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What Is a Classic Yacht?

Dan Cavallari
Dan Cavallari

The term "yacht" is often used to describe any type of recreational boat, but a classic yacht is one that adheres more accurately to the more traditional definition: a boat that is light and fast, and driven by sails. Many people in search of a recreational boat opt for a classic yacht rather than a more modern, engine-driven model for the simpler design, lower maintenance costs, and fun of being able to sail rather than simply operate a motor. Operating such a boat does require some skill, however, and inexperienced boaters will perhaps need lessons or guidance on how to operate the vessel properly.

The overall length of a classic yacht can vary, though they do tend to be shorter than motorized yachts. The type, size, and amount of sails will vary according to the size of the vessel as well, as will the living space or lounging space. Many classic yacht vessels feature some sort of sleeping quarters, though the size of such quarters can vary significantly; some smaller vessels will only have quarters large enough for one person to sleep in, while much larger vessels may have multiple sleeping quarters, a living area, and even kitchen space.

A classic yacht is driven by sails.
A classic yacht is driven by sails.

The look of the classic yacht adheres to traditional designs. The hull is usually fairly shallow, as these boats were originally intended for use in sailing through shallow waterways. The boat usually features a main mast that secures the main sail as well as a headsail, though other configurations are certainly possible. Many boats may feature a jib that extends from the front of the boat for use in quick steering. This jib is sometimes attached to a boom that extends from the bow of the vessel.

Many organizations that promote yacht racing exist; in this case, the classic yacht category will be different than other categories with motor-driven yachts. The size and function of the classic yacht will further dictate which specific category it falls into, as the size, sail pattern, hull design, and more can affect the boat's ability to move forward quickly and steer efficiently.

Much of the allure of such yachts is the craftsmanship of all aspects of the boat. Decks and hulls are often built with durable, attractive woods, and the interior of the boat may be refinished for comfort and aesthetics. Refinishing classic yachts is a thriving industry, as many yacht owners prefer to find an authentic vintage boat and have it restored to functional condition.

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    • A classic yacht is driven by sails.
      By: Andrew Bayda
      A classic yacht is driven by sails.