailer thanks to the folding system and retractable daggerboard and rudder.
  • Dragonfly : With a focus on beautiful, cruise-worthy, high-quality, and high-performance trimarans up to 40 feet, Dragonfly offers two models— the 25 and 28—that can be folded and trailered for ease of transport and to allow you the freedom to access different cruising grounds. At a folded width of 8 feet 3 inches, the 28 is still just within legal width for towing on US roads, while offering you a true weekend cruiser complete with saloon, cabin, and galley.

Dragonfly 28.1

Dragonfly 28.1. Dragonfly photo. 

Written By: Samantha Wilson

Samantha Wilson has spent her entire life on and around boats, from tiny sailing dinghies all the way up to superyachts. She writes for many boating and yachting publications, top charter agencies, and some of the largest travel businesses in the industry, combining her knowledge and passion of boating, travel and writing to create topical, useful and engaging content.


More from: Samantha Wilson

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9 Best Trailerable Sailboats

9 Best Trailerable Sailboats | Life of Sailing

Last Updated by

Daniel Wade

December 28, 2023

Sailing is an excellent activity for the weekends, especially in remote mountain lakes or sheltered waterways. The United States is full of small isolated waterways, inland lakes, and rivers—which make the perfect environment for an adventure in a small sailboat .

Unfortunately, many people are put off by the idea of owning a sailboat due to the associated docking and maintenance fees. Weekend sailors often don’t want to pay for a long-term slip, and there’s no question that the added expense can be a pain.

Luckily, you don’t have to permanently dock a sailboat to enjoy this great pastime.

Instead of docking a large boat, you can purchase a small trailerable sailboat. A trailerable sailboat is a perfect option for part-time sailors and people with busy lives. Trailer sailors are some of the most popular boats in the country, and they’re not limited to light winds and calm seas. Many trailerable sailboats have made some impressive passages both offshore and coastal. In this article, we’ll go over some of the top new and used trailerable sailboats that you can purchase today. 

Table of contents

Best Trailerable Sailboats

1) west wight potter 15.


The West Wight Potter 15 is perhaps one of the most capable 15-foot sailboats around. This neat little vessel is as seaworthy as it is easy to handle, and it’s a great choice for all kinds of cruising adventures.

The West Wight Potter 15 is a 15-foot sloop with an aluminum mast and tiller. This tiny boat also features a small cabin, which has ideal sleeping accommodations for a cruising couple. The cabin itself is spartan compared to its larger relatives, but it’s the perfect design for the minimalist cruiser.

This small sailboat is easily trailerable and can be stored in some garages with relative ease. The West Wight Potter 15 is ideal for inland and coastal waters and sets up (and takes down) fast with minimal fuss. Don’t let the small design fool you—this craft is surprisingly seaworthy.

The West Wight Potter 15 has an impressive cruising record, including a trip from England to Sweden in the brutal North Atlantic. The West Wight Potter 15 can be purchased new from International Marine, and thousands of craft are in circulation already.

2) West Wight Potter 19


We thought it fitting to include the Potter 15’s big brother, the West Wight Potter 19, on this list of the best trailerable sailboats . West Wight Potter boats are well known for their robust design and easy handling, and the Potter 19 is no exception.

The West Wight Potter 19 boasts the seaworthiness and ease-of-handling offered by its little brother, with the benefit of greater sailing comfort and cabin accommodations. This 19-foot sailboat is constructed of fiberglass. The hull contains a liberal amount of positive flotation, which makes the boat practically unsinkable.

The cabin features generous accommodations for a boat of its size, featuring space for a vee-berth, a small stove, a sink, and a portable head. Additionally, the West Wight Potter 19’s cabin can be wired for electricity from the factory, further increasing the level of comfort in this capable trailer sailor.

Like its smaller alternative, the West Wight Potter 19 has a history of some impressive cruises. An individual sailed this craft thousands of nautical miles from California to Hawaii —a single-handed voyage usually reserved for boats twice its size.

