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Despite the difficulties and Covid restrictions during 2020, the European Yacht of the Year 2021 jury managed to test 15 yachts and award 5 category winners

The European Yacht of the Year 2021 award winners are announced this morning, Friday 22 January.

Yachting World has been a jury member for the European Yacht of the Year awards since its inception in 2004. This involves shortlisting the best annual prospects, typically into five categories before testing them all to elect the winners.

The awards have grown to include 12 judges from sailing magazines across Europe, each leading voices on boat testing in their respective countries. The yachts are all tested during trials which took place in Kiel, Cannes and La Rochelle last Autumn. The result is the largest, most influential and widely respected boatbuilding prize worldwide.

Normally the awards would be presented at a special event during the opening evening of the Dusseldorf Boat Show in January. This year it’s a virtual presentation, with a breakdown of the winners below. The full feature about the nominees and winners is in our March 2021 issue.

Family Cruisers

Nominees: Bavaria C42, Beneteau Oceanis 40.1, Elan GT6, Bali Catspace, Excess 11

Always a category brimming with interesting new production yachts, this year’s family cruiser crop was no exception as it included a couple of very popular new catamarans too. All proved worthy nominees and in the end it was a close run decision between the Elan GT6 and the Bavaria.

Bavaria C42 European Yacht of the Year 2021 winner

Bavaria C42 European Yacht of the Year 2021 winner

Winner: Bavaria C42

Cossutti’s design has a clever shape, the first Bavaria with hard chines and a rounded ‘V-bow’, which make a crucial difference, both below decks and on the water. It provides maximum space where you most want it – in the cabins, saloon and cockpit. And despite some sharp corners and small details, the yard should be commended for its increased attention to finish quality.

Bavaria C42 European Yacht of the Year 2021 winner

Bavaria C42 European Yacht of the Year 2021 winner

However, when competing in this broadest of markets – 40ft family cruisers – an extra something is still needed to help it stand out from the crowd. And in the case of the Bavaria C42 it’s this powerful but stable hull shape which combines with a generous sailplan for admirable performance, while providing sailors with direct helm feel of the single rudder.

We featured a full test in our January issue.

Price: ex VAT €157,900

Performance Cruisers

Nominees: Corsair (no show), Dragonfly 40, Grand Soleil 44 Performance (no show)

It was obviously a shame to have two late drop outs in what stood to be a very exciting category. The Corsair would have made for an intoxicating battle of the trimarans, while we now know from the first footage of the Grand Soleil that this new Matteo Polli design looks as slippery as it does stylish.

But in what was a remarkably difficult year for many, and a particularly problematic one for travel, the fact that this only left one contender in this category should in no way take away from the deserved glory of the Dragonfly 40.

Dragonfly 40 European Yacht of the Year 2021 winner

Dragonfly 40 European Yacht of the Year 2021 winner

Winner: Dragonfly 40

A Dragonfly is always a thrill to sail, but what about the largest Dragonfly yet, how would that fare and how would the Danish yard manage to combine real performance with cruising comfort at this size?

In performance terms, the main difference at this size (compared to previous Dragonfly models) is that it feels like a proper fast cruising yacht as opposed to a sportsboat. Our Danish judge Morten, who sailed the boat the most and in good breeze, describes it as a solid performance cruiser, which remains very comfortable to sail in control at 15-20 knots with the big gennaker hoisted.

Dragonfly 40 European Yacht of the Year 2021 winner

Dragonfly 40 European Yacht of the Year 2021 winner

The DF40 has the displacement for distance cruising, yet is light enough to thrill, can dry out easily and has folding outriggers to reduce its berthing beam. What’s not to like… other than the price?!

Price: from €570,000 ex VAT.

“One of the most stunning constructions out there at sea. Low freeboards, inverted bow sections, muscular beams and a nicely integrated bowsprit give the Dragonfly an athletic, racy feel.” Jochen Rieker, YACHT.

Luxury Cruisers

Nominees: Contest 55CS, Hallberg-Rassy 40C, Moody 41DS

This was always going to be a very tough category as it comprises three really interesting and well executed designs. The Hallberg Rassy 40C we tested in our August issue and the Moody 41DS in our November issue.

