A New Contest For New Boats
"Racers want seconds per mile from their boats," said Bill Lee, "but
cruisers want miles per day."
In any gathering of sailors, a comment like that is an invitation to pile on.
This gathering, convened to decide Cruising World's 2004 Boat of the Year
(BOTY), was no different.
"The higher the performance profile of the boat, the more it not only
accelerates but also decelerates-the more unforgiving it is," said Steve
Callahan. To which Nonnie Thompson added, "Miles per day is only important up
to some point of comfort. A cruising couple would much prefer to back off than
bash through it."
Ralph Naranjo tallied up the hundreds of feet of chain, the outboard on the
pushpit, the scuba tanks, and the supplies cruisers inevitably carry and said,
"Cruising is about loading a lot of stuff aboard." The boat that performs well
and has a lot of accommodation space but no bilge, he said, begins to defeat
the purpose of a cruising boat, because it forces you to stow gear, stores, and
equipment up high. "It's much easier, when loaded down, to keep performance in
a 20,000-pound 40-footer than it is in a 15,000-pound 40-footer."
Last fall, in the days after the U.S. Sailboat Show, conversations around
themes like these filled a room in Annapolis, Maryland, as Boat of the Year
judges Lee, Callahan, Thompson, and Naranjo debated the relative merits of 22
of the year's new cruising-boat models they'd just inspected, at the dock and
under way, with an eye toward choosing the best.
It's an axiom of sailboat design that every boat is a compromise, and the
judges' conversations demonstrated once again that measuring a cruising boat's
performance isn't a mere calculation of wetted surface and chord lengths and
sail area-to-displacement ratios. The right calculus also needs to factor in
that boat's aptitude for keeping its shorthanded crew fed, rested, and safe as
they click off the miles together, whether across the bay or down the trades.
When you consider a boat this way, performance and comfort meet in a single
The judges recognized full well that any evaluation of a machine so complex and
wonderful as a cruising boat must inevitably rest on the bias of the observer,
and a regular part of their conversations aimed at clarifying just what their
own biases were-no small task.
But one consensus was a notion that sailboats are meant to be sailed. The ways
sailors use their boats are as diverse as the sailors themselves, but a vital
function of any cruising boat is its role as a waterborne home-either as a
vacation cottage or a primary residence-for its owners. This year's fleet had
quite a number of boats that would be ideal for this; but even more select were
the boats that would also make the most comfortable homes while under way.
The judges asked of each boat how well it could be sailed and maintained by a
couple. Could a person reach the mainsheet and genoa sheets from the helm? Did
the boat offer clear, secure passage up the companionway, from the cockpit to
the working deck, and forward to the mast and foredeck? Were the electric and
mechanical systems well labeled and readily accessible for repair and
In all of this, the judges also weighed each boat's value for the money. For
the sake of comparison, they used a pricing formula throughout the fleet that
included a basic sailaway package (Dacron working sails, safety gear, anchor
and windlass, refrigeration, basic depth and speed electronics but no chart
plotters or radar) for a commissioned boat delivered in the United States in
October 2003. But these figures should be used for comparison only: Depending
on options packages, foreign-exchange rates, and other factors, we sometimes
saw variations of 30 percent or more between "base" and "as-tested" prices.
Finally, a word about the Boat of the Year categories. This year, for the first
time, a special nominating panel composed of industry veteran Bill Seifert and
Cruising World staff made an early round of inspections, narrowed the fleet of
new boats for 2004 from three dozen to 22 dedicated nominees, and grouped the
boats in the categories you'll see in the pages that follow. The primary
criterion behind these groupings was price, with the divisions reflecting
increments of $200,000. The two exceptions were the performance classes, each
of which stood out as its own distinct type.
For more on the Overall Cruising Boat of the Year, as well as the winners of
the Best Value and Most Innovative awards, see page 61. Bio notes on our judges
can be found below. And to learn how you might join our judging panel for 2005,
also see page 61.
The four nominees in this category-the Beneteau 373, the Catalina 387, the Etap
37s, and the Hunter 41-range in price from $135,000 to $200,000 and in length
from 37 feet to 41 feet. A common thread among these boats is that they each
come from high-volume yards whose production efficiencies diminish the unit
cost, adding value to each boat.