That’s not to say that the Potter 19 is a purpose-built long-haul sailboat. This design is ideal for larger lakes, rivers, and coastal cruising. However, the design has demonstrated toughness and seaworthiness rarely found in smaller boats.

The Potter 19, like the Potter 15, is a centerboard craft. This sailboat is available new from International Marine and offers a wide range of options packages and upgrades.

3) Newport 27


The Newport 27 is a massive step-up in size and amenities compared to the other boats on this list so far. This comfortable trailerable sailboat originated in 1971—at the height of the fiberglass boat boom. The Newport 27 measures 27-feet in length and feature a flush-deck design similar to the famous Cal 20.

This sailboat, despite its trailerable size and weight, features surprisingly good handling characteristics and generous accommodations. A full 6-feet of standing headroom is available in the cabin, making this boat exceedingly comfortable for longer journeys.

This sailboat is an excellent choice for the trailer sailing sailor who dreams of longer journeys but spends much of the time just hopping around local ports.

Despite its modest size and weight, the design of this small sailboat is proven. Many people sail them long distances and enjoy the quick handling characteristics of its design.

The Newport 27 is a true pocket cruiser, if not slightly larger than most. The Newport 27 isn’t produced anymore, but there is a healthy second-hand market for the boat.

4) Cape Dory 28


The Cape Dory 28 is a legendary Carl Alberg design known for its commodious living spaces and well-rounded performance both offshore and inland. This spacious little cruiser has the styling and capability of many larger boats, featuring traditional styling and generous amounts of varnished teak and brass. This cozy boat is a great choice for traditionalist sailors.

The Cape Dory 28 features a proven, simple, and robust rig, and it functions gracefully in a variety of conditions. While a 28’ sailboat is hardly considered trailerable by many, it can certainly be hauled-out and transported with relative ease. This is the kind of sailboat that’s just as happy in the boatyard or a permanent mooring.

The Cape Dory 28 offers attractive features for long-haul voyages, plus ease-of-handling and quickness that is necessary for tighter coastal waters. The Cape Dory 28 is ideal for salt-water cruising, though it’s a bit large for small lakes and narrow rivers.

This is certainly not a shoal-draft cruiser—with a draft of 4-feet, it's primarily at home in the water. 

5) Islander 24


The Islander 24 is a common fiberglass classic that makes an ideal trailer sailing setup. This 24-foot fiberglass boat features a robust design and ease-of-maintenance rarely found on boats with similar capabilities.

The design has been around for over 40 years, and it’s served weekender and cruising sailor alike. The Islander 24 is a well-rounded cruising vessel with a spacious cabin for two (or more). The cabin features a forward vee berth, space for a head, and tables for a sink, stove, or navigation.

The boat is single-handed with ease, and the rig is simple enough to be stowed without too much hassle. The Islander 24 is a relatively common trailer sailor, though many owners leave it in the water.

A vessel of this size is ideal for cruising coastal waters, though some sailors have attempted longer voyages in this vessel. The Islander 24 is available on the used market all over the country. 

6) Contessa 26


The Contessa 26 is an excellent classic trailerable sailboat. Don’t let its modest size fool you—this cruising craft has a long-standing reputation for seaworthiness. The Contessa 26 is a fiberglass boat that debuted in 1965 and has since earned a bit of a cult following.

These rather innocuous looking crafts are as fun and capable as they are easy to handle. The boat features a spacious cabin, comfortable cockpit, and plenty of available cruising upgrades. The rig is well-built and resembles the rig of a much larger boat.

The Contessa 26 is an ideal pocket cruising setup for a moderately experienced sailor. The vessel has a narrow beam, which contributes to heeling. The boat is known to heel rather violently, but it stiffens up shortly after and becomes a joy to sail.

A boat like this knows its capabilities and is sure to impress anyone. The Contessa 26 is a safe, hardy, and comfortable cruising boat for minimalists, and one of the best tailorable sailboats in the mid to large-size category.

This boat is a little harder to come by than many other vessels on this list, as around 300 were built. However, if you’re lucky enough to locate one on the used market, it’s definitely worth considering. Contessa built a fine boat, and the Contessa 26 meets the standard with confidence.

