The best beginner sailing dinghies to buy are listed below.
- Best Overall: RS Quest
- Best Portable Dinghy: MiniCat Duppy
- Best For Price: DinghyGo Orca 280
- Best For Family: RS Zest
- Best For Kids: RS Tera Sport
- Best For Racing: RS 200
- Best For Cruising: The Wayfarer
- Best For Seniors & Disabled People: Challenger Trimaran
A sailing dinghy is a small sailboat typically designed for one to four people to sail. They are generally lightweight and maneuverable, making them easy to handle for beginners.
Dinghies can be used for a variety of purposes including racing, cruising, and day sailing. They are often used in sheltered waters such as bays, lakes, and rivers but can also be used in open water depending on the design and the skill level of the sailor.
A sailing dinghy is the most common introduction to sailing for beginner sailors and sailing enthusiasts.
We've reviewed the best sailing dinghies for beginners on the market today.
These sailing dinghies include single-handed, double-handed, monohulls and multihulls.
We will cover the costs, features, pros and cons of each sailing dinghy to help you make the best purchase decision.
For those on a budget, buying a used sailing dinghy is a great starting point and you can pick up some gems for half price in some cases.
We'll also discuss how to find some great used sailing dinghies too and some tips on common pitfalls to avoid when buying a beginner-friendly sailing dinghy.
A huge factor in deciding what sailing dinghy to buy is what purpose you intend to use the sailing dinghy for.
Whether you want to find a cheap beginner dinghy as a first-time dinghy owner or are looking for a beginner-friendly sailing dinghy for children, there should be an option for you.
Best Overall Beginner Sailing Dinghy: RS Quest
The best overall beginner-friendly sailing dinghy to buy is the RS Quest dinghy. We rate this dinghy 9.9/10.
The RS Quest is a double-handed dinghy designed by boat designer Joe Richards and the RS sailing brand.
The sailing vessel was inspired by the UK Sea Cadets and is one of RS Sailing's best-selling dinghies.
The RS Quest is the best overall beginner sailing dinghy because:
- It is spacious enough to include an instructor: The RS Quest is large enough to include 2 to 5 crew. This means that first-time dinghy owners can easily have space for training instructors onboard as they learn how to sail the dinghy
- It can be used by both adults and youth: The sailing dinghy can be used by both adults and children which makes it a great option as it's not restricted to one or the other
- It was designed with training in mind: The RS Quest dinghy was specifically built with training new sailing cadets in mind
- It is easy to handle: With the space onboard and user-friendly foils, there is plenty of room to maneuver the vessel and a pivoting mast heel makes for easy rigging. There are also hand holds which makes it easier when lifting and an exceptionally stable hull
- It is durable: Aluminum rudder blade and polyethylene construction makes the boat more durable and as a result requires fewer repairs compared to some other dinghies
- It can be customized easily: The RS Quest dinghy can be customized to suit any person with removable seats and thwart, a customizable foredeck, a trapeze option, a bracket to fit an outboard motor if wanted and asymmetric or symmetrical spinnaker options
Facts About The RS Quest Dinghy
RS Quest Dinghy Buyer Information
Before purchasing an RS Quest dinghy, a buyer should be aware of:
- Prices vary: A new RS Quest will cost between $10,000 to $12,00 and a used one will cost between $4,000 to $7,000
- You will need a towing trailer: This sailing dinghy will need a trailer for towing it and transporting it to the water
- A launching trolley will need to be bought separately: The RS Quest does not come with a launching trolley as standard and will need to be purchased separately
- Buyer financing is available at some stores: Some RS Quest sellers offer buyer financing options if the price tag is too high to pay off in one amount. However, the interest rates on some of these boat financing options are not favorable
- Inspect a pre-owned RS Quest thoroughly before purchasing: If buying a used RS Quest, inspect it thoroughly before making the purchase. Focus areas should be the hull for any damage/cracks and around the outboard motor mount to see if there was an outboard motor previously installed that may have caused damage or extra wear. Use our pre-owned boat buying checklist if needed before buying a second-hand dinghy
Best Portable Beginner Sailing Dinghy: MiniCat Duppy
The best beginner portable sailing dinghy to buy is the MiniCat Duppy. We rate this dinghy 9.8/10. The MiniCat Duppy is a top inflatable sailing dinghy. It is a great inflatable dinghy for sailboats too.
