Crunching the Numbers
Crunching the Numbers
by Herb McCormick and Tim Murphy
Photos by Billy Black
Cruising World's 2006 Boat of the Year Awards were all about the
tallies: 42 entrants, 26 nominees, seven class winners, four days of
dockside inspections, four days of sea trials, 30-knot gusts, a handful
of spinouts, one flying hull, and when all was said and done, a pair of
overall winners--the Morris 42 as Domestic Cruising Boat of the Year,
and the Hallberg-Rassy 62 as the Import Cruising Boat of the Year
After 26 boats and eight days of inspections, find out why the Morris
42 and the Hallberg-Rassy 62 came away with top honors in Cruising
World's 2006 Boat of the Year awards
Bill Lee had a point to make on the relative merits of bilge pumps for
racing boats versus cruising boats, and it was a direct one. He'd been
on his hands and knees testing the system on a midsized, German-built
performance cruiser. It required him to lift up multiple floorboards
with a suction cup, switch on the pump, then undergo a
section-by-section recon mission--hose in hand--to suck out offending
"We used to do this all the time on our raceboats," said Lee, the
longtime builder of the Santa Cruz line of ultralight flyers and the
senior member of CW's four-person independent judging panel. "But a
raceboat's a jockstrap you yank on to go racing. On a cruising boat,
you want a proper bilge sump."
His colleagues--liveaboard cruising sailor Suzanne Giesemann, Ed
Sherman of the American Boat & Yacht Council, and world-class
multihull sailor Peter Hogg--nodded in agreement.
Lee's observation was one of the countless opinions, rants, and
reasoned explanations put forth off Annapolis, Maryland, last October
in the 12th running of Cruising World's annual Boat of the Year
contest. This year, 42 boats entered the competition, and by the time
the judges arrived to begin dockside inspections during a drenched
edition of the U.S. Sailboat Show over the Columbus Day weekend, a
three-person nominating committee consisting of CW editors Herb
McCormick and Tim Murphy and globe-girdling cruising sailor Ralph
Naranjo had whittled the fleet down to 26 entries in seven classes.
(For a complete rundown of the nominees, see "The Boats and the
Classes" on page 56. For more on the judges and their qualifications,
see "The Judges," below.)
A stationary mid-Atlantic low associated with the remnants of Hurricane
Tammy pumped buckets of rain and staunch northerly winds the length of
the Chesapeake, making for challenging conditions that would persist as
the eight-day schedule of dock visits and sea trials unfolded. But
there was a silver lining to the dark clouds, for we sailed every boat
in proper breeze. Once the sails were set, some boats fared far better
Overall, it was a truly diverse fleet, ranging in size and price from
the entry-level Hunter 31, at $87,500, to the robust Kanter
Bougainvillaea 65, which rang the bell at a no-nonsense $1,750,000.
These prices, it should be noted, were based on a standard formula for
a sailaway boat ordered in mid-October 2005, commissioned and delivered
on the U.S. East Coast, and including refrigeration and all safety
equipment as well as basic sails and electronics. Yet no matter what
their size and cost, all the boats were judged on their merits when
measured against their expressed purpose and market.
Tellingly, of the 26 nominees, a solid 20 were imports, with entries
from Canada, China, Denmark, Finland, England, France, Germany,
Slovenia, South Africa, and Sweden. This year also saw two new players
in the United States: Delphia Yachts of Poland and Salona Yachts of
When all was said and done, the judges awarded prizes to seven class
winners, plus one boat they deemed the best value in the entire fleet.
Finally, they also presented a pair of awards to the best Domestic and
Import Cruising Boats of the Year (see "The Winners," below).
Beginning in February and continuing in the months ahead, we'll present
detailed evaluations of the lion's share of nominees in Cruising
World's Reviews section. What follows here are highlights of the
day-to-day workings of the judging panel during the sea-trial portion
of the testing, with extra emphasis on many recurring trends across the
industry in 2006, including the increasing prevalence of twin-wheel
steering stations, saildrives, and straight-line galleys. And, of
course, bilge sumps right and wrong.
Day One: Let it Blow
On the blustery Chesapeake morning of October 11, the panel members
boarded the Stevens Custom 53 (see "The Return of a Maverick," July
2005) and were introduced to three generations of the sailing Stevens'
family: patriarch Bill; his son, Brian; and his 14-year-old grandson,
Kristoffer, who ably demonstrated that he may someday be the saltiest
of them all.
A routine was established that would play out 25 more times in the
ensuing days. Bill Lee would take the helm for a series of motoring and
maneuvering tests, including backing down to port and starboard into
and across the breeze. Meanwhile, Ed Sherman, armed with a decibel
meter and a handheld GPS, recorded the noise levels belowdecks and the
corresponding motoring speeds under both cruising and flat-out rpm as
advised by the builders or their representative (for the full results
of Ed's findings, see "The Sound Under Power," below). Suzanne
Giesemann and Peter Hogg tested the anchoring system--all anchors were
dropped 10 feet or so and then retrieved--before inspecting the rig,
accommodations, and overall layout. Once all that was completed, sails
were hoisted and set, and the judges took the helm in turn.
Aboard the Stevens, there were some glitches with the trial: the
windlass was temporarily inoperable for the anchor test, and the big
code-zero reacher needed taming on its furler before it could be
properly set. Bill Stevens was clearly having one of those days.
Aesthetically, the 53-footer wasn't everyone's cup of tea. But the boat
still earned high marks from the judges across the board. "Form follows
function," said Lee. "The vertical transom isn't necessarily pretty,
but the stairs down it are very nice. And, yes, the freeboard is high,
but it's huge inside."
"Stevens succinctly stated what the purpose was--a very luxurious, very
comfortable liveaboard cruiser--and, quite frankly, he met that
purpose," Hogg said of the Chinese-built boat. "I think he's
demonstrated that by putting appropriate supervision in a low-cost
labor market, you can produce a superior product."
