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Best performance yachts: Our pick of the top options

  • Toby Hodges
  • March 10, 2023

Toby Hodges takes a look at all the nominees and the winner of the performance yachts 2022 category in the European Yacht of the Year Awards

The European Yacht of the Year awards is the most thorough and impartial awards programme – the winners here are widely considered the best yachts of the year . As such the boats nominated by the jury in the performance yachts category can be considered the best of the best.

This year’s shortlist had the full range. From the more conventional definitive style of performance cruiser to the contemporary French interpretation of a lightweight planing cruiser – and even a new brand of sports  catamarans  for the thrill seekers.

Three Italian pure performance yachts and two very different yachts built in Slovenia made for a varied and exciting Performance Yachts category.

Best performance yachts

Winner best performance yachts 2023 – beneteau first 36.

Where once we could assume a cruiser-racer was a fairly standard format design, over the last decade it’s been much more the sexy, perormance yachts the Italian yards specialise in. But as French yards like Pogo and JPK have proven, there’s growing enthusiasm for lightweight planing yachts – and the First 36 is the first real production yacht in that spirit.

Here’s a yacht that puts the focus firmly back into sailing. The First 36 has been kept inviting and approachable – unlike many yachts that can plane, the look is modest, not aggressive. It’s uncomplicated, unfussy and the result is a pleasure for all to sail. It’s more about what you can’t see, the design and engineering, which should ensure longterm demand.

The small, fiddly heads compartment and lack of tiller options are perhaps the only real detraction from an otherwise brilliant collaboration by Seascape and Beneteau, from concept to build quality.

It was their goal to keep this area of the market relevant and prove a mainstream brand can do it, rather than only niche specialist yards. To create a mass produced yacht at this weight and to this foam-cored quality and one that can bring so much fun is a feather in the cap of the First brand.

Grand Soleil 40

The Grand Soleil 40 is an archetypal Med cruiser-racer, and an absolute delight to sail – a feature I’ve learned that Matteo Polli designs tend to share (he also drew the Ecoracer). We sailed the race set up with ORC keel (an IRC version is available too) and six winches, an extended bowsprit and a taller mast. It was one of my most memorable trials of the season in 10-12 knots, with the deep and forward positioned rudder giving plenty of control and lovely direct steering.

The three cabin interior can have one or two heads and different galley options, the cabins are a good size with modest stowage, and it’s all tastefully styled by masters Nauta.

Italia yachts 12.98

At 5ft longer and from the board of Cossutti (who Polli once worked under), the Italia Yachts 12.98 is another cruiser-racer in the same grain as the GS40, but with a markedly different looking white interior. We sailed the ‘Bellissima’ cruising version, which 80% of customers have opted for.

Italia’s yard is now in Fano and its one-shot infused vinylester build looks impressive. However, the deck lacks some refinement and practical stowage, while the three cabin interior isn’t voluminous by today’s standards.

This is a slippery yacht that has a lovely, light feel on the single rudder – the interior styling will be the deal breaker for most.

Solaris Yachts on the other hand has perfected its recipe, tripling its yard size to cater to demand for its sexy Acebal-designed performance yachts.

The Solaris 50 we tested in 2015 and which won this award was arguably the turning point that propelled the brand’s popularity. The owner of the new 50 we tested previously had the original 50 and a 58 and confirms this replacement has nearly the same space as the 58, yet is faster, more powerful and stable than its predecessor (we easily matched 7-8 knot winds under gennaker).

It heels onto its chine and accelerates well, while twin rudders provide ample control. The design prioritises helming experience but the yard needs to come up with a better helm seat option. The interior is well executed, especially the spacious forward owner’s cabin.

The Elan E6 is a big 47-footer, high and beamy and one that leans more towards spirited cruising with generous accommodation over racing. That said, extensive options allow you to tailor it either way, including foam cored furniture and a taller carbon mast for those looking for extra oomph.

It’s a fine collaboration between Humphreys Yacht Design, Gurit, Pininfarina and Elan, while an impressive standard spec includes a carbon sprit and six winches.

The E6 is fun to sail at various angles and gives a nice, sporty feel on the helm – it likes to heel but has plenty of grip and tracks well.

The cockpit is deep and comfortable, with good optional protection and there’s ample deck stowage. A really smart three (or four) cabin interior shows a high standard of construction, finish and styling. It is bulky and you pay for the size in weight, but it looks good and Elan knows how to build a great boat for the price.

Best performance yachts 2022

Winner best performance yachts 2022 – jpk 39fc.

Along with fellow Brittany yard Pogo, JPK has redefined the modern performance cruiser: stiff, stable and efficient to the max. For the keen sailor who wants to get the utmost enjoyment out of hands-on cruising, the JPK 39 is a superb design (and to my eye, an appealing one too), while the yard has done a nice job with the vacuum-infused construction and interior fit-out. The two-cabin version we sailed had plenty of stowage too.

