As we've done for the past several years, Cruising World asked readers to submit essays about a boat they'd owned, and then we selected four teams— three couples and a solo skipper this year—to visit the same boats that were inspected by our Boat of the Year panel of industry experts. We asked our teams to act as "secret shoppers" so they'd get the same information and boat-show experience that any reader would. For the most part, they praised salespeople who spoke knowledgeably about their boats and who asked good questions in return. But builders, take note: Our consumer teams—some of whom were in sales themselves—also complained about a few brokers who ignored them when they stepped aboard or, worse, seemed to make up answers when asked questions. Finally, our consumer judges tended to favor manufacturers who chose to equip their boats with premium gear and who found ways to offer more choices when it came to layout, upholstery, and types of wood and finish.