Ed Sherman agreed: "It's one of the best Asian boats I've seen."
Next on the docket was the Hunter 31. The judges concurred that the
boat felt a bit tender under sail but that it otherwise filled the bill
as a coastal cruiser with clever use of space for newcomers to the
sport. Sherman said, "When I put my ABYC hat on, this boat warmed the
cockles of my heart. As standard equipment they're installing isolation
transformers for AC shore-power inlets, and I'm totally impressed with
what they've done in terms of plumbing and wiring installation. They
have an engineering department that's looking at this stuff and
figuring out ways to comply with standards and assemble it at a price
point, and I think they've done a good job with it."
The 31 gave Bill Lee a soapbox from which to discuss several matters
that he'd return to often as the week progressed. "Most of these boats
can be provided with options in three areas: propeller, keel type, and
mainsail type. If you get the deep keel, the full mainsail with
battens, and the folding propeller, that boat is going to sail pretty
good. If you go the other way, with a fixed, three-blade prop, a
shoal-wing keel like this boat had, and a furling mainsail--all three
of the go-slow factors together--the performance will be sluggish." A
big cause of that sluggishness, Lee contended, depends on the options
an owner has chosen.
"Oftentimes, the mainsails will be the same price for either option.
Shoal keels sometimes cost more; you have to make the boat heavier
because the ballast is higher. Usually the folding props cost more: a
grand or so. So it's really not a lot of money to turn a sailboat, any
sailboat, into one that feels good instead of one that feels slow."
Ironically, the Hunter 31 suffered most when compared to the next boat
on the judge's list: the Hunter 41 DS. "I think the build quality is
much higher in terms of fit and finish than the 31," said Sherman. "I
liked this boat a lot. It certainly represents a lot of bang for the
buck. The systems upgrades over earlier Hunters I've looked at were
just phenomenal. They've improved exponentially, in my opinion."
"There are two things important to me on any boat," said Suzanne
Giesemann after an extensive review of the 41's interior. "Brightness
and ventilation. The ventilation was very good for a deck saloon.
Hunter has always been good at appealing to women buyers with layouts
and interiors, and they did it again with the walk-around bed in the
aft cabin. With aft cockpit boats, that's unusual.
"The couch in the saloon was a nice touch; it was an actual couch that
was secured well and had a trundle drawer under it. It held a lot of
stuff and was a good use of space. I give each boat my reading-comfort
test, imagining myself curled up at night for hours reading and
checking out the lights. This boat was outstanding in that department."
Bill Lee noted that the boat was equipped with a conventional
shaft-drive auxiliary, not a saildrive, which are becoming more popular
each year with builders. "What [Hunter chief designer] Glenn Henderson
told me was that he feels the American market wants shaft drives. I
talked to a lot of builders about it, and only Peter Johnstone [of
Gunboat] feels saildrives are good for the builder and bad for the
consumer. For everyone else, it was pretty much a toss-up. Tom Morris
[of Morris Yachts] puts some in his boats and says they're just fine."
Indeed, nearly half the boats in this year's fleet come with a
saildrive (see "The Sound Under Power," below).
By the time the judges made their way to the next boat, the
performance-oriented X-46, the breeze was down a bit. But it mattered
not a whit, for the X-Yacht was born to sail. "Upwind we were seeing
7.5 knots of boat speed in 8 to 10 knots of breeze," said Sherman.
"They wanted a pure sailboat that would really sail well, and they
delivered," said Lee. "Holy mackerel!" said Giesemann.
The boat had a ton of upside, as the sportswriters would say, including
a steel grid that impressed Lee ("You can bulk up the keel bolts and
really spread out the load") and a pair of pipe berths above the
quarter berths in the adjacent aft cabins that may be the last word in
sea berths. "If we'd had those on our boat when we crossed the
Atlantic, I might've slept," said Giesemann.
The boat did, however, have issues. "The systems are generally nicely
designed, but the service access I felt was very difficult," said
Sherman. "For instance, you had to lift the main DC panel board to get
behind it. And the AC panel was below the nav station, where you're
going to bump into it with your knees.
"Oh, yeah," he added. "It has a 10-liter holding tank. For me, that's
about one meal. I realize they're trying to save weight and accentuate
the performance aspect, but from a cruising perspective, that's too
The five-foot-six-inch destroyer-type steering wheel also generated
some discussion. On the one hand, the big wheel and its Jefa draglink
system contributed to what was arguably the most butter-smooth steering
in the fleet. But Giesemann, particularly, felt it was obtrusive and
difficult to move around quickly while helming--though Lee countered
that it would be a simple matter to order a smaller one.
"For a 46-footer, they could've also used the double-wheel option that
we saw on a lot of other boats," said Hogg. "The double wheel works
extremely well and achieves the same purpose of letting the helmsman
sit well outboard."
Moments later, the judges transferred to the twin-wheeled Swan 46.
"Compared with the X-Yacht, I really, really preferred the steering
setup," said Sherman. "It was real comfortable back there, and the
walk-through access to the transom and the swim-ladder setup, which was
also very clever, was superb."
Still, he continued, "In a lot of places, I thought the boat was
over-engineered. The fuel-transfer system was fairly complex and not
particularly well labeled. So you wouldn't easily be able to
intuitively figure out what to switch. Also, the fuel/water separators
were installed in such a way that there was no clearance at the base of
it to get the water out without it draining into the bilge. I found
that kind of annoying."
Lee especially liked the daggerboard, which accounts for a draft of
either four feet four inches (up) or 11 feet two inches (down). "Good
shoal-draft boats that are designed from the ground up to be that way
are hard to find. We tried to sail her upwind with the board up, and
yes, the board is very effective in preventing leeway." He added that
the daggerboard came up very easily while the boat was under way. "The
twin rudders were another part of the shoal-draft package, and they
controlled the boat very well."
