What is the Best Portable / Inflatable Sailboat? (How to choose the right portable / inflatable sailboat.)
What is the best portable / inflatable sailboat? This is actually a trick question. The answer of course depends on which boat is ideal for you and your needs. So the real title of this post should be - How to choose the right portable / inflatable sailboat for your needs - A buyers guide to choosing an inflatable sailboat. In order to answer this I want to break it down into sections.
This past year we added a new sailboat manufacturer to our line up of great boats; Grabner. Grabner is a company from Austria that has been in business making great boats since 1979. Today they make some very high quality Inflatable Catamaran sailboats and kayaks. While the sailboats are lesser known in North America they are very well known in Germany, but their inflatable kayaks are known all over the world and often written about in paddling magazines.
We carry the full line of Grabner products but are still in the process of listing everything to the web site so if there is a particular product or accessory you are interested in but do not see, please do not hesitate to contact us. You can shop for Grabner products in our online store by clicking HERE.
So now in addition to the ever popular MiniCat inflatable Catamarans we also offer SmartKat and Grabner Happy Cat's. We are your Canadian source for high quality portable sailboats and watersports gear.
Our contract with Grabner also allows us to supply boats to other countries including America where you can shop in Canadian dollars and take advantage of favorable exchange rates and be sales tax exempt.
We believe the future of water sports is inflatable.
Inflatable boats are tougher than rigid boats like fiberglass and carbon and in the rare case that they do get damaged they are repaired in minutes with a patch and glue. Try that with those other materials. Now there are rigid boats made of plastic, which is much tougher, but also much heavier and impossible to repair. We don't dislike rigid boats ... we love all boats and they each have a specific purpose or use, but we LOVE inflatables.
Besides being super tough and durable, inflatables are easy to transport so you can load them into your truck and never worry about a trailer to tow them. Since there is no trailer you can sail them anywhere, not just places with a boat ramp. Assembly takes much less than an hour and disassembly is done in minutes. When comparing that with trailer loading and unloading and we would rather spend more time sailing and less time rigging.
Inflatable sailboats are very easy to sail by someone just learning, but experienced sailors can also push them hard. They are also many times lighter than rigid boats so you can right them without worry should you capsize which makes them great for kids and lighter sailors. They are also much more comfortable and you end up with less bruises than a solid hulled boat.
Mystic Point Water Sports was founded with a vision that sailing and other water sports should be accessible to all and inflatable sailboats help make that vision a reality. Over the years we have become known as Canada's best and in some cases only source for quality inflatables. We are your go to trusted source for accurate information to help you choose the right boat for your needs.
For many years we focused on MiniCat which has become the biggest selling Inflatable Catamaran sailboat in the world, but now we are please to bring you some of the other brands that are out there. So today we would like to introduce SmartKat. We are the only ones in Canada to offer you the SmartKat but that doesn't mean we can't provide one to our American and International friends. If you are not from Canada don't hesitate to reach out to us. For some reason, foreign orders are tax exempt and you get to shop in the ridiculously undervalued Canadian dollar. We aren't able to sell all our brands to foreign customers, but we can with SmartKat!
This boat was designed and engineered in Germany and is currently built in Austria. It features larger diameter hulls than a MiniCat so it sits a little higher off the water, but the trade off there is in a small increase in weight. SmartKats on average weigh roughly between 45 and 50 kg, MiniCats have alot of models which range from 25 to 58 kg, but the fairest comparison is probably with the 420 which weighs about 44 kg. The biggest take away here though is that both are light and easy to sail and easy to right.
SmartKats also come in 2 bags and the setup time is very similar to a MiniCat. The MiniCat, like most sailboats, uses a sail with an internal rope that feeds through a channel whereas the SmartKat mainsail wraps around the outside of a mast more like a windsurfer or an XCAT. All of which have jib furlers.
The SmartKat has a trapeze wire, same as the MiniCat, but they offer a tiller extension so the skipper can get out on the wire, whereas the MiniCat does not ... but you can DIY your own tiller extension on the MiniCat. Both are built exceptionally well and the quality and engineering that goes into them is noticeable from a mile away.
The most noticeable difference between the two is how they handle lateral resistance. SmartKat uses a retractable centerboard instead whereas MiniCats use fins on the hulls. Both of these result in faster turning and easier tacking than a rigid hulled boat like a Hobie where the entire length of the hull provides lateral resistance which can result in stalled tacks and be more difficult to tack for novice sailors.
It's hard to say which system is "better" between the MiniCat and SmartKat systems and i'm sure this is something that can be debated endlessly. Both turn easy and point well ... I would think the MiniCat can point a couple degrees higher and the SmartKat can turn microscopically faster but I will need to spend many enjoyable hours on the water testing both. One day I hope to also see which one sails faster but i can't see there being much difference either way.
The SmartKat is rated for higher wind. Their mainsail areas are 5.9 and 6.2 M squared depeding on the model whereas MiniCat 460 main sail has an area of 8.0 M Squared and a 420 has a 6.5 M squared area ... so higher wind rating also means smaller sail ... so you could argue that the MiniCat is better in lighter winds, especially the 460.
The MiniCat comes in 4 categories
The SmartKat comes in 3 categories:
Both brands offer lots of great accessories (we may not have them all up in our store at time of writing so please ask us if you don't see one you want).
Wow this will be a tough choice for anyone looking for a new boat! It's a good thing I don't think you can go wrong with either choice. I'd say choose the one that fits the wind range you most plan to sail in and is the appropriate size for you and what you want to do. And then let's get out there and race our boats!
I am just happy we can provide such great brands for such cool sports and help people to realize their sailing dreams. Now you can own a sailboat that fits in your condo closet! How cool is that? But I must warn you, wherever you go people will be asking you about your new inflatable sailboat. The attention it can draw comes with the territory I suppose.
Feel free to reach out with any questions you have about any of the brands we carry or sports we endorse. We are still building out some nice info pages on our website and working to add all the accessories to our store, but in the mean time you can shop for a SmartKat by clicking the button below.
Thanks for reading and I hope you all have a wonderful, safe and fun filled Canada Day Long Weekend (Independence Day to our US friends).
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