The best yachts of 2018? These are the 5 European Yacht of the Year 2018 winners
If you want to know which are the best new production yachts on the market at the moment, the European Yacht of the Year is the best place to start. Toby Hodges sailed the 15 nominees and gives his verdict on the five winners
What is the yacht of the year, or the best yachts to look out for in 2018? Which are the most interesting, entertaining, innovative, well built and best value for money yachts on the market?
The reason we can answer such questions with confidence is that, as well as conducting our own independent tests, Yachting World also sits on the panel of judges for the European Yacht of the Year awards. This involves shortlisting the best annual prospects into five categories before testing them all to elect the winners.
Now in its 15th year, the European Yacht of the Year is the most thorough and unbiased awards programme for new production yachts. All 12 judges, comprising the boat testers and editors from sailing magazines across Europe, tested all the nominated yachts in La Rochelle and Barcelona last autumn.
The five 2018 European Yacht of the Year winners were announced on the first evening of the Dusseldorf Boatshow, on 20 January. Look out for our March 2018 issue, which has a feature combining our reviews on all the winners in more detail.
Nominees: Beneteau Oceanis 51, Hanse 548, Jeanneau Sun Odyssey 440
Winner: Jeanneau Sun Odyssey 440
Jeanneau Sun Odyssey 440 European Yacht of the Year 2018
Credit to the large-scale production yards for the innovation going into their latest models. Nevertheless, the new Jeanneau Sun Odyssey range is hands-down the most impressive for its forward thinking in terms of hull shape, cockpit design and interior layout.
Jeanneau Sun Odyssey 440 European Yacht of the Year 2018
The realisation of the volume gained from a full bow is shrewd, while the sloping side decks that make for a walkaround cockpit is one of those game-changing ideas that you can expect to see copied by others in the future.
Jeanneau Sun Odyssey 440 European Yacht of the Year 2018
Price ex VAT: €184,400
See our full test of the very similar larger sister, the SO490 in the October 2017 issue.
Nominees: Amel 50, Hallberg-Rassy 44, Ice 60
Winner: Amel 50
Amel 50 European Yacht of the Year 2018
That this is such a popular new model is unsurprising. It is both a manageable size of yacht for a couple to handle and a lot of exceedingly comfortable and quality built boat for the price. It is a modern-looking design that sails surprisingly well from a yard with decades of experience with building bluewater cruisers
Amel 50 European Yacht of the Year 2018
This is a yacht that could appeal to those seeking luxury weekend cruising as well as those wanting to live aboard and sail long-distance. It’s a yacht to dream about sailing away on and one that may well hasten your sabbatical or retirement from work.
Look out for our full test on the Amel 50, following a two day seatrial, in our April 2018 issue.
Price ex VAT: €750,000
Nominees: ClubSwan 50, Grand Soleil Performance 34, JPK 45
Winner: ClubSwan 50
European Yacht of the Year 2018 Seatrials in Port Ginesta Castellfels
The ClubSwan 50 is the most extreme-looking production yacht to date and one with versatile appeal as its design strikes that balance between performance cruiser and grand-prix racing yacht.
Its race yacht side is paired with an international circuit for owners to enjoy strictly controlled one-design competition. It’s a deliciously appealing plaything for short cruises and day sailing as well. Above all, it is outrageously, award-winningly cool.
ClubSwan 50 European Yacht of the Year 2018
This is perhaps just the start… with news that two new Juan K-designed 100ft+ ClubSwan models are on the drawing board, Nautor’s Swan is entering a new era of luxurious race craft.
Beneteau Figaro 3 European Yacht of the Year 20182017/2018
This startling VPLP design looks half modern offshore race boat, half crazed contraption from a Star Wars film. Learn more about the design here – plus expert sailors’ reactions to it
Beneteau Figaro 3 European Yacht of the Year 20182017/2018
Reliability will be key to the Figaro 3’s success – Beneteau’s first two Figaro models have proved almost invincible and have done more miles than any Vendée Globe yachts.
But all credit to Beneteau for not playing too safe this time. The modern hull shape, stiff build technique, deck layout and, of course, eye-catching foils are the result of contemporary thinking.
Beneteau Figaro 3 European Yacht of the Year 2018
This is an offshore one-design sportsboat with global appeal. Time will tell whether the foils are more gimmick than game-changer, but I was impressed with how well the boat is set-up for solo and short-handed racing.
Here is a yacht that genuinely has the potential to shock. The Neel 51 offers the space of a cruising cat of similar length (and for the same price), yet will easily outperform it under sail and, crucially, provide a rewarding helming experience.
The vast cockpit and adjoining saloon on the Neel 51, European Yacht of the Year 2018
With this model Neel may well show that trimarans are not only for tearing up ocean speed records but could be the way to go for multihull cruisers too.
