New Thinking is the Common Denominator for 2011
Winners - sexier, faster, more maneuverable under power - make a quantum leap
Fresh ideas, innovative solutions, and, in one case, brand-new boathandling technology that could prove to be a real game-changer awaited the 2011 Boat of the Year judges as they went to work at the U.S. Sailboat Show in Annapolis, Maryland, over the long Columbus Day weekend. But I had a feeling that’d be the case, based on Cruising World’s preview of this year’s new models (see “New-Boat Preview 2011,” October 2010) and on what I’d seen at shows and during test sails earlier in the year.
After a couple of rough-and-tumble years for the new-boat marketplace, it was readily apparent this past fall that boatbuilders and designers have embraced the idea that coming up with new—really new—models that are sexier, faster, more comfortable, easier to sail, and more maneuverable under power is more important than ever. And you know who benefits from this? We do. I’ve been covering new boats for a long time now, and I honestly can’t remember a fleet of new designs that as a class was more intriguing.
From an all-carbon speed machine to comfortable cruisers to a couple of boats that create niches all to themselves, this year’s BOTY lineup included enough diversity to keep the judges on their toes. The 2011 categories came together as CW editors made preliminary reviews of potential nominees at the Newport International Boat Show and in the days leading up to the show in Annapolis. Then we brought in our team of outside experts for the dockside inspections during the show itself and for sea trials on Chesapeake Bay the following week.
Overall, the number of new sailboats being introduced in North America is down from the boom years of earlier in the decade, but still, this year, 19 models met CW’s criteria to become BOTY nominees. As they have in past years, BOTY judges assessed each boat according to its design brief, and after lengthy discussions each evening after sea trials, they picked those that most closely hit the mark. Read on to learn about all of the 2011 BOTY nominees and to discover what it took to emerge as a winner.