Domestic Boat of the Year and Best Midsize Cruiser, 30 to 39 feet: Catalina 355

The integrity of the build and the follow through with details are what earned this boat top honors.

Catalina 355 BOTY Winner

“The interior layout works, and this is the kind of boat that people who love sailing will enjoy." Beth LeonardBilly Black

In a category in which all the boats were designed to be comfortable and easy to sail, the judges spent a good amount of time debating how each one achieved those goals in different ways. But when it came time to pick one boat that stood above the rest, the Catalina 355 got the nod. It was named the Best Midsize Cruiser, 30 to 39 Feet, and when the debate turned to picking the Domestic Boat of the Year from the four boats in the running, they agreed that it deserved that prize as well.

The reasons it earned both awards were numerous. As the judges pulled up floorboards and peered behind the furniture, they were impressed with the structural integrity of the construction. And when they evaluated the overall accommodations plan, they felt that Catalina’s designer, Gerry Douglas, not only did an excellent job of creating an interior space that seems bigger than what you’d find on most 35-footers; they were also impressed with the details: drawers that eliminate the need to remove cushions to get to gear that’s been stowed away, plentiful handholds that are right where you’ll need them while under way, a large galley with excellent stowage, and even a powered adjustable bunk in the main cabin forward that tilts up to make it easier and more comfortable to read in bed. The judges agreed that the proportions and flow of the accommodations plan was simply spot-on.

During their test sail in 9 to 11 knots of breeze, boat speed hovered in the 5-knot range. The judges also found the boat to be both forgiving and responsive. Upwind, it tacked predictably. Off the breeze, they had no trouble handling the optional cruising gennaker that was tacked on to a short, removable bowsprit, and they liked the added performance it provided.

Winning Details

  • Superior construction quality results in a boat that's built to last.
  • Innovative, well-thought-out design details enhance accommodations and comfort below.
  • The 355 offered good performance under sail.
  • It provides a lot of boat for the buck.