40 great Christmas gift ideas for sailors – our pick of the very best kit
Stuck for Christmas gift ideas for the sailor who has it all? Yachting World is here to help with 40 great ideas
Are you wondering what to get the sailor in your life for Christmas. Here is our pick of 40 top products that are perfect Christmas gift ideas for sailors:
1. Garmin inReach
Christmas gift ideas: Garmin inReach
This is a clever portable device that provides an affordable way to keep friends and family in touch with your whereabouts when offshore. It allows you to send and receive SMS text messages to any mobile phone, email address or other inReach device, anywhere in the world, via the Iridium satellite constellation.
In Reach works like a Sat phone and provides live online tracking and email and can also be sinked with your phone and operated through an app.
Christmas gift ideas:Proshotcase waterproof phone housing
GoPros and similar action cameras are great devices, but they are both expensive (some more than £500) and need charging. Recent smartphones have a camera that is just as good as a high-end action camera. This neat case turns an iPhone into a fully waterproof action camera.
It’s waterproof to 50ft or 130ft, depending on model, and is compatible with all GoPro mounting accessories. Full control of the phone’s camera is achieved via the volume buttons.From US$99. proshotcase.com
5. Red Limited Edition SUP Paddleboard
Christmas gift ideas: Red inflatable paddleboard
Red’s 10ft 6in Ride model is the most popular and arguably most versatile all round inflatable stand-up paddleboard. Having used one on our boat this summer, I can vouch for it being a fantastic edition to the sail locker. It’s ideal for getting to or from the beach, exercising/paddling or surfing when at anchor and it provides a dive platform and extra floating space for the kids.
It comes with cargo tie-downs and three fins attached – and the pumps and backpacks supplied are also superb. 2018 marks Red’s 10th anniversary, hence this limited edition 10’6” Ride in a new colour scheme.
The simple ideas are the best. These compact LEDs stick to the underbelly of each bladder, which uses the large fluorescent surface like a diffuser to maximise the visibility of the flashing light. Once activated, the Lume-On provides up to two hours of intense flashing light. It adds very little extra weight, has a smooth profile so will not chafe the bladder, and is very simple to retrofit to most lifejackets. £15 per pair. spinlock.co.uk
7. Karun recycled Sunglasses
Christmas gift ideas: Karun VOR Sunglasses
This small company in Patagonia makes unbreakable sunglasses from recycled fishing nets collected from the coast of Chile. It worked with professional sailors to design sunglasses with technical [Zeiss polyamide] lenses designed to meet the demands of the Volvo Ocean Race.
The sailing edition glasses were developed with and are being worn and tested by the Vestas – 11th Hour Racing crew. The frames have stainless steel hinges and rubber temple tips.
€245 for the VOR Sailing Edition. www.eu.karunworld.com
Christmas gift ideas: Olaf scooter
Here is an ingenious compact solution to getting around in foreign marinas and towns. The Olaf Urban combines four products in one: a kick-scooter, a trolley, a backpack and a skateboard. The Urban backpack is designed to carry the folded scooter. The combined backpack and trolley weigh just 3.5kg and the trolley can take a 120kg payload.
The esa is the first smartwatch designed for sailing, fusing the sailor’s thirst for gadgetry with high-street technology. The esa watch uses wifi to display information from onboard instruments on your wrist. As well as the ability to show performance sailing data including speed and polar target data, the watch is still essentially a smartphone, offering full Android capabilities.
For those who don’t fancy drilling holes in their cockpit lockers, a waterproof Bluetooth speaker is the answer. The California Roll will play for up to 15 hours on a single charge of the battery and is fully waterproof, even when submerged. Integrated solar panels further extend the operation time and the 5000mAh battery can be used as a USB power bank to recharge other devices.
This Australian innovation blends rowing with outboard motors to produce a clever lightweight solution for your tender. It uses a 3:1 gear ratio contained in the collar by the handle, driving a high-pitch propeller to provide a smooth, silent and fuel-less means of manual propulsion in either direction. Time to ditch the outboard, oars or both?
We conducted a waterproofing test on mobile phones, looking at nanotechnology sprays in particular, but concluded that a waterproof case remains the most secure way of protecting a mobile device. With more people using tablets for navigation, a case with a built-in GPS, like this SLXtreme Navigator could be the ideal solution.
The SnowLizard range include a built-in solar panel and back-up battery. US $349.99 or phone cases from $49.99 snowlizard.com
13. Lifedge Ultimate Cable
Christmas gift ideas: Lifeedge Ultimate cable
If you’re going to get a waterproof case for your mobile device, you may want one of these charging cables too. The extra long (2m/6.5ft) and durable Ultimate cable is corrosion and tangle proof, and allows for waterproof phone charging when used with a compatible case.
