Being tall comes with advantages and corresponding disadvantages.
On a sailboat, the disadvantages become apparent quickly with the amount of headroom down below and the height of the boom above the deck, for starters.
Are there any sailboats out there that are comfortable for tall people to go sailing in?
3 Dighies That Tall People Can Sail In:
Dinghies are smaller than keelboats, but a few can accommodate a tall person without a problem.
1. MC Scow
The MC Scow is a dinghy that has been in production in North America since 1956, redesigned by Harry Melges from the earlier J Scow.
It is 16 feet long with a wide 5’7″ beam, allowing plenty of room side to side.
It is a catboat rig, meaning it has a single sail with the mast far forward toward the bow.
The combination of the beam width and the mast location allows plenty of space for a tall person to operate in. Hiking straps allow you to lean out far over the water, actually giving taller people more of an advantage in racing.
There is an active racing class from the east coast to the mid-west of the United States, and the boat is still being produced by Melges Performance Sailboats.
2. International Canoe
One of the most unique classes of sailboats ever designed, there are several variants on the International Canoe or International Ten Square Meter as it is also known.
Its origins go back to the mid-19th century.
There is a One Design class, a “box rule” class where any design is legal as long as it complies with certain measurements. The Asymmetric Canoe uses the one-design boat but carries an asymmetric spinnaker.
The long, thin boats feature a main and a jib and are generally sailed single-handed.
The main interesting feature for the tall sailor is the sliding seat. This is a long construction that slides from side to side and extends out over the water.
This means the boat is actually controlled from the “outside” of the hull, giving a tall person complete freedom of movement.
The boats are difficult to control in a tack, as users must slide the seat, and the boats are narrow and tipsy. But it is a classic design, and the tall, experienced sailor will have a great experience.
The Megabyte is a newer design and class of dinghy, made currently by Zim Sailing.
It is similar to the old Finn design in the hull and rig, but it is a much lighter boat and has a more ergonomic layout.
For the tall sailor, the attraction will be the large, deep cockpit and the high boom. The mast for the single sail is forward, so it will not interfere with you.
The hull is light (130 lbs.), so combined with the relatively large sail, the boat has a lot of speed potential.
Given that, a taller sailor hiking in higher winds will find themselves in a competitive advantage, as they can use their leverage to keep the boat flatter in a race.
Though a more recent design, the Megabyte is growing in popularity, given its speed and ability to be car-topped to regattas or casual day sails.
3 Affordable Keelboats Tall People Can Enjoy:
Keelboats are generally easier for taller people to navigate in, as the boats are larger and roomier.
Here we will focus on smaller keelboats that can be sailed short-handed or even single-handed and are affordable:
Westerly Marine Construction was one of the largest marine manufacturers in Europe in the 1960s and 1970s, coming out with many innovative and focused designs.
The Centaur is a 26-foot boat designed to be a family cruiser. While many comfort-focused boats at that time were simply scaled-down models of larger boats, the Centaur was a unique design built around the roomy interior.
The large, high windows are distinctive to the boat, and it has a high boom for good clearance. It is 8 1/2 feet wide, and the headroom below is a minimum of 6 feet.
The disadvantage is that the deck space is cramped due to the large cabin and the shallow bilges.
It is not the best sailing boat performance-wise, but it is comfortable to sail.
There were 2500 Centaurs built between 1969 and 1980, and they are all over Europe and the US.
2. Leisure 23
Frank Prior designed this boat, and the first models were launched in 1973.
There was an SL model with a redesigned deck and cabin introduced in 1975.
The boat was designed for serious cruising, with a beam of almost 8 feet and 5’10” headroom, which is remarkable in a boat that size.
The main feature for tall people will be that the boom does not extend past the cabin. This means you have the entire cockpit area to operate in without fear of smacking your head.
The cockpit is wide and uncluttered, and the interior is roomy, meaning the boat will be a comfortable sail for a tall person.
About 900 boats of both models were built up until 1990, with most in Europe but many imported to the USA. The boat has decent sailing characteristics beyond its comfort and has a cult following in the industry.
3. Catalina 30
With 6,430 boats sold between 1972 and 2008, this is one of the most successful sailboats ever built.
There were several different models and redesigns over the decades, but the basic layout was unchanged.
Even for its length, the boat is a roomy design with a 10’10” beam. The headroom is 6’4″, so most tall people will be able to stand fully upright. Many people live aboard Catalina 30s, so they have ample space for all your needs below.
One remarkable aspect of the Catalina 30 is that it has outstanding sailing characteristics despite the space and comfortable design. Many are raced competitively worldwide, as it performs and handles very well in light air or heavy air.
With so many of these boats made, models are always available, some for under $10,000. You might have to do some work to get one of the more affordable ones in shape, but these were some of the nicest and roomiest racer-cruisers ever made at that length.
While the boat can be handled single-handed, as we stated in the criteria above, it will require an experienced sailor to do so, given the size of the boat and the rig.
The model was replaced in 2010 by the Catalina 309, so if you want a similar boat but of more recent vintage, that is a place to start.
Not every sailboat is going to be comfortable for every tall sailor. Finding the right boat is the key.
The boats we have examined in this article might be the ideal boat for you or the starting point for finding the perfect fit.