7) Hunter 27 


If you’ve made it this far down the list, you’re probably surprised that the Hunter 27 hasn’t come up yet. This famous little boat has quite a reputation and happens to be one of the most popular modern trailerable cruisers available.

The Hunter 27 isn’t a traditionalist’s dream, but it offers the modern amenities and capabilities you’d expect from Hunter. This capable little sailboat has the handling characteristics of a truly seaworthy boat and manages well in all kinds of conditions.

The Hunter 27 has a reputation for amazing durability, and the design is sound from keel to masthead. Now, let’s get into some of the features that make the Hunter 27 a very attractive option. The Hunter 27 is a purpose-built small cruising vessel, but the accommodations appear to be a shrunken version of a boat 10 feet longer.

Down below, the Hunter 27 features a full galley, head, a full standing shower, berths, and generous storage space. The Hunter 27 is a truly livable trailer sailor, featuring accommodations that make it suitable for extended cruising or even living aboard. The salon features over 6 feet of standing headroom, with plenty of seating and counter space throughout.

The rig is sturdy and easy to handle. And remember, the Hunter 27 is still a trailer sailor. The boat features a shoal draft of under 4-feet and a displacement of less than 8,000 pounds. The Hunter 27 is available used, and this boat is still produced and available brand-new by Marlow-Hunter. 


How could we forget the little Cal 20? We didn’t—and it’s certainly worth including the famous Trans-Pac underdog on this list. The Cal 20 is reminiscent of the glory days of fiberglass sailing in the 1960s and 1970s.

This flush-deck racer is a fantastic trailer cruiser for anyone wanting big-boat handling and speed in a compact package. The accommodations on this boat leave something to be desired, but many people find them cozy and acceptable.

The cabin features sitting headroom and a berth, along with small tables for a stove or sink. The Cal 20 has a history of impressive voyages and was a popular choice for daring sailors on long offshore journeys. However, the boat is designed to be quick, safe, and fun on inland passages and coastal cruises.

The Cal 20 is common on the used market and makes a great entry-level cabin sailboat. The Cal 20 features an enormous cockpit, making it ideal for a day on the bay with friends or family.

The boat is easy to handle, and upgrades abound. The Cal 20 is a great little sailboat with a fun history and a massive fan base. This stout little yacht makes an excellent weekender too, and the cabin makes overnighting comfortable. 

9) Pacific Seacraft Flicka 20


One of the most legendary small trailerable cruisers is the full-keel Pacific Seacraft Flicka 20. A limited number of these boats were produced by Pacific Seacraft during the 20th century, and they have a reputation for incredible seaworthiness and long-range voyaging.

These sailboats have the hull shape of boats twice their size, with a long, deep, full keel running the length of the hull. The boat can handle some serious offshore cruising and features the capabilities of other full-keel sailboats.

The Pacific Seacraft Flicka 20 is an amazing find on the used market, as owners tend to cling to them due to their incredible characteristics. There aren’t many trailerable offshore cruisers available, which is because it’s not easy to design a small boat with offshore capabilities.

However, Pacific Seacraft did just that and built one incredible trailer sailor. This vessel is not really designed for shallow lakes and rivers.

The Flicka 20 is known to be a truly seaworthy ocean-going sailboat, which happens to be small enough to fit on an average-sized boat trailer.

Wherever you choose to sail, a trailerable sailboat is often a great choice. The boats listed here are by no means the only options—in fact, there are dozens of excellent trailerable sailboat models on the market. If you enjoy sailing but want to avoid the hassle of a permanent mooring, or if you travel to sail, a trailer sailor is a great choice.

Many sailors pick trailerable sailboats to sail multiple oceans. Many people would agree that it’s a lot more practical to haul your boat from the Pacific to the Atlantic, especially when the alternative option is the Panama Canal .

A trailerable sailboat can give you access to a multitude of sailing adventures—the lake one weekend, the coast the next, and perhaps an offshore voyage or island hopping in the delta.

And with this list of the best trailerable sailboats, you can find the boat that fits your needs (and your budget) and hit the water in no time.