This dinghy vessel is a popular entry-level single-handed dinghy for recreational sailors that want a simple option to enjoy sailing on the waters.
The MiniCat Guppy is designed by the brand MiniCat.
The MiniCat Guppy is the best portable beginner sailing dinghy because:
- It is easy to transport: Due to it being lightweight (29Kg) and portable, it can be transported in the boot of a car in a bag to and from the sea waters making it very popular for first-time beginner sailors looking for a convenient sailboat solution
- It is one of the cheaper options: The MiniCat Duppy is one of the cheaper options and requires less of a financial commitment to get started sailing
- It's fast to assemble: The MiniCat Duppy can be assembled quickly in approximately 15 minutes without any complexity making it easy for new sailors to get started. Most of the boat is pre-fixed which helps speed up assembly
- It can be used by both kids and adults: This portable beginner dinghy can be used by both kids and adults and is not restricted to one age group
- It is made of durable materials: This sailing dinghy is made of strong but lightweight aluminum powder-coated material and the inflatable floats are made of Heytex 5509, a highly resistant abrasion and very hard-wearing material that was inspired by white-water rafts
- It comes with a warranty: Most MiniCat Duppy dealers offer 24-month warranties for added peace of mind
- It can carry up to 2 people: The MiniCat Duppy can carry up to 2 people and is not limited to just one person
- It has a boomless main design: The boomless main design on the MiniCat Duppy means sailors don't have to worry about getting hit in the head by a boom
- It uses keels: The MiniCat is the only inflatable sailboat that uses keels. This makes sailing very easy with no centerboards to get hung up on weeds or drag bottom in shallow areas
Facts About The MiniCat Duppy Dinghy
MiniCat Duppy Buyer Information
Before buying a MiniCat Duppy sailing dinghy, a buyer should know:
- The prices differ substantially between new and used: A new MiniCat Duppy costs between $3,500 and $5,000 whereas a used one costs between $1,500 and $2,500
- No trailer or trolley is needed for transporting: A buyer will not need to purchase transporting equipment as this is a portable and lightweight dinghy that fits in the boot of a car or van/truck
- The hand pump can be used to pump up the floats but an electric inflator pump is much faster: The MiniCat Duppy hand pump will do the trick but some buyers prefer to upgrade to an electric pump which typically costs an extra $150
- When buying used, check the condition of the pump and pump valve before purchasing: When buying a used MiniCat Duppy, pay particular attention to the condition of the pump and the pump valve at the inflatable hull as wear and tear can cause this area to be damaged
Best Beginner Sailing Dinghy For Price: DinghyGo Orca 280
The DinghyGo Orca 280 is one of the best beginner single-handed sailing dinghies for the price. We rate this dinghy 9.7/10.
It is designed by the DinghyGo brand and a package comes with a kick-up rudder, sail-kit, 4.8 m2 sail, shrouds, reef, pump bag repair kit, owner's manual, sail/row-kit thwart removable oars, mast step holder, removable daggerboard, boat tow and lift eyes, kick-up rudder mast and instructional video.
This budget-friendly dinghy is an affordable option for first-time sailors compared to some other dinghies on the list.
