A few days ago We told you the story of the success that L30 has enjoyed, the Ukrainian boat of Rodion Luka, at the award Boat of the Year 2023 (Boat of the Year) of the prestigious American magazine Cruising World, but as many as 17 models were awarded by the judges, from 9 different countries: Denmark, France, Germany, Poland, South Africa, Slovenia, Sweden, the United States and, of course, Ukraine.
Although the effect of the pandemic on global sailboat production is still quite evident, with shipyards’ order books remaining full (though no longer at 2021 levels), what seems to have been shelved for the time being is research and development of new models. Almost all the shipyards are still busy delivering the boats ordered in recent years. That said, even in years with two dozen more nominated boats, it is rare for a fleet with such a resounding international presence to make it to the finals for the Boat of the Year award.
Notice how, while in recent years we have seen a proliferation of large monohulls, in the 55- to 65-foot range, many with seven-figure prices, this year there is no real luxury class. Although the cost of several items easily reaches $1 million, for the first time in history, the largest monohull is Elan Impression 50.1 (15.18 m), while among catamarans Lagoon 55 (16.56 m).
There are also a couple of exceptionally large classes, which certainly reflect the current state of the market. Both the “Performance Cru iser” division of hybrid racing/cruising boats and the “Multihull” class of cruising multihulls featured a quintet of entries (the latter with four catamarans and one trimaran). Neither was particularly surprising, because hybrid boats that serve multiple purposes have been fashionable for several years now, and the trend toward multihulls has been growing stronger for more than a decade and shows no sign of reversing.
Best Boats of the Year 2023
Overall winners of the Boat of the Year 2023 award are two bluewater cruisers, boats intended for long ocean sailing: Lyman-Morse LM46, best American boat, and Hallberg-Rassy 400, best foreign boat. Let’s look at them together.
Lyman-Morse LM46 (13.92 m x 4.09 m) – best American boat
An American semicustom bluewater cruiser for a family cruise around the world. Designed by renowned New Zealand naval architect Kevin Dibley, Lyman-Morse LM46 is a light and fast sailboat that is strong and elegant.
Despite the low freeboard, internally it is very spacious, thanks in part to the raised deckhouse. The hull is constructed of double planking and then resin-coated with infused epoxy to insulate the wood from water. The cockpit is clean and functional with full-length benches, supported by a curved paramare that slides aft, and separated by a fixed center table with folding doors. Sail trim purists will be pleased to find a mainsail sheet carriage covering the entire width of the cockpit, just in front of the double wheelhouse.
Hallberg-Rassy 400 (12.30 m x 4.18 m) – mbest foreign boat
Designed by Argentine master German Frers, Hallberg-Rassy 400 retired the 412 within the Swedish shipyard’s range.
Unlike its older sister, albeit slightly, the rudder wheel doubles in this boat, as is customary in newer models. The typical rigid sprayhood remains, and the interior is available in three configurations.
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Midsize Cruiser (medium length, cruising)
Tartan 365 (11.13 m x 3.66 m) – winner
With a somewhat retro style, Tartan 365 is a classic American family-friendly and cruising boat that does not give up some innovations and more modern materials. The hull has a waterline height that slides aft, reaching its minimum height at the maximum beam.
As on modern boats, there are two rudder wheels at the stern, and the mast is made of carbon fiber. The elegant interior is handcrafted from maple or North American cherry wood, the cabin planking is teak, and the whole is finished with a highly durable satin varnish.
Beneteau Oceanis 34.1 (10.77 m x 3.57 m) – finalist
Oceanis 34.1 is the latest model in the cruising line from French manufacturer Beneteau. Naval architecture bears the signature of Marc Lombard while Nauta Design worked on the deck plan and layouts. Perfect as a first sailboat that is easy and safe to maneuver, even with a less experienced crew. This model, compared with its predecessor, relies on a lower weight and the possibility of having more sail. Below deck you can have two or three double cabins. The Seanapps mobile app and its on-board unit allow users to monitor the status of the boat’s various systems (battery, fuel and water tank levels, maintenance scheduling) from their smartphones, as well as plan their own itineraries or take stock of navigation. Find out here
Dufour 37 (10.77 m x 3.80 m) – finalist
Designed by Umberto Felci’s Felci Yacht Design studio, Dufour 37 is a comfortable cruising boat with excellent interior and exterior volumes, especially aft in the cockpit. It is in fact an evolution of the Dufour 360, which has been rethought to have a more comfortable interior, partly due to the 20 centimeters it gains in width, and a larger sail area.
