Best New Sailboats for 2014
Cruising World's Boat of the Year experts went to work examining 2014's fleet of new sailboats and came up with nine winners.
Judge's Special Recognition: Alerion 41
After all the voting is over and the judges have determined each winner in the respective categories, sometimes there’s just one last piece of business to address. It often happens when one particular nominee that doesn’t neatly fit into any given class still captures the panelists’ attention — and admiration — to a degree unlike any other boat in the competition. When that happens, the judges have the ability to present an extra award. For 2014, they took that opportunity to single out, for the Judge’s Special Recognition prize, the Alerion 41.
The Alerion 41 is what one might call a “tweener,” a boat that falls between set parameters. At 41 feet, it’s too big to be a Pocket Cruiser, yet it’s not a true all-around, offshore cruising boat, either. With its spacious cockpit and straightforward sail-handiling systems, including a self-tacking jib on a Hoyt boom, it will make an excellent daysailer. But with exquisite, well-rendered accommodations, it’s also capable of vacation cruising or near-shore adventures.
So, yes, the judges had a dilemma. They also felt the Alerion 41 was worthy of a reward.
“It has a classical layout,” said Mark Schrader. “It felt really good just stepping aboard. The workmanship is excellent, with an attention to detail that really put it pretty much above everything else we looked at. Obviously somebody took a lot of pride in the craftsmanship, and I thought it was also a pretty boat.
“The design brief said it was a boat for somebody who wanted to do some shorthanded or even solo sailing, and perhaps a bit of racing, “ he continued. “By their own definition, it isn’t suited to passagemaking. They’re targeting daysailing, weekend trips and vacation sailing, and for all those purposes, it will work well.”
Schrader noted that the builders had canvassed Alerion owners of smaller models to see what they’d want in a 41-footer.
“It had to be sailed easily and well by a small or solo crew,” he said. “It had to have headroom, two staterooms, a galley and some storage space. So that was a good design brief for a design team. They didn’t need a boat to go across the Atlantic or even to Bermuda. So they had a pretty specific idea of what they were after, and I think they achieved all those things in a very good package.”
Tim Murphy also found himself smitten by the Alerion 41, for different reasons. “One of the things I look for in the stateroom berths is whether one or two people can sit up and read in bed. It’s a small thing but it speaks to an attention to detail. And even though, by today’s standards, this is a ‘low-volume’ boat, it’s designed so the V-berth has sort of an opening space and your back rests really nicely against it. So that kind of ergonomic luxury is built in.”
When sailing the boat, Murphy discovered another surprise. “I’ve not been a fan of the Hoyt boom,” he said. “I’d so much rather have a clear foredeck. But under way on the 41, I could see the logic of having a foresail that’s just always out there. You don’t have to swap it for something bigger as you start reaching; it keeps a nice foil shape. And when you’re at anchor or alongside a dock, you can tie it off to the side and out of the way. I think I may be coming around on that one a little bit.”
“My immediate reaction stepping aboard was the quality of the finish and the systems installations,” said Ed Sherman. “And once I started digging in, I was even more pleased. The interior cabinetry, the fiberglass work, the way the wiring was laid out ... they just did a great job building this boat. It was special, and it deserved our recognition.”
View more photos of the Alerion 41.