At 5 O’clock sharp on Monday, October 18, the pit crews of the U.S. Sailboat Show in Annapolis, Maryland, pulled the pins after a week of packed docks, yacht hustling, parties and Pusser’s Painkillers, marking the end of deep dock-side technical briefs of the 14 nominees in Sailing World’s 2021 Boat of the Year competition. All that’s left now is the real sailing, which will take place on Chesapeake Bay over the next four days.
Sailing World’s entry list spans from the diminutive rotomolded Topper Fusion dinghy to the big and high-tech 54-foot Kinetic catamaran. In the day sailor group, the judges will have the J/9 from J Boats and the Tartan 245. This year’s offerings in the dinghy category also include the Rocket from Fulcrum Speedworks, the Melges 15, and the intriguing inflatable catamaran appropriately called the Happy Cat.
The bulk of the Boat of the Year fleet falls into the cruiser/racer category and includes the Salona 46, the Elan GT6, Dufour 470 and Grand Soleil 44, as well as the clever Beneteau First 27. Recognizing the growing popularity of big-catamaran racing, the judges will be testing both the Kinetic and the Balance 482 performance cats, both sophisticated million-dollar builds from South Africa. Rounding out the BOTY fleet is the Dehler 30 One-Design, which was launched in 2020 but was unable to be tested due to the program’s Covid postponement last Fall.
The judging team—professional sailor Chuck Allen, naval architect Greg Stewart and longtime Sailing World contributor Dave Powlison—will sail the boats from Tuesday morning through Friday, with their Boat of the Year to be announced in December.
Follow Sailing World’s Facebook and Instagram channels for live updates and test footage.