The Runners-up: The new Catalina 387 is a thoughtful evolution from that
builder's popular 380, which won CW's 1997 prize for Best Midsize Cruiser. "The
design concept," said Gerry Douglas, Catalina's lead designer, "is to reflect
the 'real world' of most sailors while providing a luxurious environment for a
couple with the flexibility to accommodate a second couple comfortably or a
family of up to seven." In detail after detail-the segregation of the boat's
structure from its furniture, the epoxy-sealed edges around the hatchboards'
end grain, the cedar-lined lockers and solid teak doors, the raised bosses
around such leak-prone areas as genoa tracks, the copious tankage, the
brilliant head and holding-tank design-you'll find signs of the builder's care.
Of the complete access to all sides of the engine, filters, and running gear,
one BOTY judge said, "Magnificent."
The Hunter 41's design brief says it's for cruising, possibly shorthanded, and
for living aboard. In fact, if our contest categories had been based less on
price and more on usage, the H 41 could have been right at home among the
liveaboard cruisers. "They put a little house in a sailboat," one of the judges
But the real surprise came when we sailed the boat. We're told by the
big-volume boatbuilders that 90 percent of their customers choose in-mast
furling systems-one of Bill Lee's three Go-Slow Factors. (The other two are
shoal keels and fixed props, especially the three-bladed ones.) For our test
sail of the Hunter 41, we were treated to the pleasure of sailing with the
standard, albeit rare, full-roach main-for which Hunter's three-point B&R
rig is ideally suited. The standard rig for the 41 includes mast struts,
affixed from the deck to a point on the mast just above the gooseneck. "I like
the rig we sailed with today," said Steve. "The struts provide added structural
support to the stick, like another set of mast partners higher up in the rig.
They also give the crew on deck something to lean against, like mast pulpits."
Hunter's other signature design element, the stainless-steel arch over the
cockpit, served well to give the best sheeting position-from the end of the
boom-while keeping the sheet out of the cockpit's living space. The judges
lauded the work of Glenn Henderson, Hunter's in-house designer for the last few
years. For details on the Beneteau 373, see "Best Value" on page 61. The
Winner: The Belgian-built Etap 37s took the honors for its layout above and
below deck, its attention to safety, and its sprightliness under way. Dane
Somers, Etap's importer, describes the 37s thus: "She's designed for people who
want to spend their time on the water, not at the dock."
All in all, the judges felt the boat met its goal. "Nice motion," said Ralph,
who added that the ease of getting around the deck and from the cockpit to the
cabin evoked the simple pleasures in a boat. While some judges found the Etap
smaller than other 37-footers, Nonnie praised the designer's intelligent use of
space: A removable traveler that mounts across the cockpit settees offered the
twin advantages of end-boom sheeting while under way and an open cockpit when
the boat's at rest. "We put a lot of torque on that traveler," she said, "but
there was no creaking or shaking. It was stable. And with it taken out, you've
got a lot of room."
Ralph praised the dodger arrangement, which, he said, wasn't just due to the
contribution of the canvas maker. "This dodger was thought out by the
The Etap's cabin layout provides two sea berths, two forward-facing heads, and
a viable wet locker. The galley features an island double sink, directly on the
centerline, with a removable countertop to bridge the space to the portside
Steve particularly liked the ways the Etap addressed safety. "I love the
nonskid on the waist decks, the harness hook-on points in the cockpit, and the
unsinkability"-the latter trait being Etap's biggest selling point. "Few
builders have ever put this concerted effort into making their boats
unsinkable," he said.
To sum it all up, Steve said, "I'd get on this boat, and I'd take it anywhere."
The boats in this category-the Elan 40, the Grand Soleil 40, and the Wauquiez
Centurion 40s-are all 40-footers aimed at sailors who like to sail fast. The
boats ranged in price from $230,000 to $255,000. "As a group," said Bill Lee,
"I really like this style."
