When we hear about radio-controlled models, our mind usually goes to lightning-fast cars twitching left and right, or buzzing planes and helicopters zooming above our heads.
When it comes to RC sailboats though, the experience couldn’t be further from that. These amazing model yachts are like nothing you’ve seen or played, before.
These tall sailing boats are practically silent, and their graceful flow has something hypnotizing which is soothing for the viewer.
Even at a regatta—that’s a series of yacht races, for the uninitiated—there is always a sense of calmness in the atmosphere. And this is something special in the RC world.
Sounds tempting? It’s a less complicated and expensive hobby than you might think.
Let’s see the 7 best RC sailboats on the market based on our deep research.
1. Joysway Dragon Flite 95 Plug N Play
Joysway’s flagship is one of the best radio controlled sailboats right now, and a favorite among RC sailors.
For a very competitive price you get a carbon fiber keel fin, Mylar sails, and a very rigid mast, also made from carbon.
Just to buy these three parts separately, would cost you more than half of the Dragon Flite’s value and this why its price, even though it’s not low, can be considered a bargain.
Sure, it doesn’t have a transmitter and receiver, but if you don’t have one, you can always opt for the RTR version for a small extra cost.
The hull is slender and cuts through the water easily, the rudder is big, making changing direction a breeze even at low speeds, while the flat-tail zinc alloy keel keeps everything in balance no matter the conditions.
The Dragon Flite 95 comes with pre-installed electronics and running rigging, but will still need some assembly which may take a few hours.
The finished model measures a bit more than three feet in length and is just shy of five feet in height.
It’s not the easiest boat to carry around but its ease of use and stellar performance will reward everyone: from beginners to experienced skippers, every single time.
Last but not least, the Dragon Flite has an enthusiastic worldwide community behind it and a racing class of its own which is even recognized by the American Model Yachting Association.
- Length: 37.6” (955mm)
- Height: 57.9”
- Mast Height: 41.3”
- Weight: 4.4 lbs.
- Material: ABS hull with carbon keel fin and mast.
2. Joysway Orion 2 (2019 V2.0 Release)
A small and nimble RC yacht that comes with everything you are going to need in the box. A great choice for first-timers, the Orion is the perfect sailboat to learn the ropes of model sailing.
The two-channel radio transmitter is not as good looking as the boat itself, but it gets the job done.
The assembly is a bit complicated and can take beginners more time, but the price is great for what you get, and it’s one of the best bangs for your bucks out there.
- Length: 18.3” (465mm)
- Height: 36.2”
- Mast Height: 25”
- Weight: 2.1 lbs.
- Material: ABS hull with fiberglass mast and booms.
3. Poco Divo Compass
Thanks to its low price, the Compass is one of the most popular entry-level sailboats in the market.
It may have no bells and whistles, but it features a decent 2.4 GHz transmitter and everything you are going to need for a sailing day.
It comes almost assembled, but like in most cases, there is work to be done for the vessel to get seaworthy.
With its distinctive flashy red mainsail, the Compass is one of the most recognizable boats out there.
It won’t set records, but it’s a great sailboat to learn on and have hours of fun.
On the downside, water-proofing is not its strongest point, and the hull interior should be inspected regularly so that the servos and batteries remain dry and free of corrosion.
- Length: 25.6” (650mm)
- Height: 53.7”
- Mast Height: 37.4”
- Weight: 3 lbs.
- Material: ABS
4.Kyosho 612 III
Kyosho is not just another company in the RC world; it’s a giant, and the fact that the Japanese manufacturer has stayed in business for all these decades is no accident.
The Fortune 612 III has been around for some years, but that doesn’t mean old when it comes to RC sailboats.
It may be small and not performance-oriented, but it’s one of the most beautiful boats money can buy. If you want a yacht that doubles as an exhibit, you should look no further. The detail on this thing is amazing.
It has got helms, winches, painted figures, and even working parts like the booms are lifelike.
Naturally, there are drawbacks too. The hatches are prone to taking in water, and this along with the fact that the Fortune leans a lot can be problematic. It’s a boat made more for graceful sailing than racing performance.
- Length: 24” (612mm)
- Height: 44.7”
- Weight: 2.3 lbs.
- Material: Plastic
5. Joysway Dragon Force 65 V4
A classic sailboat that has introduced many people into RC sailing.
Easy to sail and pretty capable straight out of the box, the Dragon Force is the best way to get in the RG65 class or the dedicated DF 65 class without breaking the bank.
Back in 2012, the Dragon Force 65 changed the course of RC sailing forever. Up to then, the hobby was rather expensive and getting into it was more complicated than it is today.
