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How Are “Best Boats Winners” Selected?

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By Buttons Padin 

Every year, the major yachting media companies publish their own list of the best new boats introduced that year. Each had its own name for the award, naturally, but they are largely created using the same methodology. But what is that methodology and how reliable is it?

In reality, these tests are legit. Yes, an advertiser may promote to the media company its latest new design in hopes of inclusion, but to be selected as a finalist or winner means the boat met or exceeded the demanding standards of the reviewers.

Just who are these reviewers, you may ask? These evaluations are never a single person’s point of view. These boats are each sailed and “dissected” by a number of experienced sailors, builders, sailing editors, and designers. By the time a new boat entry makes its way onto the list of nominees, it has been fully vetted for performance, build characteristics, and comfort among other criteria.

The recently published 2023 issue of SAIL magazine’s NEW BOATS & GEAR does just that. This essentially is a catalog of newly introduced boats that meet the grade. SAIL also selected seven boats as their category’s Best-of-the-Year. McMichael was not surprised to read that two of the latest additions to the line of yachts we sell are on that list.

J Boats J/45

The review written by Charles J Doane, an active blue water sailor who has worked as a yachting journalist since 1986. He has logged nearly 100,000 miles sailing offshore, including seven transatlantic passages and a number of singlehanded passages between the West Indies and New England. He clearly has the creds to review J Boats’ newest offshore boat.

Doane rightfully opens his evaluation noting that the J/45 is a “resurrection of a larger J Boat with all-around performance in a handsome package.” It has been nearly 20 years, he notes, since J Boats offered a larger boat capable of offshore racing and passagemaking. His review is informative and entertaining giving a thorough glimpse into this beautiful new J Boat. BTW, McMichael sold the first J/45 in North America.

Hanse 460

Also a Boat-of-the-Year winner is the new Hanse 460. This performance cruising yacht has been turning the eyes of both our McMichael brokers and our customers who are longing to test sail one. Tom Dove edited the Hanse 460’s review. Dove, an Annapolis, MD resident, is a sailing writer and, among his works is THE CRUISING SAILOR, described as a highly entertaining book to help the novice and seasoned sailor through the realm of sailing and sailboats.

When he turned his eye towards the Hanse 460, he astutely noted, “Not many years ago, a 46-foor production model performance crise with electric winches, apartment-0like accommodations, and a simple rig that a typical middle-aged couple could handle easily was a wish. Now it is a reality.” He goes on to describe in glowing terms efficient and effortless motoring, a well laid out cockpit with smart winch and stopper positioning, and many creature comforts.

Charles Doane’s Review of the J/45

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