The Explorer 16

The Explorer 16, a small trailable yacht of 5.05 m (16 feet) length and 2.13 mm beam, was designed by the Botterill boat-building family in the late 1960s for production in fibreglass. Since then about 150 of the cabin model have been produced. There have also been 11 of an open day-sailer version, and 10 of a 21 foot trailable yacht designed on the same principles. The Explorer 16 has an enclosed cabin with two bunks, and carries a mainsail, genoa (or working jib) and optional spinnaker. The dimensions of an Explorer 16 (5.0m long and 2.13m wide) means it sits well on a single-axle trailer and with an all-up weight of about 780 kg, can be towed by cars with engines of 2.0 litre or more. The class rules have always maintained the one-design principle, so that although some enhancements are permitted, the concept of economical family sailing has been continued to this day.

View this blog post to see how an Explorer 16 is constructed.


The Explorer 16 is a comfortable cruising trailer sailer with the ability to accommodate two people overnight. The swing keel enables the yacht to snug up to the shore yet provides strong righting power when locked down underway. Explorers have explored all the major waterways in Eastern Australia from the Whitsundays to Tasmania (but not crossing Bass Strait!)


In the right hands the Explorer 16 is a formidable racer. With a class based handicap (CBH) of just 0.580* well raced Explorers are regularly at the top of the fleet, right next to new, sophisticated yachts many times their cost. At a local level, the Explorer 16 is raced at several clubs in Victoria, with the largest fleet in 2023 at Saint Leonards Yacht Club & Motor Squadron.

* This is the CBH under the Australian Trailable Yacht and Sports Boat Rule (ATYSBR), 2019. Australian Sailing has recently reviewed the Trailable Yacht CBH, and as with many classes the Explorer 16 CBH has changed several times as the new formula is implemented. Watch this space!

The Explorer 16 Association

The Explorer 16 Association has supported Explorer 16 owners and enthusiasts since 1977, and welcomes all owners of Explorer yachts to join them for sailing and social purposes, and to obtain the best information and advice available on all aspects of Explorer sailing. An annual Victorian Championship commenced in 1979 and has been held every year since. Racing, cruising and social events are also held throughout the year.

If you would like to join the Association or find out more about these boats please visit the contact page.