The vessels taking part in IOM (International one meter) and RG65 classes were costly and needed lots of knowledge and model making abilities from the skipper’s side.
All this changed in 2011 when three hobbyists from the UK proposed to the Chinese company Joysway a new vessel.
It was an RC sailboat that would cost a fraction of what boats cost by then, and at the same time would be easy to assemble and sail by novices.
Not long after, the first version of Dragon Force was launched and it became so popular, that along with it, a new class was born—the DF65.
The V4 might be an older version, but it’s still a great yacht that includes everything you are going to need at a low price.
If you‘re in the search for a low-cost model to start sailing, I don’t think there is a better RC sailboat right now.
As usual, a small assembly is required before launching it for its maiden voyage, but after that, it’s smooth sailing.
To make it even more versatile, Joysway offers four extra sail sets to buy for different wind conditions.
- Length: 25.6” (650mm)
- Height: 52.7”
- Mast Height: 36”
- Weight: 3 lbs.
- Material: ABS
6. Golden Bright
The cheapest RC model in this list is equipped with something that no other model has—an outboard electric motor.
So, except for rudder and sail trimming, the included radio transmitter has two buttons to control the motor (forward and backward).
The Golden Bright is also the smallest boat, which makes it is very easy to move around, even without disassembling the mast and keel.
This yacht has a realistic scale look, featuring a cabin, railings, and a proper cockpit with a helm that doubles as an on-off switch.
It also has a short keel fin which makes it great for shallow waters but gives it a high center of gravity, which in turn makes it lean a lot even with moderate winds.
It is an ideal present for kids or adults who want to have a bit of fun in a pond or a pool without needing to know much about sailing beforehand.
- Length: 21” (550mm)
- Height: 4.75”
- Weight: 4 pounds
- Material: Plastic
7. Kyosho Seawind 1
This is the biggest sailboat on the list, and it’s drop-dead gorgeous. The Seawind 1 has been in the market for quite some time, and because of its popularity, it has a dedicated class of its own (Seawind class) in many local RC sailing clubs.
The build quality is excellent, on par with Kyosho’s highest standards. The masts and booms are made from anodized aluminum, and the servos are waterproof.
The gorgeous white and blue hull is made from ABS plastic and includes realistic fittings and helms, making Seawind an excellent JF class static model too.
On the water, the Seawind is swift and will manage most of the wind conditions that you will throw at it, while the long keel keeps roll in check.
For those who want to compete, the Seawind one-design class is a great place to start, practically with zero extra cost and a supporting worldwide community.
Overall, it’s a great RC sailboat and if you can afford the steep price, it will give you years of fun and joy.
- Length: 39.3” (998mm)
- Height: 72.8”
- Weight: 6.8 lbs.
- Material: ABS hull with anodized aluminum mast and booms
Buyer’s Guide: How to choose the Best Sailboat for your needs?
How RC Sailboats Work?
Truth to be told, the technology of RC sailboats has remained the same since the first one was built by a Harvard PhD candidate called Robert Henry Packard, in 1923.
It’s just a hull (the body of the boat) with a mast on top and a bulb keel beneath acting as ballast.
The skipper controls the vessel with the help of two servos (control motors) that steer the rudder and trim the sails. The first needs no explanation, the second is what sailing is all about.
The Basics of Sailing
Contrary to what many people believe, a sailing boat can’t sail only with the wind at its back. It can also sail upwind (against the wind), as long as it’s not head-on.
When doing this, the sails have to be trimmed (have the sail angle adjusted) so as to be almost parallel to the hull.
This is done with the help of a sail winch (servo) which pulls the sails in, towards the center of the boat. Accordingly, when the boat sails downwind (along with the wind), the skipper lets the sails out by releasing the tension on the winch.
Of course, there is a lot of seamanship involved but these are the basics. If you’d like to know more this is a great YouTube video.
So, Which Sailing Boat Should You Get?
It all depends on your needs. If you want something to fool around in a swimming pool with your eight-year-old, then the Golden Bright is perfect. Do you need something more capable but still cheap? The Joysway Orion 2 is the best beginner sailboat.
For people who want something bigger, the Kyosho 612 III and the Poco Divo Compass are excellent choices. If you are looking to race without breaking the bank, then there is no better sailboat than Joysway’s Dragon Force 65.
And last but not least, if you have prior experience or just want to go big, the Kyosho Seawind 1 and Joysway Dragon Flite 95 are amazing vessels with a great community behind them.
No matter which boat you’ll choose, all of them will need a final assembly to get in the water.
And that’s a good thing because you will have the chance to see how the boat actually works—something that will come in handy sooner or later.
In the meantime, as an old nautical wish goes: “may you have fair winds and following seas!”