Morris M52: BOTY Judges' Bristol Award

This boat was a show-stopper with it's fine woodworking and outstanding sailing performance. A feature from our January 2010 issue

Morris M 52 winner 368

"The fit and finish was excellent, and it was just so fun to sail. This boat is a happy machine." Stacey CollinsBilly Black

This year, one Boat of the Year category-Premium Cruisers Over 50 Feet-provided the judges with a dilemma when they debated the merits of an outlier: the M52 from Morris Yachts.

The boat's most definitely a Premium Cruiser, and yes, it's over 50 feet, but the judges understandably ran into some issues when a stunning, 52-foot "daysailer" ended up in a category in which the rest of the boats were no-holds-barred offshore cruisers. In the end, Tim Murphy-BOTY veteran and CW's unofficial historian-came up with the solution. He reminded us that over the years, gorgeous boats with exquisite craftsmanship that didn't fit neatly into a category have received, at the judges' discretion, the Bristol Award. There's not a more worthy recipient than the M52.

Tim also spoke for all the judges when he said, "This boat was a true joy to sail." Each judge reported an almost visceral happiness that they felt behind the buttery-smooth helm. Upwind in 14 knots of breeze, boat speed topped out at about 8.5 knots. Judges all felt that the boat's hardly lightweight 34,000 pounds of displacement produces a wonderful feeling of security and stability under way and that this boat could handle much bigger winds and seas on a passage as well-once the optional lifelines were rigged.

Meanwhile, the judges also loved the big and comfortable cockpit and that all sail controls lead under the deck to winch pods by the helm station. The retractable anchor system also received top marks.

Below, the proportions of the accommodations are well-suited for daysailing and/or elegant coastal cruising for a couple and perhaps a pair of friends. As a result, the size of the cabins is smaller than you might expect on a 52-foot passagemaker, but the tradeoff is more room in the saloon to entertain amid the exquisite joinery. If you're off on a cruise or just hanging on the lunch hook with friends for the day, the M52 will have you doing it in Bristol fashion. B.S.

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