Best Boats

The boatbuilding industry is benefiting from a series of mini-revolutions. Real strides are being made with hybrid propulsion systems. Designers are working on automatic systems that will trim sails as easily and as effectively as an autopilot steers. Radically modern designs are redefining boat aesthetics. NMEA 2000 promises to expand electronic options, and distributed power systems offer a
Large center-cockpit monohulls are quite common these days, so we were curious to see how Phil Lambert of Outbound Yachts, whose Outbound 44 and 46 bluewater cruisers have gained such a strong reputation over the past decade, might interpret the breed with the introduction of his new Outbound 52 center-cockpit cruiser. We were impressed enough to give the Outbound 52 the nod in this category. The

2009 Best Boats

by Nigel Calder, Posted August 16, 2011
October’s Annapolis Boat Show opened as Wall Street experienced one of the biggest sell-offs in history. With the scary economic news, it was easy to think that many people would put off investing in a new boat. That idea went out the window as VIP Thursday appeared to be more crowded than ever. Instead of panicking, sailors seemed to be turning to sailing, much as they did after 9/11—as a
A boat is often defined by its interior accommodation plan. An ocean voyager needs stowage and snug sea berths, while a family cruising coastwise wants open space to enjoy at anchor. It's a rare designer who can blend a world cruiser hull with a short-hop interior, but that's what designer Bob Johnson has done with the Island Packet Estero.Johnson adapted the forward saloon layout seen in
This was one of the easier picks for our judging team, though no two judges seemed fully agreed on what exactly it is that makes the deck and cockpit of the new Morris M52 so special. Nigel Calder cited the boat's perfectly pitched sheerline. Peter Nielsen liked the judicious-but-opulent laid teak deck. Charles Doane waxed poetic over the modern interpretation of a traditional butterfly hatch
This is a new category to SAIL's annual Best Boat's award, and one we are happy to promote, given the state of the world's environment and the fact that no other boat has ever gone so far to be “green” as the Eko 6.5. This 21-foot Classe Mini production boat is built using a new resin made from recycled soda bottles. Instead of gel coat, an eco-friendly paint keeps moisture out of the laminate
Over the years, the systems side of boats has improved steadily. This year's crop of new boats has raised the bar a little higher, with evidence of a great deal of thought. For example, the Catalina 445 has molded-in cable channels, above-the-waterline gravity draining holding tanks and a central drain location for winterizing the boat. Designer Gerry Douglas has put the battery charger under the
We were impressed by the potential of the 12 foot Topaz dinghy as well as by its existing features. The boat has developed quickly into an active racing class in Europe and it could do the same here, given proper organization and promotion.   The Topaz is a generation beyond fiberglass in construction. The hull is rotomolded of polyethylene, a process that's expensive to set up initially but
One look at the new Juan Kouyoumdjian-designed K650 had our entire Best Boats panel yearning for a strong breeze, big waves and a chance to properly air out this 21-foot rocket ship. The hull features a wide transom, providing plenty of off-the-breeze stability, and a hard chine is carried almost all the way from the stern to the bow. Dual carbon-fiber rudders are attached to the tiller via push
It looked as though this award would be a toss-up between a handsome pair of new cruising cats from France—the Lagoon 400 and Fountaine Pajot Lipari 41—until we stepped aboard the South African-built Leopard 38 and its twin, the Sunsail 384. It was immediately obvious that here was one of the best-executed sub-40-foot cruising catamarans we have yet seen.Although there is
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