It’s not every year that the BOTY panel presents a special prize to the Most Innovative yacht they inspect and sail, but it’s not every year that a truly radical—even revolutionary—vessel like the Eagle Class 53 appears in their sightlines, which made it an easy choice for the designation for 2020. There’s simply never been anything like it, so much so that it was beyond characterization.
“This is one of the finest examples of engineering and workmanship I’ve ever seen,” judge Ed Sherman said unequivocally. “It’s more innovative than anything we’ve ever seen, ever. It’s just amazing how nicely this boat was finished. You know, with its wing sail and foils, you could say it’s a totally bizarre boat in every aspect of its design, but it’s done beautifully.
“When we started talking to the builder, Tommy Gonzalez,” Sherman continued, “he explained how it was really a team build, and they had to bring in some high-end experts from different areas of expertise and assemble them into a team to create this. The quality of the glasswork—and I know it’s carbon, but I still call it glasswork—is simply outstanding. The quality of gear and kit that they assembled on it, and the way they executed it, was first-class. Even the paint job was first-class. It was all done perfectly and tastefully. I am just impressed and proud to say this was built by people who live and work in my home state of Rhode Island, who produced this very high level of craftsmanship.”
“It was a glimpse of the future,” judge Ralph Naranjo added. “It was truly the epitome of the strength-to-weight ratio. From an engineering point of view, it refined the technology of composites, at least where it stands today. It mimicked what Boeing does with aircraft. It was a boat that was sculpted, not just engineered. And then I looked up and saw that solid wing, and was bedazzled by the fact that it rotates with the wind and was a sail I’d never have to take down. That alone marveled me. All in all, she just works, and I’m glad for those people who have the money and can capitalize on that level of R&D. This boat was truly a pleasure.”
“I agree that the workmanship is incredible,” judge Dan Spurr said. “It’s interesting that the wing, the way it was described, actually can work as a storm sail. To get maximum performance, you would rely on the soft sail that attaches to the wing. But even without it, as we saw, it sails very quickly. It’s just an amazing machine.”
So, Most Innovative indeed. Any questions?
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