2012 Boat of the Year Winners: A Classy Class of New Boats
There's plenty to consider when looking at the lineup of new sailboats visited by our Boat of the Year panel of expert judges. "Boat of the Year" from our January 2012 issue.
Best Full-Size Cruiser, 45 Feet and Above
Passport Vista 545 CC
Ironically, for 2012, the “big boat” class was the smallest in the competition, with three boats. The fourth and final entry from Bavaria, the Cruiser 45, was one of them. A substantial 45-footer that, thanks to its long, hard chine, carries its beam well forward, the yacht employs dual rudders in tandem with a pair of wheels, and Simon, who conducts the motoring tests on each boat, was effusive in his praise of the boat’s maneuverability and control while under power and under sail.
In terms of style and layout, the second boat in this trio, the Beneteau Oceanis 45, is a scaled-up version of the Oceanis 41. “Gosh, it has so much room,” said Sherman. “I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: If anybody has learned how to please their client base, it’s Beneteau. In terms of improving quality, they have probably the largest database in the whole sailboat market of customers and warranty claims to do just that. Do they apply what they learn? Yes.”
When all was said and done, however, the judges couldn’t resist the Passport Vista 545 CC, which they honored as the Best Full-Size Cruiser, 45 Feet and Above.
Last but far from least, this year’s Cruising Multihulls class was comprised of four very different and unique boats, the smallest of which was a slick 36-foot trimaran—a rarity in BOTY circles—called the PT-11 Sport Tri. Fast and, yes, sporty, the boat certainly lived up to its name. But it wasn’t performance alone that caught the judges’ eyes. “The glasswork, the hull layup, was absolutely some of the best I’ve seen on any boat, racing or otherwise,” said Sherman. “Wonderful. Faultless.”
On the other end of the scale, the 60-foot Nexus 600 was conceived by a South African surfer looking for the ultimate ride for his mates in search of adventure sailing and chasing waves all over the world. Simon liked the space where you’d conjure up the next surfing safari. “It had an actual navigation station,” he said. “It had the nice big chair and lots of storage. It’s not only a place to plan your voyages and have all your reference materials; it’s where you get a lot of good thinking and important things done. It’s a haven.”
Simon could also picture himself aboard the Outremer 49. “I love the concept and mission of this boat,” he said. “They’re really building true bluewater passagemakers that will behave well at sea.” Sherman was also sold with the cat. “Aesthetically, it worked for me,” he said. “It was a good sailing boat and the quality of gear and equipment they’ve used is the best out there.”
Using a baseball analogy, you might say that the PT-11, Nexus, and Outremer—three cutting-edge boats—hit the corners of the strike zone. It was the fourth boat in the fleet, another South African-built cat, that was right over the middle of the plate. That’s why, as underscored by the review on page 64, the Leopard 44 is 2012’s Best Cruising Multihull and Cruising World’s Import Boat of the Year.
Herb McCormick is CW’s senior editor and director of the Boat of the Year contest.