A keelboat is technically any sailboat with a keel - as opposed to a centreboard or dagger board. There are both racing and cruising keelboats. The former may have cabins but these are primarily for equipment storage as opposed to accommodation. Cruising keelboats, on the other hand, are more commonly seen as yachts and have many of the amenities that you would find in caravans.

South Africa has a large number of active racing classes. The largest is the Hunter 19 class, which is a popular starter keelboat for many aspiring sailors. The boat is usually sailed with a crew of two. A slightly larger keelboat is the J22, (international and most active class) which is sailed by a three-person crew. The next one up is the L26, a South African specific class that takes a crew of four or five. This is the boat that is used for the annual Lipton Cup regatta. Other active classes include the Mistral, Formula 1, Stadt 23, Pacer 24 and J27.

On the cruising side, keelboats are available in almost any size from 18 feet upwards. And while it is possible to get a keelboat for as little as R15,000... there is, of course, no upper limit!

South Africa is well catered for with regard to keelboat clubs, which offer the best starting point for those who want to get into keelboat sailing.