Best Boats Nominees 2019

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2018-BestBoatNominees

 As we approach the upcoming fall boat shows, perhaps the best word to describe the boatbuilding industry’s latest crop of new designs is “consolidation.” Specifically, in recent months we’ve seen a number of innovations introduced in years past continue to work their way up and down the various different companies’ product lines. Examples include Hanse’s composite T-Top; Jeanneau’s sloping sidedecks; the expansion of X-Yacht’s new “X” Range; the continued growth in lounging area space aboard today’s cruising multihulls; and the increasing use of twin rudders aboard cruising boats. Which is not to say there’s nothing new out there; just look at the radical foils aboard Beneteau’s new Figaro 3. It’s also nice to see a number of builders, like Tartan, Island Packet, Wauquiez, Hylas and CW Hood, still keeping in touch with some of the tried-and-true aesthetic and design features of old: although don’t be fooled, these are still thoroughly modern boats in every sense of the word. What follows is a list of all the boats that SAIL’s judges will be examining as part of this year’s “Best Boats” contest. Be sure to check out our December issue to find out which ones are chosen as winners.

Monohulls Cruising

Beneteau Oceanis 46.1

Beneteau Oceanis 46.1

Beneteau Oceanis 46.1

An offshoot of last year’s Oceanis 51.1, the Beneteau Oceanis 46.1 offers the same “stepped hull” as its predecessor, as seen in the chine running all the way forward. This, in turn, allowed designer Finot-Conq to maximize accommodation space in the bow while retaining a fine entry. Topsides, the Oceanis 46.1 boasts a complicated deck molding that incorporates a spacious twin-helm cockpit with easy access to the massive drop-down swim platform and an attractively drawn cabintrunk. Forward, a combination sprit/anchor roller will help keep the gelcoat safe when dropping or weighing the hook, while twin rudders ensure control in a blow. A “First Line” performance version of the boat is also available. Beneteau, beneteau.com/us

Dufour Grand Large 360

Dufour Grand Large 360

Dufour Grand Large 360

The Dufour Grand Large 360 packs a lot of boat into its 33ft of LOA (36ft if you add in the combination anchor roller and sprit), including twin helms and chines to increase both stability and interior volume. Aft, the helm station features a pair of sleek steering columns and consoles that have been placed in close proximity to the winches to facilitate sailhandling when shorthanded. Even farther aft, there’s an outside galley equipped with a barbecue and a sink concealed in the seats. Dufour Yachts, dufour-yachts.com

Hanse 388

Hanse 388

Hanse 388

Germany’s Hanse has been on a roll of late, with a steady stream of new designs featuring the line’s purposeful angular look and solid build quality. Like all Hanses, ease of handling is part of the Hanse 388’s DNA, with all sail controls running aft to the helm, and a self-tacking headsail and German mainsheet system providing stress-free trimming on either tack. Designed by Judel/Vrolijk, the hull is easily driven and a wealth of interior options are available, allowing you to create just the right boat for you. Plumb ends ensure the longest sailing length possible. “Fast Cruising” laminate sails are available as an option for those in search of even more get-up-and-go. Hanse Yachts, hanseyachts.com

Hanse 348

Hanse 348

Hanse 348

If there’s one thing we love more than well-designed big boats, it’s well-designed little boats, what with all the ingenuity required to pack as much yacht as possible into a shorter LOA. And the new Hanse 348 looks to be another excellent example of the type, thanks to the way it offers so many of those same features found aboard its larger cousins, including twin wheels, a self-tacking headsail, a plethora of windows and ports, and as many as three full berths. This being a Hanse, a variety of different aesthetic and performance options are also available. Hanse Yachts, hanseyachts.com 

Hanse 418

Hanse 418

Hanse 418

Another one of the many new Hanses to hit the market over the past year or so, the Hanse 418 is pure Hanse through-and-through: whether it’s in the boat’s angular lines topside (long a company trademark) or its easy-to-handle rig, complete with self-tacking headsail and the company’s one-rope reefing system. Twin wheels (and a pair of flip-up helm seats) provide clear sightlines forward and easy access to the huge swim step aft—another Hanse trademark. A plethora of hatches and hull windows admit an abundance of natural light belowdecks and also provide excellent ventilation, either underway or in a stuffy anchorage. Hanse Yachts, hanseyachts.com