It was an afternoon to sail big boats, and the Beneteau 523 fit right
in. "The purpose I have for the boat," said Lee, "is 'offshore
capable,' though that's not its target market. It's for a couple
between 50 and 60 with grown kids, owner-operators, who use the boat
three to four weeks at a time with occasional guests. Maneuverable and
The entire judging crew enjoyed a trick at the helm of the
well-balanced sailboat in winds that were back up into the teens. "On
our go-fast/go-slow options scale," Lee said, "it had a good, real
mainsail with real battens. It had the six-feet-two-inch medium draft,
so those things were good. But it still had the three-blade prop, so I
bet you could pick up another half knot with a folding option. It
sailed just fine, and if you put the deep keel and folding prop on the
boat, it could fit right into the performance-cruising class. It would
sail that well."
"Does anyone else agree with me that with a minimal amount of
modification, it would not only improve the performance but make it a
real ocean-crossing boat?" wondered Sherman.
"No question," said Hogg.
Giesemann described the overall feel as one of "luxury and comfort."
Details she liked in the main saloon included the sole ("gorgeous, and
adds to the total picture") and the counter space in the galley ("best
I've seen on any boat"). "The layout of the whole boat was great," she
said, "but I especially liked the aft cabin with the small desk. And
the aft head had a shower that was nothing short of inviting. Even with
all that luxury, the boat gave us a fun, fast ride with a nice feel."
In the late-afternoon hours, as what little light the day had offered
faded into darkness, the judges pulled up to a tidy yacht in perfect
trim and cleaving purposefully through the chop. Tom Morris was at the
helm of the Morris 42.
"A Chuck Paine design," said Lee. "The design brief was a traditional
appearance above the waterline, a modern underbody, and great sailing
characteristics combined with more than the average volume for a
traditional boat. You were supposed to be able to take it to opening
day at the yacht club, and it's supposed to look right. Then it's
supposed to sail right. And I think they got it right.
"The solid rail for the aft half of the lifelines is interesting," he
continued. "It's more secure, and you get used to the look. There's an
excellent example of the offshore dorade vents: the guard, the box, the
whole bit. Good sea berths in the middle of the boat. A nice big Edson
bilge pump. Hardware bolted through with real backing plates. The right
way to do it."
"Based on ABYC standards, I found just one flaw on the boat, and it's a
classic mistake," said Sherman. "It has to do with the propane storage
locker, which should be designed in such a way that it won't be prone
to throwing extra gear in there with the tank. The drainage,
valving--all that was great. But sure enough, I opened it up, and there
was the shore-power cord and some other stuff. Obviously it's an easy
And thus the hair was split.
"Absolutely awesome," said Giesemann. "What sailing should be. I think
it's the best America has to offer with the quality craftsmanship. It
takes you back to the art. These guys are artists."
Day Two: Monos and Multi
The first day of sea trials had been cold, gray, and bleak. But
compared with the staunch nor'easter that greeted the judges as they
boarded the Ribcraft for Day Two, it'd been a day at the beach.
Luckily, the inaugural boat to be tested was born for bad weather. The
rugged Kanter Bougainvillaea 65 was conceived to be a go-anywhere,
all-oceans passsagemaker. And owners Martin Burzynski and Annie
Lannigan were pleased to greet the judging team aboard their waterborne
home. The couple was halfway along on a 3,000-mile delivery from Lake
Erie to their home on Florida's Gulf coast; they plan to start crossing
oceans aboard this boat beginning in May 2007. "Some of these test
sails are very well prepared, some poorly prepared," Lee said later.
"This was very well prepared."
Martin and Annie worked closely with yacht designer Mark Fitzgerald of
Chuck Paine's design office and Canadian builder Kanter Yachts in
developing the couple's vision of a full-fledged world cruiser. "It's
one of the most advanced systems-driven boats I've seen," said Sherman.
"It's an absolute technical marvel. What's been done has been done
very, very well, perhaps the best we've seen or will see in that regard.
"What's troubling to me," he continued, "is the lack of redundancy. In
my opinion, the backup systems aren't fully thought out. I wonder
what's going to happen if they end up in Tahiti with any sort of
From a layout perspective, Giesemann entertained no such worries. "The
galley is very well designed, with an enormous pantry. There's
exceptional visibility in the pilothouse. This is a very livable boat."
About the helm, Hogg said, "The hydraulic steering had absolutely no touch."
Not to worry, countered Lee (who also made the point that the boat
would be operated on autopilot for most of its underway miles). "I'm
sure they'd be happy to sell you a cable steering system." Indeed, to
Lee, the more salient point was the construction quality of the
aluminum hull. "I was very, very impressed," he said.
The transfer to the next boat, the Swedish-built Hallberg-Rassy 37, was
perhaps a bit sportier than it should've been. "I was a little
disappointed that it didn't have a gate in the lifelines as we tried to
get aboard in four-foot seas," said Sherman. "It would've been helpful."
Once aboard, however, the criticisms of the boat were few.
"I really liked this boat," said Lee. "The cockpit seats were long
enough to sleep on. The main cabin had two sea berths. The forward
berth is 58 inches wide, which is almost a queen. The after berth is
split--48 inches and 30 inches--which may be better out in the ocean.
There's a permanent spare prop mounted in the engine room. I had a
little trouble backing down, but it was pretty hard on all the boats
today because the wind would blow the bow down. But I finally got it
under control and it backed both ways."
"It was the only mast furler [a Furlex system from Seldén] we sailed on
today that had vertical battens, and they worked fine," noted Hogg.
"With a reef in the sail, it set nicely, and I was impressed by that."
Continuing the day's import theme, the next boat on the list was the
Jaguar 36. The nominating team, including the co-authors of this story,
felt it was an interesting addition to the expanding market of cruising
catamarans. But the judges couldn't have disagreed more strongly.