It looks different, behaves beautifully and stands up to its canvas, is designed to sail efficiently with a loaded displacement, and has a deck set-up to encourage you to trim it to your heart’s content. My only slight negative is the unnerving mess the cockpit can become as there are so many control lines.

This lightweight blast will best suit experienced sailors and those comfortable with short-handed sailing. And it guarantees smiles.

racer cruiser sailboats

Photo: Andreas Lindlahr/European Yacht of the Year

One such sports catamaran is the IC36, an exciting first offering from a new Czech brand that’s packed with fresh thinking. The first turbo version of this cruising catamaran (Independence) is built using a carbon fibre crossbeam, bowsprit, boards and rudders, epoxy hulls, plus a custom Pauger rotating mast, which all serve to keep weight below three tonnes.

It provided some spirited sailing, particularly when fetching at a measured pace of 10-13.5 knots with the code 0. The direct feel of tiller steering while seated in the low rotating bucket seats was a highlight.

The finish quality in the hulls is first class and there is somehow space for up to eight berths. The coachroof features a retractable bimini and removable vinyl side panels and solar panels, while the cockpit table, which includes an exterior galley, is also removable.

In fact the IC36 can be dismantled to 2.55m beam to make it legally trailable. It has so many options and ideas – too many perhaps – all reflected in the price.

Monohull enthusiasts will share our congratulations to J-Boats for its elegant new flagship. The J/45 won the hearts of the jury and made for a long drawn out decision against the JPK. In the end the two yachts will appeal to different sailors and tastes.

J has stayed true to its roots, yet still managed to bring a current, classy new offering. The unmistakable Alan Johnstone lines have been paired with a contemporary, warm European interior designed by Isabelle Racopeau, while much focus has been paid to the joinerwork and the invisible quality. We saw the two cabin version, which has an excellent technical cabin in place of the second aft cabin.

The J/45 is designed to still perform when loaded with cruising gear. True to J’s reputation, it was a witch upwind and could outpoint anything else during our trials. The compromise is that it won’t plane easily like a JPK or Pogo.

racer cruiser sailboats

The Solaris 40 is another looker from Soto Acebal and the blue steel metallic hull colour of the test boat made the powerful hull shape really stand out.

We liked the recessed traveller, direct steering to the twin rudders, neat folding helm seats, clutches integrated into the coamings and the easy access to the side decks. However, the jury found the cockpit with its short benches and deck design a little too flat and minimalist.

The interior is smart and contemporary, again offered with two or three cabins with two heads it makes good use of the space.

racer cruiser sailboats

One of the yachts I was looking forward to sailing most was the Pogo 44, and the only one shortlisted that I didn’t manage to! A collision with the photographer’s RIB shortly before my scheduled trial put it out of action.

However, my colleague Rupert Holmes did a full Pogo 44 test and report on it for Yachting World and describes the 44 as designed to thrill and unlike any other pure cruising yacht of its size. The stability from the beamy hull and deep lifting keel combines brilliantly with the ability to sail fast easily and in comfort. However some jury members didn’t like having to rely on an autopilot to use winches.

The interior is like a loft apartment, with so much natural light – it’s minimalist yet comfortable, spacious and practical for cruising.

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  • Sailboat Reviews

The Modern Classic Racer-Cruiser

40-year-old islander 36 proves to be a comfortable and fast ride..

racer cruiser sailboats

The Islander 36 was built from 1971 to 1985, making it one of the longest-lived 36-footers ever on the U.S. market. More than 750 of the Alan Gurney-designed racer-cruiser sloops were built, with production spanning almost the entire history of Islander Yachts.

Islander 36

When it was first introduced, the Islander 36 seemed conservatively modern in appearance, with a flattish but concave sheerline, a fin keel, and a skeg-mounted rudder. The boat was designed as a racer-cruiser under the then-new International Offshore Rule (IOR) , but you would be hard-pressed to say that the same rule could create both the I36 and a modern IOR design. The Islander 36 was launched during the infancy of the IOR, before boat designers took advantage of the rules loopholes. As a result, its hull shape is undistorted and bears more resemblance to a modern fast cruiser than to a contemporary IOR racer.

While custom boats were the biggest force in racing in 1971, it was still possible to be competitive in local regattas with a production racer-cruiser. That all changed very quickly. Boats like the Islander 36-which were out-designed under the IOR but were still reasonably fast and easy to sail-served as the foundation for the movement that became the Model A of handicap racing: the Performance Handicap Racing Fleet (PHRF). And still today, I36s often take podium positions in PHRF races, particularly where I36 fleets are most popular, particularly in the San Francisco Bay area.

