Nineteen new sailboats from top boatbuilders around the globe battle for this year’s coveted Boat of the Year title.
With sweet, early autumn sailing conditions on Chesapeake Bay, a strong fleet of 19 contenders competed for top honors in our annual Boat of the Year competition. Once the spray had settled and the votes were tallied, the judges awarded prizes in seven categories for monohulls and multihulls.
We must be getting lucky. The denizens of Annapolis, Maryland, have dubbed their city “the sailing capital of the United States” for many reasons: the abundance of yachts; myriad nearby rivers, creeks and backwaters on which to explore and cruise; the abundance of marinas and shipyards; the frenetic local racing scene; and the annual in-water Annapolis Sailboat Show, the country’s biggest and best.
Jeanneau has long enjoyed a strong reputation for building boats that sail exceedingly well. With the Jeanneau 55, Cruising World’s 2024 Best Overall Boat of the Year, the French boatbuilder has changed the game once again.
At first glance, there’s a certain familiarity to the Jeanneau Yachts 55. Once upon a time, 50-plus-foot cruising boats were a rarity in far-flung ports, but they are now quite common. And of all the production builders, Jeanneau has long enjoyed a strong reputation for building boats that sail exceedingly well.
The 2024 Boat of the Year winner will be revealed right here, live, at cruisingworld.com on December 6, 2023, at 12:00PM Eastern Standard Time, and also in the January/February 2024 issue of Cruising World.
Get a closer look at some of this year’s standout contenders in the field.
Cruising World’s annual Boat of the Year competition is the recognized leader in inspecting, testing and rewarding the best sailboats introduced into the US market by boatbuilders the world over. Judging and testing for this year’s awards will take place during and after the Annapolis Sailboat Show in Annapolis, Maryland, which begins October 12.
Over the course of nearly two weeks around the Annapolis Sail Show, sailboats receiving official nominations will be thoroughly adjudicated by an independent panel of marine experts who, as a team, evaluate each nominated vessel in two stages: dockside during the show, and then in dedicated sea trials. The judges measure every spec, inspect every inch of rigging, unscrew every electrical panel to examine the wiring behind it, scrutinize every element of construction, and question every layout option. And then they sail it.
No other program puts boats through such rigorous trials. It’s a testament to the legitimacy of Cruising World’s Boat of the Year competition and the reason why you see our trademark blue triangle Boat of the Year logos proudly displayed on banners at boat-show booths worldwide.
Throughout the history of the competition, our judges have tested hundreds of boats, and in doing so, helped our Boat of the Year program earn its reputation as the gold standard of international sailboat awards. We’ve once again assembled a top-tier, non-biased judging panel based on their complementary backgrounds and skill sets, not to mention decades upon decades of combined experience, both in the industry and at the helm. If there’s a nit to pick, rest assured these experts will be all over it.
Over the course of his career as a sailor and yachting journalist, award-winning marine writer Herb McCormick has written hundreds of boat reviews and raced and cruised tens of thousands of miles, including the Newport Bermuda Race, the Sydney-Hobart Race, the Pacific Cup and the Transpac. His offshore resume includes a voyage to Antarctica, a successful transit of the Northwest Passage, and two roundings of Cape Horn. The author of five nautical books, he’s owned and maintained several sailboats, including his current Pearson 365 and Pearson Ensign. As a Boat of the Year judge, he concentrates on sailing performance, safety, and deck layouts.
Mark Pillsbury is a die-hard sailor who has owned and maintained a number of sailboats, including a Sabre 34, on which he lived aboard for 15 years in various harbors around Rhode Island’s Narragansett Bay. He has been involved with Cruising World’s Boat of the Year program in various roles for many years and has reviewed scores of new sailboats for the magazine. He is currently a Cruising World editor-at-large. As a judge, his purview is interior plans, systems and build quality.
Longtime CW contributor, editor-at-large and award-winning marine journalist and author Tim Murphy currently serves as education project manager with the American Boat & Yacht Council (ABYC). Having been involved with ABYC since 1998, Murphy supported the rollout of ABYC’s Marine Electrical Certification; designed and edited ABYC certification study guides as a contractor; and co-authored (with Ed Sherman) Fundamentals of Marine Service Technology, a marine-trades textbook for secondary and post-secondary education. Now a full-time staff member, Murphy has taken on the role of education project manager to oversee the creation of ABYC curriculum and certification materials, and other key responsibilities to grow ABYC’s technical education and content creation capabilities.
When the spray had settled, at the top of the leader board was a pair of yachts destined for blue water and beyond: the Lyman-Morse LM46, the Domestic Boat of the Year, and the Hallberg-Rassy 400, the Import Boat of the Year.
In ideal conditions on Chesapeake Bay, a taut fleet of 17 contestants vied for top honors in the 2023 edition of Cruising World’s annual Boat of the Year competition.