"I looked at the price [$230,000] and thought we might have a Best
Value from the multihull class," said Lee. "But no matter what the
relative cost, a value boat still has to be a good boat. Layout-wise,
you had to walk through a head to get to a stateroom, and that's faulty
no matter how good the workmanship is. And it was the only cat we
sailed that had underwing pounding."
"I saw delaminated wood and thin fiberglass laminates," said Sherman.
"In my opinion, the build quality on this vessel was very low."
The next boat up, the Gunboat 48, also hailed from South Africa, but
the differences between it and the Jaguar were night and day. "As well
it should be for a boat that costs a million dollars more," said Hogg.
"It's a very high-tech, very high-quality composite construction," said
The sailing trials, with the wind speeds punching into the low 30s, was
outrageous (for more on the Gunboat sea trial, see "Liftoff," Editor's
Log, December 2005). "I'm thinking of it as a New Age cruiser," said
Sherman. "It's a bit stark inside, but maybe that's what New Age is,
and there's a market for that. The sailing performance was
exhilarating: really good. The boat was stiff; the helm was light. I
think the inside helm would benefit from an overhead window. I couldn't
see the sails and was sailing on instruments. I'm a telltale guy."
Suzanne Giesemann, after her first experience flying a hull on a
48-foot catamaran--she wasn't alone--agreed with Sherman on the sailing
aspects, but with a caveat. "I had a blast under way," she said. "It
was thrilling. But a cruising boat? I don't buy it. The Gunboat guys
were bragging about doing 300 miles a day, but to me that's not
cruising. That's getting there. The interior was stark. The galley was
an afterthought. The boat failed my sitting-around-and-reading test.
This is a man's boat."
Bill Lee had a different take on the Gunboat: "Yachting is an art form,
and this is one aspect of it. If you want to land on a beach, you can
do that, and if you want to go fast, you can do that. I don't find
fault with its objective at all; it's an excellent execution of the
objective. It not only fulfills the idea of going cruising, but going
cruising in a hot rod."
Continuing the day's catamaran theme, the judges segued from the
Gunboat to the flagship of the Lagoon line of French catamarans, the
Lagoon 500. "It's billed as an offshore cruiser with a lot of payload
capacity, and comes with three interior options: three, four, or five
staterooms," said Lee.
The boat presented to the judges in Annapolis was an owner's version,
and Giesemann found a lot to like about it. "The owner's cabin [to
starboard] is great," she said. "You could shut off the space from the
rest of the boat and have some real privacy.
"Throughout the boat, there was excellent ventilation and tons of
storage space. It had a four-burner stove, and you could put a turkey
in the oven and do some real entertaining. I loved the loveseat forward
on the foredeck, and I really like the flybridge concept. But I have to
admit that when I was steering, I didn't feel like I was on a boat at
all. It was like looking down on a tennis court from up there."
Next up was the day's third South African-built catamaran, the St.
Francis 50. Along for the trial were the boat's owners, Michael and
Jeri Innis (http://sailingcloud9.com), who'd moved up to the boat from
an Island Packet 45, aboard which they'd enjoyed sailing from their
former home outside San Francisco to the Bahamas. Once there, with
occasional visits from their four grown daughters and an ever-expanding
load of bikes and gear, they decided to look into a cruising cat for an
Atlantic crossing and several years of Mediterranean sailing. Their
search led them to the St. Francis 50. (Michael earned extra points
when he stripped to his bathing suit and took a plunge into the cold
Chesapeake after we snagged a crab pot.)
Interestingly, after a first inspection the Innises took a pass because
Jeri didn't like the galley-down layout. But when they couldn't find a
galley-up layout, they bought the boat anyway, and the plan has grown
on them. "When we have guests, they can be up in the saloon, and the
dishes and mess are down below and out of the way. We can relax and
clean up later," Jeri said.
Seeing it as a long-distance cruiser, Ed Sherman was enamored of every
aspect of the boat, which recorded a top speed of 12.2 knots reaching
during our sea trial. "We were in 30-knot winds," he said, "and the
sailing was thoroughly enjoyable. I felt I'd be comfortable on this
boat in virtually any situation, that it could be adjusted to deal with
it. It had a nice motion through the sea.
"The finish was good; the welds were all ground out, then acid-dipped
and polished. The metal work was exquisite, better than any other boat
we've inspected. The systems were really good, and the glasswork had no
rough edges. Everything was faired nicely."
When Bill Lee, poised at the helm to do the motoring test, asked for
the cruising rpm speed, he got a surprise. "The owners picked right up
on it," he said. "Their trick was to just use one engine. It cut the
noise and fuel consumption and still achieved 8.7 knots."
By the time the team moved on to the day's final boat, the Seguin 52
(see "Fairweather and Foul, May 2005), it was really blowing the dogs
off the chains. But the S&S design shouldered through the breeze
and chop with aplomb. "We reefed her down and set up the runners, and
it was exquisite to drive," said Sherman. "The motion of the boat was
just the way it ought to be in the grand yachting style. Here we were,
in 35 knots of wind, playing around, and we were walking up on deck
like we were on a ballfield. What a great upwind boat in a seaway."
Bill Lee concurred. "If you were going to sail from San Francisco to Seattle, this is the boat you'd want."
Lyman-Morse is one of the great contemporary builders, said the judges,
and they raved about the details, from the floorboard fasteners to the
remarkable custom woodworking to the pristine systems layouts. But they
also had criticisms.
"I'm not sure that they didn't try to do too much down below," said Lee.
"And I was a little disappointed in the noise levels belowdecks," said
Sherman. "The engine sits in the center of the saloon with a gigantic
cover over it that requires a big hydraulic ram to raise. You just
don't really expect noise like that at all on a yacht of this stature."
