Beneteau brings foil-as­sisted off­shore sail­ing to the short-handed masses with this first pro­duc­tion race­boat of its kind. Plus, re­views of five out­stand­ing new boats for 2019.

Sailing World - - Contents - BY DAVE REED, PHO­TOS BY WAL­TER COOPER

Now is an ex­cit­ing time to be a sailor. Cranky pes­simists will be­moan dy­ing one-de­sign classes and com­plain that new boats to­day are no good for av­er­age sailors — too com­plex, too ex­pen­sive and too ex­otic. But ev­ery de­sign has a shelf life, and while the good ones en­dure well past their ex­pi­ra­tion date, it’s new sail­ing ex­pe­ri­ences that ex­cite new gen­er­a­tions of sailors. Imag­ine if Ho­bie Al­ter, or Bruce Kirby, or Rod John­stone had sat on their hands. Where would sail­ing be? In­no­va­tion, progress, de­vel­op­ment — call it what you will. We call it Boat of the Year, and with the Fi­garo Beneteau 3, IC37 by Melges, TF10 foiler, RS21, RS Cat 14 and Beneteau First 14, per­for­mance sailors have at their dis­posal six in­cred­i­ble new boats. There isn’t a bad one in the bunch, I can as­sure you that, but our in­de­pen­dent judges are tasked with se­lect­ing only one Boat of the Year. The pa­ram­e­ters are straight­for­ward: Which new boat best meets its de­sign cri­te­ria, is built to a high stan­dard and, most im­por­tantly, is ex­cep­tional to sail. Beneteau’s clever foiler for short-handed sailors stood above the rest.

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