SAIL’s 2023 Best Boats Awards

Published on January 6th, 2023

SAIL magazine revealed its annual Best Boat Nominees in September 2022 and now has selected the 2023 winners:

Every year, sailboat manufacturers around the world launch their latest models, and every year, SAIL magazine’s experienced boat reviewers spend days and weeks learning what’s new, talking with boatbuilders, examining the boats top to bottom dockside, and finally taking them sailing.

This culminates at the U.S. Sailboat Show in Annapolis, where our review team gets together and makes its final assessments on which boats earn top honors.

Previously called SAIL Best Boats, this year’s program has been refined to eliminate size and purpose categories from the judging criteria to more accurately assess and compare the two-dozen boats under review.

Categories—such as Best Cruising Monohull 30-40 feet and Best Performance Monohull 40-50 feet—have been replaced with simply determining the Top 10 across the board, ensuring that the best designs are recognized, regardless of size or category label.

“Too often, defining these boats by categories results in unfairly comparing apples to oranges, sorting boats with very different purposes and design briefs into the same bracket just because of their LOA, and inevitably kicking out some really terrific boats,” said SAIL Editor-in-Chief Wendy Mitman Clarke.

“So, starting this year, we’re honoring the Top 10 boats, period. By eliminating the artificial straitjacket of size categories and focusing on what are simply the Top 10, SAIL will present readers a more complete and equitable assessment.”

The SAIL Top 10 Best Boats for 2023:

Beneteau First 36
From the judges: “A versatile, very lively craft that will appeal strongly to both dedicated racing sailors and performance-oriented cruisers…sails like a bandit…construction is no-holds-barred for a mass-produced boat…we were particularly impressed with the cockpit layout.”

X-Yachts X4.3
From the judges: “Takes what was already an outstanding boat and makes it even better …quality of construction is impeccable…fast and sure-footed, with a newly designed rudder that grips the water tenaciously even when over-pressed.”

From the judges: “Does a very fine job of splitting the difference between contemporary design idioms and the J/Boats of yore…more reliably a traditional all-rounder…always quick, easy to drive, and sure-footed…greatly relieved to see a boat like this on the water again.”

Hanse 460
From the judges: “A step up in performance and accommodations among production boats in its class…a comfortable, fast cruiser that can be sailed by a middle-aged couple…For shorthanded sailing, this boat is hard to match…will please a lot of sailors.”

Hallberg-Rassy 400
From the judges: “Seamlessly marries traditional bluewater cruising experience with contemporary design and interior trends…a powerful, elegant, fun, go-anywhere machine…everything is practical and uncluttered, geared to making sailhandling straightforward for one or two people.”

Dufour 37
From the judges: “Small is the new big, and the Dufour 37 delivers with some impressive features you’d not expect on an entry model…the gennaker on a top-down furler can be used up to 60 degrees AWA and kept us moving along…the only thing that isn’t big about the Dufour 37 is the price.”

Nautitech 44 Open
From the judges: “A good-looking boat with a sleek profile…a higher bridgedeck to avoid pounding, deeper keels for better tracking…packed with unique features…should be on the shortlist for anyone planning on doing distance voyaging.”

NEEL 43 Trimaran
From the judges: “A good combination of comfort and easy, fun, fast sailing…offers a 48-volt system, lithium batteries, multiple solar panels, and an Integrel alternator…can keep your carbon footprint small and your hair flying back as the three hulls eat up the miles.”

Balance 442
From the judges: “All about smart systems, livable layouts, and sassy sailing…options for one or two Integrel alternators that eliminate the need for a generator…not too many cats will do 11 knots in 16 knots of true wind at 80 degrees AWA.”

Tiwal 3R
From the judges: “A racing version engineered specially for competitive sailors who want to fine-tune their sailing…a genuine performance dinghy but also a great learner’s boat…pound-for-pound the best conceived, sportiest, and most fun boat on the market.”

For additional details, click here.

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