Beach sailboat design

Take this typical beach, were the breaker waves (small ones that is) gently fade on the sand. Imagine a cross or a face wind.

Does someone know if there is a sailboat [EDIT R/C boat] specially designed for this playground?

[li]I guess it would need an IMOCA/VOR hull design, piercing bow and surfing tail.[/li][li]The keel would need to be integrated in the hull (some kind of bottom ballast).[/li][li]The boat would have to be able to turn over on its own.[/li][li]The rigging would need to be very sturdy.[/li][/ul]



Certainly no production designs that I can think of. What sort of size did you have in mind?


Edit: One thought - I think the original beach cats (hobie etc) were designed for just such conditions.

Hi Row,

Size doesn’t really matter. I should have been clearer, I meant an R/C sailboat.

I was on vacation in such a place a few weeks ago. I did some “surf board” for fun, you know the small one in foam where you belly stretch out on it. But the water was freezing cold. This is why I thought then that it would be cool to play with an R/C boat in these waves. Preferably a sailboat of some kind. Just a wish I guess.

Thanks anyway.


I’ve been sailing vintage and modern RC boat on a beach like this for several years now.
If you dont mind getting wet, you can sail like I usually do: stand in the water.
Many videos here to show:


Hello Gerald,

I appreciate your input. Your “Rock All Night II” (?) is certainly a great success. Being very found of Open60/V70 design, I had followed your building very closely (any published plan? :wink:). I appreciate the fact that it doesn’t seem to be prone to nose diving. And as trivial as it seems now, I must admit that I never thought of standing in the water. Although, this wouldn’t take care of the freezing cold water of that place at the time of the year I usually go.

But more importantly, staying clear or beyond of the rolling/breaker waves, like you seem to do in your videos, is not what I had in mind. I imagine myself playing in the waves, trying to catch them and surf them up to the beach. Your hull design is about what I had in mind. the fin/bulb configuration would need though to be replace by a lested short keel. The mast would probably need to be shorter as well, the deck rounder. Kinda like a modern capsule lifeboat with a piercing bow and a sail.

Well, maybe I am asking for too much as this package would still need enough sail power to move around in the “fury” of the sea. At least, I had some fun playing with it in the waves… in my head!

I think something along the lines of an ec12 would be best, fairly shallow draft, fairly large (60" I think?) and plenty powerful. I think that the overall design of the boat would need some modification, however. More beam, and a more broad stern would be best, but keep that fine bow to push over the waves some. I would also recommend that you beef up the mast and standing rigging, as a knockdown in the surf is very powerful. I know, I surfed all through college. The worst injury I ever received surfing (dislocated both shoulders) was during a session in small surf, just like the one you pictured. A smaller rig would be beneficial as well.
Another point would be to build a tri. They would be fast enough to jump the waves, and would penetrate reasonably well, although I would build it a little heavier than normal to keep momentum. Maybe add a ballast box?
Whatever you decide to do, please post a build thread, It would be very interesting!

Hello Sylvain

Inspired by your post and kzimmeman’s reply, I tried out my trimaran at the beach in a gentle surf. Quite exhilarating. I managed to catch a few waves, but didn’t surf all the way to the beach. My boat is only 40 cm, which probably prevented it sustaining tooo much damage in a capsize (one survived successfully), but with a bigger, faster boat it may be possible to be a bit more daring. I launched from a small point which provided a good vantage point and some clear water to get out through the waves.

Some photos attached.



Great set of photo’s - with the diminutive size of your tri those seas must be the equivalent of storm force!

I don’t know if your camera has the ability to record video footage, if it does it’d be fascinating to see how she performs with regards to speed in those ‘conditions’.


Very inspiring Jim, you are giving me hope!

Thank you for sharing this with us. And I’ll second Row, a video would be very revealing.

Row and Sylvain,

Unfortunately I didn’t have a video camera with me. I’ll endeavor to take some video footage next time.


Boy that looks like a nightmare! At least I’ve had a few of those…
Interesting that you have a 40cm tri. Any rhyme or reason behind that size? We have a 60cm multi class, and a few footy sailors were thinking of a footy cubed class, but I’ve never come across a 40cm size boat before. Great picks by the way, I especially like the one where all you can see is the sails!

To be honest, I didn’t know anything about rc multihull classes when I started. I set out trying to make as small a tri as I could using standard rc equipment. I was also keen to use a continuous loop sheeting system rather than a McCormick rig. Consequently the size was ultimately determined by the size of the smallest sail winch I could easily get my hands on. I originally envisioned sailing it on small rivers, and hadn’t considered sailing it at the beach until I saw Sylvain’s post. It was fun to sail, but I think that a faster more powerful tri would be better suited to the conditions.


Here is some video footage of the tri sailing in a gentle sea breeze:


A bit risky sailing in water like that with weeds in it.
I nearly lost a boat out to sea - picked up some weed around the keel that streamed back past the rudder - no steering!!!
Fortunately it broached on a big wave well out to sea (like half a kilometre out!), the weed came off and I brought it home.

Thank you Mij. I really appreciate your effort to share this with us. Your little tri looks quite agile and worty of the task. Congratulation.

This video seems to confirm what I had in mind. You don’t need buddies and/or competition to endlessly keep the fun factor on such a playground. You can’t get bored since there is always something happening which required your attention.

Have fun!

No problem Sylvain. I’m addicted now, it is quite different to sailing on flat water.

Based on my two sessions I have a few points which might be worth considering in your design process:

  • this is probably pretty obvious, but the boat needs to be built for the conditions, and the conditions at the beach vary considerably. You can probably see from my clips that my boat didn’t perform all that well in the bigger waves. Apart for the increased chance of being wiped out, I don’t think it got clear wind when the waves were close to the height of the mast. A taller mast than usual (perhaps with a thinner sail) might be a good option.
  • With regards to weight, I think you can go either way. As was suggested in a previous reply, you could go for a heavier boat with more momentum to push through the waves, or alternatively you could go for a lighter boat which accelerates quickly between waves. The latter may be better suited to a multihull.
  • the sails should perhaps be a bit higher off the deck compared to a flat water boat. This will help maintain momentum when breaking through waves.

It would be interesting to see a bigger trimaran sailing in similar conditions to those I was sailing in (anyone?).

I agree that you don’t need buddies to have fun, but I reckon that racing under these conditions would be quite something!


Hey, maybe we could start an internet ocean class! Do something like the footies have for the internet course, maybe sail a 300 foot length of beach down and back again? Then again, I bet there will not be but three or four people interested…
The video is pretty cool, it looks like that little tri is a solid performer! I’m building a couple of rg65ms this winter (finally!) I’ll take them to the beach this summer and we will see how they do.