Skip to main content

2009 Best Boats

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

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 constant, welcome, and meaningful antidote to crazy times. And if you were one of those people who were on the fence about buying a new boat, those tumultuous days in October made investing in a boat look a lot safer (and more fun) than keeping your money in the market.

Believe it or not, now is the perfect time to buy a new boat. Builders are eager to make deals, financing is available, and the overall quality of the fleet at this year’s shows was as strong as ever. The large production builders all debuted new models that combined refined aesthetics with excellent systems, interesting accommodation plans, and incrementally improved sailing performance. A host of new racing boats in the 28-to-40-foot range were launched. A diverse group of smaller boats, running from the amped-up Melges 20 racer to a host of rotomolded and fiberglass dinghies, are all new, fast, and fun. Some of the dinghies have retractable bulb keels to ease the need to hike, and the new Bug made a strong case to be the boat that could actually unseat the Opti as the default starter/trainer boat for kids. Now that would be a real sea change.

We judged the ’09 new boats at the Newport and Annapolis shows. And the winners of SAIL’s Best Boats Awards for Innovation and Excellence are...

Flagship Over 50ft

Outbound 52

Cruising Monohull

No Clear Winner

Cruising Multihull

Moxie 37

Performance Boat

Santa Cruz 37

Small Boat Under 25Ft

Bug

Accommodations

Hunter 50

Systems

Tartan 5300

Deck and Cockpit Plan

Outbound 52

Related

05-DSC_0638

Charter: Lake Tahoe

A sail on Lake Tahoe has been on my bucket list since the day I first laid eyes on it, and come hell or high water, I decided I was going to someday charter a boat there. North America’s largest and deepest alpine lake, Tahoe sits at 6,225ft above sea level and straddles the ...read more

East-River-Rapids

Escape from New York Part 1

I was never supposed to take my boat through New York City. After getting sucked backward through the Cape Cod Canal on my way south from Maine, when the speed of the current exceeded the maximum speed of my little electric auxiliary, I wanted nothing to do with Hell Gate and ...read more

LEAD-Celeste-in-the-Tuamotu

A Watermaker Upgrade

As a classic-boat sailor, I’ve long held that simpler is the better. I still think this is true: a simpler boat is cheaper, she has less gadgets to break down and there’s a certain satisfaction in knowing you’re able to handle a bit of discomfort. Thus, for a long time, I sailed ...read more

01-LEAD-IDECsport_180919_032

Sailing Speed Records

Although the 1903 defender of the America’s Cup, Reliance, was deemed a “racing freak”—the boat pushed design rules to their limit and couldn’t be beaten, at least in very specific conditions—designer Nat Herreshoff was nonetheless onto something. A century later, purpose-built ...read more

BVIFeetup

Chartering with Non-sailors

Three tips on managing the madness First-time charterers and first-time sailors aren’t at all the same thing. One group may struggle with beginner chartering issues, like sailing a multihull, catching a mooring or dealing with base personnel. For the other group, though, ...read more

AdobeStock_455372159

A Gulf Stream Crossing at Night

Even the dome of light glowing above the city behind us had disappeared as if swallowed in a gulp by Noah’s whale. The moon was absent. Not a star twinkled overhead. The night was so dark we could have been floating in a pot of black ink. The only artificial lights to be seen ...read more

00-Lead-549215sJL2uLEa

Summer Sailing Programs

Every year, countless parents find themselves navigating the do’s and don’ts of enrolling their children in a summer learn-to-sail program for the first time. While the prospect of getting your kid on the water is exciting, as a sailing camp program director, there are a lot of ...read more

ntm

Notice to Mariners: U.S.A! U.S.A! (Well, sorta…)

Some thoughts on a couple of recent developments on the U.S. racing scene that are more than a little at odds. To start with, congratulations to the US Sailing Team (USST) and its outstanding showing at the 53rd French Olympic Week regatta in Hyeres, France, with not one but ...read more