When choosing the winners each year in their respective classes, the Boat of the Year judges first assess which boats best meet the objectives and goals set forth and defined by their designers and manufacturers. Secondly, they look for good value. In this year’s overall fleet of contestants, the lone entry to come in at a price point under $120K was the Hunter e33. But that wasn’t by any means the sole reason our panel named the 33-footer as the Best Compact Cruiser, 30 to 35 Feet. No, the fact that Hunter nailed its mission statement is what truly separated the e33 from the pack.
“With this introductory cruiser, Hunter is trying to bring people up through its ranks and into cruising from trailer-sailers and smaller boats,” said Alvah Simon. “And the company has done that with a 33-footer that has quality and affordability but is still manageable and unintimidating. They know exactly who they’re appealing to, and to introduce them into the keelboat market, they understand that you can’t do that with boats that are hard to handle, with cranky helms and poor layouts.”
Other features caught Ed Sherman’s eye. “Hunter’s come a long way,” he said. “They work very hard to comply with A.B.Y.C. standards. Yes, they’re meeting a price point, and they do that very effectively, but they’re not compromising on very important systems and equipment. On top of that, I really enjoyed sailing the boat, and I love the articulating-transom concept, which I see as a real asset when moored or anchored and you’re moving on and off the boat on a regular basis.”
While Sherman focused on individual assets, Beth Leonard viewed the boat through a wider lens. “I’m sort of amazed at what they accomplished in this size range,” she said. “Here’s a 33-foot boat that has two cabins, a workable navigation station, a spacious galley, and a real saloon table. Ten or 20 years ago, you had to give up something in a boat this length. And there were other little details that they really thought through and got right that you probably won’t even notice until you’re using them all the time and realizing how valuable they are. ”
No, the Hunter e33 wasn’t the biggest boat in its division. But good things often come in small packages.
-The e33 squarely meets its mission statement as an “affordable, introductory family coastal cruiser.”
-Judges noted tremendous attention to detail in hardware selection and A.B.Y.C. standards compliance.
-Smart and effective layouts grace the cockpit, the side decks, and the interior space.