Hanse 458

Hanse 458

Hanse 458

One of the newest arrivals in Hanse’s “8” series, the Hanse 548 is designed by Judel/Vrolijk, and couples a powerful, semi-balanced spade rudder with plenty of waterline length and a self-tacking jib to provide a combination of speed and ease of use. (A reaching sailing can also be tacked onto the combination anchor roller/fixed sprit for additional power off the wind.) Aesthetically, the boat appears to have hit a real sweet spot thanks to the way the minimal sheer and cabintrunk are set off by the plumb bow and stern. For the epicures in the audience, an integrated BBQ can be found hidden in one of the twin helm stations aft. Hanse Yachts, hanseyachts.com

Hanse 548

Hanse 548

Hanse 548

While the angular Hanse aesthetic is a good one up and down the company’s product line, at 50ft or more it truly shines—case in point, the Hanse 548. Beyond that, the boat’s plumb bow and stern provide a maximum of sailing length, while its double-headsail rig, which includes a self-tacking inner jib, makes the boat easy to handle in a wide range of weather conditions. (An A-sail can also be flown off a sprit.) Aft, an optional carbon T-Top includes a retractable portion allowing you to create some shade on a sunny day or open things up for a clear view of the stars overhead at night. The T-Top also serves to anchor the mainsheet, keeping it out of the way of the crew and guests. Hanse Yachts, hanseyachts.com

Hylas 48

Hylas 48

Hylas 48

Created by renowned megayacht designer Bill Dixon, the Hylas 48 is a true luxury yacht expressly configured for crossing oceans in security and comfort. A center-cockpit design with a single wheel, the H48 can be arranged with either two or three cabins belowdecks, both anchored by a magnificent saloon featuring scads of ambient light and top-quality joinerywork. The boat’s twin-headsail rig makes it easy for shorthanded to crews to “shift gears” depending on the conditions, while the boat’s moderate overhangs fore and aft—does anyone remember overhangs?—will not only keep the deck drier under sail, but also serve to minimize slapping at anchor and help protect the stem from dings when weighing anchor. Hylas Yachts, hylasyachts.com

Jeanneau Sun Odyssey 319

Jeanneau Sun Odyssey 319

Jeanneau Sun Odyssey 319

Despite years of going after longer and longer LOAs, the major players in the industry still make a point of retaining some entry-level designs in their product lines. These efforts, in turn, are often among the more interesting boats out there as a result of the challenges inherent in creating as much quality as possible in a smaller volume. To this end, the Jeanneau Sun Odyssey 319 offers two complete cabins, a full galley and head, and a surprising amount of storage. Under sail, twin rudders ensure the beamy hull stays on track even when well-heeled. A swing keel is also available for thin-water sailing. Jeanneau, jeanneau.com

Jeanneau Sun Odyssey 490

Jeanneau Sun Odyssey 490

Jeanneau Sun Odyssey 490

The big brother of the Jeanneau Sun Odyssey 440—one of SAIL’s Best Boats winners for 2018—the Philippe Briand-designed Sun Odyssey 490 includes many of the same features and innovations that made the 440 such a success. First and foremost are the sloping wraparound sidedecks that make it possible to get from the cockpit to the foredeck and back without having to step over the coaming. Other great touches include separate terminals for the cap and lower shrouds, creating a clear passageway forward in way of the chainplates; hinged lounging pads that lie hidden in the aforementioned coamings; and ergonomically friendly inboard positions for the primaries. Jeanneau and Briand started with a blank sheet of paper when creating these boats, and the results are impressive. Jeanneau, jeanneau.com

Jeanneau Sun Odyssey 410

Jeanneau Sun Odyssey 410

Jeanneau Sun Odyssey 410

Fresh out of the mold and having only been announced in July, the Jeanneau Sun Odyssey 410 represents the third iteration the of Best Boats Award-winning Sun Odyssey 440. As such it includes the same sloping wraparound sidedecks, which make for such an easy transition in and out of the cockpit; the same ergonomically positioned winches that make grinding that much easier, especially when the headsail is fully loaded; and twin rudders and twin helms, in the interest of control and good sight lines forward. It’s good to see these design features making their way toward the smaller end of the company’s product line. Jeanneau, jeanneau.com

Island Packet 349

Island Packet 349

Island Packet 349

After having been a bit on the quiet side the last couple of years, iconic Island Packet is under new ownership and back in the game with its fully revamped Island Packet 349. Features include a fully battened mainsail equipped with a low-friction Battcar system that drops easily into a pocket boom with an integral cover and lazy jack system; a highly customizable interior; and hull side ports for increased ambient light belowdecks. Three things that haven’t changed are the boat’s trademark full-keel, a self-tending Hoyt Boom for the working jib, and IP’s rock-solid build quality. Looking forward to seeing more of IP in its latest guise! Island Packet Yachts, ipy.com

