I'm still sorta new to this CW thing (the magazine) but have been wondering, what exactly are the criteria that potential BOTY boats are judged on ?
I've read the reviews, the commentary and the opinions but I am still wondering, what is it exactly that is being measured ? I'm sure that CW tries to get a diverse group of sailors (or at least sailing journalists....aren't we all one ?) together to help decide on which of the new years crop wins the coveted title, but what do they vote on ?
Is it ergonomics, fit'n finnish, the motoring or sailing performance, the price point, the swag before/after the ride ? Seems to me that in the list of 200+ boats mentioned here there's a a pretty varied group of boats reviewed. There's also quite a few repeat vendors as well. Is this a question of tossing your name in the hat hoping for a win occasionally ?
The nomination of ones boat, let alone winning one of the categories, is a great marketing coup for any yard. A nomination or win earns the bragging rights and the right to splash the inverted blue logo on web pages. But what is the award based on ?
Might be nice to know a bit more about the people who are doing the reviews. What do they own & sail on themselves. Are they representative of us (the readers & dreamers) or are they representative of the industry insiders ? Are they looking at the boats through the lens of years of sailing experience or from the perspective of boat-show veterans ?
Get me a sailor who lives on his or her boat and evaluates the vessels on clearly defined (and communicated) live-ability criteria. Get me a racer who looks for the performance potential of a vessel and back it up with comparative numbers. Get me a person who's living on a budget and looks for value. Put those three on a boat for half a day and lets see what comes of it !
Last edited by SeanRW; 10-23-2009 at 09:45 AM.
You can learn a lot about the BOTY program by reading the January issue of CW, or go to the online accounts of each year's program and the winners.
In essence, CW hires four outside experts to visit new boats at the Annapolis Boat Show. Over the years, that has become THE show for builders to introduce new models to North America. The four judges vary from year to year, but all are seasoned cruisers with extensive knowledge of seamanship, construction, systems and the like.
Boats are judged according to their stated design brief. Some of the criteria we look at are safety, deck layout, accomodations, systems, construction, price, and of course performance under sail and power.
How do we assess all these factors? Well during the boat show, each boat is closed down for approximately an hour and a half while the judges inspect the vessel. Often, the builder is present to answer any questions. Following the show, we sail each boat, spending another hour and a half or so on board. We put raise the sails sails, assessing performance on multiple headings, try motoring, anchoring, etc. In total, we expend 12-14 man-hours testing each boat.
Based on the two visits, the judges then decide which boat in each category best measures up to its design brief. In addition, they select overall domestic and imported winners.
The lengthy list of boats you refer to in your post is actually an alphabetical listing of all of our boat reviews. In a given year, we sail many more boats than are included in the Boat of the Year program.
How do I know this? I'm CW's editor and was BOTY director for several seasons.
Last edited by Mark Pillsbury; 10-28-2009 at 01:05 PM. Reason: additional information
However, one other question for you, the categories seem to vary somewhat year over year. Some of the categories do carry over but a few seem to have dropped (e.g Best Value). I would think that many of the readers would like a subjective review from the value perspective, especially nowadays. While we all know how much we can afford, for those of us relatively new to sailing or boat ownership, some insights into the value "bang for the buck" would be nice as a benchmark when evaluating boats.
Great magazine feature though and if you ever need an eager newbie to fill out the judging roster for next year's BOTY just let me know. I'll do it for free !!
Last edited by SeanRW; 11-14-2009 at 12:36 AM.