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Sailing is an economical and environmentally friendly means of water travel. A hybrid motor sailing yacht can use either sail or propulsion (or both) as conditions dictate. Many “pure” sailing yachts are also equipped with a low-power engine for use in conditions of calm and when entering or leaving difficult anchorages.

Cruising yachts are by far the most common sailing yacht in private use making up most of the 27–50 ft range. These vessels can be complex in design as they need a balance between docile handling qualities, good light-wind performance, interior space, and on-board comfort. There is a huge range of such craft. Many include a teardrop hull, with a fine bow, a wide, flat bottom and deep single-fin keel with ample beam to give good stability. Most are single-masted sloops, with a single fore-sail of the jib or Genoa type and a single mainsail. Spinnaker sails are used for down-wind use. These types are often chosen as family vessels, particularly those in the 26 to 40 ft range. Such a vessel will usually have several cabins below deck. Cruisers are quite capable of taking on long-range passages of many thousands of miles. Such boats have a cruising speed upwards of 6 knots.