The DinghyGo Orca 280 is one of the best sailing dinghies on a budget because:
- It's cheaper than other dinghies: This dinghy costs between $2,800 and $3,500 making it the cheapest on the list and one of the cheapest of any sailing dinghy. Pre-owned DinghyGo Orca 280 costs between $1,000 and $2,000
- It's easy to assemble: The DinghyGo Orca 280 takes less than 20 minutes to assemble which is a huge benefit for new sailors looking for a convenient and simplistic way to sail on a budget
- It's portable and easy to transport: The DinghyGo Orca 280 is inflatable and fits in a bag which means it can be brought anywhere in a car boot without needing a towing trailer
- It is not heavy: The weight of the DinghyGo Orca 280 is only 60 pounds which makes it easy for carrying
- It can hold up to 4 people: The DinghyGo Orca 280 can hold multiple people which means it is not restricted to just 1 and it can be sailed with family and friends
- It is customizable: The DinghyGo Orca 280 has a mount to easily attach an outboard motor if wanted
Facts About The DinghyGo Orca 280
DinghyGo Orca 280 Buyer Information
Before buying a DinghyGo Orca 280, a buyer should know:
- They are hard to find for sale: A DinghyGo Orca 280 is hard to buy brand new as they are rarely in stock which makes it hard to buy
- No trailer is needed for towing: As this is a portable and inflatable sailing dinghy with a weight of 60 pounds, buyers will not need a towing trailer to transport this vessel
- Check the engine mount on used boats: If buying a pre-owned DinghyGo Orca 280, pay particular attention to the engine mount area as this area can show extreme wear or potential damage
- Buy direct from the brand to get a 2-year warranty: Buying directly from the brand offers buyers a 2-year warranty (check before buying as they sometimes change the warranty)
Best Family Beginner Sailing Dinghy: RS Zest
The best beginner family sailing dinghy to buy is the RS Zest. We rate this dinghy 9.6/10.
The RS Zest is a newer model family single-handed sailing dinghy designed and created by the brand RS Sailing and boat designer Jo Richards.
The RS Zest is the best sailing dinghy for families because:
- There is plenty of space: The RS Zest dinghy has class-leading space for families (up to 3 crew) to enjoy sailing and the thwart gives families a place to sit while out on the water rather than having to sit on the floor.
- It is easy to sail: The practical design makes it easy to sail and the dinghy is popular in training centers. It can also be sailed by kids due to its simplistic sailing features and built-in buoyancy
- It requires little maintenance: The rotomolded polyethylene construction means the dinghy is durable in the water and requires very little maintenance. There are also strong fitting attachments e. g. brass inserts molded into the hull structure
- Safety features make it easier to operate: Molded-in grab points for helm and crew make it easier to get aboard after a capsize. Hinging mast step system makes for ease and greater safety. It has a high visibility color for safety which means people can easily see the dinghy when out on the water which is an added safety feature for sailors
- Built-in tow points make it easier to tow: The built-in tow point design makes it much easier to tow to and from the water
- It has added security: Extra security features like a clunk-click mast gate lock make this dinghy more secure compared to other dinghies
Facts About The RS Zest
RS Zest Buyer Information
Before purchasing an RS Zest, a buyer should know:
- Its price varies between new and used: A new RS Zest price ranges between $4,500 and $5,000 whereas a used RS Zest ranges in price from $2,000 to $3,000
- The RS Zest does not come with a towing trailer: The RS Zest does not come with a towing trailer and this will need to be purchased separately
- The RS Zest does not come with some useful accessories as standard: The RS Zest does not come with useful accessories like a launching trolley or a top cover as standard and they will need to be purchased as add-ons
- When buying used, pay particular attention to the wear: When buying a used RS Zest, pay close attention to the wear and tear around the rudder and hull area
Best Beginner Sailing Dinghy For Kids: RS Tera Sport
The best beginner kids sailing dinghy to buy is the single-handed RS Tera. We rate this dinghy 9.5/10.
The RS Tera is a dinghy that was built first in 2015.
It was designed and manufactured by brand RS Sailing and boat designer Paul Handley.
It is recognized by the International Sailing Federation as an international sailing class.
The RS Tera comes in 2 specs, the RS Tera sport which is mainly used by complete beginners and the RS Tera Pro which is for more experienced sailors.
We are focused on the RS Tera Sport.
The dinghy can be used by small kids and teenagers and it helps new children fall in love with sailing.