Like its predecessor, it has a single blade wheelhouse and two wheel rudders. The hull is modern and stable, similar to that of offshore racing boats, but with a slightly rounded underside of the hull that promotes wave splitting and reduces noise inside the boat. Large windows on the deck and the broadside find space to illuminate the interior with natural light. Find out here
Performance Cruiser (cruise-regatta)
J/45 (13.85 m x 4.25 m) – winner
Launched for the shipyard’s 45th anniversary, J/45 is the brand’s new flagship and marks J’s return, or perhaps a true entry, into the world of cruising, albeit performance cruising.
With modern lines, beginning with a vertical stern starboard and a slightly inverted bow starboard, with an integrated dolphin boat, the idea behind the J/45 is to propose a “third way” to owners undecided between performance-oriented technical boats or designed for uncompromising comfort, even at the expense of performance. The synthesis was between the American pragmatism of J Boats (design) and the French taste of J Composites, which builds it in Vendée. Find out here
Beneteau First 36 (10.97 m x 3.80 m) – finalist
A high-performance cruising boat. The entire hull is vacuum infused with a foam sandwich structure, including bulkheads and most compartments. A technology until now reserved for racing or small series boats.
The result is a very rigid boat with a weight of only 4,800 kg, characteristics that make the First 36 the perfect cruiser/racer. The deck is very clean and simplified, with a large cockpit and the two steering wheels with winches and all maneuvers available even while sitting. In cruise mode, a large central (folding) table with two additional seats can be set up. Find out here
Best boats of 2023. L30 (9.58 m x 2.54 m) – finalist
Sporty 30-foot daysailer designed by Ukrainian champion Rodion Luka for the later canceled Paris Olympics offshore event. Made in Ukraine (and Hungary) and exported all over the world, it has a retractable keel, bayonet rudder, and carbon mast hinged to the deck, which can be easily armed in a couple of hours.
It can be easily transported on a trolley with an ordinary car. In fact, L30 is a relatively narrow boat by today’s standards, thanks to a maximum beam of 2.54 meters it can even be shipped via container. The cockpit is large and open, the two helm wheels are well aft, and there is no seating in the cockpit. The interior is minimalist and functional, sufficient for small cruises or a night’s transfer to a regatta and back.
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X-Yachts X4³ (13.24 m x 3.99 m) – finalist
Here is the new MK 2 version of X4³, the 13-meter X-Yachts PureX series that was built in more than 100 examples. The new hull design has a wider transom and raised soft edges. This gives additional shape stability and allows for reduced wake and turbulence on the water with the boat heeling.
In addition, the maximum beam has been set back, greatly increasing volumes. At the bow, the dolphin deck has been lengthened and now integrates the anchor and anchoring system, as well as giving a more advanced windward windward sail tack point. The sail plan has been redesigned and offers a larger surface area that ensures better performance even in low wind. Find out here
Best boats of 2023. Cruising Multihull (cruising multihulls)
Tanna 47 (13.94 m x 7.70 m) – winner
Fountaine Pajot’s new catamaran is aimed at those who are looking for a boat on which to spend even very long periods of time on board, without sacrificing the comfort expected of a catamaran.
The boat is offered with two different interior layout configurations. The first, for private and family use, is the “Maestro.” A large master cabin developed along the entire port hull, with a dedicated bathroom and shower stall as well as a real desk/study along the broadside. Two doubles, each with a dedicated bathroom, find space on the starboard side. In contrast, the “Quintet” version is decidedly charter-oriented: five double cabins (one of them with bunk berths) and five dedicated bathrooms. What does not change, in the two versions, is the large central “sea view” square with L-shaped galley on the port side (300 liters of storage space), aft of the access to the cabins, and the dining table with sofa on the starboard side, forward of the staircase leading below deck. Find out here
Balance 442 (13.50 m x 7.60 m) – finalist
A compact catamaran that can be easily operated without a crew. South African shipyard Balance Catamarans brings to market a yacht that is perfect for vacations between islands in an archipelago, but can also be equipped at any time for transoceanic cruises.
Balance 442 is in many ways a scaled-down version of the 482, offering an interesting balance between a high-performance catamaran and an easily manageable self-steering rig, with a deck layout optimized for easy solo watchkeeping while sailing. There is also no shortage of Balance’s trademark 90-degree swivel rudder on this model, allowing it to be steered both up in the open air and down in the cockpit, protected from the elements. It is available with a fixed keel or daggerboard, the latter with a minimum draft of only 1.05 meters.
