In 2019, yachts over 48 feet were eligible to compete in the unlimited Full-Size Cruiser class, which drew three entrants (including two from the same builder): the X-Yachts X4⁹, X-Yachts Xp 55 and the Hanse 548. All three could also fall under the classification of performance cruisers, and they provided the judging panel with some of the best pure sailing experiences during this year’s round of sea trials.

In fact, observed Tim Murphy, “The ‘p’ in the X-Yachts Xp 55 stands for performance — the hull forms in the company’s Xp line have less wetted surface compared to the firm’s full-on cruising boats. The hull here is epoxy, but the internal grid that X-Yachts is known for is not the usual galvanized steel but carbon. So they’re really making efforts to get the weight out of the boat. Of course, that comes at a cost, and you’re paying a premium. At $1.4 million, this is the most expensive yacht in this year’s fleet.”

Under sail in about 12 knots of wind, the Xp 55 registered solid 8s of boat speed on and off the breeze — good numbers. But the Hanse 548, in less optimal conditions, also got the panel’s attention. “We had a pretty darn nice sail,” said Murphy. “In about 6 knots of breeze, our speeds were nearly the same as the wind speed. We were seeing 5.8 and 6, and the sailing felt really sweet. It’s a very, very pleasant boat to sail. And at $800,000, you get a lot of boat for the money. I think price points are important factors in this class.”

Hanse 548
The Hanse 548 will get up and go.Jon Whittle

Had the judges completed their sea trials for the week on the Xp 55 and the 548, they would’ve had some fine moments to remember. But — and there’s no other way to put it — nothing compared to the sheer exhilaration they discovered aboard the X-Yachts X4⁹. We’ll let them describe it in their own words.

“in terms of performance, the helm was just scary how ­balanced it was.”

“We’d had a day and a half of light air, and when we stepped aboard, I was afraid we wouldn’t have enough wind to sail,” said Murphy. “But then the breeze filled in a little. True wind was 5.2, and I scribbled in my notes, ‘Boat speed 5.7, 6.’ We were in not very much wind, and we were exceeding it when we steered above 90 degrees apparent! This boat just lit me up. It was absolutely joyful, and it would be a great passagemaker for that reason.”

“Without question, it was the best-sailing boat we tested this year,” said Ed Sherman. “In terms of actual performance, the helm was just scary how well balanced everything was. It was even quick under power — our fast cruise speed was over 8 knots, which I consider pretty good. It was one of the quietest boats too, below 70 db. People need to understand that a lot of that is indicative of the quality of the build — no vibrating doors or rattling stovetops. That’s just not happening on this boat.”

X-Yachts Xp 55
The X-Yachts Xp 55 is a true performance thoroughbred.Jon Whittle

“My impression during the dockside inspection was fairly positive, but sailing the boat reaffirmed those feelings,” said Alvah Simon. “It reinforced why we must always test-sail the boats. The sailing was just fantastic. It was a joy, and I think that’s what people who purchase this boat will be buying into, the joy of sail.”

Perhaps it seems counterintuitive, but despite the difference in size, and even the difference in cost — the X4⁹ comes in at $850,000, or half a million less than its X-Yachts class sibling — the judges felt the smaller offering was the more enjoyable boat to sail, and it wasn’t close.

It made their final decision a simple one. In unanimous fashion, the judging panel proclaimed the X-Yachts X4⁹ the Best Full-Size Cruiser for 2019.

See All Winners:
2019 Boats of the Year

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