2007 Boat of the Year Report

In this rundown of our 2007 Boat of the Year contest senior editor Mark Pillsbury explains why the winners won. (Includes links to photo galleries, sidebars, and more)

January 13, 2007


Strong, rugged, and lovely, the Malo 40, the BOTY judges concluded, can take a cruising couple anywhere in the world they wish to go. The judges also gave it the award for Best Midsize Cruiser Billy Black

It took four judges eight days to twice work their way through the two dozen boats that were nominated for the 2007 Cruising World Boat of the Year contest, but as deliberations wound down during a couple of marathon evening sessions in October, the first choices in each of six categories began to emerge by consensus.

The boats in this year’s contest ranged from a pair of 30-something-footers to a handful of luxury sailers measuring 50 feet and over. There were monohulls and multihulls, cruisers and performers, daysailers and motorsailers, and they carried price tags ranging from just under $100,000 to well over $1 million fully fitted out. In the end, after each boat had been prodded, inspected, sailed, and motored, the final decision in each category came down to which boat most closely hit the design brief provided by the builder.

Deciding the winners in each category was a job in itself. And then it took a bit more work still to settle upon the top domestic- and foreign-made Boat of the Year. But work our panel of independent judges did as they balanced performance, construction, aesthetics, and price. As in years past, these industry experts asked tough questions and cast critical eyes upon each boat they boarded. As a whole, their appraisals revealed builders who are listening to their customers, looking for innovation, anxious to meet higher construction standards, and, overall, striving to launch better boats.


Domestic Boat of the Year honors went to one of the smallest sailboats in the running, the Catalina 309, which is built in Florida. The 309 is a sweet sailer with room below to take the family along at a price a family could afford, and the BOTY judges concluded that Catalina was right on target with this entry-level cruiser.
“I think that for the purpose it was put on the water,” said world voyager and judge Alvah Simon, “to be able to walk down, jump aboard, and simply go enjoy it on a weekend, the boat not only hit the price in terms of value but also hit the mark in terms of use.”

Other boats in contention for Domestic Boat of the Year were the Morris M42, the Maine-built sloop that won the Special-Purpose Cruisers category and, price aside, swept away the judges’ hearts, and the Beneteau 49, a product of South Carolina named Best Full-Size Production Cruiser.

For the judges, arriving at the Import Boat of the Year proved trickier, given the range and number of boats, but they finally narrowed their choices to the Malo 40, a bluewater-sailing monohull and winner of the Midsize Cruisers category, and the Seawind 1160, which won the Multihull Cruisers category and also sailed away with Most Innovative honors. The judges settled on the Malo 40 as the Import Boat of the Year because, as a true any-ocean voyager, it did a superb job of meeting the needs of a long-distance cruising couple in terms of sailing ability, safety, and price. But the Seawind finished a very close second.


Summing up her feelings regarding the Malo, BOTY judge Stacey Collins said, “The minute I saw it at the dock, I thought, ‘This is a boat that I can see sailing around the world in very easily.’ It was rugged, great looking on the outside-pragmatic but handsome-and on the inside, sumptuous and elegant.”

As it has in past years, the BOTY judging included dockside inspections of each boat during the U.S. Sailboat Show in Annapolis, Maryland, in October, followed by four days of sail tests on Chesapeake Bay.

The fleet of finalists was divided into six categories: Small Cruisers, Midsize Cruisers, Full-Size Production Cruisers, Multihull Cruisers, Full-Size Cruisers, and Special-Purpose Cruisers, a category including two daysailers, a boat meant to fit in a shipping container, and a new approach to a motorsailer. In the first five groups, boats of similar size, price, and design intent were judged against each other. In the Special-Purpose class, the prices and sizes varied, but all were designs attempting to attract buyers who might otherwise give up sailing or move to a powerboat. Discussions among the judges in this category proved as interesting as the boats themselves.
Below, you’ll find the details about each of the categories and the winners. You’ll see how the judges looked at these boats, so perhaps you can look for the same things when you step aboard your next dream sailboat at a boat show. You’ll find charts compiled by CW and the judges to compare and contrast the models that interest you. And we’ve provided a roundup of things that, in the judges’ opinion, builders could do better.


