The Who's Who of the international boat business gathered at the gala Flagship Night, sponsored by the German publisher Delius-Klasing, to witness the awards of this year’s European Yacht of the Year contest. After thoroughly inspecting and testing the 25 nominated boats in Southampton and La Spezia, the international expert jury returned the following winners in these five categories:

Special Yachts: J/70

Nominated late as a substitute, the American designed J/70 swayed the panel with a flawless showing during the test days in Italy. Good acceleration, easy and precise on the helm, featuring a simple yet functional layout and a very effective sail plan, the J/70 will excite racing sailors and family crews alike. It’s the first J/Boat with a lifting keel, and it turned into a smashing success after also winning Boat of the Year honors in the US.


Winner, Special Yachts: The J/70.

Performance Cruiser: Dufour 36

The Dufour 36 is a bit unusual in appearance with a voluminous bow, but it's also very balanced under heel because of that volume.  The increased volume also adds space and comfort to the space before the mast, and it’s never a detriment to include surprising details such as the double door to the forward cabin. This is another successful design by Dufour’s go-to guy, Umberto Felci. It will appeal to discerning cruisers.

Winner, Performance Cruiser: the Dufour 36.

Winner, Performance Cruiser: the Dufour 36.

 Family Cruisers: RM 1260

Chines are all the rage, especially on a plywood yacht like the RM 1260. Entered as a long shot, this vessel convinced the jury with versatility and a choice of different model options. While this alone wouldn’t have won the day, the boat also scored high with impeccable performance during the evaluation.

Winner,  Family Cruisers: the RM 1260.

Winner, Family Cruisers: the RM 1260.

Luxury yachts: Italia 13.98

This Italian luxury yacht with performance genes was not to be topped in this category. Bucking the trend a bit, the builders furnished it with a slender hull and a gracefully proportioned cabin top without coming up short on the comfort side. Important for hard-core sailors: The Italia also moves, powered by a sail plan that includes a large main, a 105-percent overlapping genoa, and jib leads that are set far inboard on the cabin tip. If the genny needs to be reefed, the roller furling mechanism won’t ruin the style, since it elegantly disappears belowdecks.

Winner, Luxury yachts: the Italia 13.98

Winner, Luxury yachts: the Italia 13.98

Multihulls: Outremer 5 X

Chic, fast, and easy to handle for a small crew.  In a nutshell that’s what put the Outremer on top of this category. Known as “The Professor," ocean-racing hero and two-time winner of the Vendee Globe, Michel Desjoyeaux supplied vital ideas for the design of the layout. Surprisingly, there’s nothing about this boat that could be called spartan, despite the lightweight construction methods that help boost performance.

Winner, Multihulls: the Outremer 5 X

Winner, Multihulls: the Outremer 5 X

-- Dieter Loibner