Even by todays standards, the hull proportions of the Islander 36 are nearly ideal for a modern racer-cruiser. The beam is moderate and carried well aft, offering fairly good hull volume aft, so that the boat does not squat excessively when cockpit lockers are loaded with cruising gear. Despite the age of the design, the I36 is not dated in appearance. You could even say that the boat is a modern classic.

The Islander 36 is predominantly a West Coast boat, but youll find them throughout the U.S. Most of the owners responding to our survey use the boat for daysailing, club racing, and coastal cruising.

Sailing Performance

Despite being designed as a racer-cruiser with an IOR Mk I rating of 27.9, the Islander 36 was not a particularly fast or successful IOR boat. However, under the PHRF rating system, a well-sailed Islander 36 is a reasonably competitive boat; many are still active in club racing, with the largest contingent in California, where conditions are a good match for the I36.

The Islander 36s rig is a simple, untapered aluminum spar stepped through the deck. It has two sets of spreaders and double lower shrouds. The shrouds are set well inboard, and genoa tracks are set just outboard of the cabin trunk to take advantage of the tight sheeting angles.

The Islander 36 is well-balanced under sail, although like many boats of its era with relatively small mainsails, you need a variety of headsails to keep the boat moving her best in all conditions. While this isn’t a problem on a crewed racing boat, todays fast cruisers tend to have slightly larger mainsails so that less-frequent headsail changes are required. The original I36 sailplan shows genoa overlaps as large as 180 percent; genoas that large are generally a nuisance to handle and tack.

Both deep and shoal draft keels were available on the Islander 36. Most boats have the deep keel, and this version of the boat is generally about six seconds per mile faster. The shoal-draft boat has an additional 150 pounds of ballast to compensate for the keels higher center of gravity.

The mainsheet traveler is positioned at the forward end of the companionway hatch. Late-model boats have a small molded breakwater aft of the traveler so that a companionway dodger can be installed. On boats without the breakwater, installing a dodger is trickier. Since the mainsheet is attached almost exactly to the middle of the boom, sheet loads are fairly high, and youll need a winch to trim the main in heavier air.

Original steering, mostly Edson brand, was the typical chain and sprocket with the steering cable led through sheaves to a quadrant clamped to the rudder post. The boat was designed with a tiller, but most owners have retrofitted wheel steering over the years. Since there are very few owner complaints about excessive weather helm, changing to wheel steering was more a matter of personal choice than necessity.

You will find slight differences in deck layouts, depending on whether the boat has been used predominantly for racing or cruising. On racing boats, the primary headsail-sheet winches are usually located on the forward portion of the cockpit coamings, with the secondaries aft. That position is often reversed on cruising boats. Likewise, racing boats may have most halyard and lift winches mounted at the base of the mast; cruisers use fewer winches, mounted on the mast itself. For shorthanded family cruising and daysailing-the type of sailing for which the boat is best suited-we would suggest larger-than-standard multi-speed self-tailing headsail sheet winches installed on the coaming, near the helmsman.

The I36s cockpit is very deep, which can make it challenging for some to see over the cabin when seated. Other cockpit features make it less than ideal for offshore work: cockpit drains are fairly small and there is no bridgedeck. To comply with the International Sailing Federations (ISAF) Offshore Special Regulations for offshore racing, the companionway dropboards would have to be fixed in place up to the level of the aft cockpit coaming, which would make it extremely difficult to get below.

Like most boats with a long production history, a variety of engines were used in the Islander 36-and most have been replaced over the years-making generalizations about performance under power difficult.

The I36 was first powered with an Atomic Four gasoline engine; that was followed by the undersized Palmer P-60 gas engine, the optional Perkins 4-108 diesel, and then the optional Westerbeke L-25 four-cylinder diesel. Islander even used a Volkswagen diesel engine, the Pathfinder 42 horsepower, in the 36 at one point, and by the end of the boats production run, a 30-horsepower Yanmar diesel was used. Most of these original auxillaries have since been replaced.

The most common replacement engines youll find in contemporary Islander 36s are Yanmars, usually in the 30- to 37-horsepower range. They are lighter, and with about a 2:1 reduction and a 13-inch three-blade, fixed prop, the I36 can approach 7 knots in flat water.

