A Comprehensive Guide to Swing Keels

By Matt Claiborne

A swing keel is a weighted fin keel that pivots up into the hull of the boat.

In short, a swing keel sailboat gives you the best of all worlds—excellent sailing performance, even upwind, and shallow water access to get in and out of virtually any anchorage or marina in the world.

Swing Keels Versus Centerboards

First, and perhaps most importantly, a swing keel is not a centerboard. The two may look similar, but their likeness ends there.

Swing Keel Versus Lifting Keel

Lifting keels look like a conventional fin, bulb, or even wing keel, but they have one significant design difference. Using a high-power motor, they can lift vertically up into the hull.

Swing Keels Versus Canting Keels

A canting keel is found only on the most cutting-edge ocean racing boats. They swing not aftward, like a swing keel, but instead side to side.

Other Shallow-Draft Designs to Consider


Bilge Keels


Shoal Draft Cruisers