by Peter Nielsen

Peter Nielsen is SAIL’s Editor-in-Chief.

Continuing the new styling introduced with the smart-looking 409 last year, the 439 is a fast and well-mannered family cruiser that also promises enough fizz for rewarding PHRF acing. The Philippe Briand design has a bright, well-thought-out interior layout and a deck plan that’s optimized for ease of handling.

Best Boats 2012 Nominees

by Peter Nielsen, Posted September 7, 2011
Last year, more than 40 new boats made their U.S. debuts at the fall boat shows in Newport, Rhode Island and Annapolis, Maryland. That was a fine effort from an industry that was hit hard by recession. It’s also the kind of effort that’s hard to sustain, which makes this year’s cast of 41 newcomers all the more impressive.
The Swan lineage is immediately recognizable in the sleek form of this new luxury performance cruiser from the legendary Finnish builder. The deck plan is deceptively simple and incorporates a huge “lounging” cockpit ahead of the working area. nautorswan.com   SPECS LOA: 66ft LWL: 56ft, 5in Beam: 17ft, 8in Draught:
An imposing yacht from any angle, Lagoon’s latest cruiser offers the interior space of a 75ft monohull and the deck space of a small aircraft carrier. Okay, so that’s an exaggeration. What’s not is the luxurious standard of cruising comfort offered by boats like this. cata-lagoon.com   SPECS LOA: 56ft LWL: 54ft Beam:
Yet another new arrival from South Africa, the Fluid 550 is available with either fixed keels or daggerboards, and has a pair of sheltered helm stations. It falls into the luxury catamaran niche and is packed with interesting features, like a built-in soft enclosure for the cockpit. fluidyachts.com   SPECS LOA: 40ft, 8in LWL:
Continuing the trend begun by last year’s Hanse 545, the Hanse 495 combines comfort below with performance underway, while a retractable bow-thruster—part of the boat’s SMS (Smart Mooring System)—makes tying up at the end of the day a snap. The boat’s twin helm stations and low cabin trunk create excellent sight lines, while the drop-down swim step provides a great platform for cooling off in an
Light weight and good performance are hallmarks of the Catana line. This sporty new 50-footer benefits from the liberal use of carbon fiber, which allows laminates to be made thinner yet stronger. catana.com   SPECS LOA: 49ft, 11.6in Beam: 26ft Displacement: 27,400lbs. Draft: 9ft, 8in Sail area: 1076sq ft,
Angelo Lavranos designed this South African-built catamaran for serious cruising, but kept performance in mind too. Construction is strong but light and the boat has already proven to be a fast, comfortable passagemaker. knysnayachtco.com   SPECS LOA: 48ft LWL: 45ft, 2in Beam: 27ft Draft: 3ft, 11.5in
Built in Florida by Hake Yachts, the Seaward 46 is a fast variable-draft boat that can dry out on its twin rudders and retracting keel. It’s mainly intended for express cruising in thin water, but also has ocean-crossing capability. seawardyachts.com   SPECS LOA: 48ft LWL: 44ft, 10in Beam: 13ft, 3in Displacement:
The Tartan 4700 combines a deck saloon configuration with a traditionally raked transom and handsome bow overhang to create a cruiser with good looks and comfortable accommodations belowdecks. The mast and boom are carbon fiber, and the hull is vacuum-infused with epoxy resin—both Tartan trademarks. tartanyachts.com   SPECS LOA:
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