Given this wide variety of engines-some left-handed, some right-handed-and the mix of fixed, folding, and feathering props, Islanders will often pull from one side to another when backing up. With all but the smallest two-blade, folding props, skippers will need good seamanship skills for well-behaved backing into slips and docks. The knack is to get the boat moving astern with modest power, idle to keep speed under 2 knots, then use the large rudder and skeg to ease into a berth.

 fleet of Islander 36s

The Islander 36s interior finish is one of its best selling points. However, there are several interior-design shortcomings that are typical of boats of the early 1970s. Two of the biggest changes in boat interiors since then have been in navigation stations and galleys. The marine electronics boom had not begun in 1971. Loran C was new, and very expensive. Only hot race boats had wind instrumentation. Satnav was a far-off dream for recreational sailors, as were such things as personal computers and weather facsimile machines. For this reason, nav stations on cruising 36-footers in the early 1970s were rudimentary, when they existed at all.

Islander 36

The nav station of the Islander 36 is no exception. It is tucked away under the sidedeck, and the cabin sole in front of it slopes awkwardly upward. There are no drawers beneath the chart table, no good place for chart stowage. Theres no place to sit, and if you use the shelf above the table for electronics, theres no space for books. On late model I36s, there are drawers just forward of the chart table behind the port settee, but by modern standards, the boats nav station is nothing to brag about.

The shortfalls have given owners reason to use their sailorly ingenuity and a little creativity to come up with ways to add GPS, chartplotter, AIS, SSB, and radar instruments to the cozy nav station area. Youll find as many different solutions as there are I36s on the used boat market, and the I36 Owners Association website (www.islander36.org) offers some good examples.

The original I36 galley also is a relic from the days when a lot of people considered cruising in a sailboat just one step above camping out in a tent. The sloping cabin sole in the galley makes it difficult to work at the sink or reach the bottom of the icebox. There is relatively little counter space or storage space. There is no provision for galley ventilation except the main companionway, and without a dodger, the companionway cannot be left open in the rain because of the forward-sloping aft bulkhead.

A large number of Islanders were built with alcohol stoves, many of which have been replaced with propane or natural gas. Microwaves also have been added to current I36 galleys. Some I36s were produced with refrigeration systems, and many others have been added along the way. Pressure water systems are also common in todays Islander 36s, though not universal.

Aft of the nav station on the port side, there is a quarterberth tucked completely beneath the cockpit. The lack of ventilation in the quarterberth is a problem in warm climates, and its location is not one for the claustrophobic.

The main saloon itself is quite comfortable. The settees on either side are long enough to be comfortable berths. The starboard settee folds out into a double berth, but it is not the most convenient to set up or use. Above and behind each settee, there is a fair amount of storage space. Late model boats have lockers and drawers outboard of the port settee, while earlier boats have only a shelf. It would be fairly easy to build storage lockers in this area on an older boat, and many owners have.

Most boats of this size have fixed cabin tables, but the Islander 36s folds up against the bulkhead at the forward end of the main cabin. It is just possible to squeeze by the table along the starboard side when it is in use.

Ventilation is a weak point in the Islander 36, as it is with a lot of boats. Late model I36s have a ventilation hatch overhead in the middle of the main cabin; theres no reason you couldnt add one to an older boat. A hatch in the cabin trunk over the forward cabin provides fair-weather ventilation, but theres no provision for air?ow in bad weather. You can add cowl vents in dorade boxes, but the installation is tricky due to the vinyl headliner. The original foam and vinyl headliners had zippers to access the backs of fittings, but they tend to corrode shut. Many owners have opted to replace the headliners.

The head compartment is to port at the forward end of the main cabin, with lockers opposite on the starboard side. Headroom of over 6 feet is carried all the way forward. Drawers under the V-berth and a narrow hanging locker to starboard offer reasonable storage. A door at the aft end of the forward cabin can be secured in the open position to provide privacy for the forward cabin.


Unlike a lot of boats with long production histories, there are relatively few differences between the first and last Islander 36s. This means that youll likely be able to find a well-kept boat at a pretty good price. Most have seen systems upgrades and creative interior makeovers that make this modern classic a competitor for newer used production boats. The I36 also boasts a very active and large owners association, an invaluable resource for those buying-or thinking about buying-an older used boat. Since so many Islander 36s were built, theres a well-established used boat market, and you should not have trouble reselling one in the future, particularly if youre West Coast based.

Because of the cockpit design and relatively light construction, this is not the type of boat that we would choose for extended offshore voyaging, but there have been several I36s that have successfully raced from California to Hawaii, and a number have made circumnavigations. In our opinion, the I36 is best suited for coastal cruising, club racing, or even daysailing and weekend getaways.

As with any older boat, a careful survey is mandatory. Pay particular attention to the chainplates, gelcoat condition, rig, and the mast step. We would also look hard at the engine installation, fuel system, and the hull structure near the mast. Try working in the galley and at the chart table to see if you can live with them.

All in all, the Islander 36 is a well-mannered, fast-sailing boat, at its best in a breeze. With proper, modern sail-handling equipment, it can easily be handled by a couple for shorthanded cruising. With good sails and a smooth bottom, it is also can be a competitive PHRF club racer.