Wauquiez Pilot Saloon 42

Wauquiez Pilot Saloon 42

Wauquiez Pilot Saloon 42

Drawn by Berret Racoupeau Yacht Design, the Wauquiez Pilot Saloon 42 combines a sophisticated bluewater hull form with a raised-saloon configuration to provide both good performance under sail and superb comfort (and great views of the outside world!) when belowdecks. A plumb stem and nearly plumb transom maximize the boat’s sailing length, while chines and a broad run aft create additional power and sail-carrying ability. Completing the hull package are twin helms and rudders to ensure control even when the boat is on its ear. As has long been the case with Wauquiez, joinerywork is impeccable throughout. Wauquiez Boats, wauquiez.com

Tartan 395

Tartan 395

Tartan 395

The storied U.S. builder Tartan is back on the scene with a new sloop from the drawing board of the company’s long-time designer Tim Jackett. Conceived as a sporty cruiser that will work equally well daysailing, coastal cruising or crossing oceans, the Tartan 395 boasts an infused epoxy and vinylester hull along with a double-headsail rig of the kind long favored by veteran passagemakers. Three different keel options are available, all cast in lead for better righting moment. Best of all, Jackett has eschewed the Euro fashion du jour and instead created a contemporary iteration of the “American” yacht—hard as that look may be to actually define—that will remain attractive for generations to come. Tartan Yachts, tartanyachts.com

Monohulls Performance

Figaro Beneteau 3

Figaro Beneteau 3

Figaro Beneteau 3

Two years after Beneteau unveiled its Figaro 3 concept, the world’s first “production foiling one-design monohull” is now not only available to the general public, but coming to U.S. shores for one and all to see at this fall’s boat shows. The key to the boat’s revolutionary performance is a pair of radically curved foils that project from the side of the hull and provide the necessary righting moment for the boat to stand up to a press of sail in a blow. Other features drawn for Beneteau by naval architects VPLP include twin rudders, a sprit from which to fly a large A-sail, a hull with chines and a bow that looks optimized for blast-reaching straight out of the IMOCA 60 playbook. Talk about cool! Beneteau, beneteau.com/us

X-Yachts X4.9

X-Yachts X4.9

X-Yachts X4.9

The latest installment in X-Yachts’ “X” Range of “contemporary performance cruisers,” the X4.9 is marked by quality design and construction throughout. The hull is vacuum infused in epoxy, while the keel includes a lead bulb in the interest of lowering the center of gravity and increasing righting moment. Multiple sprit/anchor roller options are available to match a range of sailing styles, and rod rigging comes standard. Belowdecks the modern, stylish interior is impeccably crafted to provide comfort and safety whether on the hook or on-passage. Dual helms provide easy access to the electrically operated swim step and a dinghy garage aft. X-Yachts, x-yachts.com

Smaller Boats

Hood 24

Hood 24

Hood 24

Chris Hood, builder of the drop-dead gorgeous CW Hood 32 daysailer, has come out with another eye-catching daysailer, this time designed by Stephens Waring Yacht Design of Belfast, Maine. As is the case with Hood’s 32-footer, the new Hood 24’s classic lines belie its thoroughly modern underbody, which comes complete with spade rudder and bulb keel. Topside, the boat’s square-top main and slightly overlapping headsail provide plenty of power while remaining easy to handle for a singlehander. There’s also a spacious cockpit with room for as many as a half-dozen sailors. It would be hard to imagine a nicer way to spend an afternoon on the water than aboard a boat like this. CW Hood Yachts, cwhoodyachts.com; stephenswaring.com

Ventura 23

Ventura 23

Ventura 23

Where do we start with the Ventura 23? With the 8ft-long cockpit that provides room for a family of five? Or should we start with its 6ft—that’s right 6ft—of headroom belowdecks? (In a boat with a 23ft LOA no less!) Then again, maybe we should talk about the boat’s four berths and two settees, or the functional galley and enclosed head. Or maybe we should talk about the fact it can make 9 knots off the wind under sail or up to 25 knots under power. Or with the fact that it’s trailerable or…oh, we give up. You’re just going to have to check out this clever little sloop for yourself! Ventura Sport Boats, venturasportboats.com

