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There are many different kinds of sailboats. As a general rule, they are classified according to how many masts they have, as well as how those masts are positioned. Size is not taken into consideration.
Sloops comprise the largest category of sailboats. Sloops have one mast that is set into the deck slightly forward of amidships. The mast is able to support two sails — the main, which is located on the back of the mast, and the jib, which is a smaller sail located on the front. A sloop that has a mast with only one main is called a catboat, while a sloop that has a mast with one main and two jibs is called a cutter.
Sailboats with two masts are for experts only. A sailboat with two masts is usually larger and requires more sail power than a one-mast boat. A ketch-rigged sailboat has the larger mast in front and the smaller mast in back, while a schooner has a foremast that's shorter than the mainmast, which sits in the back of the boat. A yawl, in which the rear mast is behind the wheel or tiller, is infrequently seen these days.
Most sailboats have one hull. Catamarans are two-hulled sailboats, and trimarans have three hulls. Sailboats with more than one hull are becoming increasingly more popular because of their excellent stability. Why would you choose a choose a boat with one hull versus one with two or three? Boats with one hull right themselves when capsized, but are more likely to sink if there is a hole in the hull. Boats with more than one hull are very difficult to right once they capsize, but stay afloat when punctured. So you have to decide whether you would rather have a boat that doesn't capsize, or a boat that doesn't sink!
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