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I've personally had thousands of questions about sailing and sailboats over the years. As I learn and experience sailing, and the community, I share the answers that work and make sense to me, here on Life of Sailing.

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Professional BoatBuilder Magazine

Folding multihulls.

By John Marples , Jan 28, 2023

Folding multihulls and their beam-reduction strategies.

Folding Multihulls

A Farrier 33R trimaran with amas folded and secured on a road-legal trailer exem- plifies the advantages of adjustable- beam multihulls, which are easy to trans- port and store out of the water.

“I’ll be surprised if you can find space in the harbor for that thing,” I heard him say as my new 37 ‘ (11.3m) trimaran was about to be launched. I hadn’t given it much thought, but now this legitimate question was raised, and where to moor was the next issue at hand. Space, particularly width of a slip, becomes the limiting requirement. But then, space also is one of the attractive features of multihulls—deck space to move around on, free from the confines of the cockpit.

Step aboard any multihull and it is obvious how much real estate they offer. Even small models seem expansive. The beam of the typical catamaran is half its length, and trimarans are even wider, sometimes as wide as they are long. Aside from increasing space, beam also boosts stability without adding ballast. The early Pacific Islanders created these form-stable craft for fishing and interisland commerce and voyaging where natural island harbors were few, so the boats had to be light enough for crew to carry them up the beach. Today’s modern multihulls are still lighter than contemporary monohulls, but the larger ones preclude the option of dry sailing them from the beach. They require more marina space than monohulls, and the limited number of slips to accommodate them can be a problem. As someone once put to me, “Multihulls have a poor ‘stacking factor.’”

With catamarans and trimarans becoming more popular, they demand mooring solutions. Some marinas offer shallow-water slips to multihulls, typically at the inboard ends of docks, next to the seawall, because multihulls either have shallow keels or retractable boards. Some marinas also designate the end ties as multihull slips in areas not used for transients. Even though these boats protrude farther into the channel than monohulls, the extra space their beam occupies is relatively small. With multihulls crowding waiting lists for marina slips, builders were prompted to consider folding systems to “improve their stacking factor.”

Without ballast, smaller multihulls up to about 30 ‘ (9.1m) can be dry-stored on a trailer, and most launch ramps easily accommodate over-width boats. If the boat’s beam can be reduced to the legal highway width of 8.5 ‘ (2.6m), the owner can store the boat at home. Today, folding trimarans and catamarans are common sights on trailers in storage yards and backyards. Various folding systems have evolved to support this need, especially for the backyard builder. Some beam-reduction systems allow the boats to be folded and stored in the water in conventional-size marina slips, while other systems facilitate efficient storage or provide street-legal trailering.

Folding Systems

Basic folding systems are separated into several categories:

  • take-apart akas, the simplest beam-reduction method
  • telescoping akas (sliding beams)
  • simple horizontal hinge
  • complex horizontal hinge systems
  • vertical hinges (swing wing)
  • complex swing wing

The following overview of folding systems illustrates how these mechanisms work. It is not intended to be an exhaustive listing of available folding designs. I’ll address two-hull boats (catamarans and proas) first, followed by trimarans. Each type has its challenges and advantages. All are separated into two more categories: transportable boats and trailerable boats. The characteristic distinguishing between them is the time and effort required to launch, starting from an on-the-trailer folded condition. Trailerable implies the possibility of daily launching, requiring less than an hour from trailering to sailing. Transportable denotes a road-legal trailer package but with a longer assembly time to sail away. It might even take more than one trailer load, and considerable assembly time. Legal width in this category could extend to 10 ‘ (3m) wide if OVERSIZE LOAD signs are used (consult local laws). Transportable boats usually require seasonal transport with storage in the water during sailing season and dry storage in the winter. Both categories benefit from the ability to “go to weather at 65 mph” to reach any suitable launching site, even hundreds of miles from home. This opens the possible sailing venue to any water body with a launch ramp and road access, and some trailerable and transportable boats can be delivered anywhere in the world in standard shipping containers.