The RS Tera is the best sailing dinghy for kids because:
- There is not much of a discount in price on used RS Tera: A new RS Tera costs between $4,000 & $5,000 and a pre-owned one costs between $2,800 and $3,500
- It has many safety features: The RS Tera dinghy has many safety features which help protect kids while they are sailing e.g. It comes up dry from a capsize
- The dinghy can be used by very young sailors: There is an option for a mini-sail which means kids as young as 5 years old can sail it
- It is light and easy to correct a capsize: Children do not need assistance to right a capsize and there are added righting lines to assist the kids
- It can be transported on a car roof: This sailing dinghy can be transported on most car roofs which should save money because a towing trailer is not required
- It is easy to use: It is quick to rig, has easy reefing around the mast with vertical battens, is light in weight, buoyancy from a thick foam layer and a modern design for easy maneuverability
- It requires very little maintenance: The construction of the dinghy with a tough outer skin, three-layer rotomolding system, brass inserts molded into the hull structure means there is very little maintenance
Facts About The RS Tera
RS Tera Buyer Information
Before buying the RS Tera, a buyer should know:
- This dinghy is mainly focused towards kids: This dinghy is best for children rather than adults so adults should pick other options than this dinghy
- It does not come with a towing trailer or top cover: The RS Tera does not come with a towing trailer or main cover as standard. While the boat can be transported on a roof rack of car, some dinghy owners prefer to transport on a trailer which is an added cost to be aware of
- A buyer will need to buy a roof rack to transport it: A buyer will need to buy a roof rack separately to transport this dinghy to and from the water if they don't plan on using a towing trailer. The roof rack is an optional extra rather than standard when buying this dinghy
Best Beginner Sailing Dinghy For Racing: RS200
The best beginner sailing dinghy for racing is the RS200. We rate this dinghy 9.4/10.
The RS200 is a double-handed sailing dinghy and it was designed by boat designer Phil Morrison and manufactured by the brand RS Sailing.
The RS200 is the best sailing dinghy for racing because:
- It has a spacious cockpit area for comfortable racing: There is plenty of space in the cockpit for sailors to navigate the sea at speed and the thwart gives a comfortable light wind crew position
- It has an open transom which allows the RS200 to self-drain: If the dinghy capsizes, the open transom and a molded self-bailer helps to remove the water quickly
- It has great handling: The RS200 has great handling due to its excellent design which helps when racing
- It is a durable dinghy: The strong aluminum material and a strong hull ensures a long competitive life
- It is designed for moderate-weight teams: This means a crew can get the full performance benefits regardless of weight
Facts About The RS200
RS200 Buyer Information
Before buying an RS200 sailing dinghy, a buyer should know:
- There are big discounts on pre-owned RS200 dinghies: The price of a new RS200 is between $15,000 to $18,000 whereas a pre-owned one costs between $7,000 and $11,000
- A launching trolley will need to be paid for separately: A buyer should know that a launching trolley will need to be purchased separately and it is not included as a standard accessory
- A top cover and under cover will need to be paid for separately: A buyer will need to purchase the under cover and top cover separately which is useful when storing the boat in the winter
Best Beginner Dinghy For Cruising: The Wayfarer Cruiser
If you prefer a more relaxed sailing environment, then a cruising dinghy might be the ideal option. We rate this dinghy 9.3/10.
The best beginner-friendly cruising sailing dingy is the double-handed Wayfarer Cruiser.
This sailing vessel was designed by Ian Proctor in the late 1950s and many newer iterations have been developed since then with an update by Phil Morrison in 2008.