Giesemann wasn't enamored of the interior layout but admitted she'd
love to see a second Seguin with a different owner's take on the
accommodations; Lyman-Morse, after all, would give you practically
anything you wanted.
"Suzanne feels it's too dark, that it's a guy's boat, but I'm a guy,"
said Sherman. "I can picture myself down there with a brandy and a nice
cigar having a hell of an afternoon."
Finally back at the dock and out of the weather, Peter Hogg summed up
the day's activities. "We had a little diversity today, which was a
very key issue. It comes down to sailing style, cruising style,
whatever you want to call it. But it all comes back to style. The
Kanter, to me, was boring. The other extreme was the Gunboat, which was
a pleasure to sail. So the criteria become difficult. But then you have
the little Hallberg-Rassy. It was a sweet sailer, pleasant. You were
happy to steer it. She was a little tender, but somehow it felt good.
And if the boat doesn't feel good when you're sailing it, if it doesn't
put a smile on your face, then **** it."
Suzanne Giesemann was startled. "I was just sitting here thinking how literate you sounded--then that," she said.
"What part didn't you understand?"
Day Three: All Spun Out
The judges sailed the first two boats of the day, the Bavaria 39 and
the Impression 384 by Elan, in 16 to 18 knots of steady breeze, with
further gusts into the lower 20s.
About the Bavaria, Sherman felt the overall quality from the big German
builder is good and getting better. Regarding the Impression, Giesemann
gave high marks to the interior layout of the midsized production
But when the judges compared notes later in the day, their main talking
point when discussing the sea trials was the tendency for these vessels
(and, later, for the Jeanneau Sun Odyssey 42 DS) to stall and round up
in higher winds.
It must be noted that all three boats spun out when flying full genoas
while closehauled or close-reaching. And once their respective sail
plans were shortened down, all three behaved very well and exhibited
fine, if different, sailing characteristics. But the experiences
generated a lot of discussion about why many contemporary cruising
boats exhibit this trait.
Part of the reason is the trend for many modern designs to carry beam
well aft to accommodate large aft cabins or twin staterooms.
Said Bill Lee: "I was talking to one designer who said so much weight
ends up aft in these boats that even though they try to move the center
of buoyancy back, they still need to put the keel forward to make the
boat float where it's supposed to. The other way you place the keel is
you figure out where the sail plan is and you put the keel under it.
But if you're putting it farther forward to make the boat float right,
the boat will have more weather helm.
"The other thing that happens when the keel is forward is to fashion
the rudder so it generates more lift. But if the boat's wide aft and
heels over, part of that big rudder lifts out of the water, the air
ventilates down from the surface, and the boat spins out."
Lee had one other theory, this one regarding big propellers and the
possibility that the turbulent flow they generate may accentuate the
stalling potential on the rudder. "If you could just go a little
faster, you might get a little more water flowing past the rudder, and
you might be able to save yourself more," he said.
And, as mentioned, there's always the simple solution: Reef early. "In
most cases, if you shorten down, you don't even lose that much boat
speed," he concluded. "It gets more comfortable, and it's easier to
steer. You don't heel as much, so it feels weird; but if you look at
the speedo, you're going almost as good as you were before. Plus, the
boat's a whole lot more comfortable, and it steers a whole lot better."
After the morning's first two monohulls, the judges stepped aboard the
final cat of the competition, the British-built Broadblue 42. "I liked
its cutter rig," said Peter Hogg. "It makes it very easy to go downwind
with the big genoa and not have to fool around with a partially reefed
headsail on a roller furler. And having that second inner staysail
works well. I thought the owner's cabin was great. And it's one of the
few boats we sailed with dedicated office-type space, which is great
for anyone who's going to be voyaging and keeping track of records and
paperwork or for anyone living aboard."
"It sailed well," said Sherman, "but I have some reservations about the
serviceability of the electronics, helm, and engine room."
"It's a very nice, very pretty boat," said Giesemann. "The heads were
beautiful, it was beautifully decorated, and the lighting was
The Salona 45, from Croatia, was another boat whose stock rose in
conjunction with the wind. "The boat's purpose is described as a fast
cruiser that can be club raced," said Lee. "When you cross that line,
you start to see the traveler under the main boom, a more open cockpit
layout, that sort of thing. We sailed the eight-feet-four-inch deep
keel with a two-blade folding prop on a saildrive and a classic
mainsail, so we really had all three of the go-fast factors. And it
really showed. This was certainly one of the faster, more responsive
boats we sailed today."
"It's a fast cruiser, all right," said Giesemann. "But with that draft
[eight feet three inches], you're going to cruise real fast right
around the Bahamas." A six-foot-11-inch shoal-draft version is also
The Salona was one of many boats equipped with a straight-line
galley--we can go so far as to call it a trend--as opposed to the more
traditional U-shaped configuration. That feature also drew some
"I don't care for the straight-line galley," Lee said. "With a U-shaped
galley aft, the cook can talk to the guests, and he or she is back by
the main hatch where there's more air. It's harder to reach things in
the straight-line version, especially when it's nasty and you're using
a galley strap. And the sinks are bound to be well outboard; if you're
heeling hard, you may get water up through the sink drain.
"I think it comes down to what the builder is trying to accomplish,"
Lee continued. "If you want three staterooms, you go with the
straight-line galley amidships. If you only want two staterooms, you
can put the galley aft."
"I don't like it, either," said Giesemann. "For me, it feels like I'm
always in the galley. I like a separate living room from my kitchen.
And when they add a bench amidships to lean back against, it breaks up
the flow of the space for anyone trying to move forward."
"The straight galleys are done to maximize space," said Sherman.
"They're fine at the dock. And being fundamentally antisocial, I don't
care if my back's to the crowd. But from a practical user standpoint
while under way, I can't really get used to them."
