Choosing The Best RC Sailboat – 10 Questions To Ask


best rc sailboats

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RC sailboats are a great hobby, as they can allow you and your family to enjoy spending time together, learn about boats, and get some exercise. Some people who are just starting out with RC sailboats may not know what to look for when they are purchasing a boat.  In this article, we’ll take a look at some of the things that you need to consider when choosing an RC sailboat.

In choosing the best rc sailboat, you’ll need to consider such things as where do you want to sail, what type of hull and sails do you need, will you be racing, what’s your budget, should you have a motor, and do you want a ready to sail boat, or a kit.

When you’re shopping for your first rc sailboat or looking for an upgrade, you may be overwhelmed by the number of choices available. How do you know which one to buy?

Well, you can start by asking yourself a few simple questions. Do you want a rc sailboat that’s good for racing, or do you want one that’s designed for casual sailing? How important is durability to you? And how much portability do you need? Are you looking to stay within a certain budget, or can you spend more? With so many options, it’s easy to get overwhelmed and make mistakes you’ll live to regret, so we’ve put together this list of things to look for when shopping for your first sailboat.

1. Where Do You Want to Sail Your RC Sailboat?

The best places to sail an rc sailboat are inland lakes and ponds. These calm bodies of water allow for smoother sailing, and allow for easier retrieval if things go wrong. Most rc sailboats are made to not handle rough waters, so it is best to avoid sailing them in the ocean.

If you do – some people enjoy sailing their rc sailboats at the beach and in the ocean – be prepared to rescue your boat from an outgoing tide or rough waves. Its advisable to look for rc sailboats which are extensively waterproofed on the deck, and perhaps even have inboard electric motors.

2. Type of Hull

When looking for a quality RC sailboat, the first thing you should look at is the hull of the boat. The hull of the boat is the main part of the boat that will ploughing through the water, and it should be made out of a sturdy material. Hulls used to be made of wood, but most rc sailboats these days are made with hulls made from molded ABS plastic. These are light and very durable and relatively cheap.

There is also a choice in number of hulls: single, catamaran or trimaran. The Joysway Binary 400mm Mini Catamaran Sailboat (UK) is an example of a ready to sail rc sailboat with 2 hulls.

The hull will be fixed to a deep keel – Look out for a weighted keel, which will result in a much more stable sailing experience.

3. Type of Sails

Most modern ready to sail rc sailboats come with polyester sails which are ready cut to fit. If you are buying your boat to race, you may want to buy a boat which allows different sail sizes and shapes to account for different wind conditions.

4. Will You Be Racing?

Racing rc yachts is very exciting and provides a whole new dimension to the hobby. There are, however, different considerations you must take into account, such as buying a specific rc boat type which is recognised as a racing class.

best rc sailboats

Whilst there are few ready to sail rc boats which readily fit into an international racing event, these can be bought. For example the Dragonforce 65 is in a popular racing category which can provide loads of fun to the amateur enthusiast.

If you do want to race, do make sure the boat you buy is in a popular category, so you will be assured of others to race against. Here is the Dragon 65 class racing:

The best way to further this aspect of the hobby is to join a club, details of which will be held with your local hobby shop, or check out a local club near you. You’ll find lots of help finding a club, as well as sailing your boat, at the American Model Yachting Association and the Model Yachting Association in the UK.

The official body overseeing rc sailboat racing internationally is the International Radio Sailing Association.

For more details on this, click here.

On the other hand, you may be only interested in casual sailing at the weekend. Your choice of rc sailboat in that case is wider and not confined to a particular model type.

5. What’s Your Budget?

The cost of rc sailboats start at $80 (£80) and can stretch to $500 or more for specialised boats. For a good all rounder, which falls into a popular racing category (if you do wish to race) such as the 65 category, you should expect to pay around $300 (or £250).

This should buy you all the gear, including transmitter, receiver and batteries.

6. Portability

How are you going to be transporting your boat? If you have to go by car, make sure that the mast/sails, and maybe the keel, are collapsable to get them in the car. If you walk to the local park pond, you may want to get a trolley for the boat, which could also double up as a stand to rig the boat at the water’s edge.

7. What Ancilliary Equipment Do You Need?

If you have other rc models, whether they are boats, planes or drones, you may already have some of the required equipment, such as the transmitter, batteries and the receiver, which could be adapted for the nautical world. This will obviously depend on the details of the equipment, and the type of models you already have. At the very least, the transmitter, if it’s a modern one using 2.4 GHz frequency, could well be adapted for use with an off the shelf, ready to sail, boat.

8. Do You Want It To Look Like A Full Size Yacht?

There are some beautiful model sailboats which are scale models of the full sized yacht, but these tend to be either kit built, and/or very expensive. The detail displayed, including model crew, is fascinating, but you may want to consider how robust such scale models are; they may not stand up to rough weather and handling over the lifetime of the model, depending on where you are sailing.

Such models maybe best left on the mantelpiece or window cill, and admired for their beauty.

9. Should It Have A Motor?

An inboard motor in an rc sailboat is not common, but they are found in the more expensive models. The great benefit is that it will be easier to retrieve the yacht if it’s becalmed, or the wind is taking it further from shore with no hope of return.

10. Would You Enjoy Making the RC Sailboat From A Kit?

There are a great variety of rc sailboat kits available to buy, but some are complicated and require a lot of work. That in itself may be the pleasure in getting involved in this hobby, rather than the actual sailing, and if you feel this may be you, look for a kit, such as the Lightning Sailboat or the Dumas Ace Sloop.

Otherwise you should be looking for a ready to sail, pre-assembled boat, such as the IBalody Creative Remote Control Sailboat (US & UK).

So with so many sailboats available, it can be really tough to choose the right one, but hopefully we’ve helped you think about what you actually want in an rc sailboat. If you want to know more about rc sailing, and see a wider choice of recommended rc boats, click here.

About the author

It all started with a line controlled spitfire 50 years ago….

That turned into a life long interest in models, in particular radio controlled models, but I’ve only got back into it since I’ve been retired. As a result a lot has changed, and I’ve been happily starting afresh, researching into the hobby and finding answers to the questions all beginners have when starting out.

I hope you find some answers to the queries you have, and go on to enjoy all aspects of this fascinating hobby.

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