Best boats 2023. Lagoon 55 (16.56 m x 9.00 m) – finalist
True to its roots and values, the new Lagoon 55 (heir to that first model launched by the shipyard back in 1987) is a safe and comfortable catamaran for those who like to sail long but comfortable.
Designed by Marc Van Peteghem and Vincent Lauriot-Prévost (VPLP design), like the original 36 years ago, and with contributions from Patrick le Quément for the exterior design and Italian Nauta Design for the interior, Lagoon 55 stands out with a truly XXL flybridge, with 2.30 meters of canopy height, and very bright interiors, which thanks to both the raised windows in the canopy and the large vertical windows create that “open air” effect so dear to Massimo Gino, the interior designer (Nauta Design). Huge aft fold-down dashboard. The aft living area to starboard contains a sofa where 12 people are comfortable around a sectional dining table and a sunbed. Find out here
Nautitech 44 Open (13.30 m x 7.36 m) – finalist
Nautitech 44 espouses a definite philosophy of balancing performance, comfort, and safety. You won’t find luxurious flybridges, but a marine boat for world travel and bluewater cruising that Marc Lombard designed in collaboration with Nautitech’s research and development team.
Nautitech 44 is offered in an Open configuration, with a smaller salon and larger cockpit. Aft a double command station. Listening to the experience of owners who sail “long,” Nautitech replaced the forward starboard cabin with a “SmartRoom,” or a room below deck that is much more than the classic “technical compartment.” Within this multifunctional space, which serves as a workshop and laundry room, depending on your needs,there is also the option of adding a standard washing machine or a large freezer.
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Neel 43 (13.11 m x 7.50 m) – finalist
Entry level in the Neel Trimarans range, a French shipyard specializing in cruising trimarans. Neel 43, the latest from the pencil of Marc Lombard, is a trimaran capable of achieving excellent speeds without sacrificing on-board comfort, which is often sacrificed on trimarans compared to catamarans.
On the main deck are two double cabins with panoramic views to the outside and a bathroom, in addition to the galley and the inside driver’s station. The cockpit area can be joined with the salon area to accommodate up to ten people in the living area. There are three more cabins in the bows, two bunks with external access on the side hulls, and a double cabin, with bathroom preceding it, in the middle hull.
Full-Size Cruiser (under 50 pedi, cruising)
Best boats of 2023. Moody 41DS (12.52 m x 4.20 m) – winner
Moody Decksaloon 41 aims to express sailing that is both safe and with good sailing skills. The walk-around deck, originally developed by Moody, provides easy access to the loungers at the front, and the high freeboard and double deck provide safety and comfort.
The standard double forestay makes it easy to change sails. The upper shrouds are attached to the freeboard, the lower shrouds to the deck, so as not to get in the way. The rig with an 83-square-meter sail plan aims for sporty speeds. Interesting is the living area carved out of the deckhouse with 360-degree panoramic glass window, which, thanks to the innovative“Patio push & sliding door” solution, can extend to the cockpit, thanks to the retractable windows and removable bimini.
Elan Impression 50.1 (15.18 m x 4.68 m) – finalist
The flagship of Impression, the latest from the Slovenian shipyard Elan is a bluewater designed for cruising and long sailing. The water lines are designed by Humphreys Yachts Design in collaboration with the Elan design team, and while it is a cruising boat, it offers good performance under sail as well.
Like all hulls produced by the shipyard in Slovenia, it is made using the vacuum infusion technique, which makes the hull extremely rigid. Ample interior and exterior spaces. Innovative is the position of the dinette, which is tilted away from the galley to make the most of the boat’s maximum width. In the cockpit there is room for the double wheelhouse, a double table with center passage, and six winches, despite being a cruising boat (those in the stern are set far back to act independently from the helmsman’s potion). On the aft pulpit there is no shortage of two seats, a distinctive sign of the Impression line.
Best boats of 2023. Hanse 460 (14.60 m x 4.79 m) – finalist
Hanse 460 is the boat that ushers in a new era for the German shipyard. The aesthetics have become slightly sportier, the bow has powerful volumes and reverse flexion; a small edge also appears for the first time, a good gimmick for recovering some internal volume and also having an extra element of stability in strong seas and fresh wind. In the stern, on the other hand, the knee is soft, but this, too, will act as a support in the water when the boat heels over.
In terms of deck layouts Hanse relied on those already tried and tested on the latest models, with the winches close to the wheelhouse. Easy sailing, sailing comfort and large interior volumes are the concepts that drive the new 460, and have always been dear to Hanse. Find out here