But before concluding this 2007 Boat of the Year overview, I’d be remiss if I didn’t dip an ensign to three builders who came to the line this year with boats that hold the potential to push the sailing industry in new directions.

Lagoon brought its electric-powered 420 Hybrid catamaran. Someone had to do it, and the designers and engineers from Lagoon did. Someday fairly soon, we’ll look back on this boat as the granddaddy of a whole new way to get from here to there.

The Far Harbour 39, just seven feet wide and designed to fit in a shipping container, arrived at the shows in Newport, R.I., and Annapolis as a cold-molded prototype. Look for a fiberglass version next year that attempts to answer the age-old question of how to quickly cross oceans and continents to find new cruising grounds.


Finally, the Island Packet SP Cruiser is a motorsailer (yes, it’s all right to say it) that, in the minds of the judges, offers the sailor about to retire from the pastime a whole lot of reasons to hang on to the mainsheet a few seasons longer.

Small Cruisers
Not so very long ago, boats under 30 feet were considered to be viable ocean crossers, but nowadays your average 30-footer is referred to by dealers as “entry-level.” The 2007 Boat of the Year contest included two small cruisers, but it would be tough to view either as stripped-down models lacking creature comforts or performance. (A third model, the Bavaria 30, was nominated, but it was unavailable to be test-sailed by the judges.)
Rather, both offer accommodations for a cruising family, complete with galleys, pressure hot and cold water, heads with showers, and price tags in the affordable range for couples buying their first boat or older sailors looking to move down from a bigger boat, simplify systems, and put a few dollars away for other pleasures.

The competition: The French-built Dufour 325 is described by its builders as a coastal cruiser, and from dockside, it looks like it’s ready to do just that. The 325 is powered by a Volvo 20-horsepower diesel engine and saildrive that pushes the boat along at an easy six knots at cruising speed and just under seven knots when wide open. Judges noted that the cockpit dodger offers good handholds and that access to the electrical panel is good. The boat also features access to the starboard-side cockpit locker both from overhead and through a door at the rear of the head. On deck, full-length backstays running to either side of the transom are out of the way of the helmsman. A fixed cockpit table, though, was a problem while tacking because it proved a devilish trap for sheets.

The winner: After visiting and sailing both entries, judges found the Catalina 309 to warrant the title of Best Small Cruiser. In order for the judges to make fair comparisons between boats, we ask builders to give us prices with certain pieces of equipment included and others excluded (actual purchase prices may vary). Based on these, the Catalina cost about $100,000-$40,000 less than the competition, and it’s the next generation’s take on the venerable Catalina 30, a model that can be found in nearly any harbor in the States.

Designer Gerry Douglas, who was on board for the test sail, said he intended the 309 to be a durable, simple, good-performing, and affordable family cruiser. And according to the judges, Douglas and Team Catalina hit the bull’s-eye with this delightful little boat.

Under sail in light winds, the 309 moved smartly, tacked well, and carried a helm that was comfortable. A high bridgedeck offers protection from any seas that might come aboard, and these would flush quickly from the self-draining cockpit. Some inspired thinking went into the placement of deck gear, the judges noted; systems were well thought out and, with the exception of a missing gasket on the LPG locker, properly installed.

Below, there’s good ventilation, tanks are installed properly, and BOTY judge Peter Wormwood appreciated the labeling on through-hulls. The dining table is stowed in the aft cabin, opening up space in the saloon when the table’s not needed, and the layout provides both a roomy V-berth and a double aft cabin. Topsides, the judges noted the wide, clear decks and easy access to the cockpit.

For BOTY judge and American Boat & Yacht Council systems guru Ed Sherman, the Catalina’s electrical panel incorporated innovation that helped the builder achieve its ambitious price point. Rather than breakers, well-marked automotive-type fuses were used. Not only were they color- coded; they also could be easily removed and replaced with ones of a different amperage (within the constraints of the wiring) when new equipment is added.

In their discussion of the 309, the judges touched upon an issue that also would be a deciding factor in the boat being named Domestic Boat of the Year. By accepting perhaps smaller margins from the sale of an affordable, easy-to-handle boat, Catalina hopes to attract new sailors to the sport. If they like what they find, they’ll learn the ropes and likely buy up to a more-profitable model in years to come. Such an approach is important for the health of the entire industry, the judges said.