The Wayfarer Cruiser is the best cruising sailing dinghy to buy because:
- It can fit multiple crew onboard for cruising: The Wayfarer Cruiser can fit up to 6 people onboard when sailing which makes it one of the higher crew capacity sailing dinghies on the market
- It is a strong and stable dinghy: The GRP construction means the Wayfarer Cruiser is durable and will last a long time
- It can take an outboard motor: If you prefer to attach an outboard motor, there is an option to do that too
- Owners can leave it on moorings: This sailing dinghy can be moored without the need to take it out of the water after usage
- It's easy to handle: The Wayfarer is easy to handle even being very easy to right by one person
- It comes with a long warranty: Depending on where you purchase the Wayfarer, you may be able to get a long warranty. e.g. Hartley Boats offers a 4-year warranty
Facts About The Wayfarer Cruiser
Wayfarer Cruiser Buyer Information
Before buying the Wayfarer Cruiser sailing dinghy, a buyer should know:
- They are expensive: A Wayfarer Cruiser costs between $14,000 to $16,000 for a new one and a price range between $5,000 to $10,000 for a used one
- They are hard to get new: These sailing dinghies are constantly sold out and quite difficult to purchase new
- You will need a large storage space: Due to their size (15.82ft), a buyer will need to have a large space to store these boats when they are out of the water
Best Beginner Sailing Dinghy For Seniors: Challenger Trimaran
The Challenger Trimaran is a single-handed sailing dinghy designed for older adults and people with a disability. We rate this dinghy 9.2/10.
It is manufactured by the manufacturer White Formula.
The original concept for the Challenger Trimaran came from Diana Campbell, a disabled wheelchair user that was an avid sailor.
It was designed in collaboration between Diana Campbell and record-breaking multihull boat designer Rod MacAlpine Downey in 1979.
The Challenger Trimaran is the best sailing dinghy for older people because:
- It is designed specifically for disabled and older people: The Challenger Trimaran is designed to help older people and disabled people enjoy sailing. It is easier to sail for those with lower upper body strength and disabilities
- It is stable and easy to maneuver: With the left and right sponsons bolted to the main central hull, this helps with the overall stability of the dinghy and helps with maneuvering
- It does not heel over or capsize: Due to its design with two sponsons bolted onto either side of the hull, it does not heel over or capsize. This helps disabled and older people with lower strength or balance
- It is durable: The GRP material used to construct the hull means it is a tough vessel that can handle rough waters and the material lasts for a long time
Facts About Challenger Trimaran
Challenger Trimaran Buyer Information
Before buying a Challenger Trimaran, a buyer should know:
- It is not cheap: A new Challenger Trimaran dinghy will cost between $10,000 and $12,000 while a used one will cost between $2,000 & $5,000
- It will need to be shipped from the U.K.: The Challenger Trimaran is manufactured and distributed from the U.K. so there may be a high added cost for shipping depending on where you are located
- It does not come with a road trailer as standard: A road trailer will be needed to tow this dinghy to and from the water which is not included in the price. A road trailer will cost approximately $1,500
Top Beginner Sailing Dinghies Comparison Table
Below is a comparison table of the best beginner sailing dinghies to purchase.
What To Look For When Buying A Beginner Sailing Dinghy
When choosing a sailing dinghy to buy, it's important to only buy a sailing dinghy that meets your criteria.
There are 5 important factors to consider when buying a boat that need to be considered.
Use Case For The Dinghy
The first important factor a buyer should consider when purchasing a dinghy is what the use case is for a dinghy.
Dinghies can have various different use cases depending on the make and model.
Some dinghies are used for racing whereas others are used for cruising so make sure to only pick a dinghy that is compatible with what you want to do, i.e. only buy a racing dinghy if you want to race or only buy a kids dinghy if the dinghy will be used by children.
For example, it makes no sense to buy a heavy and large dinghy used by larger crews if you plan on racing for example.
The Price Of The Dinghy
Another important factor to consider when buying a dinghy is its price.
Dinghies can vary quite substantially in price and finding a dinghy within your budget might be difficult.
The good news is there are many top pre-owned dinghies that are much cheaper that can be found in marketplaces like eBay or websites like Craigslist.
The Condition Of The Dinghy
The condition of a dinghy is particularly important when buying a pre-owned one.
A buyer should check the condition of the entire dinghy to ensure there is no damage before paying for it.
The Buyer's Ability At Sailing The Dinghy
Another important factor to consider before buying a dinghy is your ability to sail it.