Catamarans and Proas

trailerable trimaran sailboats

The WindRider 17′ trima- ran’s telescoping tubular akas are secured with pins

Hobie Cats and other beach cats are familiar sights around lakes, beaches, and harbors. They are usually built to 8 ‘ (2.4m) beam and do not need folding systems. The 19 ‘ (5.8m) Tornado class catamaran at 10 ‘ wide uses a side tilt-up trailer to reduce beam. Larger catamarans needing folding systems have greater challenges than trimarans of the same length, for a few reasons: The hulls are normally bigger (and heavier) than amas for the same length trimaran; the mast is stepped on the center of an aka, midway between the hulls, which means the aka must be extra strong; and there is no easy means of supporting the hulls while the beam is being expanded to the sailing position, requiring that the trailer have an expanding-beam function. As a result, folding systems are less common on cats and are usually of three types:

  • folding akas along the centerline or to a center pod
  • telescoping akas
  • take-apart akas

Folding Multihulls

On this Wharram cat, the akas are securely lashed into “deck alleys.”

Designers have used telescoping akas, but production boats generally avoid the associated complexity and cost. The mechanically straightforward take-apart feature has successfully been used by many boats, like the 27 ‘ (8.2m) Stiletto Cat and others. Generally, the assembly of these boats takes some time and muscle, which relegates them to the transportable category. Stiletto Cat advertising suggests a four-hour setup time, but in reality, it is much longer. All the James Wharram–designed catamarans up to 63 ‘ (19.2m) are held together with rope lashings and can be dismantled for transport. The required time and effort are generally proportional to the length of the boat.

Note that the Gougeon 32 ‘ (9.7m) sailing catamaran is unique, at 8 ‘ wide, without folding capability but with a water ballast system to make up for the lack of form stability.

The large main hull of a typical smaller trimaran offers a larger interior space than a comparably sized catama ran, a deep footwell in the cockpit for comfortable seating, and a folding system for trailering with the amas connected to a well-supported main hull. In addition, the mast is stepped on the main hull, with the headstay attached to the bow, not to the akas.

Trailerable trimarans come in all sizes to about 32 ‘ long, with transportable designs somewhat longer. The latter types tend to have larger interior spaces and less complex connectives. To a certain extent, manufacturers were willing to add cost to the folding system to reduce setup time. Folding capability on or off the water also adds to the design challenges.

Take-Apart Aka Systems

This is the least expensive method and easiest to achieve for the home builder or the manufacturer. The akas may be built-up wood box beams or tubular metal. Each beam is secured to the hulls by through-bolts, bolted straps, plug-in sockets, or lashings. Tubular aluminum beams are the lightest but most expensive. Regardless of attachment method, the hulls must be supported in their respective positions for the akas to be installed. In small vessels, this can be an abbreviated procedure, but larger vessels will require a special trailer to hold the disconnected amas while on the road.

Folding Multihulls

The Chesapeake Light Craft 15′ single outrigger canoe akas lash into saddles on both hulls.

Telescoping Aka Systems

The telescoping option is limited to boats where the total stack-up width and length dimensions of the hulls and fully retracted akas do not exceed the legal road limits. The WindRider 17 is a good example. The boat is supported on “high bars” on the trailer, leaving the amas free to be moved in or out. The simplicity of the akas and trailer-support system reduces cost and launching time.

In larger vessels, this system has been applied to reduce width for storage in marina slips. For these boats, the sliding system is large and complex, usually requiring some sort of power to make the telescope slide. Because the sliding mechanism requires a small clearance between the sliding members, the akas will move slightly during sailing, which is difficult to avoid.

Folding Multihulls

The 1970s-vintage Telstar 26 features a simple hinge-down system with a bolted con- nection on deck and a bolted strut below.

Simple Horizontal Hinge Systems

Early trailerable trimaran designs often incorporated a simple hinged beam-reduction system to fold both sides down. Boats to about 25 ‘ (7.6m) with a 16 ‘ (4.9m) beam could be made to fold to 8 ‘ . At the ama end, lifting the hull, sometimes with attached wing deck, could require substantial muscle or a mechanical lift. Even for smaller boats this task may be beyond one person’s capability. Normally, bolts and plates between the members secure the hull for sailing. On the Searunner 25 and Constant Camber 26 (7.9m), double-hinged tubes are bolted to tangs on the main hull.