In the end the award went to the yacht that befits the category perfectly – or as as our Italian judge described the Contest, for its “immersive and uncompromising luxury”

Contest 55CS European Yacht of the Year 2021 winner

Contest 55CS European Yacht of the Year 2021 winner

Winner: Contest 55CS

A superb example of a fast, quality and comfortable bluewater cruiser, the Contest 55CS certainly has the wow factor. It offers real luxury, albeit at a price (circa €2m sailaway). But for that you are getting top build quality, comfort and technical solutions in a very appealing looking package.

The clean and crisp deck lines feature a flush foredeck, while the deckhouse is impressively low profile given the amount of light it allows into the accommodation.

Contest 55CS European Yacht of the Year 2021 winner

Contest 55CS European Yacht of the Year 2021 winner

Our Finnish judge Pasi remarked on the ‘invisible comfort’ and how the Contest 55CS takes care of you without you even noticing. There are plenty of options for the saloon, which shows the custom nature of the yard, the galley is large and well planned and the owner’s aft cabin, with it’s aft facing secret window, is a proper suite.

Bluewater Cruisers

Nominees: Boreal 47.2, Garcia Explocat 52, Ovni 400, Pegasus 50, Viator Explorer 42 DS (no show)

It was exciting to have a really interesting crop of go-anywhere boats to zero-in on this year. It was a pity the Viator wasn’t available in time, as this looks like a very promising new offering from a German yard. But to have five contenders, four of which are bare aluminium boats, shows the recent spike in interest in expedition style cruising.

We featured a full test of the superb Garcia Explocat 52 in our February 2021 issue, and the Ovni 400 in our October issue. The Pegasus 50 is a particularly appealing new and original concept from a Slovenian brand formed of experienced hands and includes innovative features such as a gimballing saloon seating and a tandem fin keel connected by a bulb.

Boreal 47.2 European Yacht of the Year 2021 winner

Boreal 47.2 European Yacht of the Year 2021 winner

Winner: Boreal 47.2

Boreal, is a Tréguier yard, specialising in ballasted aluminium centreboarders, robust yachts which are born out of its founder’s extensive cruising experience. Its designs have impressed the EYOTY jury before – the Boreal 52 won this category in 2015 – and the 47.2 was again a clear favourite with all returning to shore beaming and unanimously impressed as much by the feel on the helm as the practical features and refinement of the boat.

Boreal 47.2 European Yacht of the Year 2021 winner

Boreal 47.2 European Yacht of the Year 2021 winner

Combine the excellent handling and performance with the cockpit layout and protection afforded by the doghouse, the abiltiy to move around and through the boat safely and easily and the construction and insulation quality, and you have a centreboard yacht that can take you anywhere.

Price: ex VAT: €541,620.

Special Yachts

Nominees: Mojito 650 (no show), Saffier SE 27, Tofinou 9.7

This category ended up being a head-to-head of two very attractive and refined daysailers which are a joy to sail. The Tofinou 9.7 may get the edge on the looks and the judges liked the tiller steering it offers, but the Saffier offers a more thrilling performance edge in a package that’s easier for one person to manage and with more space for a relaxing crew – and, significantly, it’s over €50k cheaper than the Tofinou.

Saffier Se27 Leisure European Yacht of the Year 2021 winner

Saffier Se27 Leisure European Yacht of the Year 2021 winner

Winner: Saffier SE 27 Leisure

Saffier has featured a lot in European Yacht of the Year competitions since it was first nominated and awarded 12 years ago. But this is arguably its finest and most evolved offering yet.

Here is proof that looks, ergonomics and performance can all coexist harmoniously.

The sporty shape and light weight of the SE 27 could be behind its appeal – build slots are already sold out for the next 18 months – but these combine with the boat’s ease of use. The Saffier is configured to be efficiently sailed single-handedly or crewed, yet the cockpit still leaves a large separate lounging space.

Saffier Se27 Leisure European Yacht of the Year 2021 winner

Saffier Se27 Leisure European Yacht of the Year 2021 winner

The result on the water is telling. “During our sea trials, this new Saffier not only showed its abilities to speed away even in the lightest of puffs, but also took on the challenges of heavier weather with excellence,” said Swedish judge Joakim.

Price: Starts at €77,500 ex VAT.

The full feature about the nominees and winners is in the MARCH 2021 issue of Yachting World.


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