Having tested 15 yachts shortlisted for the European Yacht of the Year 2020 awards, Toby Hodges reveals the winners and why they won

Yachting World has been a jury member for the European Yacht of the Year awards since its inception in 2004. This involves shortlisting the best annual prospects into categories before testing them all to elect the winners.

The awards have grown to include 12 judges from across Europe, each leading voices on boat testing in their respective countries. Each judge sails every boat before we discuss the competition at length. The result is the largest, most influential and widely respected boatbuilding prize worldwide.

In October we were able to gather the 15 shortlisted yachts together in one location for the first time – Port Ginesta, Barcelona – for six days of testing.

The five European Yacht of the Year 2020 winners were announced on the opening evening of the Düsseldorf Boat Show, on 18 January. Look out for our March 2020 issue, which features the winners and nominees in more detail.

Performance Cruisers

Nominees: Beneteau First 53, Italia Yachts 11.98, RM 1180, X 4.0

Winner: X 4.0

X Yachts took already excellent boats in the X 4.3 and X 4.6 and refined and refined them to produce this, arguably the benchmark for today’s 40ft performance cruiser.

The X 4.0 is a sailor’s yacht with plenty of modern styling and proved a lot of fun to helm in comfort. Although the focus is on cruising, the ergonomic cockpit set up can still suit racing.

X 4.0

The proportion of space is also superb throughout, from the cockpit to the accommodation. It’s a design that’s hard to fault.

Price: €257,500 (ex. VAT)

Luxury Cruiser

Nominees: Amel 60, Grand Soleil 42LC, Oyster 565

Winner: Amel 60

Amel 60
European yacht of the year 2020 winner Amel 60

Another beautifully built and finished boat by Amel, this is a similar, refined and extended version of the award-winning Amel 50.

It features tried and tested traditional Amel concepts including the central enclosed cockpit (which might not suit an active helmsman­), huge watertight engine room and solid guardrails but in a modern looking package.

The Amel 60 boasts enormous volume and stowage, has a truly luxurious feel to the interior, and comes with an impressively high standard spec including a carbon mast for €1,650,000.

Race Yachts

Nominees: ClubSwan 36, Dehler 30 OD, J/99, Jeanneau Sun Fast 3300, JPK 1080

Winner Race: Dehler 30 OD

This is a very well executed concept, one with up-to-date looks in an appealing, versatile design. It can be sailed short-handed or crewed, and has a proper little interior – a mini offshore racer that you can sleep on.

Dehler 30 OD

European yacht of the year 2020 winner Dehler 30 OD

Dehler has packed in the features, which include a carbon mast and carbon-reinforced hull structure, water ballast, a retractable propeller, and serious sail area including a square top main, which is balanced by a deep keel and twin rudders.

Dehler 30

It’s as fun to sail as it looks. A stiff, responsive, current and fun sportsboat at a respectable price.

Price: €108,900 (ex. VAT)

Innovation prize

Winner: ClubSwan 36

To my mind, this is the coolest looking production yacht afloat and the most fun to sail – in both directions! Why would an owner-driver even consider a TP52 or Fast 40 when you could have a sportscar like this for so much less?

ClubSwan 36

European yacht of the year 2020 winner ClubSwan 36

Even without the C-foil (which, counteracts leeway upwind but still needs some fine tuning to get the best out of it), this is the most exciting boat – bravo Swan for doing something radically different, once again.

ClubSwan 36

We featured a full test on this missile in the February 2020 issue.

Price: €385,000 (ex. VAT)

Family Cruisers

Nominees: Beneteau Oceanis 30.1, Elan Impression 45.1, Jeanneau Sun Odyssey 410

Winner: Beneteau Oceanis 30.1

Beneteau Oceanis 30.1

European yacht of the year 2020 winner Beneteau Oceanis 30.1

Credit to Beneteau for addressing the entry-level market with a modern, easy-to-handle, spacious and affordable 30ft cruiser. Polish build helps keep the price low, a clever hull shape buys volume, the cockpit and rig design help make it easy to sail, while an options list that includes four different keels provides versatility and will attract sea and lake sailors alike.

Beneteau Oceanis 30.1

Tall headroom, saloon berths long enough to sleep on and an L-shape galley is all somehow fitted in below decks. This is an appealing, small family yacht on which to enjoy simple sailing and overnighting.

Price: €69,400 (ex. VAT)

Multihulls

Nominees: Excess 15, Lagoon 46, Neel 47

No winner announced

Despite the recent explosion of cruising multihulls, this was a disappointing category this year. The Lagoon wasn’t able to make the trials and we had concerns over steering problems with the Excess and the finish quality of the Neel 47.