Raymarine’s most affordable thermal camera to date, the Ocean Scout TK can extend vision afloat, day or night, by creating images from heat. It can spot objects up to 119m away, including boats, buoys, landmarks or wildlife. But its ability to potentially thermally identify a MOB could quickly make it high on sailors’ wishlists. Price £412.50. raymarine.com
15. Sealskinz waterproof hat
Keeping your head warm and dry is vital to enjoying winter sailing. This waterproof hi-vis Sealskinz Bobble hat looks like the ideal way of achieving that, while making sure you can be spotted easily. It is water and stain repellent, with a Teflon coated acrylic outer fabric and micro fleece inner lining. £20. sealskinz.com
It can alert any AIS-equipped vessels in the vicinity to the precise location of a casualty in the water, and it will fit on any inflatable lifejacket’s oral tube. It also includes DSC alerting so can both pinpoint a MOB location via AIS, plus trigger the yacht’s own VHF alarm.
Most multitools are at best a compromise, which means that while they’re useful for quick jobs that would be a faff if you had dig around in a tool box, they are not good for serious work.
On any yacht the most challenging task you might be engaged in without warning is to cut a line. SOG’s Reactor RC1001-CP has a proper blade, which maximises the chances of cutting a problematic loaded line before a tense situation spins out of control.
This compact, lightweight double-ended torch shines a powerful white beam from one end and a red light from the other. Both can be operated simultaneously for a variety of uses from onboard, to the tender ride or cycle home.
Accessories include a headband that allows either colour to shine forwards, a reflective neck lanyard, plus stanchion, helmet and magnetic mounts.
Those who need to swipe screens in colder climes can now keep their digits warm too with Mujjo’s latest fleece-lined touchscreen gloves. These have black leather cuffs and anti-slip palms with silicon grip dots. Price from €29.95. mujjo.com
20. Splash Drone
Christmas gift ideas: Splash Drone
This is the first fully waterproof quad copter – and it floats. The drone is not only designed to carry a GoPro, but has a payload release feature for carrying and releasing other items, including safety gear.
Race tactics involve decisions based on the wind direction and trends, gleaned from the yacht’s compass. This Danish TackingMaster helps make wind shifts quick and easy to gauge using a watch-style wrist mount.
Once the wind direction and course to the mark have been set, you can track any shifts by using its inner course dial. So you can easily see how a shift may affect the next tack or leg and keep track of the average wind trend. Price €79. tackingmaster.com
Christmas gift ideas: Restube safety device
Anyone who partakes in extreme watersports will know there are times when wearing a lifejacket is simply not practical afloat. And others may simply want the comfort of a personal flotation device without the bulk, perhaps when taking a swim away from an anchored yacht.
The Restube is a personal lifebuoy developed by a kitesurfer that stows into a small bum-bag like pouch. It uses a vertical or horizontal belt attachment, and a sports model is available with a harness mount.
If I were to recommend one piece of repair kit to carry aboard it would probably be this new emergency epoxy adhesive. The fast curing epoxy can be used on sails plus most materials in virtually all conditions – including underwater – so it can even help patch a hole below the waterline. Watch the video here
A Satsleeve turns your mobile phone into a satphone. It wraps around the phone, utilising the mobile’s internal electronics and encodes and boosts the signal for connection to the Thuraya satellite network. The SatSleeve+ has a universal adapter, so the user can switch between most smartphone models from 58 to 85mm in width. £370 ex VAT or £5 per day to rent from www.globaltelesat.co.uk
25. Fizzics portable beer tap
Christmas gift ideas: Fizzics beer tap
Sailors are discerning types with quality tastes. So why not ship a portable beer tap for draught-tasting beer with the perfect head? The founders of Fizzics have really delved into the science (or ‘fizzics’) of beer drinking, and created a device that they say will deliver the perfect pour, creating an ‘ultra dense, long-lasting foam head’ from any standard size beer can or bottle – and all beer types from lager and ale to stout.
It’s strictly for those who take their drinking seriously – I’ve asked Santa for one.
We did a test of folding bikes and portable transport in 2017. If you can afford it, this GoCycle is a clear winner. This beautifully engineered electric-assist bicycle has 20in wheels, balloon tyres, and a well-cushioned saddle, which gives a smooth fast and comfortable ride. It is proper, enjoyable bike to cycle manually and the rider can select from zero to 100 per cent motor assistance on demand.
The GoCycle is a premium product that needs space to store and time to assemble. But, it is a game-changer, giving real freedom to enjoy time away from the boat. £3,500 gocycle.com
27. TaskOne G3 case
Christmas gift ideas: TaskOne phone case
For those who don’t already rely on their mobile phones enough, the TaskOne G3 case turns a smartphone into a Leatherman. It includes 22 tools and a mount for attaching saw blades. So you can now use your phone to cut, saw, grip, and screw things – then open a beer after your hard work. £79.99. thetasklab.com
28. Garmin Virb X and XE
Christmas gift ideas: Garmin Virb X
If your choice of action camera is more defined by durability, audio and picture quality, consider Garmin’s Virb cameras. Garmin continues to upgrade its excellent rugged and waterproof (to 50m) Virb cams.
