The 2005 panel of independent BOTY judges was composed of members with solid marine-industry backgrounds in yacht design and construction; taken together, their experience added up to hundreds of thousands of sea miles and decades of cruising.
Steve Callahan, with more than 70,000 offshore miles in his log, has built boats from four to 50 feet and taught small-craft naval architecture. He’s written Capsized and the best-seller Adrift, recounting 76 days spent in a life raft. Steve and his wife, Kathy, cruised the Caribbean on Karpouzi, their Carter 33 and, more recently, eastern Australia on their Cross 40 trimaran, Tryphena.
Bill Lee, a.k.a. The Wizard, has been a BOTY judge since the inaugural event in 1994, missing only two contests along the way. As a yacht designer and boatbuilder (Santa Cruz Yachts), he coined the tag line “fast is fun,” and his seminal 67-foot ULDB sled, Merlin, held the TransPac’s elapsed time record for 20 years. More recently, he was instrumental in creating the rule for the popular TransPac 52 class. Bill has a degree in mechanical engineering from Cal Poly and runs a brokerage in Santa Cruz, California.
Ralph Naranjo, a longtime voyager, former boatyard manager, and Cruising World’s current technical editor, brought his decade’s worth of BOTY judging experience to this year’s nomination round. He holds the Vanderstar Chair at the U.S. Naval Academy, overseeing the school’s sailing program. On his own keel, Naranjo put in 55,000 miles sailing all over the world with his family aboard Wind Shadow, an Ericson 41.
Tom Prior won a Cruising World essay contest and a place on the BOTY 2005 judging panel. In 1988, a copy of CW, picked up at an airport, inspired Tom’s sailing career; a crewed B.V.I. charter whetted his appetite for more. Starting out on a Pearson 27, he now has graduated to larger boats, which he likes to sail with his wife, Carmen. A seven-month sailing sabbatical, deliveries, and charters have exposed him to a variety of boats and honed his critical eye.
Alvah Simon, together with his wife, Diana, won Cruising World’s 1997 Outstanding Seamanship Award for a yearlong voyage they took to Baffin Island, documented in his book North to the Night. The award also recognized Alvah’s lifetime of voyaging and circumnavigating on the 31-foot Golden Hind Zenie P., and, later aboard the steel 36-foot cutter Roger Henry.
Each judge, by inclination and expertise, focused on certain areas during the one-hour dockside inspections and the 90-minute sea trials. Steve checked construction and performance, while Bill calibrated pricing and examined engine access as well as electrical and bilge systems. Alvah, the safety maven, scrutinized deck flow, handholds, workstation ergonomics, anchor systems, and emergency steering. Tom looked at creature comforts: engine noise, storage, livability, galley design. Alongside these specific tasks, of course, each judge kept one eye on the boat’s general purpose, feel, and execution. Final deliberations among the four brought their individual impressions together into a single picture.