Owners Comments

The boat is easy to sail single-handed, especially with an autopilot. It has great speed and points well into the wind. It offers plenty of space for a single person or a couple for full-time cruising. I upgraded the galleywitha three-burner stove and oven, and replaced the holding tanks. Im still working with the original Pathfinder 42-horsepower diesel engine. It has plenty of power, butit isn’t always easy to find parts or someone to work on it. – Len Diegel; Katana, 1980 Islander 36; Lake Grapevine, Texas

The I36 is a fun and fast boat in most wind conditions, and it does respectable in its class in local races. Improvements that would make the I36 even better would be the addition of well-placed cabin handholds to aid in moving about the cabin in bad weather, and a better-designed navigation station, which is too small and offers no place to sit. – Jack and Anneke Wolf; Trillium, 1976 I36; Muskegon, Mich.

We purchased our I36 in 2012, from the second owner who had maintained it in like new condition. This boat must represent the very best value in a coastal cruising boat for the San Francisco Bay area. Having been a racer for 40 years, my wife didnt appreciate sailing with me until we bought this boat and settled into pleasure sailing. Comfortable, stable, quick, and roomy all describe our experiences. It has put the pleasure into sailing for us. – Gene Novak; Fantasy, 1980 Islander 36, hull #581; San Francisco, Calif.

We have sailed the boat in 80-mile-per-hour winds with no problem. The Islander 36 is the perfect daysailer-coastal cruiser. My only criticism is with the galley, which is poorly designed and not very functional. – 1972 model, Texas

This is an excellent boat for cruising. It can be singlehanded with the help of self-tailing winches. Our aluminum holding tank failed. – l977 model, California

We bought the boat for its appearance, reputation, and size. Its a great boat for San Francisco Bay and the Pacific coast. Weve sailed it south to the Channel Islands and north to Canada. – l978 model, California

Very fast for a comfortable cruising boat. The boat seems to be a good compromise between being light enough to sail well and heavy enough to be safe and solid. Gelcoat has crazed in spots. – 1979 model, Michigan

The intermediate and lower shroud chainplate is pulling out of the bulkhead. – l980 model, California

The only real problem with the boat is lack of ventilation. It is an excellent blend of sailing performance for the cruising couple or club racer. I suggest looking for an older model since they are often exceptional buys and are essentially the same boat that was produced until 1984. – 1973 model, Florida

The cockpit sole is flush with the companionway sill, which is not a seaworthy setup for going offshore. The aft bulkhead is too slanted to leave the companionway dropboards out when its raining unless you have a dodger. – l980 model, Maryland

The Modern Classic Racer-Cruiser

  • Age Calls for Close Inspection

The Modern Classic Racer-Cruiser

  • I36 Owners Association


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X-Yacht’s X40: Best Performance Cruiser

  • By Herb McCormick
  • Updated: December 8, 2020

X4.0 Sailing in Miami FL

With this year’s aforementioned diminished nominee list, it was impossible to break down the fleet across the board to fit each boat into a neat, tidy category. One of the two notable exceptions was the Performance Cruiser class, with three strong entries: the Arcona 435, the Beneteau Oceanis 40.1 and the X-Yachts X4<sup>0</sup>. We’ll get to the Arcona and the Beneteau in the pages to come, but for 2021, the clear winner in this class of sweet-sailing racer/cruisers was the X4<sup>0</sup>. It clearly met the criteria for being the top performer in its stated design brief: a boat that will compete strongly—and well—on the racecourse, yet be comfortable and fun for coastal cruising.

With the X-Yachts, we’ve seen this figurative movie before. The Danish brand has taken home BOTY hardware four times in the past five years.

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  • Excess 11: Boat of the Year
  • X-Yacht’s X4 0 : Best Performance Cruiser
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Murphy, our resident boatbuilding whisperer—he’s worked closely with the American Boat and Yacht Council writing textbooks and creating curricula—was emphatic when it came to the quality of the X4<sup>0</sup>′s ­construction: “X-Yachts has built 5,000 boats since they went into business in 1979. So they have a good, long track record. They’re probably best known in performance circles, so when we board an X-Yacht, we expect the boat is going to sail pretty well, which this one certainly did. As far the build quality, this is one of the top two yachts in this year’s fleet (the other is the HH 50 cat, which we’ll get to). It’s an epoxy hull, which is the best resin you can use to build boats, in terms of both strength and resilience. It also has a galvanized-steel grid. In years past, there have been questions about the long-term integrity of that grid, but they’re unfounded. My feeling is that the massive steel structure is not encapsulated; it goes on top of the fiberglass structure, and it’s not an issue. I think this boat is straight-up wholesome. It’s a really, really lovely sailboat.”