The main improvements are with picture resolution and an increased variety of mounting options. The dedicated photo button to take stills at any time, even while the camera is recording, is also a neat addition.
Christmas gift ideas: Leatherman wearable multitool
This very cool wearable multitool completely reinvents the concept – it’s worn on the wrist like a watch. As standard 29 tools are provided, including flat, Phillips and Pozi-Driv screwdrivers, hex drives, box wrenches and Torx drives. There’s also a cutting hook, sim card pick, carbide glass breaker and bottle opener. As there is no conventional knife you can fly without putting it in hold luggage.
Keeping keys, passports, wallets and electronic gadgets safe when travelling can all too often be a challenge. The Flexsafe is a lockable bag made of slash-proof materials that cannot be cut open with a knife that incorporates a piercing 110db motion sensing alarm. When on shore simply attach the bag to a convenient tree, your folding bike, the dinghy or any other suitable structure.
Price US$59.95. www.theaquavault.com
31. Digital Yacht Aquawear
Digital Yacht Aquawear
This blackbox server will wirelessly stream information from onboard instruments to mobiles, tablets and laptops. The splash-proof wrist case included helps promote wearable navigation – the viewing of instrument, charting and AIS data on deck via apps on your smartphone. Aquawear aslo creates a wifi hotspot for the whole crew. £264. digitalyacht.co.uk
32. Spinlock Essentials chest pack
Christmas gift ideas: Spinlock Chest Pack
Spinlock’s Essential Packs are snug fitting solutions for keeping accessories like mobile phone, VHF, personal EPIRB to hand on the water.
They are available as belt, side or chest packs that attach with Velcro tie-downs, and neatly compliment Spinlock’s Deckvest 5D lifejacket. £14.95. spinlock.co.uk
33. Personalised champagne
Christmas gift ideas:Champagne by you
Here’s your chance to create your own bespoke bubbles. Buying a case of Champagne By You involves a tasting session to decide on the exact champagne style, all imported from family growers in the champagne region. Clients then get to design a unique handmade aluminium label using anything from a corporate logo to a photograph.
Sampling, design and delivery of a case of 24 bottles costs from £2,257. champagnebyyou.com
34. Vaavud Wind Meter
Christmas gift ideas: Vavuud windmeter
Vaavud is essentially a set of whirling cups that turn your smartphone into an anemometer. Live wind data through crowd sourcing – clever and particularly useful for those of us that dither on the shoreline wondering which sail/boat/kite/board to take, or whether to mow the lawn.
A new compact Sleipnir model is now available that uses an electronic sensor and can read wind direction too. Video here From £37. vaavud.com
Christmas gift ideas: Sugru
Sugru is a new material that feels like play dough but acts like superglue and sticks to most objects and surfaces. It’s very user-friendly, highly malleable and waterproof and comes in 10 bright colours. It’s ideal for both fixing things and giving items a new lease of life as it sets like silicone rubber (flexible and insulated) – it’s also surprisingly fun to apply.
Bring out your inner kid… Must watch WTF is Sugru video here From £6.99. sugru.com
36. Yacht Cufflinks
Christmas gift ideas: cufflinks
For that time when you need to collect the silverware in your blazer at the yacht club, you need to look the part…
These silver cufflinks come in a velvet lined gift box.
Wichard has produced knives in Thiers, the French home of knife making, since 1919. Its latest range includes Offshore and more economic Aquaterra models.
The Offshore knife has a serrated blade that can cut through Dyneema, and is available with a combined shackle key/marlinspike. The Aquaterra uses a conventional or serrated blade and has the accessory all sailors really need: a corkscrew.
Price from €17. wichard.com
38. Tiwal 3.2 inflatable dinghy
Christmas gift ideas: TIWAL inflatable dinghy
This French inflatable sailing dinghy stows into two compact bags and can be launched, assembled and sailed anywhere in 20 minutes. It looks like safe, enjoyable and family friendly fun, ideal for getting kids into dinghy sailing. It uses the same high-strength PVC material as stand-up paddleboards, inflated via a high-pressure pump. An alloy structure gives it a backbone and allows the helm or crew to sit out, and a freestanding carbon mast splits into four.
Keep in the locker or trailer sail – without the need for a trailer. Video here
The 2018 models have been updated. They are now more streamlined, practical and comfortable. Hiking rack pads have been added to the accessories.
As well as the usual great mix of pictures – which this year includes action from the Volvo Ocean Race, Cowes Week, Quarter Tonners as well as cruising the Swedish archipelago – this special 30th edition includes is a 30-year celebration spread featuring Rick’s choice of one image from each of his past calendars.