Buy a Santana Sailboat

A Resource Guide for Buying a Used Santana Sailboat


The popular Santana sailboats are built by the W.D. "Bill" Schock Corporation based in California. Bill Schock is widely recognized as the first boat builder to make a production fiberglass boat. The Lehman 10 was the first, followed by three other One-Design models: the Snowbird, the Sabot, and the Schock 22. He was determined to make sailboats affordable for a much wider range of buyers. Up until then, only the very rich could own a sailboat.

Schock has built several other name-brand boats, including Thistle, Tempest, Snipe, Endeavor, 20ft Dory, Electric Packet, and a number of other boats under the Schock name. This page will focus strictly on the Santana nameplate.

The Santana 20 is sometime referred to as "the original sport boat." Introduced in 1976, the S-20 quickly became a popular sailboat to own because it is affordable, easy to trailer, and fun to sail.  The boat is comprised of a fixed 550-pound keel, a one-piece fiberglass hull, and all the skipper’s sail controls are within easy reach. The high aspect ratio 7/8 rig offers excellent performance over a wide range of sailing conditions, and the interior seems larger than a 20-footer, with accommodations for up to four adults. This One-Design model can still be seen sailing in smaller bodies of water around the United States.

The most outstanding attribute of the Santana 21 is its unique combination fixed/swing keel. The fixed portion is 12" deep and is securely attached to the hull. The swing portion of the keel is constructed of cast iron and combines with a hinge to make a total keel weight of 550 pounds, the same weight as the S-20. The Santana 21 was designed to go places. With the swing keel up, the 12" draft allows the sailboat to slide into shallow water with ease. 879 of these sailboats were built between 1969 and 1976.

The Santana 22 was the first sailboat design of Gary Mull (first sketched on a cocktail napkin at the Chart House bar) and it is still one of the best designs in its size range, especially in heavy air. The S-22 quickly became one of the most popular One-Design sailboats on the San Francisco Bay and soon found its way to places like Monterrey Bay, Oklahoma lakes, the Columbia River, Houston, Dallas, Huntington Lake in California, and Lake Dillon in Colorado. A total of 747 of these boats were built between 1969 and 1979, and many of them are still active today.

"Having sailed a Santana 22 for several years, I can personally speak to the boat’s outstanding overall performance and value. I spent many mornings and afternoons lake sailing the S-22 in the beautiful high Sierra Nevada Mountains of California back in the mid-70s. The Santana we sailed was named Tuna and many a party took place on board."

– IBS Guest Contributor

The Santana 23 D sailboat was designed to be a trailerable racer/cruiser. Equipped with a daggerboard, vertically lifting rudder, and light displacement (2600 pounds), this sailboat is relatively easy to trailer, except that the rig-mast is 32 feet long and supported by at least ten stays. Raising the rig can be problematic without at least two people. The interior space is nice for a racing sailboat, with the exception of the daggerboard casing.  True to the Santana brand, this boat sails beautifully. 144 of these sailboats were built between 1978 and 1984.

The Santana 525 was designed by Shad Turner. It is a beautiful boat with sleek lines and very well-balanced dimensions. The S-525 was designed for competitive racing under a variety of rules. Built to One-Design specifications, level class racing is still very popular with this model. With a spacious cockpit and comfortable interior, this sailboat achieves that fine balance between racer and cruiser. 261 of these sailboats were built between 1977 and 1982.

There were only 83 Santana 26 sailboats built between 1971 and 1974. These boats typically have inboard motors (Volvo usually). This model can still be seen racing and cruising the coastal waters of the Western United States, although it’s not unusual to see one occasionally in Texas or Oklahoma!

The Santana 27 (one piece fiberglass hull and deck) was designed by Gary Mull as a cruising/racing sailboat. The keel and rudder were designed to have a low wetted surface and high lift/low drag for going-to-weather ability. Teak coamings make the cockpit unusually safe and provide comfortable backrest.  The S-27 is fitted for an outboard motor of up to 10 HP, although some have small diesel inboards. The masthead sloop rig allows for a small mainsail and jib for leisurely cruising and daysailing, while the large fore-triangle will accommodate genoas and spinnakers for racing. There were 210 of these sailboats built between 1969 and 1974.

The Santana 28 has a displacement of 7,500 pounds. With just 40 of these built between 1976 and 1978, a well-maintained S-28 will cost approximately $8,000-$10,000 on the open market today. Sometimes referred to a "budget-oriented racer/cruiser", these sailboats can be seen primarily on the West Coast of the U.S.

Designed by the naval architect team of Bruce Nelson and Bruce Marek (of Stars and Stripes fame), the Santana 30/30 was produced in two versions, the GP and the RC. A total of 61 were built between 1982 and 1987. This boat is built to the same One-Design tradition of all Schock products. The S-30/30 is a large 30-footer with a huge masthead rig and long, powerful lines. The deck is functional and special attention was paid to the sheeting angles and spreader lengths. The interior space utilizes some of the features of the larger S-35 (reviewed below) with sleeping accommodations for up to 6 people, an L-shaped galley, a navigation station, and an enclosed head. This boat is flat-out fast!

The Santana 35 again possesses long, powerful lines with a large masthead rig. This boat was built between 1978 and 1983 and 115 were commissioned. Three generations removed from the original Santana 20 hull form, the S-35 incorporates much less relative beam throughout and therefore has a straighter, narrower shape that will allow for increased penetration to weather, while the wider and flatter stern will enhance reaching and surfing ability. Designed for a racing crew of 6-7, the interior plan is direct and efficient. There are numerous sail/gear storage areas throughout the boat. As a production sailboat, this model should take on the most custom of race boats with ease.

With a displacement of 15,000 pounds and sail area of 627 square feet, the Santana 37 is another example of the Schock One-Design family. The S-37 was designed by Gary Mull, one of the most prolific and successful of the U.S. designers working in the latter half of the 20th century. Only 21 of these sailboats were built between 1969 and 1971.

Twenty Santana 39 models were built between 1972 and 1980. The S-39 is an excellent sailing cruiser with bluewater capabilities. With an inboard auxiliary diesel engine, 7 berths, large galley, separate head compartment, and wheel steering, this boat stands out as an example of Schock’s original philosophy of providing relatively inexpensive boats to a wide range of buyers. Designed by the team of Turner and Mull, this capable cruiser includes all of the traits that make Santana a name to consider when buying a moderately-priced used sailboat.

Santanas are generally regarded as great racing/cruising boats that are moderately well-built. If you are considering buying a Santana, particularly one that has been raced, carefully inspect the spars and standing rigging for wear. Other things to inspect closely are the through-deck fittings and the hull and deck for any blisters on the gelcoat. Ask for a copy of a recent survey, if available. If no survey has been completed and you’re still uncertain, consider having a professional survey conducted, but only once all the sale terms have been finalized.

When you’re ready to get out there and find your sailboat, be sure to pick up your copy of the How to Buy a Sailboat guide and find a great boat at a bargain price. Clicking on the link will apply a $5 discount for iBuySailboats readers.