The panel had few reservations about their next charge, the powerful
Hallberg-Rassy 62. "They told us the purpose was push-button sailing
and bluewater cruising, where you can do everything from the helm,"
said Giesemann. "They proved their point today. I've never seen so many
buttons, all right there by the wheel. I was amazed. I'd need more time
to get used to it, but it was so easy and comfortable to sail. It was
blowing, there were choppy seas, and we were making 9 knots so
effortlessly it didn't feel like we were moving. It was more like
gliding. I felt like this was a comfortable, older-couple's boat. Or a
boat for a comfortable older couple."
"You can do lots of things on a big boat you can't do on a little
boat," said Lee. "This is a great boat. The only negative to me is the
engine room, and I only say that because of the efficiency of the
Kanter's. These guys should hire the Kanter's designers to do their
"It's definitely busy," said Sherman. "You'd better know what's going
on once you're in there. Lots of systems and very advanced
global-cruising features. Multiple voltage availability: 12-volt,
24-volt, 110, 220. And systems were backed up with a full-on isolation
transformer, an inverter system that can deal with multiple systems,
all real nicely done. It's a real globetrotter, comfy, and rock solid.
And I like the deck layout, because when all the push buttons crap out,
you're manually going to be able to get into some backup mode and get
yourself back on track."
The Hanse 461 was the German boat with the bilge-pump system referred
to at the outset of this article. And while all the judges were
perplexed a bit by the floorboard system and related bilge issues,
including butt splices connecting the refrigeration unit to the
electrical system that were ripe for trouble, they were unanimous in
their praise of the boat as a fast, enjoyable sailboat. "I really
enjoyed driving this boat," said Hogg. "No doubt about it, it sailed
well, was very well balanced, and the helm felt great," said Sherman
after his trick steering.
The interior layout is centered around a main cabin that the judges
felt was a little gimmicky, with a pair of chairs to port that could be
positioned a couple of different ways and pinned in place on opposing
sides of a small table that effectively took the place of a traditional
nav station. And while there were multiple choices for the cabins at
the ends of the boat, the main-saloon configuration was the sole option.
Regarding the chairs, Lee said, "I didn't buy them. When facing each
other, they seemed too formal. When facing straight out, they didn't
feel right, either."
The Hanse yard is making impressive strides into epoxy construction, as
Tartan and C&C are doing in the United States. This is still rare
among production boatbuilders, but it can lead to the best structures
in contemporary boatbuilding.
Day Four-Seeking Closure
Finally, on the last day of the 2006 Boat of the Year competition, the
rain stopped for good, and on brief occasions, there were patches of
blue overhead and the odd ray of sunshine. Happily, the improving
conditions were matched by fine wind for sailing.
The Dufour 365 opened up the action. "Once we figured the trim out,
which didn't take very long, it sailed very well and was extremely well
balanced," said Ed Sherman. "The deck layout was smart and efficient. A
nice, reasonable little cruiser."
The Dufour was followed by a first-time BOTY nominee, the Delphia 40
from Poland. "I like the way they did the walkthrough aft," said Bill
Lee. "There's an offset ladder and a pretty chunky continuous bumper,
like you see on the Amels. You can back that right up against a dock
without a problem.
"This boat had two heads and no stall shower," he continued. "I guess
if you're a couple, you use one head for the head and one for the
shower and call it good. It's a personal preference, but I think in a
40-foot boat, two heads is a bit much. They take more space than you
think. I'd rather have a bigger chart table and a stall shower in one
"The execution may have been just a little off," said Peter Hogg. "But
I get the sense this company is an up-and-comer. I'd be surprised if we
didn't see them back soon with a bloody good boat."
The Moody 49 has been reintroduced into the States after a switch of
builders. The boats have recently undergone a shift from Princess
Yachts in Plymouth, England, a yard that's concentrating on high-end
powerboats. Today's Moodys are built by Moody Yachts International in
"The brief for this boat was 'a high-quality center-cockpit boat,'"
said Lee. "To me, this was a boat that looked good in the dockside
inspection, but even got better once we got it out on the water. We
sailed the version with the five-feet-three-inch draft, though there's
also a six-feet-seven-inch deep-keel option. It made a bit of leeway
with the shoal keel, which is something you don't notice unless you're
really paying attention. Plus, I couldn't get it to back to starboard.
Then again, it had a bow thruster, so I'm not sure that was such a big
"I really liked it, too," said Ed Sherman. "I felt the equipment was
sized and placed properly, which is something we haven't always seen
out there. It was blowing pretty well when we tested it, and the boat
had a good turn of speed. We were making 8.7 knots under way, which was
"I was totally impressed with the build on the boat compared with
earlier Moodys I've inspected in England," he added. "The new regime at
Moody definitely has it dialed in."
Returning to a configuration that has long served the company well,
like its classic 34-footer of an earlier era, the latest offering from
Tartan also sports a centerboard. "The target market for the Tartan
3400 was the more traditional cruiser," said Bill Lee. "But then they
broadened that. It can be a couple's boat or a small family's boat.
They also wanted a boat that was easy enough to stop at after work to
go sailing for an hour, or even use it for a week's vacation or a
month's vacation. So they were really reaching for a pretty broad
spectrum of the market. Certainly it was one of the more higher-tech
constructions we've seen." Significantly, Tartan has made a commitment
to epoxy boatbuilding for better laminates, and they have an in-house
shop to build carbon spars for their boats.
Both Lee and Sherman felt the wide, main boom, with its nifty
mainsail-stowage capacity, was clever and innovative. "It hasn't been
done that I know of, incorporating that mainsail cover," said Lee. "And
when I was walking forward to leeward tidying things up, I found it
really handy to hold on to," added Sherman.
New owner Jeff Watkins joined the judges for his first sail aboard his
spanking new Jeanneau Sun Odyssey 42 DS. Having moved up from his
previous Southern Cross 31 and Alberg 30, he's looking forward to
expanding his cruising horizons in a southerly direction.
