There are many different types of sail boats, ranging from tiny one person boats to tall ships which can carry hundreds of sailors. Sailboats can be classified primarily by their sail configuration and hull type.
Sloop – The sloop is the most common sail configuration, consisting of a mainsail and foresail. There are several variations on the basic sloop design, such as adding more than one foresail, or the fractional rig. A fractional rig sloop is one where the foresail does not extend all of the way to the top of the mast – this can give the boat better performance in some conditions.
Catboat – This design has one mast, like the sloop; Unlike the sloop, it does not carry a headsail. The catboat is also characterized by its mast being placed well towards the bow of the boat.
Ketch – A ketch has two masts – a main mast and a mizzen mast. A ketch may also use jib sails in front of the main mast.
Schooner – A schooner is a boat with two or more masts, and the second mast is at least as tall as the first mast. This differentiates a schooner from a ketch, as the mizzen mast on a ketch is shorter than the main mast.
In addition to sail type, sail boats can be classified by hull type. Most sail boats are mono or single hull boats, but some are multi hull or catamaran hull designs.
A Mono hull boat uses a keel or centerboard for stability (to leakage against the force of the wind on the sails), but a multi hull boat uses it's width to create stability. Multi hull boats are often faster than mono hull boats. Of course, a mono hull boat will have more interior room than a multi hulled boat of the same size.