Among the 29 boats in the contest, eight were catamarans, making them the single largest category this year. The number of new models at the Annapolis shows has been rising, too; their numbers on the show docks have met or broken records for each of the last three years: from 38 multis two years ago to 42 this year and last.
The boats we sailed ranged from 34 to 57 feet. The lone cat in the mid-30s size range was the Esprit 3400, built by Creeksea Ltd. in Durban, South Africa, and designed by Prout. At the other end of the size scale was the luxurious French-built Lagoon 570.
Between 42 and 47 feet we saw six cats. Two, the Moorings 4200 and 4700, were designed by Alex Simonis and built by Robertson & Caine to Moorings charter specs, which are impressive; the boats are also sold for private use under the name Leopard 42 and 47. The EndeavourCat 44, built in Clearwater, Florida, was the most commodious of all the cats. The French-built Outremer 45, the only cat in the contest with daggerboards, was the one most stripped down and powered up for speed.
In the opinion of the judges, the one boat that best blended performance, safety, and comfort into two hulls was the Voyage 440.
Of the structure, a judge said, "Every multihull takes enough time getting through the wind that youve got torsional loads going through the skins, and, man, this one was a tight as a good guitar body." Of the sailplan, one judge said, "They really had their bases covered for a variety of wind ranges in a very safe way. Of the deck layout, another judge said, "Wherever you walked, you had a feeling that it was the most appropriate pathway to where you were going." Of the systems, a judge said, "The electrical panel was absolutely 4.0, and the fuel tank forward was as fine an execution as I have ever seen." For these reasons and others, the judges called her the Best Cruising Multihull for 2002.
But thats not all. Said one judge, "Shes the first multihull Ive seen that I really consider a prime yacht and a functional cruiser." Said another, "Everything about this boat indicates that its seriously made for going to sea. Without any hesitation, you could hang the word passagemaker on it and your conscience would be at ease." Its the first time in the contests nine year history that the overall boat of the year award goes to a multihull. Congratulations to the folks at Voyage Yachts in Cape Town, South Africa.