The overall winners of the European Yacht of the Year 2013/4 have been announced….

 (Main picture: EYOTY judges with the four European Yacht of the Year 2014 winners)

Yachting World is one of the 11 judges for the European Yacht of the Year awards. It’s the largest and most thorough competition for production sailing yachts in the world and has been running for 11 years. I have just attended the impressive awards presentation during the first evening of the Dusseldorf boatshow, Saturday 18th January.
And, (cue Oscar-style drum role), the winners for the four categories 2012/13 awards are:

Performance Cruiser: Dehler 38

Family Cruiser: Beneteau Oceanis 38

Luxury Cruiser: Contest 42CS

Special Yacht: Saphire 27

Here is a summary of our thoughts on the winners:

Dehler 38


Designed by Judel/Vrolijk the new boat is certainly one of their sleekest looking yet and while aimed at the cruising market it is clear from her general deck layout and specification that she will become a familiar sight on both IRC and ORC racing circuits. Having said that, her specification on deck makes her an easy boat to handle shorthanded with the provision to bring control lines close to hand for the helmsman. This, along with her variety of rig and keel options makes her a versatile boat in this competitive size.
See our boat test video here

Oceanis 38

Easily the most radical in the group, both in her looks and her overall concept, the Beneteau Oceanis 38 is also an impressive performer. Her modest and easy to manage sail plan provides a surprisingly sprightly performance. Twin rudders give her a solid feel while the cockpit design makes her easy and secure to sail shorthanded. But it is more likely to be her accommodation arrangements that will draw attention.
Available in three options from ‘Daysailer’ to ‘Weekender’ and ‘Cruising’ specifications, the interior of the Oceanis 38 can be enhanced at a later date with the addition of accommodation packs. This multi-tasking interior is a bold and innovative move from a company that has frequently led the field in production boat innovation.

Contest 42CS

Once again the Luxury Cruiser category was a brimming with excellence, despite shortlisted nominees showing very different interpretations of the term luxury. But credit to Contest – when competitors in the luxury cruiser category continue to go longer and larger, the Dutch have introduced an approachable sized family cruiser that still manages to shine. And they have done so by retaining the seaworthy design and build quality on which Contest built its name, while clearly showing the big boat mentality they have applied to their larger semi-custom boats. As well as offering nimble performance on the water, the 42CS has a multitude of owner options throughout, from the protected cockpit layout to her spacious and stylish Wetzels & Brown interior. She oozes class.

Saphire 27


Aimed at the racing end of the market, but with the ability to head off for weekend cruising, the Saphire 27 is a far more manageable boat shorthanded than her aggressive racy looks might at first suggest. She has a large square topped mainsail, retractable carbon bowsprit, masthead asymmetric spinnaker and aggressive hull chines all of which mark her territory from the start.
But perhaps what is more impressive is some of the detail that you don’t see at first, namely her high performance steel fin and lead bulb keel that has her pointing like a witch in all conditions. Detailing like this costs money yet her price tag sits at €49,000 which, given the carbon mast and other quality areas will make her an attractive proposition to many.

In the April issue of Yachting World there will be a detailed feature about the winners, with comments from the 11 judges from different nations and magazines.