The judges agreed he'd have excellent accommodations belowdecks. "The
aft stateroom was very generous, with a 72-inch-wide berth," said Lee.
"It's an aft-cockpit boat with a big stateroom that really works. One
thing we're seeing more of, and this boat had it, is side engine access
through the head. In the past, you couldn't get in there, but now you
see more watertight doors--this Jeanneau had one--that let you get in
"Overall, Jeanneau is another company that's really improved on systems installation, particularly electrics," said Sherman.
The final boat in the BOTY field was the Island Packet 440, an
aft-cockpit interpretation of the center-cockpit 44-footer the Florida
builder debuted last year. "They do an awfully lot well," said Peter
Hogg. "Lots of good handholds on deck, excellent ventilation. I counted
eight deck hatches and three big vents. The mainsheet and traveler were
properly led through the dodger, and the winches were all the right
size for the job. It's an interesting layout down below, with the
berths roughly 45 degrees off centerline, which creates two huge heads
with loads of room and big showers."
"The thing that struck me," said Giesemann, "is that it's the first
boat I've seen down below that's so good-looking they didn't need to
add fancy bedding or froufrou pillows. The plain mattresses and
upholstery looked great."
"I'm very familiar with Island Packet, and it's a typical IP in every
respect," said Sherman. "Real high-grade systems, perfectly done. To be
honest, I've never really loved their looks, but I've always respected
their installations and build quality."
"They have a niche," said Lee. "Part of their tradition, and success,
is that there are still a lot of stalwart cruising sailors who want
really long keels, a well-protected prop, and a skeg that comes back
and picks up the bottom of the rudder." More and more, as this year's
fleet underscored, Island Packet is the one manufacturer of new boats
addressing that segment of the market.
Later that evening, as the judges made their final deliberations, Bill
Lee made one last cogent observation. "The two most important things in
life are keeping track of yourself and knowing who to believe," he said.
Put another way, the 26 contenders for Boat of the Year had been well
tracked and studied. And everyone involved in the organization of the
event believed they chose some outstanding winners.
CW editors Herb McCormick and Tim Murphy conducted the 2006 Boat of the Year competition.
Suzanne Giesemann is the winner of an essay contest, "Calling for a Few
Good Women," that we announced in our June issue. A retired U.S. Navy
officer and a U.S. Coast Guard-licensed captain, she's owned five
cruising sailboats, ranging in size from 35 feet to 46 feet, aboard
which she's logged thousands of miles at sea. On her current boat, the
Morgan Custom 46 Liberty, she's presently cruising the Mediterranean
with her husband, Ty (www.libertysails.com). A commodore of the Seven
Seas Cruising Association, Suzanne is the author of three books,
including the critically acclaimed Living a Dream and the upcoming
women's sailing book It's Your Boat, Too.
Peter Hogg is a New Zealand-born structural engineer and software
developer who's made his home in California for over 30 years. He is
also a veteran multihull sailor who holds a slew of offshore sailing
records, both on crewed boats and singlehanded. With Steve Fossett
aboard the maxi-cat PlayStation, Peter played a key role in eight
record passages, including the current Transatlantic mark of
4d:17h:28m:6s, set in 2001. At the helm of his own Jim Antrim-designed
trimaran, Aotea, he also set the solo Transpacific record from San
Francisco to Japan with a voyage of 34d:6h:26m in 1992. Favorite detail
from BOTY 2006: Beneteau's website, which provides boat owners with
Internet access to the owner's manual for their specific hull number
and the ability to order replacement parts online.
Bill Lee is the well-known wizard of Santa Cruz, California, whose
yacht-design fame is most closely allied with Merlin, the 77-foot
ultralight sled that broke Transpac records in 1977 and held them for
20 years, and, more recently, with the Transpac 52 class. His Cal Poly
degree in mechanical engineering, his boatbuilding background with
Santa Cruz Yachts, and his history with the Boat of the Year contest
that dates back to the inaugural running make Bill the unofficial dean
of BOTY judges. Favorite detail from BOTY 2006: The boom on the Tartan
3400. "By making the boom a little bigger and dished out, they
eliminated the need for the canvas sides of 'stack-pack' bags."
Ralph Naranjo got plenty of firsthand cruising experience while roaming
55,000 miles all over the world with his family aboard their Ericson
41, Wind Shadow. In addition, Ralph has been a boatyard manager, CW's
longtime technical editor, and the
Vanderstar Chair at the U.S. Naval Academy, where he oversaw the
school's sailing program and its fleet of inshore and offshore
sailboats. He recently joined the staff of PassageMaker as its director
of operations for Trawlerport. In this contest, Ralph
was a nominating judge.
Ed Sherman serves as the Curriculum Designer and Senior Instructor for
the education programs of the American Boat & Yacht Council (ABYC),
an organization that's been developing and updating the safety
standards for boatbuilding and repairs for 50 years. A lifelong sailor
who's raced and cruised extensively from Maine to the Caribbean, he's
also an award-winning technical writer who for seven years served as
Cruising World's electronics editor. Ed is also the author of three
books and is at work on a fourth, Advanced Electrical Troubleshooting
for the Marine Technician, scheduled for release early next year.
Favorite detail from BOTY 2006: The tank-monitoring system on the
Jeanneau Sun Odyssey 42 DS. "With one button, the user is able to
monitor such things as battery and charging condition as well as
onboard-tank levels. This really useful feature should find its way
onto all boats of the future."
The Boats and the Classes
Boat Telephone LOA
D (lb.) Sail Area (sq. ft.)