Folding Multihulls

The Searunner 25 trimaran has a hinge mechanism on its metal-tube A-frame akas that secures with bolts at both ends.

Commonly, simple hinge systems require that the main hull be positioned rather high on the trailer so the amas clear the trailer wheels beneath. A disadvantage is that the trailer must be submerged more deeply than usual for the boat to float off. Compared to the Telstar system, the Searunner 25 offered some improvement by positioning the hinge point at the top of the cabinside, raising the folded ama slightly.

Complex Aka Hinge Systems

A complex system for folding multihulls, much like a garage door lift linkage, was developed and patented by Ian Farrier for his trailerable trimaran designs. It allows one person to fold or unfold the boat while it’s afloat. Before launching, the mast is stepped and secured with lower stays. Note that folded storage in the water for long periods is not practical because the immersed ama’s topsides will gather marine fouling. In addition, the arrangement of the support linkage arms has a very shallow angle with the aka, causing them to be highly stressed, which adds significant weight and cost.

Folding Multihulls

Unfolding it requires help from friends.

A complex folding system I developed has only four attachment bolts and a wide-angle strut brace. It is very light but requires folding prior to launching. It relies on a simple roller dolly on a beam attached to the trailer to support the ama during folding and unfolding.

Swing-Wing Systems

In-water storage of folding trimarans is generally limited to swing-wing designs, where the hulls all float on their respective waterlines, either folded or unfolded. Many variations have been used in production boats, and among the most successful is the Quorning-designed Dragonfly. It has hinged arms supported by a “waterstay”— a diagonal cable under the arm to counteract cantilever aka loads. The outer end of the arm, on the ama deck, pivots on a single pin. The waterstay becomes slack when the boat is folded, leaving only the hinge to support the ama in the folded configuration. I’ve seen one folded boat that was damaged while moored at the dock in strong harbor waves when the ama climbed onto the dock. Swing-wing designs stored in the water must provide strong vertical support for the ama in the folded condition

Folding Multihulls

A swing-wing aka system on the Borg Quorning–designed Dragonfly 32 is further supported by a waterstay when rigged for sailing. The akas can be adjusted in and out while in the water and for storage at the dock.

The main challenge of the swing-wing system is to get all the pivot axes parallel because they must rotate about 90° without binding. If there is any depth to the structure, this accuracy is critical, as the pins or pivot axles could be quite long, so even a small inaccuracy will make the system difficult to assemble, let alone pivot smoothly.

Folding Multihulls with Flat Swing-Wing Akas

The most basic swing-wing system is the flat aka configuration developed by Jim Brown. He avoided the need for perfect parallel alignment of all hinge axes because the beams are not very thick, and the pivot-pin holes can have additional clearance. For the swing system to operate without binding, spacing of the pivot points must be identical on all the swing arms. The system’s downside is strength, because the aka must support all the heeling loads in a relatively narrow beam. For some boats, a waterstay may need to be added to increase cantilever strength and reduce deflections when sailing.

Folding Multihulls

The Seaclipper 16 flat swing- wing akas are made from common dimensional lumber and pivot using steel bolts.

A logical improvement in strength for swing arms is to add a truss, with triangulated strength that will easily bear all the heeling loads from the ama. Here again, it is essential that pivot axes be in perfect alignment to avoid binding. To my eye, open trusses in sleek yachts are never beautiful, but they offer higher strength for lower weight.

Complex Swing-Wing Systems

If the akas are not flat along their full length, it is more difficult to achieve a smoothly pivoting system. My latest boat, Syzygy (pronounced, sis-a-gee), is a case in point. Flat akas offer little variation in styling—flat is flat. To add underwing clearance and more attractive aesthetics, many designers favor the arched aka. This configuration allows the aka to approach the ama hull from above and connect through the deck for more usable immersion of the ama buoyancy, and to keep the aka above the wavetops.