Seascape 14

Seascape 14

Seascape 14

After making its mark with such offshore, shorthanded cruiser-racers as the Best Boats-winning Seascape 27 and Seascape 24, the Slovenian-based boatbuilder (recently acquired by Group Beneteau) is now venturing into the dinghy space with its new Seascape 14. Of course, this being Seascape, not just any dinghy design would do, and to this end, the Seascape 14 can be sailed either singlehanded under main alone, or singlehanded or doublehanded with a main, jib and A-sail. The hull is vacuum-infused in vinylester resin to keep it as light as possible, in the interest of boatspeed and easy launching. The mast, which breaks down into two parts, and sprit are both carbon fiber. Wide sections aft and chines serve to promote easy planing. Seascape, thinkseascape.com

Corsair 760R

Corsair 760R

Corsair 760R

An evolution of the company’s standard 760 and 760 “Sport,” the Corsair 760R (“R” for racing) includes such go-fast features as a tall rotating aluminum wing mast (carbon is an option) with high-modulus shrouds and a hull in which the cuddy has been minimized and the cockpit enlarged in the interest of providing room for boathandling and minimizing weight. Like the 760 and 760 Sport, the 760R also features longer, more buoyant, wave-piercing amas than the Dash 750 from which they were all derived, thereby ensuring stability and security even when the boat is hard-pressed in a blow or a rough seaway. Corsair Marine, corsairmarine.com

RS21 Sport Boat

RS21 Sport Boat

RS21 Sport boat

The UK’s RS Sailing has long-since made a name for itself by producing a dizzying array of small boats for everyone from rank beginners to high-performance skiff sailors. Now comes the RS21 Sport Boat, a performance keelboat specifically designed and manufactured for club and fleet ownership with an eye toward making one-design sport boat racing accessible for as many sailors as possible. As such it includes all the fun features you would expect from a sport boat, like an A-sail flying from a retractable sprit, complete sail controls and a spacious cockpit with room for four sailors to hurl their elbows around handling lines. Chines aft provide additional form stability, which works with the boat’s 50 percent ballast ratio to help keep the boat on its feet while under a press of sail. The two-part, carbon-fiber mast is light and easy to step by hand. A durable Mylar laminate mainsail, jib and gennaker are supplied as standard. RS Sailing, rssailing.com

Multihulls Cruising

Bali 4.1

Bali 4.1

Bali 4.1

Picking up where its predecessor, the Bali 4.0, left off, the Bali 4.1 checks many if not all the boxes for a modern cruising catamaran. Noteworthy among these are a spacious cockpit/saloon area that essentially combine into one in nice weather or on the hook; a solid “integral” foredeck in the interest of rigidity and protection; a forward cockpit big enough to accommodate the entire crew; and an elevated lounging space alongside the raised helm station to starboard. A product of France’s renowned Catana Group, the boat also features the angular lines found aboard many of today’s cruising boats while a self-tacking headsail promotes ease of use. Bali Catamarans, bali-catamarans.com

Bavaria Nautitech 40 Open

Bavaria Nautitech 40 Open

Bavaria Nautitech 40 Open

The Bavaria Nautitech 40 Open offers the same wide-open spaces pioneered a couple of years ago by the Nautitech 46 Open (with the saloon and aft cockpit blending into what is basically one large living space) only in a slightly smaller package. A pair of outboard helm stations set well aft provide a clear view of the rig under sail, while the boat’s self-tacking headsail makes coming about a snap. Bavaria’s proprietary VacuTec vacuum-infusion technology ensures a pair of lightweight hulls—critical to performance in a multihull—while the rig’s powerful, high-aspect, square-top main will provide plenty of power at every angle of sail. Bavaria Yachts/Nautitech, bavariayachts.com

Fountaine Pajot Astrea 42

Fountaine Pajot Astrea 42

Fountaine Pajot Astréa 42

Fountaine Pajot has long been known for its spacious, comfortable cruising cats, and the Astréa 42 very much carries on the tradition with its scads of lounging space and an airy saloon. Topside there’s not only room for two at the helm station, but a comfy reclining space immediately inboard. Aft the optional integrated plancha grill will be just the thing for entertaining in good weather. Similarly, the U-shaped galley translates seamlessly into the cockpit via a large, sliding pocket door. Yet another lounging space forward completes this luxurious package. Fountaine Pajot Sailing Catamarans, catamarans-fountaine-pajot.com

Lagoon 40

Lagoon 40

Lagoon 40

Designed by VPLP, the Lagoon 40 features businesslike plumb bows, angular transoms, longer rectangular hull ports for great light below and a coachroof that flows into an upward-angled composite Bimini, making for a boat with a purposeful look. The wraparound windows are still vertical, but look more elongated than in past designs, even as they still give the 40-footer a very recognizable “Lagoon” profile. Extra attention was paid to keeping the weight down, with vacuum-infusion construction and balsa coring in the deck and the hull above the waterline. The boat’s larger genoa and smaller, high-aspect main make for easier shorthanded sailing, while a larger reaching sail can be flown off a sprit. Lagoon, cata-lagoon.com

