SAIL’s Best Boats 2017

Sponsored by Raymarine

Sponsored by Raymarine

The Best Boats Class of 2017 might appear staid to some given the many radical innovations the boatbuilding industry has introduced of late, a kind of Thermidorian reaction, a la the French Revolution, following a period of red-hot experimentation. What’s that, you say? You mean to tell me there are no lifting foils on this skiff? What kind of multihull has only one cockpit!

However, anyone who thinks the boatbuilders and naval architects of the world are losing their edge couldn’t be more wrong. The latest generation of boats may not offer anything as radically different as the innovations we’ve seen over the last few years—full-foiling performance in a production boat, for example—but they are still very much breaking new ground, whether it be in the form of a top-flight, cutting-edge electrical system; a fresh look at an American cruising classic; a “family” sailboat that provides boatspeeds in the teens; or a planing dinghy that may very well help a new generation learn the art of handling A-sails downwind. Oh, and for those in search of the strange and new, how does a beach cat that sails and rows equally well strike you? Kudos, again, to the boatbuilding industry. 

Solaris 50

Solaris 50

Solaris 50

Best Large Monohull 50ft and above

Solaris has been building trendsetting yachts in Italy for some 40 years, so we were pleased to find one of its boats on offer here in the United States. The Solaris 50, designed by Argentinian Javier Soto Acebal, certainly has stunning looks. Read more…

Xquisite X5

Xquisite X5: Best Large Multihull 50ft and above

Xquisite X5

Best Large Multihull 50ft and above

This dedicated cruising catamaran from South Africa boasts an amazing list of standard features—including all sails, electric winches, a genset, a watermaker, air conditioning, a huge 900-watt solar array and a washing machine, to name just a few. Read more…

Lagoon 42

Lagoon42

Lagoon 42

Best Multihull Cruising Boat 40 to 50ft

The curvaceous Lagoon 42 replaces the iconic 420/421 and fills in the gap between the French builder’s 400 and 450 models. It’s not only a great addition to the product line in terms of length and price, it represents a fresh take on catamaran livability and ease of sailing, especially in light air. Read more…

Catalina 425

Catalina 425

Catalina 425

Best Monohull Cruising Boat 40 to 50ft

What becomes a legend most? A re-do, at least when it’s well done. With this in mind, Gerry Douglas, Catalina Yachts’ most prolific designer, set himself a monumental task when he set out to design a successor to the renowned Catalina 42, which topped over 1,000 hulls launched over two decades. Read more…

Elan E4

Elan E4: Best Monohull Cruising Boat 30 to 40ft

Elan E4

Best Monohull Cruising Boat 30 to 40ft

A product of the same veteran Slovenian company renowned for its skis, the Elan E4 is one of those rare boats that really can do it all—a performance-cruiser that sails like a witch and yet is truly comfortable belowdecks for when you want to relax back at the dock or on the hook. Read more…

VX-Evo

VX-Evo: Best Performance Boat under 30ft

VX-Evo

Best Performance Boat under 30ft

When it comes to downwind sailing, it’s an asymmetric world, especially at the upper levels of the sport, like at the Olympics. The problem is becoming adept at handling an A-sail and/or becoming comfortable enough with one that every gybe and take down isn’t a cause for concern. Read more…

J/112e

J/112e

J/112e

Best Performance Boat over 30ft

The third in J/Boats’s “E” series, in which the “E” stands for elegance and evolution, you’d think the J/112e would know how to behave with a little more dignity. During this past summer’s stormy Chicago to Mackinac race, though, hull #1 regularly clocked boatspeeds of 16-plus knots under spinnaker on its way to a second-place finish in its class. Read more…

X-Cat

x-cat-high-res

Best Daysailer

This is an exceptionally versatile and fun little boat from Austria that took our judges entirely by surprise. Weighing just 120lb all-up, this car-toppable beach-cat-cum-rowing-shell can be assembled in less than 10 minutes with no tools required. Read more…

Seascape 24

Seascape 24

Best Small Cruiser

This was a decision that provoked some debate among our judges, as the Seascape 24, which boasts a long retractable carbon-fiber bowsprit and a modern go-fast hull form, is obviously designed primarily as a performance boat. Read more…

Xquisite X5

09-xquisite-systems-a

Best Systems

The Xquisite X5 catamaran is this year’s systems winner in recognition of its beautifully engineered digital switching system and numerous other thoughtful touches, such as universal wall outlets (which will accept European and American-style plugs), USB ports in every cabin, fabulous access to all the systems and wiring, and a universal input isolation transformer, which enables the boat to be plugged into shorepower anywhere in the world. Read more…

December 2016

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