The Runners-up: The Grand Soleil 40 is described by its builder as "a fast
offshore cruiser." A dedicated racing version of the same design is also
available, with a SCRIMP hull, carbon rig, and 7-foot-10-inch keel. We sailed
the cruising version with the middle (7-foot-1-inch) keel option, reaching
speeds of just over 8 knots in 17 knots true.
Its Gallic name notwithstanding, the Grand Soleil is built in Italy by a
company called Cantiere del Pardo, which recently bought Dufour Yachts. Hull
construction is of solid hand-laid fiberglass with vinylester for blister
protection; the deck is of foam-sandwich construction. Like many boats in its
class, tie rods bring the chainplate loads to the grid structure, opening up
the interior space.
The second member of the Performance 40 class is the Wauquiez Centurion 40s. A
division of Groupe Beneteau since 1997, Wauquiez builds two distinct lines of
sailboats: the Centurion line, composed of cruiser/racers, and the Pilot Saloon
line, featuring cruising-optimized boats with windows forward and raised cabin
soles. The Centurion 40s follows closely in the footsteps of her 45-foot
sister, introduced two years ago. The hull is a resin-infused sandwich
construction with a fine entry forward and a lead-bulb keel to keep her
In this class, the Centurion is the only boat that commits firmly to a
two-stateroom layout; the payoff is a very nice separate shower in the head.
The gearheads in our group loved such thoughtful construction details as the
capped tails on the hose clamps. The Centurion has the best companionway in the
category, with hatchboards well designed to keep the water out and a functional
life-raft locker. When under power, the Wauquiez was also the quietest boat in
her class, with sound readings 5 decibels lower than the other two.
The Winner: The Elan 40 is produced by the most popular boatbuilder you've
probably never heard of. Based in Slovenia, in the last 40 years the company
has built some 40,000 fiberglass boats (mainly dinghies and runabouts, but also
sailboats for charter and racing) for the European market. Since the late
1990s, as order returned to this republic, formerly part of Yugoslavia, Elan
has been ramping up the production of its present line of Rob
Hum-phries-designed performance cruisers, which range from 31 to 45 feet. Last
year, it built 300 boats; for the future, it aims to become one of the world's
most prolific builders.
"This boat was a real treat to sail," said Bill Lee, noting that it had none of
the three Go-Slow Factors (furling main, shoal keel, fixed prop). Nonnie liked
the deck layout. "There was plenty of room around the wheel," she said. "The
passages into the cockpit from the transom, the cabin, and the side decks were
Steve noted nice treatments in some of the building details, "like the way the
sole was all fastened down. They bothered to put down washers underneath every
screw so that those sole elements aren't going to work loose over time." He
found the boat attractive without being fancy. Bill Lee liked the L-shaped
galley (which placed sinks near the centerline), the easy angle of companionway
steps, and the aft berth, which, at 66 inches wide, is the most generous in the
class. "On this boat, you go down below, and it all seems charming," he
The quartet of nominees in this category range in price from $260,000 to
$365,000. The judg-es came to group them in two pairs, with the Bavaria 49 and
the Jeanneau Sun Odyssey 49 on the one hand, and the Island Packet 370 and the
Hallberg-Rassy 40 on the other. Any of the four would make good long-term
homes-the 49-footers for the space they offer, the smaller boats for the extra
ingenuity with which their available space is arranged.
The Runners-up: After stepping off the Island Packet 370 at the dock during the
nomination round, Bill Seifert said, "This is the best boat under 40 feet we've
seen. There's no wasted space." Indeed, over the last quarter century, Bob
Johnson and the crew at Island Packet have truly refined their boats for the
cruising niche they've come to dominate.
From outward appearances, the design modifications from such longstanding IP
models as the 380 and the 350 are subtle, but they include a wider stern and a
taller, higher-aspect rig. On deck, the company is offering the boat in either
a sloop or a cutter rig, a departure from its former cutter-only approach. The
cockpit comprises lots of creative nooks for stowing lines, loose gear, and
sails as well as two LPG bottles.