Origin Website LWL D/L SA/D $/D
Production Cruisers 30 to 36 Feet
Hunter 31 (800) 771-5556 30'
10" 11,430 350
28' 1" 230 11.02
Dufour 365 (410) 757-9401 35'
5" 12,566 522
30' 4" 201 15.43
Tartan 3400 (440) 357-7777 34'
5" 12,000 620
30' 5" 190 18.89
Production Cruisers 37 to 39 Feet
Bavaria 39 (410) 990-0007 39'
10" 16,720 N/A
35' 2" 172 N/A
Hallberg-Rassy 37 +46-304-54-800
37' 2" 16,500 682
33' 6" 196 16.81
Impression 384 by Elan (860) 399-9500
37' 11" 16,758
32' 10" 211 15.46
Production Cruisers 40 to 44 Feet
Delphia 40 (866) 459-2005 39'
4" 18,233 705
36' 4" 170 16.25
Hunter 41 DS (800) 771-5556 40'
4" 21,075 777
35' 6" 210 16.26
Jeanneau Sun Odyssey 42 DS (410) 280-9400
42' 5" 18,080 810
38' 0" 147 18.78
Performance Cruisers Over 45 Feet
Hanse 461 (410) 626-1493 46'
6" 26,235 1,152
41' 3" 167 20.83
Salona 45 (800) 819-1646 44'
5" 22,046 995
40' 6" 148 20.21
Swan 46 (+ 358) 6 760 1111 45'
1" 35,700 1,115
40' 3" 244 16.42
X-46 (203) 353-8118 46'
0" 22,929 1,185
Import/Denmark www.X-yachts.com 40'
3" 157 23.45
Boat Telephone LOA
D (lb.) Sail Area (sq. ft.)
Origin Website LWL D/L SA/D $/D
Beneteau 523 (843) 629-5300 53'
1" 34,265 1,344
48' 0" 138 20.34
Island Packet 440 (888) 724-5479
45' 9" 32,000 929
Domestic/Florida www.ipy.com 38'
1" 259 14.72
Moody 49 (781) 749-8600 48'
7" 36,225 1,039
Import/England www.moody.eu.com 40'
7" 242 15.15
Morris 42 (207) 244-5509 42'
0" 19,400 789
32' 0" 264 17.45
Hallberg-Rassy 62 +46-304-54-800
61' 11" 72,775
52' 4" 226 17.33
Kanter Bougainvillaea 65 (519) 633-1058
65' 0" 75,000
56' 5" 186 14.40
Seguin 52 (207) 354-6904 52'
0" 37,000 1,378
38' 0" 301 19.81
Stevens Custom 53 (619) 778-8880
53' 3" 45,000
49' 4" 167 16.81
Broadblue 42 (877) 695-0358 38'
8" 15,876 776
35' 9" 155 19.62
Gunboat 48 (401) 662-0204 48'
4" 20,100 1,106
Import/South Africa www.gunboat.info
45' 11" 93 23.89
Jaguar 36 +27-21-535-4474 36'
3" 20,943 680
Import/South Africa www.chartercatssa.com
35' 3" 213 14.29
Lagoon 500 (410) 280-2368 51'
0" 36,650 1,192
49' 0" 139 17.25
St. Francis 50 (305) 937-2740 50'
0" 32,500 1,100
www.stfranciscatamaran.co.za 47' 0"
140 17.25 $23.38
The Sound Under Power
Boat Shaft Type Cruising
RPM Cruising Speed (knots) Cruising
Noise (dB) Fast RPM Fast Speed
(knots) Fast Noise (dB)
Kanter Bouganvillaea 65 Conventional
1,375 8.7 67
1,600 9.1 72
Swan 46 Saildrive 2,000
6.4 68 2,400
Hallberg-Rassy 62 Conventional
1,600 8.8 70
2,400 9.1 74
Broadblue 42 Saildrive
2,600 7.3 72
2,800 7.5 73
Morris 42 Conventional
2,400 7.1 73
2,800 7.5 75
X-46 Saildrive 2,000
7.5 74 2,250
Stevens Custom 53 Conventional
1,800 7.5 75
2,200 8.1 77
Jaguar 36 Saildrive
2,800 7.4 75
3,600 7.7 78
Lagoon 500 Saildrive
2,800 8.3 75
3,400 9.1 78
Gunboat 48 Conventional
2,000 9.0 76
2,000 9.0 76
Hunter 31 Conventional
2,400 5.8 78
2,800 6.1 78
Delphia 40 Saildrive
2,500 6.8 78
2,800 7.4 82
Island Packet 440 Conventional
2,500 6.8 78
3,000 7.7 82
St. Francis 50 Conventional
2,500 7.5 78
2,800 8.7 82
Dufour 365 Saildrive
2,500 7.0 79
3,000 7.6 80
Tartan 3400 Saildrive
2,700 6.2 80
3,200 6.4 80
Salona 45 Saildrive
2,800 6.5 81
3,600 7.7 84
Hanse 461 Saildrive
2,500 7.0 81
3,000 7.8 85
Hallberg-Rassy 37 Conventional
2,500 7.1 82
2,800 7.6 84
Bavaria 39 Saildrive
2,300 8.0 83
2,800 8.7 84
Beneteau 523 Conventional
2,800 8.2 83
3,100 8.8 84
Hunter 41 DS Conventional
2,800 7.5 84
3,200 7.7 86
Impression 384 Conventional
2,800 7.4 85
3,300 8.0 86
Seguin 52 Conventional
2,800 7.8 85
3,300 8.3 95
Jeanneau SO 42 DS Conventional
2,400 7.8 86
2,800 8.6 84
Moody 49 Conventional
2,200 8.0 86
3,000 8.7 8
Best Domestic Boat of the Year
Best Import Boat of the Year
Production Cruiser 31 to 36 Feet
Production Cruiser 37 to 39 Feet
Production Cruiser 40 to 44 Feet
Hunter 41 DS
Performance Cruiser Over 45 Feet
Kanter Bouganvillaea 65
St. Francis 50
Hunter 41 DS