Lagoon 50

Lagoon 50

Lagoon 50

As is the case with a number of the company’s recent models, the rig of the Lagoon 50 includes a larger foretriangle area with a self-tacking jib and a smaller, more manageably high-aspect main in the interest of making things easier on the boat’s crews. Not surprisingly, lounging space abounds aboard this big cat. Nonetheless, during a test sail on Miami’s Biscayne Bay this past winter, the boat also showed a good turn of speed, especially off the wind with a Code 0 unfurled. A variety of interior layouts are available, including an especially enviable one in which the entire starboard hull is given over to an expansive owner’s cabin. Lagoon, cata-lagoon.com

Neel 51

Neel 51

Neel 51

The celebrated Neel concept blends tremendous amounts of accommodation space with outstanding performance, thanks to a combination of the boats’ three narrow wave-piercing hulls and a powerful, well-balanced rig: an approach that works especially well with the additional LOA that was available to veteran multihull naval architects Michel Joubert and Bernard Nivelt when it came time to draw the Neel 51. Weight being critical to making the most of a boat like this, the hull, deck and cabintop moldings consist of PVC foam cores sandwiched between quadraxial fiberglass rovings and infused with isophthalic and vinylester resins. Interior bulkheads and most furniture are also foam sandwich constructions. Neel Trimarans, neel-trimarans.com

Outremer 45

Outremer 45

Outremer 45

If you’re the kind of sailor who rates a cruising catamaran by the number of cockpits and lounging areas it has, then you might not be impressed by the Outremer 45. However, if you’re the kind of sailor who likes regularly blasting through ocean swells at sustained double-digit speeds, then this just might be the boat for you. In addition to well-apportioned accommodations the Outremer 45 features long, narrow hulls with plumb ends to maximize their sailing length; a powerful rig with a large, square-top main; super-cool outboard tiller helm stations (in addition to a standard inboard wheel set to port); daggerboards; and a low, nicely sculpted cabintrunk that works to minimize both windage and weight—all with an eye toward fast passage times and great sailing in general. Outremer Yachting, catamaran-outremer.com

Seawind 1260

Seawind 1260

Seawind 1260

Founded in Australia and now building its boats in Vietnam, Seawind Catamarans has long been known for its tough, fast bluewater cruising cats, and the newly arrived Seawind 1260 more than carries on this tradition. The boat’s twin helm stations serve immediate notice that this is a true sailor’s boat, as the clear views they afford both forward and aloft allow you to make the most of the 1260’s shapely hull form and large rig. The two hulls’ reverse sheer and windows admit plenty of ambient light, while a proprietary “Tri-Fold” hinged doorway allows you to, in essence, create a seamless whole out of the cockpit and saloon. The boat’s modular composite furniture also serves to stiffen the boat’s overall vinylester-infused structure. Wouldn’t it be great to see more of these fine boats here in North America! Seawind Catamarans, seawindcats.com

Vision 444

Vision 444

Vision 444

The Vision 444 is a sleek new entry into the performance catamaran market that should be on the list of any sailor looking for boat that isn’t just comfortable but is also a good sailer. All components are vacuum-infused with vinylester resin for lightweight, durability and blister resistance. The boat’s low profile serves to reduce windage and also helps create a seamless transition from the helm station to starboard to the side decks. Dual helm stations are also available, and the hulls come standard with foam sacrificial bows in the interest of safety. Clean angular lines suggest a boat that looks as good as it sails. Vision Yachts, sailawaycatamarans.com

Leopard 50

Leopard 50

Leopard 50

The Leopard 50 takes the place of the popular Leopard 48, and includes the same rock-solid build quality and smart design for which the boat’s South African builder has long been known. The hulls are vacuum-bagged in E-glass hull with an end-grain balsa core, while ring frames of carbon fiber add stiffness without adding an undue amount of weight. A pioneer of the forward cockpit, Leopard has not surprisingly included one in this good-sailing 50-footer, and it remains as fun as ever, whether you’re underway or at anchor. For those in search of a better view, there’s also a lounging area alongside the boat’s raised helm station. Leopard Catamarans, leopardcatamarans.com 

Where to see them

Newport International Boat Show

Sept. 13-16, newportboatshow.com

Annapolis Boat Show

Oct. 4-8, annapolisboatshows.com

September 2018

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