The more mechanically inclined members of our troupe were wowed by the job IP
has done with systems installations. Staterooms forward and aft still leave
space for an ample saloon and head. The shower is one you could comfortably use
"Island Packet does a lot of things really well," said Nonnie. "I could live on
Looking now at the 49-footers from Bavaria and Jeanneau: It's a testament to
the production efficiencies of these two yards that they can deliver boats in
the same price-defined ballpark as boats 10 feet their junior. CW contributing
editor and author Jimmy Cornell came to the Annapolis show for two days; while
he was there, one of his personal priorities was to see the Bavaria 49 to
figure out how the company does it.
The Bavaria factory, near W�rzburg, Germany, has to be the world's most
automated boatbuilding plant. An expansion, completed last year, reportedly
brings its capacity to 4,000 boats per year. The 49 is the flagship of a
six-model cruising-boat fleet that begins at 32 feet; all the boats come from
the boards of J&J Design in Slovenia.
The boat handled well, both under power and under sail. In 8 knots of true
wind, we saw 5.2 knots of boat speed.
The Jeanneau Sun Odyssey 49 was one of two big boats Jeanneau introduced this
year; the other one was the 54-foot deck saloon. Of the two, Jeanneau's 49 is
the one more likely to straddle the fence between beer-can racing and
wine-glass cruising. Designed by Philippe Briand, its hull form and cabin-house
lines are sleek. It's available in either a three- or four-cabin layout, but
Jeanneau offers removable bulkheads so you can adapt as the crew comes and
goes. It's no wonder these boats are as beloved as they are in the charter
The Winner: The Hallberg-Rassy 40, designed by Germ�n Frers and built in
Sweden, is a vessel that has been exhaustively thought out for a couple who
want to live under way comfortably. "A big part of the HR," said Steve, "is
that it's maintained a lot of traditional types of quality, while updating the
underbody to produce a boat that sails and handles well." Built of hand-laid
fiberglass over a Divinycell core, the HR preserves proven boatbuilding
techniques, such as through-bolting deck fittings through solid laminate where
core has been omitted.
The well-proportioned interior is done in light mahogany with a matte finish.
The U-shaped galley is cozy but ample. Thoughtful details include a wet locker
at the base of the companionway and holes for ventilation cut into the plywood
beneath the berths.
For more details on the HR's overall performance, see page 61. The three
nominees that constitute this category, from 43 to 44 feet long, range in price
from $325,000 to $410,000. Like those in the Performance 40 Class, the Dufour
44, the J/133, and the X-43 are designed to race your heart.
The Runners-up: The arrival this year of the Dufour 44 (as well as its little
sisters, the 34 and 40) marked a transition in Dufour's 40-year history. These
new designs from Umberto Felci and Patrick Roseo are replacing the Classic
series Dufour had been building of late. The design change is concurrent with
an ownership change; while Dufours will still be built in La Rochelle, France,
the company is now owned by the Italian Cantiere del Pardo yard that builds the
Grand Soleil line.
So far, the change seems to have been good. Last year, the Dufour 40 won a
French equivalent of our Boat of the Year contest.
The Dufour 44 mixes clean lines and sensible accommodations with strong value.
"It's a good-looking boat," said Steve, "and it went quite well in light
The X-43 is a performance cruiser that had one of the most beautifully
appointed interiors in this year's entire fleet. Doors and drawers were gently
curved along the linear galley to follow the lines of the interior; in the
forward cabin, grain ran perfectly matched across the doors of half a dozen
cabinets. Slats supported the aft berth, promoting ventilation and reducing
weight. Structurally, a massive galvanized steel grid stiffens the boat, while
Divinycell core through the hull keeps it light. The weight in the boat is in
all the right places.
"The Jefa steering system was magnificent," said Ralph.
Said Steve, "This is a boat that you want to do a Bermuda race in."
The Winner: Is the J/133 a cruiser? Or a racer?
Jeff Johnstone, the president of J/Boats, describes the J/133 as "a 43-foot
yacht with stability for shorthanded cruising, durability for offshore
passages, and race-winning performance."
On the scale that runs from cruiser to racer, the judges debated at some length
about where the J/133 fits. The boat we sailed, hull number one, had no anchor
roller, no toe-rail aft of the mast, no stall shower, and tankage for just 50
gallons of water. But, in fact, the Johnstones know they're marketing this boat
to both sides of that great divide; for starters, the toerail and the bow
roller are available to those who want them.
