by Des Ryan
Looking for a new boat? Where do you start? One great indicator of the best boats on the market is the annual 'European Yacht of the Year', and they have just been announced. Four top sailing yachts have been honoured by judges from a span of sailing magazines in Europe.
Some familiar names were there, some not so familiar, and Beneteau, Dehler, Saphire and Contest were the big four, announced on the opening day of Dusseldorf's annual boat show, BOOT Dusseldorf.
Amazingly, with multihulls increasing in number throughout the world dramatically, there was such a scarcity of new multihull models this year that the category prize was not awarded.
From among 20 nominated models, European Yacht of the Year awards were handed out to winners in four categories – family cruiser, performance cruiser, luxury cruiser and special yachts.
During 2013, the boats were tested and debated extensively by the editors of 11 European magazines in Southampton, England, and Porto Venere, Italy.
Family Cruiser category, the Beneteau Oceanis 38:
European Yacht of the Year Beneteau Oceanis 38
This boat is offered in three different configurations, as a daysailer, weekender and cruising boat.
Good sailing performance and innovative interior styling with plenty of natural light admitted to the interior favored the Oceanis over the other candidates.
(The other nominees were the Allures 39.9, Bavaria Cruiser 37, Dufour 410 Grand’Large and Winner 900 - these are worth considering when purchasing such a boat too).
Performance category, the Dehler 38:
European Yacht of the Year Dehler 38
Another 38-footer was the top-boat in the Performance category: Built by the HanseGroup in Germany, the Dehler 38 impressed the judges with strong performance and good all-round capabilities.
(The other nominees were the Elan 400, Pogo 30, Premier 45, and XP-33.)
Special Yachts category, the Saphire 27:
European Yacht of the Year Saphire 27
The win in the Special Yachts category went to the Swiss-built Saphire 27, which excelled in a variety of conditions and showed its potential as a one-design racer, daysailer, and touring boat. The boat can be launched from the trailer, and the mast can be stepped without mechanical aids.
(The other nominees were the Django 6.70, Essence 33, Malango 8.88, and Sailart 22.)
Luxury cruiser category, the Contest 42CS:
European Yacht of the Year Contest 42
It was apparently a very tight race for the title in the luxury cruiser category, and the winner was the Contest 42 CS. The jury’s verdict: This Dutch-built design won for its clean lines, good performance, and a luxury feel fit for 60-footer in a package that is manageable by a small crew.
(Other nominees were the Gunfleet 58, Hallberg-Rassy 55, ICE 62, and Mylius 18E35.)