What sport boat should I get?


New member
Dear SA members, 

I am looking into purchasing a nice keel boat/sport boat and am looking for some opinions on what could be a good fit. 

I live in Seattle (moved here a few years ago), so would mostly sail on the Puget Sound/Lake Washington etc. I am looking for a boat that has an active class in the area, ideally with one design races. I am definitely not looking for a new boat, and would buy used. 

I come from dinghy sailing (I used to own a Contender to race competitively and also sailed 505s and other performance dinghies in the past), so I want as much sailing sensation as possible from a sport boat. I want the boat to be able to plane downwind and generally be responsive. I am also in my late 20s so interested in a boat that is somewhat dynamic. Being able to race one design would be great, it is just the cleanest form of racing, so a local fleet would be great.

Also, my girlfriend does not know how to sail yet, and I would want to teach her on this boat. I realized just sailing by myself with a dinghy is gonna end up as not sailing very much if the time cannot be spent together. It is thus important that at least to a certain wind speed you can double hand the boat. What also drew me away from a dinghy is the wish to be able to also just go for a relaxed after-work sail with some friends, which is generally difficult to do on something like an i14 or a 505. If some very basic accommodations would be available on the boat, like a place to crash, that would be great but no fancy things are required (we usually do basic tent camping so I am not looking for any higher level of comfort than that), in case we want to stay somewhere else over night. Being a good boat to sail is more important than that though. Trailerable would be great, so races in the Gorge or the Bay could be an option. 

Regarding prices, I am looking for something around up to 20k.

What I thought could be interesting so far: 
- Melges 24: Might be a bit too brutal, considering how much rail meat you need to sail them fast, but open to other thoughts. 
- J/80: I know, many say it's not a real sport boat, but it generally seems to fit the requirements.
- J/70: Probably difficult to find for less than 30k, but maybe worth thinking about, fleets seem to grow everywhere.
- J/22: From my point of view a nicer boat to sail than the J/24. Symmetric spinnaker kind of goes in the way of easy handling though.
- Moore 24: Old school, but there seems to be a fleet here, and I think it generally looks like a fun boat. 

Maybe there are other good ideas.

I would definitely try to crew on each of the boats before, since I only sailed the J22 and the J24 so far out of the boats above. I am not in a rush to make a decision, but the improving weather over here makes me want to get out on the water. 

Any opinions? 

Last edited by a moderator:


Super Anarchist
If one design is your priority(and it should be) your only options are: 

Melges 24: Decent local fleet, looks like it's going to get up and going here again in the next few weeks... Could have 15 boat regattas next year if the class gets organized and the Canadians come to play. 

J70: 9 boats on Orcas in the last few months, couple others kicking around. Should be fun once it really gets going. 

J80: Momentum in the fleet. Good weeknight racing. Probably a step below the melges in terms of competitiveness. 

J24: Huge fleet on the lake, very competitive with some TOP level sailors. 

If you wanted to get VERY good at sailing you'd get a J24, Tasar and Aero...You're not going to get much better than that anywhere in the US right now.