Winner: Seawind 1190 Sport
During every BOTY contest, the judges find themselves critiquing boats that defy easy characterization. It’s a contest, of course, and as such, every boat must be categorized, even if it means sometimes attempting to put round pegs in square holes. Yet some of these outliers are so clever, unusual and well conceived that the panelists, during their deliberations, find themselves returning to them again and again. This year there were three such nominees, including two boats built in the United States: the Alerion Sport 30, a stylish daysailer with an electric engine and camping accommodations in the Performance Cruiser class, and the Gemini Freestyle, which boasts a floor plan unlike any other, in the Charter Boat division.
But it was a third boat — a catamaran, naturally, in this Year of the Cats — that truly drew the judges’ attention and rendered them smitten. In fact, the jury was so taken with the interesting 39-foot Seawind 1190 Sport, a high-performance cruiser powered by twin retractable outboard motors, that they unanimously decided to honor it with the Judge’s Special Prize for 2017.
“Built in Vietnam, it’s a development of the company’s 1160. They’ve used carbon to make it considerably lighter,” said Tim Murphy. “So the design brief began with performance (the boat has a light displacement-to-length ratio of 136 and a powerful sail area-to-displacement ratio of 23.2). We sailed this boat in less than 3 knots of breeze but still made far better than 2 knots of boat speed. So it’s a boat that really moves. It has daggerboards, the rudders are in cartridges, and it has a pair of outboards that tip up, so it’s easily beachable. I think it’s going to be a very fun boat for people who love to sail.”
“I really like the Seawind conceptually, with a unique raised cockpit door/bulkhead that opens up the whole boat,” said Carol Hasse. “I think it’s definitely a boat that would live well in the tropics. Under sail, I particularly liked the ease of movement. The cockpit, by multihull standards, was not the focal point. The focal point was making the boat go fast. It would really be a joy to have for coastal cruising.”
Ed Sherman said: “I liked the boat immediately. If I were considering a multihull, this is one of the boats I’d be seriously looking at. It’s simple, but it’s sincere. It’s real. And I think Carol nailed it: It would be a fast, awesome coastal cruiser. “They did a nice job fitting it out,” he continued. “There were no extra bells or whistles, but access to everything was good. I loved the fact that it’s powered by outboard engines that you can raise and lower out of corrosive seawater, unlike a saildrive configuration. They’re so easy to service and maintain. The dual helms were great, as was that convertible bulkhead.”
All that aside, Sherman got to the very heart of the matter when summing up the quick, compact cruiser. “This boat,” he said, “would just be a lot of fun.”