SAIL Magazine Best Boats – Tartan Fantail

Best Boats 2013 –  Tartan Fantail

By Sail Staff • Posted: Nov 15, 2012


The past year has been a good one for small boats and daysailers, but even in a crowded field, the  Tartan Fantail stands out as something special—a boat that is elegant, practical and, best of all, a whole lot of fun.

Aesthetically, the boat reflects the sensibilities of an earlier age, with its nearly plumb bow, subtle but attractive sheer and traditional overhanging transom. But below the waterline the boat is as modern as they come, with a high-aspect rudder and a 1,200lb bulb keel.

Topsides the boat is also very much a product of the 21st century. Like the rest of the Tartan line, the hull is infused epoxy with an end-grain balsa core and therefore boasts a high strength-to-weight ratio. The retractable carbon-fiber bowsprit and aluminum mast (a carbon spar is optional) are paired with a composite “pocket boom” with an integral sail cover that makes dropping and furling the mainsail a snap.

The boat is available in three configurations. The DS (Daysailor) package featured on hull #1 includes minimal “accommodations” belowdecks—basically a cooler and portable marine head—a self-tacking jib and a wealth of teak trim topsides.

The ST (Sail Trainer) version has the same accommodations, but does away with the teak trim and the self-tacking jib so that new sailors will have more do. The WE (Weekender) has a larger cabin trunk and more headroom, plus a marine head with a holding tank and a simple galley with sink and alcohol cooktop.

All three versions boast a fantastic 9-foot cockpit with all sail controls led directly to the helm area. In spite of its sparkling performance, this is a boat you sit “in” rather than “on,” making it as comfortable as it is sprightly.

Finally, the boat is powered by a Torqeedo outboard in a nicely designed well aft. The motor is controlled by a throttle
alongside the tiller. Batteries can be charged by plugging in or via an optional solar or wind-generator package—a neat “green” touch for a great all-around boat that is as much a pleasure to look at as it is to sail.

Photos by JH Peterson  andAdam Cort