Summing up his thoughts on the Catalina 309, Peter said, “I really like the boat. I think the company hit what Gerry Douglas said the target of the boat was: sailors entering into the sport, buying their first Catalina, an entry-level boat, something that would keep them in the Catalina family. I would recommend the 309 to someone getting into it. I was really pleasantly surprised with the boat.”

Midsize Cruisers
Call it coincidence, but three of the four boats vying for the title of Best Midsize Cruiser also fall into the category of bluewater cruisers. Step aboard the Ovni 395, the Malo 40, or the Najad 440, and you could feel confident these boats were built to handle most anything Mother Nature decided to dish out.

The competition: The fourth boat in the category, the Maestro 40, was a racer/cruiser, less bluewater oriented but a hoot to sail, as judges learned in a moderate breeze in the waters off Annapolis. Built in Finland, the Maestro’s sail controls are set up for a shorthanded crew, with all lines running to clutches on the coamings on either side of the wheel. Under power, the boat is driven by a Volvo 40-horsepower diesel and saildrive. The combination makes it one of the quieter of the boats tested. The Maestro sports a Selden rig, a big main, and a 109-percent jib on a Furlex roller furler. It’s a powerful combination that will keep a cruising sailor on the alert to be ready to spill some breeze in the puffs. The judges felt some rearrangement of winches would be needed if the boat were to be raced by a full crew.

Chantier Alubat’s Ovni 395, with its 41-foot-11-inch aluminum hull and multiple chines, is a rare sight to American eyes, but it’s a cruising brand that’s popular with European voyagers. Under mainsail and either genoa or staysail, the Ovni scooted right along and, the judges concluded, would be an able passagemaker. With its centerboard up, the Ovni draws just 23 inches, making it a good boat for the shallow waters of the Chesapeake or the Bahamas. With a stated price of $260,000, the Ovni cost nearly $120,000 less than the Maestro, the next least-expensive boat in the category.

The most expensive of the midsize cruisers, at $600,000, was the Swedish-built Najad 440, a beautifully executed center-cockpit sloop. Judges searched for the right words to describe the boat’s interior: “modern,” “European,” “luxurious,” and “Art Deco” were a few they tried. Regardless, they liked what they saw, from the great sea galley (complete with backup hot- and cold-water foot pumps) to the well-equipped nav station and ample berths. Topsides, the Najad looked graceful, not “like a wedding cake,” the expression Alvah Simon used to describe some of the center-cockpit models he’s seen. From its built-in retractable stern davits to the windshield and dodger and to its excellent anchoring system on the bow, it was hard to find a complaint dockside; under sail, the Najad drew raves all around.

The winner: When it came time to pick best of category, it was such a close call that the judges had to sleep on it. But when they awoke the next morning, they concluded that the Malo 40 was the Best Midsize Cruiser.
From a systems standpoint, it earned an “A” rating from Ed Sherman, a stickler for detail. He said, “It’s a sweet-sailing boat. Everything on the boat that we tested was of maximum quality.”

Peter Wormwood was taken by a number of the Malo’s attributes, particularly its flat coachroof, which allows easy movement forward and would make an excellent work platform offshore. With roomy aft and forward berths, the boat would provide comfortable accommodations for two couples, he thought, and the size of the shower was impressive, as was the rotating table in the main saloon that could fold out to seat a crowd.

For the safety-conscious Alvah, beefy padeyes for jacklines, strong cleats, tall, 27-inch lifelines, and a high bridgedeck in the aft cockpit were noteworthy, as was the cutter rig that awaited a hank-on storm staysail, an important feature for long-distance offshore work.

Stacey Collins was impressed both that the height of the boat’s distinctive Targa arch over the cockpit could be customized and by the utility of the spaces under the dodger on either side of the companionway, where gear could be stored and which could even be used as seats by small people or kids. And all agreed that the pair of chairs in the 40’s saloon set the gold standard for comfort.

