Sailors are certainly passionate about their boats, and if you doubt that bold statement, try posting an article dubbed “40 Best Sailboats” and see what happens.
Barely had the list gone live, when one reader responded, “Where do I begin? So many glaring omissions!” Like scores of others, he listed a number of boats that we were too stupid to think of, but unlike some, he did sign off on a somewhat upbeat note: “If it weren't for the presence of the Bermuda 40 in CW's list, I wouldn't even have bothered to vote.”
By vote, he means that he, like hundreds of other readers, took the time to click through to an accompanying page where we asked you to help us reshuffle our alphabetical listing of noteworthy production sailboats so that we could rank them instead by popularity. That new 40 Best Sailboats compendium went live just this week. Have a look and tell us what you think. Hopefully those leaving comments will be more considerate of the feelings of their fellow readers than they were when commenting about CW editors.
One Hylas owner, irked because his boat did not make Best Sailboats list (though the Hylas 49 did) put it this way: “An OI 41 is on the list, and my Hylas 44 is not? B$^@ S@!. *Cruising World is a crap. Rename to “Chartering World.” He even added, cruelly, “Dropped my subscription.”
As if he could read.
Thankfully, as I scrolled deeper into the comments, more rational emotions prevailed.
One fellow noted, “My impression is a bunch of editors put photos on the ceilings and threw darts. You have a combination of some true breakthrough boats like the Freedom 40 (first freestanding rig production boat), Cal 40 (one of the first fin keelers), legendary pocket cruisers like the Triton and Contessa 26, gorgeous boats like the Bristol 40 and Swan 44, mixed with some modern era production boats.”
He’s nearly right, though to be honest, we didn’t think of using darts. Next time, perhaps.
I personally appreciated the many suggestions readers made of boats they felt were seaworthy cruisers. So did our web editor, Eleanor, who took the time to go though all of the comments and compile yet another list we’ve called the People’s Choice of Best Cruising Sailboats. Check it out and, of course, feel free to add your favorite boat, too.
Here at CW, we like nothing better than talking about boats, and it turns out, so do you.
Or as one Cherubini 44 admirer, who thoroughly got the spirit of our original list put it: “Lots of good boats here, and understandably the criteria are not objective. Sailors tend to forgive the faults of their boats (all boats have them), and remember their best qualities.”
On July 5, 2013, we introduced the poll with this intro:
It all began with such a simple question, one that’s probably been posed at one time or another in any bar where sailors meet to raise a glass or two: If you had to pick, what’re the best sailboats ever built?
In no time, a dozen or more were on the table and the debate was on. And so, having fun with it, we decided to put the same question to a handful of CW’s friends: writers and sailors and designers and builders whose opinions we value. Their favorites poured in and soon an inkling of a list began to take shape. To corral things a bit and avoid going all the way back to Joshua Slocum and his venerable Spray —Hell, to Noah and his infamous Ark —we decided to focus our concentration on production monohull sailboats, which literally opened up the sport to anyone who wanted to get out on the water. And since CW is on the verge or turning 40, we decided that would be a nice round number at which to draw the line and usher in our coming ruby anniversary.
Our criteria for inclusion were kept deliberately vague. In fact, here’s what we wrote when we went hunting for suggestions:
“All you have to do is identify some of the sailboats that you think have changed the way boats are built, sailed, or otherwise enjoyed. Year of manufacture does not matter, though because we’re talking production boats here, it will be by default a celebration of the fiberglass age.
“Size does matter. Nominees will need to be big enough and with kit enough for at least modest cruising. And they’ll need to be small enough to be easily handled by a couple.”
When our list was complete, at first, we thought we should take the next step and rank them. But oh, that got dicey. Better, we concluded, to just put it all out there and see what you think.