Review of the Hunter 140 Sailboat

The Hunter 140 with one sailor aboard

Tom Lochhaas

The Hunter 140 (14 feet long) has been a popular small daysailer for over a decade. You see the 140 at sailing schools and community sailing centers, but not usually in club races. Broad, stable, and far from overpowered, the Hunter 140 is an excellent learning or starter boat. Hunter called it a "fabulous family daysailer," but your family better be pretty small to pack them in! Its small size makes a good boat for kids becoming old enough to learn to sail or wanting to go out on their own. It will likely feel cramped for full-size adults after a couple hours, and racers will want a boat with more sail and speed.

Pros

  • Good boat for learning to sail: stable and easy to control
  • With a broad beam and relatively small sail area, boat heels less and cockpit stays dry
  • Long cockpit seats three or four crew (not four adults)
  • Control lines well positioned for single handed sailing
  • Unsinkable foam-cored hull; easily righted if capsized

Cons

  • Not a racer; may feel underpowered or sluggish to more experienced sailors.
  • Hunter claims "perfect for beach launching," but it's too heavy to be carried by 2 or 3 people

Description

  • Length overall: 14 feet
  • Beam: 5 feet 10 inches
  • Draft: centerboard up: 6 inches; centerboard down: 36 inches
  • Empty weight: 225 lbs.
  • Sail area (main and jib): 102 sq ft
  • Mast height (hinged deck step): 21 feet 6 inches
  • Easily trailered and launched
  • MSRP $8,000 depending on options—widely available used (NADA Marine Guide average retail price for older models: $2,760)
  • Used sailboats widely available
  • Well constructed and holds its value well

The Hunter 140 Sailboat

The Hunter 140 was sold from 1998 to 2010 and earned a decent reputation as a good small sailboat for learning to sail, for children, and for small families. It's more comfortable and easier to sail than the much smaller and wetter 14-foot Sunfish or 14-foot Laser. It's also a better boat to learn on than, for example, the faster 19-foot Lightning. It can hold more crew than either the Sunfish or Laser and with its longer cockpit and the broader beam is drier and easier to move around in with less risk of being hit in the head by the boom on a fast tack. It may not accelerate as fast as these others in a puff, and it's seldom used for serious club racing, but it's a nice, quality family boat.

It's a shame that Hunter has apparently replaced the 140 daysailer model with two newer models. Both the Hunter 146 and the Hunter 15 are beamier and heavier and have higher freeboard. That means they will sail even flatter and carry more crew weight, but what these boats give up for more comfort and stability they may lose in excitement. The 140 is a fun boat for a non-racer, and the new Hunter models are just more conservative and try too hard to look cool. Unless you absolutely must have a brand new boat, I'd recommend looking around for a 140 in good condition and, through 2011, you might find new ones still in inventory at some dealers. Another advantage of the 140 is that lots were built over the years, and you should have no problem finding replacement parts and gear.

As noted above, the 140 has been popular in many yacht club sailing schools and other venues. You can easily teach yourself or your kids the basics of how to sail on these boats.

If you're interested in a small daysailer but don't have room to store it or don't want to have to trailer it about, consider the classic Sunfish.

If you own a trailer for your boat, be sure you maintain it adequately both to keep it working into the future but to stay safe when using it.