Toby Hodges takes a look at all the nominees and the winner of the performance cruisers 2022 category in the European Yacht of the Year Awards
The European Yacht of the Year awards is the most thorough and impartial awards programme – the winners here are widely considered the best yachts of the year. As such the boats nominated by the jury in the performance cruisers 2022 category can be considered the best of the best.
This year’s shortlist had the full range. From the more conventional definitive style of performance cruiser to the contemporary French interpretation of a lightweight planing cruiser – and even a new brand of sports catamarans for the thrill seekers.
Best performance cruisers 2022
One such sports catamaran is the IC36, an exciting first offering from a new Czech brand that’s packed with fresh thinking. The first turbo version of this cruising catamaran (Independence) is built using a carbon fibre crossbeam, bowsprit, boards and rudders, epoxy hulls, plus a custom Pauger rotating mast, which all serve to keep weight below three tonnes.
It provided some spirited sailing, particularly when fetching at a measured pace of 10-13.5 knots with the code 0. The direct feel of tiller steering while seated in the low rotating bucket seats was a highlight.
The finish quality in the hulls is first class and there is somehow space for up to eight berths. The coachroof features a retractable bimini and removable vinyl side panels and solar panels, while the cockpit table, which includes an exterior galley, is also removable.
In fact the IC36 can be dismantled to 2.55m beam to make it legally trailable. It has so many options and ideas – too many perhaps – all reflected in the price.
IC36 price: €320,000 (basic) or €420,000 (Independence)
Monohull enthusiasts will share our congratulations to J-Boats for its elegant new flagship. The J/45 won the hearts of the jury and made for a long drawn out decision against the JPK. In the end the two yachts will appeal to different sailors and tastes.
J has stayed true to its roots, yet still managed to bring a current, classy new offering. The unmistakable Alan Johnstone lines have been paired with a contemporary, warm European interior designed by Isabelle Racopeau, while much focus has been paid to the joinerwork and the invisible quality. We saw the two cabin version, which has an excellent technical cabin in place of the second aft cabin.
The J/45 is designed to still perform when loaded with cruising gear. True to J’s reputation, it was a witch upwind and could outpoint anything else during our trials. The compromise is that it won’t plane easily like a JPK or Pogo.
J/45 price: €458,360
The Solaris 40 is another looker from Soto Acebal and the blue steel metallic hull colour of the test boat made the powerful hull shape really stand out.
We liked the recessed traveller, direct steering to the twin rudders, neat folding helm seats, clutches integrated into the coamings and the easy access to the side decks. However, the jury found the cockpit with its short benches and deck design a little too flat and minimalist.
The interior is smart and contemporary, again offered with two or three cabins with two heads it makes good use of the space.
Solaris 40 price: €294,000
One of the yachts I was looking forward to sailing most was the Pogo 44, and the only one shortlisted that I didn’t manage to! A collision with the photographer’s RIB shortly before my scheduled trial put it out of action.
However, my colleague Rupert Holmes did a full Pogo 44 test and report on it for Yachting World and describes the 44 as designed to thrill and unlike any other pure cruising yacht of its size. The stability from the beamy hull and deep lifting keel combines brilliantly with the ability to sail fast easily and in comfort. However some jury members didn’t like having to rely on an autopilot to use winches.
The interior is like a loft apartment, with so much natural light – it’s minimalist yet comfortable, spacious and practical for cruising.
Pogo 40 price: €271,715
Winner best performance cruisers 2022 – JPK 39FC
Along with fellow Brittany yard Pogo, JPK has redefined the modern performance cruiser: stiff, stable and efficient to the max. For the keen sailor who wants to get the utmost enjoyment out of hands-on cruising, the JPK 39 is a superb design (and to my eye, an appealing one too), while the yard has done a nice job with the vacuum-infused construction and interior fit-out. The two-cabin version we sailed had plenty of stowage too.
It looks different, behaves beautifully and stands up to its canvas, is designed to sail efficiently with a loaded displacement, and has a deck set-up to encourage you to trim it to your heart’s content. My only slight negative is the unnerving mess the cockpit can become as there are so many control lines.
This lightweight blast will best suit experienced sailors and those comfortable with short-handed sailing. And it guarantees smiles.
“Sails insanely well,” Axel Nissen-Lie, Norway.
“Reassuringly stable and stiff, capable of speedy upwind legs as well as fully planing downwind – a combination still rare on the market.” Jochen Rieker, Germany.
“Extremely fast if you want it to be, suited to singlehanded sailing, but also containing every basic cruising need, whilst maintaining a high build quality.” Marinus van Sijdenborgh de Jong, NED
JPK 39FC price: €205,100
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