With boat builders building bigger and bigger boats every year - Jeanneau, Beneteau, Hanse, Dufour, Bavaria for example - it's great to see a nine metre boat getting a gong as a nomination for European Yacht of the Year.
Winner 9.00 sailing
Instead of following the herd and upsizing, for small Dutch boat builder, Winner Yachts, this is their smallest ever. The Winner 9.00 has a spacious cabin and a space-saving, pedestal-mounted steering wheel that swivels to port and starboard. It's also not very expensive
Founded in 1986, Winner Yachts’ first model was the 9.50, in its first year. Its sea-holding capacity and manoeuvrability won the yard clients in the Netherlands and abroad and was followed by the Winner 11.20 in 1991, then the 10.10 in 2005. This yacht was named in the 'European Yacht of the Year 2007' and their next yacht was bigger, in 2009 - the Winner 12.20. So you would think that the next yacht design would keep the upward trend.
The owner of Winner Yachts explained. 'We are a small yard,' says Remco Sol. 'We make no more than boats a year. The Winner 9.00 is designed to keep people in a Winner.
Winner 9.00 cockpit
The truth, he explained, was that there were not many of the old 9.5's around, so there was a hole in their specialised market, at the smaller end. So this is the new version for those who loved the 9.5.
It is also a bigger sailing boat for the owners of a 8m Bluboot day sailer, a Swiss brand Winner Yachts makes under license. For them the 9.00 is natural progression.
But now the real winning story - the Winner 9.00 is a Van de Stadt design, which makes it a 'winner' for those who follow the Van de Stadt.
Winner 9.00 interior shot
It draws a lot of stability from a very low centre of gravity. It comes with a standard draft of 1.6m, but you can also get a shallow draft version (1.25m) and a performance version (1.9m) with a lead bulb T-keel.
Depending on the version, quaintly called 'Welcome', 'Performance' or 'Classic' _ the Winner 9.00 comes with a retractable carbon fibre bow sprit, a tiller, more sail area, and an open stern.
Starting at €77,500 , the Winner 9.00 will be a competitive model. It goes public at the 2013 Dusseldorf Boat Show. 'As a small yard we cannot afford to attend every boat show. But the one in Dusseldorf is a big and must-do event for us.'
For more information on this little 'winner', go to the website: www.winneryachts.com
About the 'European Yacht of the Year' Awards:
Every year well-known and not-so-well-known boat builders enter new yachts in the biggest awards of them all, the 'European Yacht of the Year'. This award can make an enormous difference to the regard in which a yacht is held, and provide a vast amount of free publicity. However, even getting nominated for the great awards are an achievement in itself and the nominations have just been announced.
During the autumn the nominated boats will extensively tested by an independent international jury consisting mostly of yachting journalists from the leading sailing magazines of Europe.
Every year too, the awards kick off the opening weekend of one of the most famous of all boat shows, Boot, in Dusseldorf. It will be the same at the next Boot, being held in January 2014. The boats are considered on a range of criteria: Sailing performance, comfort, build quality, value for money, design and technical unique selling points.
The categories are: Family cruiser, Luxury Cruiser, Performance Cruiser Yachts and Special. Five yachts are nominated in each category and then have the chance to be selected at the boot Dusseldorf in late January 2014 as the Best Sailing Yacht in Europe.
For now, here are the nominations, with many of them - as noted below - showing in Boot, Dusseldorf:
In the category of Family Cruiser:
Allures 39.9 (In boat show)
Bavaria Cruiser 37 (In boat show)
Beneteau Oceanis 38 (In boat show)
Dufour 410 Grand'Large (In boat show)
9.00 Winner (In boat show)
In the category of Luxury Cruiser:
Contest 42 CS (In boat show)
Gunfleet 58 (In boat show)
Hallberg-Rassy 55 (In boat show)
In the category of Performance Cruiser:
Dehler 38 (In boat show)
Elan 400 (In boat show)
Pogo 30 (In boat show)
Premier 45 (In boat show)
XP-33 (In boat show)
In the category of Special Yachts:
Sailart 22 (In boat show)
27 sapphires (In boat show)