Ultimately, the debate over these two fine Scandinavian boats came down to the judge’s desire to cut ties and go sailing. Viewed on a dollars per pound basis, the two boats are about equal. But, the judges concluded, the Malo offers true bluewater-sailing capabilities for a cruising couple and at a price-$390,000-that would let a buyer make a substantial deposit to the cruising kitty.

Full-Size Production Cruisers
Best Full-Size Production Cruiser was a category that kept the judges thinking when it came to sorting out boats and their intended purposes. First and foremost, these boats are sailers, so on the water, sailing characteristics came to the forefront. But they are also meant to be aquatic hideaways for their owners, so dockside charm also factored into a lengthy deliberation.

The competition: The Bavaria 46 is the latest in the German boatbuilder’s Cruiser line. Below, it offers a roomy saloon with an in-line galley that the judges deemed quite workable, though some of the finish might have been better executed. Forward is a large V-berth with lots of extra space in which to store sea bags and equipment, leaving plenty of room for the island queen berth. With a Volvo 75-horsepower diesel and saildrive, the boat scoots along at eight and a half knots at cruising speed and a little better than nine knots when wide open. The 46 Cruiser features an in-mast furling mainsail and Selden rig. At $285,000, it was the least-expensive boat in the category.

Next up, in price at least, was the Hunter 45 CC. It’s the only center-cockpit production boat being built in the United States, and it rounds out Hunter’s line of midsize to large sailboats while carrying a price tag of $300,000. As with most Hunters these days, systems and their installations were executed well, and the owner’s aft cabin on the model tested was the most comfortable looking of any in the category. While the judges found the lines of the center cockpit a bit high, that’s the trade-off made to gain space below.

The Moorings 51.5 is a Beneteau-built four-cabin model intended strictly for the charter trade, although The Moorings expects owners may choose to convert the boats to private use once their charter days are done. With feedback coming in from thousands of customers each year, the 51.5 offers simple comforts and good access to systems that might need attention. Its four-cabin layout is designed in such a way that the two guest cabins forward can be converted down the line into a large owner’s space.

As the judges worked their way through this category, their focus began to settle on two models, the Jeanneau Sun Odyssey 49 Performance and the Beneteau 49. And that’s when discussions became lively. Because under sail, with an afternoon sea breeze filling in, the Performance factor in the Jeanneau 49 kicked in to give the judges a devilishly delightful ride across the Chesapeake. They liked the clean deck layout, thought the cockpit ergonomics were good, appreciated the doors across the transom, and found the winches sized so that it was a breeze to crank in the ample Quantum laminate genoa. Below, the Jeanneau offered a somewhat dark but flexible cabin layout, with pull-out panels in forward and aft cabins that would allow anywhere from two to four staterooms. The main saloon featured an accommodating in-line galley and a large table with plenty of storage beneath its seats.

The winner: On the other hand, the Beneteau sailed well, too. In 8 knots of breeze, it sailed along closehauled at about 6 knots, and when cracked off to a reach, the speed increased to just under 7 knots. On deck, naval architects Berret Racoupeau created an appealing and modern look, giving the 49 a clean, uncluttered foredeck, a cabin top with a slight arch, and a spacious cockpit featuring twin helms and a walk-through transom.
Below, Beneteau brought in Italian megayacht designers Nauta Yachts to give the 49 an elegant air from stem to stern. Cabinetry is made from moabi hardwood, which is offset by light-colored fabrics and paneling to give the saloon and cabins a bright and airy feel, prompting one judge to remark on its warmth. From a well-equipped nav station to a pop-up flat-screen television by the forward bulkhead, it offered lots of comforts for family cruising.
In the end, much of the decision came down to price. The Jeanneau sat at the high end of the category, with a stated cost of $360,000, while the domestic-built Beneteau was priced at $310,000. For the speed-seeking sailor, the difference in dollars would more than allow the Beneteau’s shoal-draft keel to be replaced with a deeper performance version and the substitution of a more powerful suit of sails.

Meantime, sailed away as it was configured for the BOTY judges, the Beneteau 49 offered lots of creature comforts to a cruising family or couple, making it the Best Full-Size Production Cruiser for 2007.

