If you want to know which are the best new production yachts on the market at the moment, the European Yacht of the Year is the best place to start. Toby Hodges sailed the 25 nominees and gives his verdict on the five winners
The European Yacht of the Year is judged by journalists from 11 different magazines from 11 different European nations. Each jury member tested every yacht from the five different categories, over two separate weeks in two different locations.
After the decisions were finalised, the five category winners were announced this evening (January 21) at a prizegiving held during the opening night of the Dusseldorf Boatshow.
The nominees and winners of each category for the European Yacht of the Year awards 2016/2017 are:
Other nominees: Bestevaer 45ST Pure, Garcia 52 Exploration, Italia 12.98, X4
Winner: Beneteau Oceanis Yachts 62
Here is an innovative new breed of sailing yacht that has succeeded in taking practical influences from the motorboat sector. Key features include the transom design with steps built into each side to easily access the garage and jet tender, flat decks to maximize sunbathing area, a 45º companionway, and proper privacy for the owner’s cabin.
The modern, original styling, including the use of leather, indirect lighting and carpeted cabins, feels luxurious – in a word, ‘executive’. A tender garage with a practical launching system for a 2.85m jet rib is a clever selling point. But it’s the introduction of an industrialised new build technique to make this size of yacht more affordable that demonstrates why Groupe Beneteau remain world leaders in their field.
Price ex VAT: €650,000 Benteau.com
Other nominees: Django 12.70, Ikone 7.50, Jeanneau 51, Sunbeam 22.1
Winner: RM 970
Once again the plywood specialists have produced a worthy winner, one that perfectly demonstrates why designer Marc Lombard is so crafty in this mid 30ft sector. The 970 packs it all in – genuinely exciting performance in a fun, voluminous, versatile and refreshing family-friendly cruiser.
I like the deck design, notably the textile solutions and winch layout. She’s enjoyable to drive, providing a sporty yet authoritative feel that has the ideal balance for a fast family cruiser.
Price ex VAT: €120.417 www.rm-yachts.com
Other nominees: Dehler 34, Grand Soleil 58, J/112E, Ofcet 32
Winner: Pogo 36
Pogo Pogo Pogo. The one we always get excited about. The contemporary new shape of the 36 helped cause more of a stir than any of its predecessors. And boy does it not disappoint. Gone are any past notions of these beamy designs being sticky in the light breeze. The Pogo will match any ‘traditional’ narrow hull shape upwind – then smoke it offwind.
A Pogo guarantees fast cruising fun – but the performance in light airs of the 36 was a pleasant surprise. The build quality throughout is also first class. Pogo have made a concerted effort to make their interiors more comfortable for cruising and it shows. For me it’s the most exciting monohull of 2016.
Price ex VAT: €133,000 Pogo.com
Other nominees: Lagoon 42, Lucia 40, Nautitech 46 Open, Tricat 30
Winner: Outremer 4X
The boat that was always sailing. That an 8T, 48ft cruising cat could sail at all in the 3–4 knot zephyrs was impressive. That we subsequently sailed steadily at 11–13 knots in 12–15 knots wind and that she could hit the mid 20s when pushed, indicates the 4X has the legs to perform. But getting that balance between speed, controllability and safety right is key for a distance cruising machine – and the 4X achieves that handsomely. This boat is not about outright speed, more a smooth, fast enjoyable ride – easy, stable flight.
Outremer’s employment of Loïck Peyron in a godfather role is a clever way to ensure the ergonomics of the boat and the line handling is practically set up. The Outremer 4X is well-built to last, enjoyable to helm and the ideal size to go distance cruising at a good pace.
I want one!
Price ex VAT: €689,000 Outremer.com
Other nominees: Bihan 650, Easy-To-Fly, Scow FR 18, Spirit 47CR
Winner: Seascape 24
Seascape continue to excel in the niche they created – fast monohulls inspired by Open class racing yachts, but mini yachts that are capable of providing the most manageable fun in an approachable size range.
The 24 embodies the best of Seascape’s previous 18ft and 27ft models – a versatile package that can be trailered, provide thrilling offwind blasts, and has berths for four below its protective coachroof. Seascapes are created by real sailors who put so much thought into their products – and it shows.
The 24 is both a spicy weekender and a swing-keel pocket family cruiser that is good value for money.
Price ex VAT: € 43,600 Thinkseascape.com
CLICK HERE FOR THE BREAKDOWN OF LAST YEAR’S WINNERS (including pictures and videos)