Beneteau, Dehler, Saphire, and Contest were the big winners on the evening of the first day at the Düsseldorf boat show - BOOT Düsseldorf - when several hundred industry executives gathered to learn the winners of the 2014 European Yacht of the Year Awards. (On the same evening, the Powerboat Awards were also distributed; see “European PowerBoat of the Year Awards 2014”.) The “Flagship Night” event, hosted by German publisher Delius Klasing as well as BOOT Düsseldorf, also included presentation of the Seamaster award for outstanding achievement in the sport of sailing to Jimmy Spithill, America's Cup-winning skipper.
From among 20 nominated models, European Yacht of the Year awards were handed out to winners in four categories - family cruiser, performance cruiser, luxury cruiser and special yachts. During 2013, the boats were tested and debated extensively by the editors of 11 European magazines in Southampton, England, and Porto Venere, Italy.
In the category of Family Cruisers, the nod was given to the Beneteau Oceanis 38, which is offered in three different configurations, as a daysailer, weekender and cruising boat. Good sailing performance and innovative interior styling with plenty of natural light admitted to the interior favored the Oceanis over the other candidates. The other nominees were the Allures 39.9, Bavaria Cruiser 37, Dufour 410 Grand’Large, Winner 900.
Another 38-footer was the top-boat in the Performance category: Built by the HanseGroup in Germany, the Dehler 38 impressed the judges with strong performance and good all-round capabilities. The other nominees were the Elan 400, Pogo 30, Premier 45, and XP-33.
The win in the Special Yachts category went to the Swiss-built Saphire 27, which excelled in a variety of conditions and showed its potential as a one-design racer, daysailer, and touring boat. The boat can be launched from the trailer, and the mast can be stepped without mechanical aids. The other nominees were the Django 6.70, Essence 33, Malango 8.88, and Sailart 22.
It was a tight race for the title in the luxury cruiser category, and the winner was the Contest 42 CS. The jury’s verdict: This Dutch-built design won for its clean lines, good performance, and a luxury feel fit for 60-footer in a package that is manageable by a small crew. Other nominees were the Gunfleet 58, Hallberg-Rassy 55, ICE 62, and Mylius 18E35.
Due to a scarcity of new multihull models, that category was omitted for this year.
Following in the footsteps of French multihull legend Loick Peyron, Australian Jimmy Spithill was named the winner of the Seamaster Award, a new prize that is handed to sailors for outstanding achievements. Down 1-8, Spithill led Oracle Team USA to a dramatic comeback 9-8 win in last year’s America’s Cup over Team New Zealand. At age 20, Spithill made history in 2000 as the youngest skipper of an AC boat with the Young Australia campaign, and he also became the youngest helmsman to ever win the America’s Cup with Oracle Team USA in 2010.