Multihull Cruisers
Builders brought five new cruising catamarans to the docks of the U.S. Sailboat Show in Annapolis last fall, and judging from the crowds they attracted, the public continues to warm up to life on two hulls. And what’s not to like? These boats offer up a pleasing package of living space aplenty with their beamy saloons, private spaces tucked away below, low angles of heel while sailing, and the ability to make relatively quick passages.
The competition: The Broadblue 385 is a coastal cruiser and comes with two mast configurations, one stepped aft of the cabin and one stepped forward; the latter was used on the boat that the BOTY judges tested. Under power, the Broadblue was a relatively quiet cruiser, thanks to Volvo diesels and saildrives. The standard owner’s version offers three cabins and a pair of single berths.

The Lagoon 420 Hybrid was a boat-show standout because it’s the first production boat to rely on electric motors for its propulsion. It carries the trademark vertical windows that make Lagoons easily recognizable, and the 420 featured a forward seating area that was easily best of show.

Built in France, the Nautitech 47 is a big, roomy cruising catamaran that features a solent rig that serves up a self-tacking jib and gennaker. The 47 provides four queen berths and four heads, and there are two additional single cabins in the bow of each hull.

While each of these catamarans offered features that will prove attractive to some owners, the judges cited such observations as lesser performance, sharp edges, or lower-quality workmanship, as they narrowed the field and turned their attention to the Leopard 46 and the Seawind 1160.

The Leopard, designed by Morrelli & Melvin, is a heck of a boat, one that caught the eyes of the judges both dockside and under sail. This cat is built in South Africa by Robertson and Caine and is marketed to private owners by The Moorings (the Moorings 4600 is the charter version), so there’s lots of user feedback from which to draw, and it shows in the Leopard.

The judges were strongly impressed by the raised helm station to starboard, which allows the person steering to see all four corners of the boat from that single vantage point. It also allows for all sail-control lines to be led back to that central point, meaning you don’t have to run across the boat to release a jib sheet. With two winches and lots of line stoppers, a split mainsheet means both sails can be on a winch and under control, no matter what tack. Wide-open sterns with no lifelines, however, were a safety concern for the judges, although they applauded the 28-inch-high lifelines, stout cleats, handholds, and the scuppers and bridgedeck in the cockpit. They also noted the quality of the workmanship throughout.

The winner: Still, the Seawind 1160 emerged as the Best Multihull Cruiser, and the many unique features that pushed it to the top of the category also earned it another award from the judges: Most Innovative.

Where to start? Well, let’s try the stern. Stepping aboard, the judges couldn’t help but notice the triple lifelines connecting to a solid rail across the stern that was incorporated into long seats that flanked a built-in stainless-steel barbeque. Overhead, an arch anchored both the aft end of roll-up canopies and a solid overhead panel that ran fore and aft the length of the cockpit amidships. The top-hinged triple doors that spanned the width of the cabin folded in on themselves, and with the help of a winch and dedicated halyard, they were easily raised and locked on the underside of this panel.

With doors out of the way, the divide between cockpit and cabin saloon disappeared, making for an open and airy living room. At either of the two helms, the person steering could simply reach through removable windows in front of either wheel to attend to such instruments as the chart plotter.

Builder Richard Ward described the Seawind 1160 as being for coastal performance cruising, but he noted that in his home waters of Australia, those coastal cruises can get extremely rough, so the boat was built to Lloyd’s offshore standards.

The large saloon table could be used to serve up a buffet or, when lowered to meet the cushioned seats, to convert the entire area into a lounge or bed that the judges deemed most comfortable.

Anticipating stricter environmental standards, the Seawind includes a tank for gray water in its well-thought-out interior. And tanks were vented through lifeline stanchions that had been designed for double duty. Even the drains on the sinks were noteworthy: Each made a 90-degree turn with a fitting that could be removed should there be a clog.

When it came to electrical systems, Ed Sherman paused a bit over wiring that could have been neater, but he noted that it could easily be fixed. Judges also suggested that a split mainsheet would guarantee easy access to vital sail-control lines from either helm. But the builder, they noted, seemed receptive to improvements and would likely address such concerns.

What’s more, Ed concluded, “After sailing the boat, I mean-I loved it. I thought it sailed well. The innovation just blew me away.”