Some dinghies require more experience than others to sail.
As a complete beginner, it's best to only buy a dinghy that is beginner friendly so you are not overwhelmed after the purchase.
The Size Of The Dinghy
The final factor to consider before purchasing a dinghy is its size.
You will need to ensure you have the right amount of storage space to store the vessel during the winter months.
For sailing dighies, a storage unit will need to be 2 feet bigger than the size of the dinghy. For example, a 12 foot dinghy would need a 14 foot storage unit at a minimum. This will help dinghy buyers gauge the size of dinghy to buy.
You will also need to ensure you have a vehicle that can tow the dinghy to the storage place.
This particularly applies to larger dinghies rather than the more convenient inflatable smaller portable dinghies.
Frequently Asked Questions
Below are frequently asked questions related to buying a sailing dinghy.
Where Can I Buy A New Sailing Dinghy?
Buyers can find new sailing dinghies for sale at their local marine store, boat dealerships or on websites like:
Where Can I Buy A Pre-Owned Sailing Dinghy?
Buyers can find pre-owned boats for sale at:
- Boating Auctions: This can be hit or miss as to the quality of the dinghy buy you might find a bargain at local marine auctions
- Websites: Websites like Craigslist, eBay, Boattrader and Facebook Marketplace will offer used sailing dinghies for sale
- Marine Forums: You can find dinghies for sale on forums. However, this can be risky if you don't know what you are doing
- Sailing Clubs/Associations: Contacting sailing clubs or sailing associations is a great way to find sailing dinghies for sale. These tend to be of better quality too
Are There Many Top Beginner Sailing Dinghies To Choose From?
There are over 100 different beginner sailing dinghies to choose from when starting out buying a sailing dinghy.
We recommend sticking to buying a dinghy that is on the list here but you may have your own unique preferences and this is fine too.
What Is The Cheapest Best Sailing Dinghy For Beginners?
The cheapest best sailing dinghy for beginners is the DinghyGo Orca 280 with a price tag ranging between $2,800 and $3,500.
What Is The Most Expensive Best Sailing Dinghy For Beginners?
The most expensive best sailing dinghy for beginners is the RS200 with a price tag ranging between $15,000 and $18,000.
What Are The Best Sailing Dinghy Brands?
The 3 best sailing dinghy brands are listed below.
- RS Sailing
What Is The Best Size Sailing Dinghy For Beginners To Buy?
The best size sailing dinghy for beginners to buy is a sailing dinghy under 15 feet. This is a small enough size to practice on but it is still spacious enough for good maneuverability.
What Is The Lightest Weight Top Sailing Dinghy?
The DinghyGo Orca 280, with a weight of 60lbs (27kg), is the lightest top sailing dinghy.
What Is The Heaviest Weight Top Sailing Dinghy?
The Wayfarer Cruiser, with a weight of 401lbs (182kg), is the heaviest top sailing dinghy.
What Is The Most Popular Sailing Dingy?
The RS Quest is the most popular sailing dinghy.
What Is The Best 2 Person Sailing Dinghy?
The RS Zest is the best 2 person sailing dinghy.
What Kind Of Maintenance Is Required For A Sailing Dinghy?
Sailing dinghies require regular maintenance, typicall once per month, to ensure they are safe, seaworthy, and functioning properly.
Some of the key maintenance tasks for a sailing dinghy include:
- Cleaning: Regular cleaning of the hull, sails, and rigging is important to prevent dirt, grime, and salt buildup, which can cause damage over time
- Inspection: Regular inspection of the hull, rigging, sails, and other components is important to identify any signs of wear and tear or damage that need to be addressed
- Repairs: Any damage or wear and tear identified during inspections should be repaired promptly to prevent further damage or safety hazards
- Lubrication: Moving parts such as blocks, cleats, and winches should be lubricated regularly to ensure they operate smoothly
Before buying a sailing dinghy, a buyer should be aware of these dinghy maintenance requirements so there are no suprises after purchasing one.