But when they got down to the nitty-gritty of deck layouts, accommodations space, and, in particular, sailing performance, the Dufour 45e rose to the top with ease. Unlike some boats that really made an impression on the judges at the dock, the 45e caught their attention out on the water as soon as they started taking turns at the helm. During deliberations, they all agreed that it was one of the best sailing boats they evaluated during their four days of sea trials. One judge described the helm as feeling “dreamy,” and they all appreciated the easily driven hull’s clean wake and a sail plan that’s both powerful and easy to control. The test sail illustrates this point beautifully: The judges recorded 7.5 knots of boat speed while sailing in a mere 10 knots of breeze. Judge Tim Murphy found he had no trouble trimming both the main and the jib while steering, and tacking the boat singlehanded was straightforward, thanks to the double-ended mainsheet led back to winches at the wheels. The judges noted that the jib telltales were also clearly visible to the helmsman. The wide cockpit has good backrests and brace points so the crew remains secure in a seaway. And there’s plenty of room to lounge when not working. When it’s down, the drop-down swim platform provides a wide space from which to board the boat from the water; when it’s up, it provides a secure feeling in the cockpit.