What the boat does offer cruisers is good storage, space for three LPG bottles,
good cleats, two heads, and some of the best countertop fiddles in the
The judges liked the J's visual appeal-"clean," "organized," "efficient"-both
above decks and below. "She's a nice boat to look at," said Ralph, noting
especially the windows, the house, and the pleasing sheer line.
But for all the J's construction traits, it was the sailing that pushed it to
the top of its class. This is a retractable-sprit boat from the company that
pioneered the use of asymmetric chutes for shorthanded crews who still want to
sail fast off the wind. Her hull lines, blending a long waterline with a narrow
beam, drew praise: "Good directional stability," said Ralph.
At the end of the day, the J/133-as does every boat in the performance
classes-raises a question about how cruisers want to sail. "I think this is a
great boat for sport cruising and sabbatical cruising," said Steve. "You can
flash Down East or to Bermuda from Boston, or similar. People are going to
enjoy sailing a boat like this."
On that scale, the J rules. "As a sailing machine," said Bill Lee, "it's
This category's nominees -the Beneteau 57, the Jeanneau Sun Odyssey 54 DS, the
Saga 48, and the Tartan 4400-range in price from $450,000 to $600,000 and in
size from 44 feet to 57 feet.
The Runners-up: Tim Jackett and the gang at Tartan are going high-tech. They've
invested in an epoxy impregnator and built an oven to post-cure the resin.
They've got the glass-to-resin ratio oriented squarely in favor of the glass.
Top-of-the-line Core-Cell foam accounts for the filling in the sandwich. Not
only that, but Tartan bought a carbon-mast builder and brought the shop to
Ohio. Although the boat we sailed was rigged with an aluminum spar, carbon is
offered for the same price.
When you add these things up, Bill Seifert reckons the Tartan 4400 has the best
structure in the fleet.
The Jeanneau Sun Odyssey 54 Deck Saloon is a breakthrough boat for the French
builder. Behind the sleek, flowing style of the coachroof you could almost miss
the ingenuity of that forward cockpit space and the shelter it provides. The
ideal of uninhibited passage from the companionway through the transom is
realized in a way that looks effortless. Five interior layouts are available;
the one we saw features a cabin that's convertible from one to three separate
spaces. "I had a great time sailing this boat," said Nonnie.
Beneteau's new flagship is a 57-foot center-cockpit sloop designed by Bruce
Farr. As the builder has done with other center-cockpit boats, the Beneteau
57's steering is hydraulic from a position at the cockpit bulkhead. Four
layouts range from a five-cabin charter version to two layouts optimized for a
couple looking for the lap of luxury.
"I loved the aft deck," said Steve, thinking not just of the unbeatable dinghy
storage but of the parties he could have there.
The Winner: The Saga 48 answers this simple design brief: "a fast offshore
cruiser, easy for one couple to handle." It's not surprising the Saga answered
it well, as she was designed by Bob Perry, whose pen has launched a thousand
ships and more-most of them to precisely these criteria.
Indeed, the judges felt that the Saga offered many of the best voyaging
features in the 22-boat fleet, including a dedicated life-raft locker, good
ventilation while under way, lock-down latches on the sole, excellent fiddle
rails, storage for two large LP tanks, lots of harness-attachment points,
31-inch lifelines, a deep secure cockpit, and plenty of storage. The steering
system is thrice redundant: Twin wheels each have their own quadrant, and a
separate tiller arm on the rudderstock accepts the autopilot ram.
Bill Lee counted 10 functions fulfilled by the Saga's stainless-steel cockpit
arch: bimini structure, dinghy davit, outboard bracket, antenna support (radar,
GPS), barbecue mount, MOB-pole housing, and support for cockpit and navigation
lights. The result is aesthetically busy but functionally concise.
The main saloon, done in handcrafted cherry with a satin finish, is divided
into three spaces: a dinette, a nav station built for two with visibility
forward through deckhouse windows, and an aft-facing office near the mast. The
Saga's hull design features a long waterline with a nearly plumb bow for
optimum speed. Saga's "variable-geometry" rig is essentially a solent setup,
well-honed over the decades by shorthanded offshore racers, featuring twin
forestays from which to fly a self-tacking blade, for strong winds upwind, or a
genoa. It's a sensible solution for shorthanded crews.
