Best in Class 2009
Sailing performance, quality of construction, and price determine the winner of CW's 2009 Boat of the Year contest
Finally, a word about the Special-Purpose Cruisers, a category in which there were four boats all built to a very specific design brief that made each unique but made them as a group also hard to judge. Two were production boats from Beneteau and Jeanneau that had been tailored to charter for The Moorings and Sunsail, respectively. A third was the Moxie M37 Island Hopper, which was intended as a cruising beach cat. The boat, designed and built by Uwe Jaspersen in Cape Town, South Africa, was innovative in many ways, but the judges felt that it had too much the feel of a prototype to advance in the competition. And then there was The Edge from Hunter Marine. Targeted directly to the trailer-sailer market pioneered by the MacGregor 26, this sailing hybrid, with its 75-horsepower Evinrude engine, was as much at home in the powerboat show that took place the following week. In the end, the judges chose The Moorings' Beneteau for best execution within its intended niche.
This Year's Trends
Throughout dock visits, sea trials, and deliberations, noteworthy trends-some good, some in need of improvement-emerged. A number of builders came to Annapolis this year with mainsails that could be trimmed without leaving the helm. Hunter, for instance, leads one end of a split mainsheet down the cockpit arch to a winch near the wheel and the other to a winch on the cabin top. This arrangement was included on the company's 45 DS, though it would be functional only on one tack unless a second winch were added near the helm and dedicated to the mainsheet. Several others incorporated a German-style split mainsheet, in which both ends lead forward to the gooseneck, down to the deck, then aft to winches on either side of the cockpit near the helm. This sheeting arrangement was found on the Dufour 525, the Dufour 40 Performance+ (as an option), the X-34, the Santa Cruz 37, and the Archambault A40RC, to name a few.
Many builders are also turning to either self-tacking headsails or nonoverlapping jibs that can be handled even by small sailors. And increasingly there's hardware on the bow to deploy such off-the-wind sails as an asymmetric spinnaker or a code zero on a flexible furler. That said, there aren't always enough winches and hardware aboard to fly the A-sail with the jib still up.
On several of the boats, judges noted rounded edges in such high-traffic areas as the coamings and the cabin top were rendered in slick fiberglass. Beneteau, though, carried its nonskid across these areas, providing more solid footing.
Lastly, we noticed a trend toward replenishable or processed woods. From the bamboo in the Santa Cruz 37 to the Alpi in the Beneteaus and Fine Teak in the Jeanneaus, these surfaces look rich and elegant and help an intrinsically green community leave a little smaller footprint.
Mark Pillsbury, Cruising World's senior editor, has directed CW's BOTY awards program for three years.
To access CW's 2009 Sailboat Show page, with links to reviews and photo galleries for dozens of new boats, including Boat of the Year nominees, click here.