Toby Hodges takes a look at all the nominees and the winner of the best luxury yacht category in the European Yacht of the Year Awards
There are many categories in the European Yacht of the Year awards, from the best family cruisers to performance yachts. But some of the most jaw-dropping options come when it is time to choose the nominees and winner in the best luxury yacht category.
The European Yacht of the Year awards are selected by a broad panel of expert judges from across the globe. These are people who spend their professional lives sailing and comparing yachts, so you can be certain that the yachts which stand out in this field are truly the best of the best on the market.
What constitutes luxury for you? Price, quality of finish, comfort (at sea or at anchor)? The broad selection for this category this year includes two from Group Beneteau which show how appealing space can be today, as well as offerings from more typical premium brands such as Swan and Hallberg-Rassy. Pricing is equally as broad: for the same length, one can cost three times the amount of the other.
A spacious production yacht, a premium bluewater cruiser and a highly customised Italian performance cruiser shows the variety on offer in the 50-60ft+ market, while giving the jury some tricky comparisons to make.
Best luxury yacht
Best luxury yacht winner – Oyster 495
It is hard to imagine that the decor of a yacht can change its look and feel quite this much, yet the layout of this second 495, Eddie Jordan’s dramatic looking Tuga, is in fact identical to the first boat that I spent several days aboard last summer.
At its heart is a wonderfully (Humphreys) designed and engineered luxury bluewater cruiser conceived from the ground up, built in a new dedicated facility to a repeatable quality very few yards are capable of.
The 495 offers consistent passage making speeds in real voluminous comfort – whether enjoyed from the deep cockpit or the best-in-class aft cabin. Deck stowage and mechanical space is also superb.
Then factor in the family appeal of Oyster’s after sales and world rally programme and you start to appreciate the premium world this sub 50-footer gives access to.
The first yacht fully conceived under CEO Richard Hadida’s reign, this is also the smallest completely new Oyster 495 since 2005 – and it’s a triumph. It was our September 2022 cover star in which we featured the full review from our Oyster 495 three day test.
The Oceanis Yacht 60 is a very different beast indeed to the 62 it replaces as flagship for the Beneteau range. The yard has learned plenty from the success of the First 53/OY 54 and wanted to create a 60 in this style and with the same deck layout (albeit larger and wider) and ease of circulation.
The construction experience of the smaller model clearly helped too, as this is a whopping five tonnes lighter than the bulky OY62 and with a deeper (2.6m) keel. The telling result is on the water. It feels sporty to helm and we averaged a knot slower than the single figure 6-8 knot windspeeds upwind and matched them reaching with Code 0 and a slight swell.
The vast cockpit works well, sheltered below the semi rigid bimini, it has plentiful lounging space with sailing systems led aft to the twin helms. The interior sees a 3+3 layout, where Beneteau wanted to get rid of the corridor effect of the OY62. The galley is forward to help open out space, while the forward suite with offset berth and headboard aft works well to give space with privacy.
This is an attractive, voluminous yacht that leaves a good overall impression whether under sail, on or below decks.
Ice 62 Targa
It all looks pretty funky below decks on the Ice 62 Targa too, especially if you’re watching the masthead fore and aft cameras (plus bow and prop cam) on central displays mounted in the saloon while you slip out of the dock! The Ice is a seriously impressive, contemporary yacht, one that in looks, performance and execution, won over many of the judges.
The first to launch is a highly customised project for a passionate sailing owner who covers long distances solo – he’d already sailed it 3,000 miles around the Med that autumn. It’s impressively stiff, sails handsomely and, thanks to a telescopic keel, points well. We matched single figure windspeeds, and clocked up to the high 9s in 12 knots wind.
Umberto Felci’s team spent 4,000 hours on the design, providing lots of space and light to the interior and a chillout zone in the semi raised saloon. This was easily the coolest looking yacht, with its aggressive reverse bow, chamfered gunwales and carbon T-top bimini, and all engineered and built to a high standard.
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