Full-Size Cruisers
One of the very best things about tagging along with Boat of the Year judges is that you get invited onto boats that you might otherwise not sail and you get to look behind the panels and floorboards at the systems and machinery that make these luxurious sailing machines tick.

This year, there were three boats entered in the Full-Size Cruisers category, and each was priced at the high end of six figures and beyond. At these prices, the boats should be pretty darned nice-and they were. With highly customized interiors, excellent woodwork, top-shelf equipment, appliances, and spacious accommodations, these are truly the boats of discerning owners.

The competition: Take, for instance, the Amel 54, a handsome sailboat with a drop-dead-gorgeous interior, well-designed systems, clever touches throughout, and some fine offshore ideas that range from watertight bulkheads to genoa fairlead adjusters set by continuous lines that run to controls mounted on the stainless-steel lifeline rails on either side of the cockpit. A voluminous aft lazarette is designed to hold a RIB inflatable and gear to boot, and electric winches in the cockpit have dual controls, at both the winch and at the helm station. The wheel on the ketch-rigged Amel is forward in the cockpit, to port of the companionway. Just aft is a fighting chair-like seat with an adjustable platform to accommodate the varying heights of helmsmen. Judges were concerned, though, by the reduced visibility created by the dodger and arch overhead, which blocked the view of the sails, and by the narrow windshield forward.

Just stunning was the Hallberg-Rassy 48, a rugged boat from a builder known for turning out bluewater, any-ocean cruisers. The judges concluded that there was a lot to like about this boat, including its well-thought-out interior, the “best sea galley” of any of the boats visited, the highest-quality systems and installation, and even the “perfectly sized” walkway leading forward through the cabin. “I really, really, really loved this boat,” said Stacey Collins. “I felt the most secure on this boat of any we went on.”

On deck, judges felt the cockpit would be outstanding while voyaging but a bit small for entertaining while in port. And while they liked the concept of the windshield and hard dodger, they found that on this boat, too, these two attributes restricted visibility at times.

The winner: The Best Full-Size Cruiser won over the judges while under sail, and in this category of potential world cruisers, perhaps that’s how it should be. The Trintella 50 is a boat designed by Ron Holland for an owner who’d cruised his former Trintella extensively, caught the racing bug, and corrected anything that had been irksome. The ability to customize any aspect of the boat, in fact, played a role in the judges’ decision making. Topsides, the Trintella’s main cockpit was protected by a windshield (with wipers) and a hard dodger. This cockpit was designed as an entertainment center, but its table could slide to starboard to create a secure napping berth for a second crew on watch. Aft was a second cockpit and steering station, where the business of sailing the boat could be conducted without interrupting the party. Below, the pleasant and light saloon was made deliberately small to accommodate extra berths for racing crew. There were plenty of comforts, though, from a beautiful owner’s cabin aft to a cappuccino machine, a dishwasher, and central air-conditioning.
A cutter rig with a self-tacking jib offers plenty of power in light air and the possibility of multiple sail plans to meet more lively conditions. An added benefit of the sail plan with its self-tacking jib is that the boat can be thrown quickly into man-overboard mode by locking the wheel hard to one side; that done, it tacks continuously in a tight circle without assistance from an otherwise-occupied crew.

Summing up his thoughts on the Trintella’s layout, equipment, and sailing abilities, Alvah said, “In terms of safety, there wasn’t a boat out there that had been better set up or thought out for all the harsh realities of open-ocean passages.

“You can do things you have to do to keep yourself and the boat alive and carrying on-not just alive, but actually safely sailing through whatever conditions the ocean can throw at you. It’s that perfect balance between safety and sailability that made this boat go to the top of my list.”

Special-Purpose Cruisers
Forget apples and oranges; at first blush, the Special-Purpose Cruiser category in this year’s Boat of the Year contest looks like fruit salad. What do classy-looking daysailers, a boxy motorsailer, and a quirky box sailer have in common? Well, first off, judges came away from the boats impressed by each one’s sailing abilities. And that’s the point, because it turns out that each builder in this group had the intention of laying up a boat that would keep sailors on the water-in sailboats-rather than switching to power or, worse, a land yacht.