Pillsbury found the efficient deck layout to his liking: “This boat was one of few we saw this year that actually had enough winches on it to sail it like a proper boat. We climbed on several others where a clutch was used to service several lines from a single winch. Sometimes it was hard to remember which clutch to open and which clutch to close, which took away a lot of the joy of sailing. Here you can just load up a winch and know that your line is going to be there, that you have quick access to it. I really liked that. It was also one of only a couple of boats that had a full-on traveler, which to my mind, when you carry a lot of sail, as this boat does, if you can’t really control and trim that mainsail, it’s a problem. And here’s another trend we saw for 2021: a below-deck furler for the headsail, which makes for a nice, clean deck layout.”

As far as the build quality, this x-yacht is one of the top two for this year.

Our X4<sup>0</sup> sea trials were also heavily influenced by the father/son owners who will be using the boat very differently, but who also made it quite clear that it will address and serve both of their sailing ambitions very well. Son Ryan is an avid inshore and offshore racer who has a Sydney-Hobart Race under his belt, who plans to campaign it hard; he’ll put the racing element into play. Doublehanded racing, especially in these socially distanced times, is becoming ever more popular, and the X4<sup>0</sup> should be ideal for those venues.

Ryan is a sailmaker, so there will of course be a full quiver of racing sails aboard. But the boat is also set up for his dad, Mike, and his wife to sail efficiently, with a self-tacking jib for cruising forays. (It also has a bow thruster and the electric furler for the jib, which added some weight forward and isn’t the ideal setup for racing; we’d guess Ryan and Mike had some interesting conversations about those features.)

But at the end of the day, the family wound up with a yacht that will be ideal for everyone in the household: a racer/cruiser that is every bit both. So, fair winds, Ryan and Mike. You’ve got the one boat perfect for the two of you.

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Experience the original performance cruiser: Dehler. No other type of sailing boat so elegantly bridges the gap between high-performance sports sailing, and stylish, highly aesthetic living comfort. The shipyard has demonstrated ongoing innovative craftsmanship ever since its founding back in 1963. Numerous awards, regatta sailing records set, and major wins are a testimony to the Dehler racing yacht pedigree. Each and every design feature on board a Dehler is a testament to the creativity of the yacht builders. Our cruiser boats are built by passionate sailors for passionate sailors with the very highest quality of craftsmanship and precision, which has always been the hallmark of the ‘Made in Germany’ seal of quality. Dehler offers high quality modern and fast cruiser boats that are intelligently designed for fast sailing and cruising pleasure. 

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This is the time to enjoy performance cruising even more. Take the FAST LANE to get your new Dehler 34, Dehler 38 SQ and Dehler 46 SQ sooner and with exceptionally affordable equipment. For the packages included we offer you a 100% discount from April to June 2024, a 75% discount in July & August 2024 and 50% in September 2024.*

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We invite all lived aboard, world cruisers, sail racers, and day sailors to a custom tailored boat show. Dehler dealers are looking forward to meeting you for an exclusive presentation on the Dehler model of your choice. Find out what hull plan and sail plan are perfect for you. Get ready for exciting details on and below the deck of our sailing boats. This private tour means no time constraints and no crowds. Schedule your exclusive consultation today and get ready for an exciting presentation on the sailboat of your dreams!

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Dehler   performance sailing philosophy

At dehler, our yachts sailing performance is one of its most important virtues..

Why? Because it continually thrills you and makes you want to feel the power of the hull cutting through waves with speed and precision. The thrill is what sailing is all about. This is why our yachts will always have a sports gene. We are constantly looking for ways to improve our performance on the water. Our sailing vessels offer custom packages that include innovations like the fixed prop Stealth Drive, carbon fiber masts, and high-performance sail plans for faster boat speeds. We are always looking for ways to optimize our boats to your unique sailing style, no matter if you are long-distance coastal cruising or sailing in high speed ocean races.

A yacht beaming with intelligence.

The interior furnishings leave nothing more to be desired. The design is a fusion of function and aesthetics, with craftsmanship that is flawless down to the smallest detail. Each type of sailboat built features many clever ideas that will amaze you. We feel obligated to satisfy these high standards at Dehler every day.

Dehler stands for the values of the “Made in Germany” global seal of quality.

Thoroughness above all is what counts for us. Precision in every detail shapes how we think and act, as well as who we choose to partner with. This includes the internationally renowned yacht designers at judel/vrolijk & co. You can see this in the timeless shapes, thoughtful deck layouts, and dynamically elegant lines of each Dehler.

