The key to our annual Boat of the Year competition is our independent judging panel. This year's team included Ed Sherman, the director of educational programming for the American Boat & Yacht Council (ABYC). An experienced racer and cruiser, and the author of four technical marine books, Ed works closely with boatbuilders, marine surveyors, field-service personnel and engineering staffs in the U.S. and abroad. Mark Schrader, who has over 130,000 miles of ocean racing and offshore sailing under his belt, has also completed two solo circumnavigations, and was the first American to circle the globe alone via the five great Southern Ocean capes. Mark was also the skipper and project manager aboard Ocean Watch during the historic 2009-2010 Around Americas Expedition through the Northwest Passage and around Cape Horn. The third judge, Cruising World editor-at-large Tim Murphy, grew up living aboard his family's 41-foot ketch and sailing along the U.S. East Coast and the Bahamas. At 18, he earned a U.S. Coast Guard 100-ton license and has worked on and around boats ever since, delivering them, writing about them and teaching people how to use them. An independent writer and editor based in Rhode Island, he is the co-author, with Ed Sherman, of Fundamentals of Marine Service Technology (ABYC, 2012), as well as dozens of articles. He sails Ave Marina, a Vineyard Vixen 29, throughout New England waters.