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Sim­ply put, Boat­ing’s Boat of the Year is the boat that stands out in its cat­e­gory more than any other boat stands out in any other cat­e­gory.

IIn the same way that the MLB MVP se­lec­tion process can­not di­rectly com­pare pitch­ers and catch­ers and that the MPAA can­not com­pare best pic­ture can­di­dates in com­edy to those in drama, Boat­ing can­not di­rectly com­pare wa­ter­sports boats to off­shore fish­ing boats, or cruis­ing boats to per­for­mance boats. The very at­tributes that make a boat great in one cat­e­gory make it less de­sir­able in other cat­e­gories. There­fore, we look at the boats that ex­cel in their cat­e­gory. Then it’s a mat­ter of de­cid­ing which ones ex­celled in their re­spec­tive cat­e­gory more than an­other can­di­date ex­celled in its re­spec­tive cat­e­gory.

Here are the Boat­ing 2018 Boat of the Year fi­nal­ists. Look for the Boat of the Year to be an­nounced next month.


Fish­ing cata­ma­rans are en­joy­ing a resur­gence, and this one is lead­ing the pack for a num­ber of rea­sons. One of these is the asym­met­ri­cal de­sign of its hulls, which de­liv­ers re­mark­able ef­fi­ciency, a su­per­smooth ride, and a com­fort­ing in­board lean dur­ing turns (many cats lean out­board). Fin­ish and out­fit­ting proved as good as it gets, with the In­vin­ci­ble 40 de­liv­er­ing a re­fined boat­ing ex­pe­ri­ence, whether dis­cussing the er­gonomic helm lay­out, the de­tails of rocket-launcher an­gles, seat­ing com­fort, or the way a hatch opens, closes and latches.


The nom­i­na­tion could be jus­ti­fied by the fact that this is the only 35-foot cruiser with the op­tion for three pri­vate state­rooms (count­ing the con­vert­ible dinette top­side, it will sleep eight). But re­ally, it’s the asym­met­ri­cal side decks that sealed the deal. By off­set­ting the deck­house to port, the star­board side deck is twice as wide, pro­vid­ing su­per-se­cure ac­cess from bow to stern. This fea­ture also al­lowed for

an­other wow: a door at the helm lead­ing to the side deck. Dock­ing solo is so much eas­ier when the skip­per has im­me­di­ate ac­cess to the side, but few small boats of­fer this con­ve­nience.


The Mal­ibu M235 is king of the hill in the ul­tra-com­pet­i­tive world of high-end wake­boats. We know, be­cause we team up with the pros at Wake­board­ing (the big­gest, most con­nected me­dia out­let in wa­ter­sports) to cover tow boats. To create this beast, Mal­ibu left no stone un­turned, which means there are bells and whis­tles ga­lore. Even bet­ter, the M235 de­liv­ers some of the best wake­board wakes and wakesurf waves in the mar­ket, pe­riod. Thanks to Mal­ibu’s ex­clu­sive hull de­sign and in­no­va­tive wake-shap­ing tech­nolo­gies, these wakes are all eas­ily cus­tom­iz­a­ble. Add ev­ery­thing to­gether and it’s easy to see why the M235 leads the wa­ter­sports pack.


High-per­form­ing, lux­ury cen­ter-con­sole day­boats are where much of the recre­ational boat­ing com­mu­nity’s de­sire and the in­dus­try’s re­sources are be­ing di­rected. Tiara Sport leads the pack with its 38 LS thanks to in­no­va­tions like ro­tat­ing cock­pit seat­ing, which are not in­tended to solely amaze — though, these do amaze — but to fur­ther the mis­sion of pro­vid­ing a boat as use­ful at sea as at the dock or cove. Cou­pled to Tiara Sport’s con­struc­tion val­ues, which ex­ceed that of all stan­dards bod­ies, it’s easy to see why this boat is a Boat of the Year can­di­date.


A jet boat that one can safely nav­i­gate out­side the in­let but doesn’t cost two col­lege ed­u­ca­tions were the ini­tial el­e­ments that helped this boat make the short list. Oth­ers in­clude a list of stan­dard fea­tures that help this boat ful­fill myr­iad boat­ing tasks: The FSH Sport 21 can fish, party or par­take in wa­ter­sports with equal ease. Check out its wide-open tran­som de­sign for a unique idea that is sure to be copied.

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