As with so many classes in this year’s Boat of the Year competition, the judges faced a real quandary in determining Best Full-Size Cruiser Under 48 Feet. All three nominees — the Beneteau 46.1, Jeanneau Sun Odyssey 490 and Hylas 48 — came in within 2 feet in length of one another. The Beneteau and Jeanneau were incredibly similar, with identical price tags ($520,000) and almost exact displacements (hovering around 24,000 pounds). By comparison, the Hylas was considerably heavier (34,000 pounds) and more expensive ($830,000).

“The Beneteau 46.1 and the Jeanneau Sun Odyssey 490 are straight-up ­production boats,” said Tim Murphy. “This Beneteau is very much in keeping with what we expect from that builder; it’s a fine boat. But that Jeanneau is an exemplary expression of what high-production yards are capable of, and we ultimately recognized it as such.”

Murphy also summarized where the Hylas 48 stood in the marketplace. “It’s more of a boutique boat. It won’t be produced in the same quantity as the others. And it’s directly aimed more toward the actual bluewater sailor.”

And as an example of a long-range voyaging vessel, for Murphy and his colleagues, they basically found it irresistible.

“You can feel that extra displacement in the motion of the boat,” Murphy said. “It felt very stiff in a good way. There was a lot of traffic on Chesapeake Bay during our sea trials, but there was a very comforting motion as the boat punched through the wakes. It felt like kind of an old-school cruising boat. And the center cockpit is very nicely set up with winches right next to the helm to each side. You could easily go sailing by yourself on this very substantial yacht without any problem. Impressive.”

Beneteau 46.1
This Full-Size Cruiser class showcased two ­outstanding examples of modern ­production boatbuilding: the Beneteau 46.1 (above) and the Jeanneau Sun Odyssey 490.Jon Whittle

“This is a sort of retro design, like a lot of Hylases I’ve looked at over the years, and that’s not a negative comment,” said Ed Sherman. “I’ve always been amazed how well the Queen Long boatyard does. This was built by a very experienced Taiwanese workforce, and they’re artisans. They take what they do very seriously, and they do a very good job. They put metal plates in the laminate as backing for winches, and they’re using stainless steel, not aluminum. I’m feeling really good about that.

“The service access is also great,” he continued. “They have hatches and doors that open up and give you beautiful access to all the key service points you’ll need to get to. And it was terrific sailing it. It’s very traditional. Yes, the center cockpit is a little hard to get in and out of, but once you’re situated, it’s very comfortable. I could see spending a whole lot of hours in this cockpit. All the sailhandling controls are right by the helm. The electric winches make furling and setting sails very easy, even the screacher. This would make a wonderful boat for an experienced couple.”

Jeanneau Sun Odyssey 490
The Jeanneau Sun Odyssey 490.Jon Whittle

“The stainless work is just incredible,” said Alvah Simon. “It’s thick, it’s heavy, it’s gusseted. The pushpit, the pulpit, the stanchions, the lifelines — there’s just no give. They’re excellent. There are just so many things that reflect quality and attention to detail. Yes, it’s more expensive than the other boats in this class. But there’s real value there too. It’s solidly put together. It’s a very elegant-looking boat. For a couple who want and can afford this style of bluewater cruiser, it’s a sweet ride.”

There wasn’t much more to say. Quite simply, the Hylas 48 is 2019’s Best Full-Size Cruiser Under 48 Feet.

See All Winners:
2019 Boats of the Year

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