This system has arched akas with an upward angle (dihedral) as they extend from the main hull and descend with a smooth curve onto the ama deck. The pivot axis must also be inclined, normal to the surface, to allow it to pivot. To make life simple, the vertical centerline of the ama is inclined inboard at the top by the same amount, which aligns all the pivot axes with the ama vertical centerline. If the beam is level fore-and-aft, when the ama is folded inboard, it is positioned rather low, due to the arch. To compensate, the akas must be given a negative angle of attack to make the folded ama arrive in the same position as a simple flat aka system. It’s a good challenge for any boatbuilder to get it right and a good use of a digital level. The angles in Syzygy were 8° dihedral, and a nega tive 5° angle of attack. The aka pivot surfaces must be perfectly parallel on both ends—at the inboard aka pivots and the ama deck pivot tables.

Folding Multihulls

Jan Gougeon designed and built strings, a 40′ swing-wing catamaran with carbon- tubular-truss swing akas built over foam mandrels.

A late iteration of the Telstar 26 became the Telstar 28 with a vertical-axis swing-wing system. This production boat is no longer manufactured but was unique for its faired wing and attempt to hide the folding system from view. It also featured an electric linear drive to fold/unfold the heavy akas.

For transporting folding multihulls on the highway, road trailers must have some specific attributes to properly support the hulls. Most models use transverse cradle supports under the hull at major interior bulkhead positions. It is important to install bow guides on the trailer to get the hull to settle in exactly the right place when retrieved from the water. Rollers beneath the hull are not recommended, as they tend to distort it and potentially cause damage. The amas require enough support so the folding mechanism is not carrying the load when being towed.

For swing-wing boats, there is a significant change in the center of gravity between folded to unfolded configurations. Normally, the amas swing back when folded and swing forward for the sailing position. If the trailer has the proper tongue weight for towing on the hitch with the boat folded, the weight will increase when unfolded. For trailers with telescoping tongues, tongue design must accomodate that weight; otherwise, the extended tongue may bend severely during launching or retrieval.

Homebuilt wooden trailers are popular for these specialized boats, and some designers provide plans for them. Without much metal in them, they will probably float, which sometimes leads to difficulty at launching. Adding some steel channel to the bunks can solve that. However, floating is not an undesirable feature if a trailer floats level but is submerged enough to maneuver the hull into the bunks, and the hull settles into the right place automatically. Floating trailers also never run off the end of the ramp.


There’s truth in the humorous claim that “the new family yacht has to look good behind your SUV.” But while many of the latest small boats are daysailers, folding multihulls have expanded the trailerable and transportable boat size to include those with weekend cruising capability, up to about 32 ‘ . As we’ve seen, those essential folding or retraction mechanisms are not simple and must be carefully designed and engineered, even by the home builder. But for owners of these boats, seasonal storage and slip availability are no longer problems. And the overall reduction in total cost can bring owning a boat within reach for many more people. What’s not to like about that?

About the Author: John Marples has designed, built, and rigged many sail- ing vessels. His portfolio includes doz- ens of wood-epoxy composite sailing and power multihulls to 110′ (33.5m). He operates Marples Marine , a multihull design and engineering firm in Penobscot, Maine

Dieter Loibner | Professional BoatBuilder Magazine


Multihull designers have developed some useful, specific names for components, mostly derived from the Pacific Islander language.

Aka (ah-kah) refers to the crossbeam structure of any multihull. Designers used to call them “cross-beams,” but writing that on hand-drawn plans took up too much space and time, so this shorter Polynesian name became the standard.

Ama (ah-mah) is the Polynesian name for the outer hull of a trimaran or proa. They were formerly named “floats” or “outer hulls” (never pontoons), but again, ama is shorter.

Vaka (vah-kah) is the Polynesian name for the main (largest) hull of a trimaran or proa. Since it can be confused with the other names and is not very descriptive, most designers have opted for the term main hull.

Waterstay is a diagonal stay, metal or synthetic rope, below the aka, between the main hull near the waterline and aka near its outboard end. This stay counteracts the upward load from ama buoyancy when the ama is immersed.

