Performance Propellers

Sailboat propellers; which design is best?

Sailboat propellers have two requirements.

First, provide maneuvering power forward and reverse while not under sail power.

Second, have minimal drag while under sail.

To achieve these requirements sailboat propellers have three general designs: fixed, feathering and folding.


fixed blade propellers

Fixed-blade propellers have blades that do not move and typically have only two, three, or four blades. The two blade propellers generally have less drag while under sail than the three or four blade propellers. These propellers are selected by cruisers and day sailors for lower drag (as compared to 3 and 4 blade Propellers), lower cost, high reliability and low maintenance.. Bronze is the traditional material. Performance Propellers urethane propellers have aerodynamic shape and controlled flexibility designed into the blades, and can automatically adjust up to 2 inches of pitch in response to the demands of the motor.

Typically fixed-blade propellers are the least expensive, starting around $275.


Feathering propeller

Feathering propellers have blades that rotate to a position, when the motor is not running, to present minimal surface area for drag under sail. The pitch of many feathering propellers can be adjusted to the boat and motor by a having a diver adjust set screws that can change the pitch. Racers and cruisers like these propellers for lower drag under sail, better performance in reverse. These are often the most expensive of the low drag sailboat propellers. These propellers need occasional mechanical maintenance. New feathering propellers start around $1500
Note Performance Propellers has recently simplified the feathering propeller, improved relibility. reduced maintaince and is now offering one of the lowest cost feathering propeller.
see our Feathering Propellers starting at $1100



Folding propellers have blades which fold together when the motor is not running to present minimal surface area for drag while under sail. When the motor is engaged the rotation opens the prop and holds the blades in a fixed pitch position. The pitch is not adjustable. These propellers are generally considered to have the best performance (lowest drag) under sail. These propellers need occasional mechanical maintenance. Historically folding propellers have had poor performance in reverse.
New folding propellers start around $1200.

What Information do I need for propeller selection and why?

Propeller Design and Selection Reference

Performance Propellers

44 James Street                                     Phone 607-749-3165

Homer, NY 13077                             Fax 607-749-4604