Nonnie said, "The Saga 48 was a boat that I'd go to sea in tomorrow."
The boats in this category range in price from $1.13 million to $1.7 million
and in length from 55 to 62 feet. From the stately elegance of the Discovery
55's Ken Freivokh interior to the proven balance of the North Wind 58's
Sparkman & Stephens hull, and from the revolutionary three-tiered
arrangement of the Moorings 6200 to the smoking speeds of the Gunboat 62, this
gathering of yachts exhibits the many faces of luxury.
The Runners-up: The Sparkman & Stephens-designed North Wind 58 is the big
sister of the NW 43 that won CW's 2001 award for Best Deck-Saloon Cruiser.
Although the boat we sailed is built from vinylester resin and fiberglass
vacuum-bagged over Divinycell foam, the Barcelona-based North Wind yard has
plans to offer post-cured epoxy hulls within the next year.
Getting into boats of this size, deck layouts become ever more important for
sailhandling. "The winches are convenient, and everything runs to the cockpit,"
said Nonnie, who sails as a couple with her husband. "I really felt like two
people could sail this boat."
The Moorings 6200 catamaran, built in South Africa by Robertson and Caine,
takes the charter-cat platform to a whole new level. With the helm station
situated above the cabin-not unlike the flying bridge on a sportfishing
boat-all sailhandling controls are removed from the afterdeck, which can be
kept free for lounging. With all the space, the boat offers heaps of luxury.
Still, with its powerful, roachy main and an arsenal of foresails, she's a true
For more on the Gunboat 62 catamaran, see page 61 under "Most Innovative."
The Winner: The Discovery 55, designed by Ron Holland and built in Southampton,
England, was conceived "specifically for world cruising," said its builder,
John Charnley. "It has also been designed for effortless handling by a couple;
a self-tacking jib and electric winches are standard."
Not mentioned in the builder's pr�cis is safety, but perhaps it should
be. "I love the fact that the designer and the builder have thought about
safety to the degree of having watertight bulkheads," said Steve. Several
watertight compartments are complemented by a watertight door built into the
main bulkhead, just forward of the mast. "The fact that the whole forward
element of the boat is partitioned off means the boat would probably be quite
safe, even if it were seriously damaged."
As you might expect from a boat of this size, the decks feel secure: 30-inch
lifelines surround them, ample space around the deck-saloon coachroof
encourages walking forward, and the foredeck is clear for ease of movement
The self-tacking foresail ("another big plus in my book," said Steve) sets on
its own stay just aft of the headstay, on which the genoa is furled. The two
forestays are affixed very near each other at the bow, and the two headsails
are meant to be used in an either/or context-except for sailing dead downwind,
when you might fly twin genoas, poled out wing and wing, each from its own
stay. The inner sail is often called a solent jib.
The plush interior is based around a raised main saloon whose space is broken
into discrete spaces that avoid the dance-hall feel of more open designs of
this size. The raised saloon serves the twin purposes of providing eye-level
visibility out the deck-saloon window and creating ideal machinery space. In
the entire 22-boat fleet, Ralph said, the Discovery 55's "was the best engine
room we saw." "You had access all around the engine as well as to the generator
and pumps. The high-maintenance items were right up front. Plus, under power
she was one of the quietest boats. This saloon area really worked." A nav
station with ample visibility for running the boat under power and a dedicated
pilot berth round out the main saloon.
In a category of boats that pushes the limits of what a couple can reasonably
handle in all conditions, the judges thought the Discovery did it best.
Best Value: The award for Best Value, drawn from the entire 22-boat fleet, goes
to the boat that, in Bill Lee's words, most delivered "a whole lot of bang for
the buck." That boat is the Beneteau 373.
A standout feature on both the 373 and its new little sister, the 323, is a
patented wheel that rotates 90 degrees; it's Beneteau's answer to the
industry-wide desire to open the passage straight through the cockpit from the
transom, and it's simpler than twin helm stations.