Sailboat shows   Tour our fast cruising and racing yachts

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(*) Disclaimer: The maximum price advantage refers to the Dehler yacht described above until the end of June 2024. In other markets, discounts may vary depending on the applicable VAT. Not valid in conjunction with other discounts or benefits. No refund if individual components are not purchased. Errors excepted.

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Fastest Cruising Sailboats

Fastest Cruising Sailboats | Life of Sailing

Last Updated by

Jacob Collier

August 30, 2022

If you're looking to buy a sailboat, getting a cruising sailboat may have crossed your mind. So, what are the fastest cruising sailboats out there?

Like everything else in life, not all sailboats are created equal. Cruising sailboats have a lot to offer if you are looking for a reliable boat that allows you to take a long getaway and is easy to navigate.

Some of the fastest cruising sailboats include the Beneteau Oceanis 30.1, which can travel at 20 knots; the Grand Soleil 34, which touches 20 knots; and the Italia 9.98, which can reach up to 40 knots. Of course, there are many other high-speed cruising sailboats that you can choose from.

If you love to cruise but still want to reach your destination fast, then a fast cruising sailboat will be your best option. After asking many sailing experts and cruising sailboat owners, we finally have the skinny on the fastest cruising sailboats.

As avid watersports enthusiasts and sailboat owners, we can help guide you through the process of choosing between some of the fastest cruising sailboats in the world.

Table of contents

‍ Fastest Cruising Sailboats

The boat you buy should be influenced by your local waters or where you plan to travel. Because many portions of the coastline are exposed to the ocean, if our coastal cruising grounds were in New England, we’d want our boat to be able to manage offshore conditions Due to the logs and debris floating about in the Pacific Northwest, we’d want a sturdy rudderpost and a shielded prop; a tall rig would be a godsend in the light airs that are common during summer. It would be pointless to buy a boat without a centerboard if I lived near the Florida Keys.

Because her cruising gear makes up lesser of the overall displacement than a bluewater liveaboard yacht, a coastal boat can be a relatively light design. However, going offshore does not require sacrificing sailing performance. The classic Valiant 40 by Bob Perry is a wonderful example. Its low displacement, strong sailing ability, and comfortable layout make it an excellent candidate for long-distance cruising; many other recent designs are the same.

Italia 9.98

Italia Yachts created the Italia 9.98 Fuoriserie, which won the ORC - C - 2015 World Championship. She is a racing yacht that may also be used for cruising. However, the design is intended to race and win, and the mast and boom are composed of carbon fiber. The interior features include two double bedrooms, two sleepers in the saloon, a kitchen, and a chart table.

The 34-foot Italia 9.98 was clearly the most striking of the five boats that made up the Performance Cruiser class in terms of pure look. The boat comes in two versions: the 34 Club, designed for cruising and is distinguished by its twin wheels, and the 34 Fuoriserie, designed for racing.

Both versions have the same interior, which is extremely welcoming and modern for cruising. A wide trimmed in a teak cutaway that can also be used as a ring frame lead to the spacious double-berth forward, which virtually beckons you to climb in and kick far back. The drop-leaf table, crossed by the keel-stepped spar, is flanked by two huge center settees.

The galley and the navigation station, located to port and starboard, are welcome surprises. The galley contains a huge fridge and a two-burner stove gimballed, while the navigation station is bigger than you could anticipate for a boat this size.

Innovative, detachable cloth lockers may be offloaded while in race mode. Cabin doors encased in metal for durability are among the many appealing touches to this vessel. There's a large double stateroom to port and a tiny double cabin to starboard. Except for some teak trim, all furnishings and fixtures are sleek, white composite constructions that appear more aeronautical than nautical. Overall, the entire design and aesthetics are very nice and contemporary.

The cockpit is roomy on the inside; the molded-in bench seats may be enlarged with specialized storage bins, which can be left at the dock for racing and reinstalled when cruising. A large lazarette locker is located aft of the beam-width traveler, which is located aft of the tiller.

The open transom gives the impression of being aboard a larger boat. The German-style double-ended mainsheet is led below deck, adding to the modern motif; sheet leads are, of course, changeable. The genuinely exceptional nonskid is molded into the deck.

The boat has an optional sprit that could be used to fly, reaching, and off-wind sails. Another version of the sprit incorporates an anchor roller; the boat we were on did not have a windlass, but one is available. It would be simple to adapt this boat from racing to cruising mode.

The Grand Soleil 34

When the Italian boatyard Grand Soleil was established in the 1970s, its first model was a 34-footer designed by Finot. It was an instant success, with over 300 units sold. It set the firm on the path to success that lasted decades, mainly with a succession of considerably bigger, more complicated racer/cruisers. The maker opted to go back to its origins with the Grand Soleil 34 for 2020, and it's a fantastic boat.

