downwind upwind

These tables show the order of these classes ranked by Sail Area / Displacement Ratio. This compares the square root of the sail area to the cube root of displacement (boat weight plus crew weight, in cubic feet of seawater) to produce a fairly linear measure. This is sort of a rough "Hot Rod Factor," with higher numbers meaning a hotter more responsive boat.

This does not equate directly to speed through the water, however, as it does not take into account waterline length, wetted surface area, and all the other numerous factors which go into making one boat faster than another. Seperate tables are given for upwind and downwind rankings.

Please note that:
the Johnson 18 ranks higher than any other non-trapeze 2-person boat.
Many of the classes listed have links to their web sites. Click on the name of the class for more info!
Boats with trapeze will produce more righting moment per pound. This is not accounted for in this table.
Some classes have conventional spinnakers, some asymmetric. This is not noted in this table.
The Portsmouth Number is a time handicap assigned by the U.S. Sailing Association. Lower numbers indicate faster boats.
Crew weights are as given by class officers or class competitors.

Olympic classes are selected every four years by a special advisory committee to the IOC, and are generally considered to attract a very high caliber of competition. The Star has been an Olympic class for many decades, as has the Finn. The 49er and the Laser are recently-elected classes. Olympic sailing competition is also held in catamarans and windsurfers.

We wish to acknowledge and thank Ali Meller of the 5-0-5 Class, Paul Kamen, and all those who have provided information for these tables.

View the Downwind Comparison Table

View the Upwind Comparison Table