The judges have spoken and these 6 boats are the best of the best. You’ll be seeing these performers at the top of the fleet in 2016.
There is no higher praise for a production boatbuilder than a Boat of the Year Award, for there is no other program like it. The assembly, assessment and test-sailing of new raceboat models in Annapolis, Maryland, every October is a colossal effort, one that’s founded on a simple goal: to recognize the industry’s best. You have to sail it to know it. It’s true that “best” is highly subjective, and that the sailing experience can vary greatly depending on wind conditions, rig tune, and the cut and quality of the demo sails. Yet there’s no denying that the best-prepared boats enter the contest with an upper hand, and historically, they come out on top. There were 14 entries this year, designs that would appeal to any one of us — dinghy sailors, club racers, cat sailors and total neophytes. And while there isn’t a bad boat among them, the judges did agree on five award-worthy raceboats.
It’s easy to be enamored with the slickest car on the lot, or for sailors, with the most technical-looking boat at the show, the one with a string of zeros on the price tag, carbon detailing and high-tech deck ornaments. But high cost and high-tech serve a select few. It’s just as easy to walk right past the one boat that’s right for many. For our Boat of the Year judges, tasked with culling the best of the new models at the U.S. Sailboat Show in Annapolis, the one that can satisfy the most sailors is the Fareast 28R.
The Boat of the Year judging team has more than 40 years combined experience designing, sailing and racing sailboats. Three judges make up the team with experience across the industry including designing yachts for the America’s Cup. All the judges are independent of the Sailing World team.
BOTY judge Chuck Allen jumps into any boat and makes it look easy. With North U.’s Regatta Services, he films, photographs and coaches. He’s a versatile sailor with 10 years of BOTY perspective and a history of picking winners, including the raffle ticket that won him his tricked-out Beetle Cat.
BOTY judge Tom Rich has built boats for more than 25 years. He started with America’s Cup 12-Meters, which led to two tours with Team Dennis Conner before founding New England Boatworks, Rhode Island’s pre-eminent raceboat depot.
BOTY judge Greg Stewart is a wizard at Nelson/Marek Yacht Design, often surrounded by spreadsheets and line drawings of boats awaiting refits. He’s a naval architect’s architect, with a keen appreciation for hull shapes, measurements and Chuck Allen’s antics.