The 373's interior, available in either a two- or three-cabin layout, has drawn
some of its traits from larger boats in the Beneteau line, most notably the
panoramic forward-facing windows, which bring plenty of light into the cabin
without excessively raising the coachroof.
"I like seeing stall showers like this," said Bill Lee.
The 373 features the same five-part construction that Beneteau uses in other
boats of its line, all tied to a fiberglass grid bonded to the hull that takes
all the sailing loads. "That grid system is superb," said Ralph Naranjo.
Beneteau offers a five-year warranty on its structure, which is what we've seen
from some of the million-dollar-plus boats. A true v
Most Innovative: The Gunboat 62, a catamaran conceived by Peter Johnstone,
designed by Pete Melvin, and built in Cape Town, South Africa, laid several
claims to our innovation award.
For starters, they've built a 62-foot cat that displaces 28,000 pounds; other
cats this size typically weigh 40,000 pounds. The structure-"aircraft quality,"
Ralph said of it-is mostly S-glass over Core-Cell foam in post-cured epoxy.
Finished gelcoat surfaces and all deck hardware visible inside the boat make
art out of the structure. The G-62 has adopted many features from offshore
racers, including synthetic-fiber standing rigging, molded chainplates integral
to the hull, a self-tacking jib, and substantial wing-deck clearance.
Daggerboards and a carbon spar hint at her sailing performance. When we sailed
the Gunboat in a steady 30 knots of breeze with gusts around 40, Peter
Johnstone was almost apologetic about the mid-teens boat speed we saw. With a
bit less breeze, he said, we would have seen mid-20s.
The deck layout, hinting at some of Chris White's designs, is innovative in
that it places the working cockpit forward of the cabin house, with the main
steering station inside behind glass. Keeping the cockpit forward clears the
after deck of sailhandling jobs.
Described by the builder as a "world cruiser," this rocket also had the largest
bathtub and pantry of any boat we saw. Retractable rudders and saildrives
canted at 45 degrees promote beachability, and eight watertight bulkheads in
each hull speak for the builder's attention to safety.
"This is a superb example of what can be done in a big cruising cat," said
Overall Cruising Boat of the Year: When the judges looked at the entire fleet,
category by category, they recognized that each of the boats were optimized for
different purposes -some for club racing, some for sailing coastwise, some for
sailing shorthanded and others with plenty of crew; above all, they recognized
that not every boat should be held to oceangoing, passagemaking standards.
Within the categories, they evaluated each boat according to its own design
When it came to choosing the overall Boat of the Year, though, they adopted a
more focused set of criteria. The winner, they agreed, should be a boat that,
without a lot of retrofitting, could reasonably be taken by a couple on a
cruising rally/race like the Caribbean 1500 (from Hampton, Virginia, to the
British Virgin Islands) or the Baja Ha-Ha (from San Diego to Cabo San Lucas,
Mexico). As it happened, they felt that any of the category winners could have
met those criteria.
But of all of them, the one boat the judges most deemed "a sailor's boat" was
the Hallberg-Rassy 40. "Every sailboat is a compromise," said Ralph, "and the
Hallberg-Rassy is the most successful compromise. It could certainly go on the
Caribbean 1500 or the Baja Ha-Ha or well beyond that."
"More than being a compromise," said Bill Lee, "it's very well-done."
Well-done, indeed. No boat offers better access to sailhandling lines from the
helm. The HR's center-cockpit layout provides ample space on the aft deck for
an 8-foot hard dinghy or a 10-foot RIB; there's also a locker dedicated for a
valise-type life raft.
The boat's size and design also offer a good balance between speedy comfort,
easy handling, and offshore practicality for a couple.
Belowdecks, the woodwork was well-done because it was functional. "There were
handrails galore sculpted into the joiner work," said Ralph. "The HR met my
desire for balance, comfort, and safety with class," said Nonnie Thompson. "I'd
be proud to row away from this yacht."
Executive editor Tim Murphy directs Cruising World's Boat of the Year program.
A special thanks goes out to the folks at Ribcraft USA (www.ribcraft usa.com),
the official RIB of the Boat of the Year, for providing on-the-water
transportation for this year's judges.