—John Marples

The Crossbeam (Aka) Structure 

T he essential function of any crossbeam (aka) system on a multihull is to structurally connect the hulls in a way that resists all the forces generated when sailing. Heeling forces from lift on the sails must be transferred to the leeward hull by the aka structure. The forces on the akas are complex, composed of cantilever bending due to heeling loads, twisting of the structural platform, and horizontal bending caused by drag from the ama’s forward motion through the water. The heeling force, resisted by the buoyancy of the ama, pushes up, causing cantilever bending loads in the akas similar to the forces on an airplane wing. Torsion is created when the sails’ lift pushes the leeward ama bow down, while the shrouds supporting the mast pull the weather-side ama stern up. Drag from the leeward ama tries to bend the akas toward the stern, and forces from the windward shroud tend to pull the aka forward as well as up. These forces all act together at the attachment points on the hulls. In most cases, torsion is resisted by the tubular hull and cabin structure itself. Heeling is countered by the cantilever strength of the aka beams and is sometimes strengthened by diagonal waterstay cables beneath. Drag forces can be resolved by the fore-and-aft strength of the akas or by adding diagonal cables between the akas. Each folding system must accommodate these loads through all the pivoting components in the structure.

Of key interest in aka design are the loads imposed on the ama hulls by the seaway when sailing to windward. These hulls are subject to significant loads on the outboard sides. The windward ama is pummeled by wavetops, and the leeward ama is pushed sideways due to leeway. Since the aka system is characteristically attached through the ama deck, these forces are trying to rotate the ama keel inboard, toward the main hull, in either case. The same is true for catamarans, concerning the aka loads where they emerge at the hull inboard sides. These loads can be calculated to estimate the strength required for any configuration and should be part of the design’s stress analysis. If centerboards or daggerboards are located in the amas, those rotating forces are significantly increased.

Of further interest in swing-wing designs is the clearance between pins and brackets in vertical pivot mechanisms. When sailing, the forces at the hinge pins can change from positive to negative repetitively, creating noise and wear. The wear will eventually elongate the holes, reduce pin diameter, and become a maintenance problem. Designs like the flat wing can be tightened to eliminate movement, which will eliminate wear. Amas with waterstays tend to put the akas in compression and stop the vertical deflection that would be normally carried through the hinge pins. In that case, the pins would be loaded in only one direction and not be subject to cyclic ± loads. —J.M.

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It’s so easy, a 12-year-old can do it

Rigging and launching a Corsair trimaran can all be done single-handed in less than 30 minutes. Everything is designed to get you on the water faster. It’s so easy, even a 12-year-old can do it!

Trimaran Trailer Sailing

Easy, 45-minute setup.

With no need for heavy keel, Corsair Marine trimarans are light and have excellent trailering characteristics. The low towing weight will allow you to discover and explore many previously out-of-reach cruising grounds. Trailering also offers a significant saving in trimaran dock fees and maintenance.

Trailer Sailing

From trailer to sailer.

The shallow 14’ draft avoids the need to completely sink the trailer for launching – you won’t even get your feet wet. Launching is always done folded so no more space is taken at the ramp than with a conventional monohull.

Once afloat, stability is excellent, allowing the Corsair trimaran sailboat to be quite safely motored in a folded condition. If desired, Corsair sailing trimarans are as easily docked in a marina as any other types of craft.

20 knots on the water

50 on the interstate With these sport cruisers, you can quickly fold up and be on your way, enjoying more destinations and new challenges than slip bound yachts.

50 on the interstate An easily trailerable sports boat allows racers to attend regattas and events nationwide, making Corsair trimarans the perfect regatta sailboat for keen racers.

50 on the interstate Trimaran trailer sailing offers significant cost savings when compared to marina fees. Reduced hull maintenance costs also substantially reduces overall expenses.

50 on the interstate Corsair trimarans fold up and extend effortlessly, the mast comes down in moments, the sailboats towed and trailered easily and smoothly which offers significant cost savings when compared to marina and on water maintenance fees.

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