The competition: Let’s start with the box sailer. Built by Container Yachts, the 39-foot-long Far Harbour was sized to fit into an over-the-road shipping container so it could be trucked from cruising ground to cruising ground. With a beam of just more than 7 feet, it’s tough to call the cabin roomy, but there’s plenty of space there for a cruising couple alongside an inside steering station, a galley, a head and a shower, and a comfy-looking V-berth. Under sail, the long, narrow hull sliced through the water. The boat tested in Annapolis was a cold-molded prototype of what will be a fiberglass hull, and the judges felt that, as with any first-off, there were kinks to be worked out, particularly in the placement of deck hardware.

The Alerion Express 38 is the big sister of the original “elegant daysailer,” the Alerion Express 28 (see “Natural Selection,” March 2006). With its modern underbody, high-aspect, roachy main, and a self-tacking furling jib mounted on a Hoyt Jib Boom, the Alerion 38 proved quite responsive, tacking effortlessly with just the turn of the wheel. Sails could be easily handled by a singlehander, with all controls leading to a pair of electric winches at the helm. With a head and galley below, the Alerion could serve as a weekender, but judges were irked by the lack of headroom, and they thought that the modern sail rig clashed aesthetically with the traditional look of the hull. Still, with the boat’s ability to turn in its own length and its response to every puff, no one could say it wasn’t fun to sail.

As a powerboat alternative, it was the Island Packet SP Cruiser that took on the trawlers mano-a-mano with its glassed-in pilothouse, accommodations below, and workboat looks. On a reach in moderate breeze, the SP Cruiser turned in a respectable 6.5 knots, a sail to be enjoyed from a comfortable roost in the cockpit forward of the pilothouse. The sail controls on the boat tested in Annapolis concerned the judges, since they were outside on the aft end of the cabin house and couldn’t be easily reached from the helm. On future models, Island Packet is experimenting with Lewmar drum winches that will let sails be eased and tightened with the push of a button from the helm.

To a person, the judges concluded that this motorsailer should find a ready market and provide a sound alternative to cruisers who want to power along at times but still yearn for a sheet in hand when the wind pipes up.
The winner: Stealing the judges’ hearts was Morris Yachts’ M42, which they deemed to be about the prettiest, best-built, most-delightful new boat in Annapolis. From the understated elegance of the cabin, the teak decks, and the gleaming varnish to the flowing lines and the boat’s easily controlled but powerful sail plan, this new “daysailer” brought forth only praise.

In practical terms, price ($650,000) puts the M42 beyond the reach of many sailors, but as the judges concluded, we can still dream, can’t we?

In each of the BOTY categories, judges were asked to evaluate boats against the builder’s design brief. “Tom Morris said he wanted to make a work of art,” said Alvah Simon. “It was going to cost a lot, but he wanted people to be out on the water, and to enjoy sailing. And I’m telling you, when we walked on board this boat, a smile hit every one of our faces.

“I could never afford it, but I wasn’t asked to buy it. I was asked to assess how close this manufacturer came to hitting the design brief, and I think they hit an absolute bull’s-eye.”

“I loved this boat,” said Stacey Collins. “The fact is, it was a very proper yacht, in every sense of my understanding of what a proper yacht is.”

Below, the judges found a wide-open cabin lit by ample ports and an overhead butterfly hatch, with an enormous V-berth and a well-thought-out galley that could take a doublehanded crew for much more than a daysail.
A Leisure Furl boom and a self-tacking jib equated to sails that were easy to handle and could be set, furled, and trimmed from the helm. Off the wind, a furler-mounted multipurpose headsail kept the M42 dashing along at an impressively deep angle of sail.

“It’s another classic Morris, which in my opinion is the finest example of American boatbuilding that exists-not only in the company’s execution of the craft, but also in the innovation,” concluded an oft-critical Ed Sherman.
But perhaps boat designer, builder, and multihull sailor Peter Wormwood said it best: “To me, the Morris is just too inspirational. I mean, the Morris inspires me to build, to do my part in the marine industry better, to be part of that. It’s fun to sail. I could hang out on that thing for weeks at a time, even though it’s supposedly a daysailer, I just love that boat.”

Mark Pillsbury is CW’s senior editor.


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