There are a few key rating criteria that racing boats compete under these days, plus a rising movement of doublehanded classes in several major regattas. Since conditions vary dramatically depending on where you plan to sail, the Grand Soleil 34 doubles as a cruiser. The need for a versatile vessel has been taken into account by Grand Soleil and is evident in its exquisite design. The Grand Soleil 34 does this by offering a variety of keel, rig, and deck options, allowing owners to tailor their boat to their specific location or events.

The shallower of the two keel choices, which is also the ideal cruising configuration, draws under 6 feet and is equipped with a lead bulb; a deeper 7-foot-2-inch foil is also available. A conventional aluminum stick or one of two alternative carbon spars are available as rig options. The boat has dual rudders and wheels, but you can alternatively have a single rudder with a tiller. The power unit on our variant was a 20 hp diesel with saildrive, which was an option. The boat design has the optional 30 hp diesel with saildrive, with a 20 hp auxiliary as standard.

The accommodations are essentially the same regardless of the performance package you choose. You still have options, though. In cruising mode, the open layout features a wide double berth in the bow, but while racing, you can remove the cushions and their base to transform the area into massive sail stowage. For competitive sailors concerned with keeping weight to a minimum, most of the oak furnishings and floors may be replaced with composite materials or even carbon.

A pair of settees flank a drop-leaf table in the middle of the boat, and there's a wide double cabin aft, to port, and a capacious head on the opposite starboard side, via which you can reach a large storage compartment beneath the cockpit seat. The great news is that there is also plenty of storage space for sailing.

Impression 45.1

The Elan Impression 45.1 now features a longer and broader cockpit, defined by dual wheels, a split cockpit table, and a folding sunbed, as inspired by the Elan GT5. A contemporary vertical transom was built, and two big cockpit storage boxes that may be furnished with a grill, sink, or refrigerator. Because of its hull design and recognizable deck saloon windows, the Impression 45.1 is light and airy. The saloon has a big settee that completely surrounds the table without blocking the path.

The galley has been moved forward to provide greater space for living and navigation. You also get solid iroko wood for the interior furniture material after months of testing because it was discovered to have the best endurance characteristics, a lovely traditional aesthetic, and an acceptable pricing point. The Elan Impression 45.1 will be offered with two cabin configurations, one for friends and family and the other for demanding charter parties.

Customers may now select between an open transom for a sportier look and a closed transom with a wide swim platform for safety and comfort. One of the more noticeable improvements is a new window, which illuminates the back cabins and adds to her instantly identifiable appearance.

It's no wonder that many would-be bluewater cruisers have this German Frers design on their wish list. The hull is well-built, featuring a sturdy masthead sloop sail plan—200-mile days are not out of the question—and the deck arrangement is ergonomically efficient. Belowdecks, no two boats are alike, thanks to the builders' willingness to experiment with layout and finish. The RS (Raised saloon) model expands on the already spacious interior. The new Hylas 56 has a similar streamlined hull. It is no wonder that its owners praise the boat's seakeeping and maneuverability.

With the Atlantic Rally for Cruisers, more Lagoons than any other brand of a catamaran have crossed

the Atlantic and more 440s have participated than any other Lagoon. It's simple to understand why

this yacht is so popular among visitors visiting the tropics. The saloon, the spacious cockpit, the broad trampoline forward, and the flybridge provide plenty of opportunities for the crew to have quiet time on passage or assemble for meals and socialize in port. The 440 is not a Sportster when it comes to

sailing, but it is capable of decent trip times while keeping its crew safe and comfortable.

The Meta 50' is a strong and comfortable long-distance cruising sailing yacht. This beachable twin-keel offshore sailing yacht has a 1.80m draught, lovely sunbathing places, and a garage big enough to fit the semi-rigid tender with an outboard motor.

This enormous sailing boat has two double bedrooms in the back, a spacious saloon with an open kitchen and panoramic views, a chart table, a bathroom, and a large owner's stateroom with a dressing room and separate bathroom. In the forepeak, a skipper's cabin with an attached bathroom is also available, which is just one of the many comforts on the Meta.

The Meta 50' is constructed of ultra-resistant prestressed Strongall aluminum and may be customized to meet your exact requirements. Thanks to the ballastable dual keel system, the TurboKeels version will have performance comparable to a 3.50m draught keelboat while simultaneously reducing the list by 15-20°.

Domani introduces the S30, a one-of-a-kind sailing experience that combines sportiness, elegance, and design in a single exquisite sports boat. Less is more, and free time is valuable; that is what you get with this cruiser. The design also uses a back-to-basics approach, with fewer components and less upkeep. It's all about disconnecting from shore power and sailing away in minutes. With electronic sail propulsion, it's light and green, and its manageable size makes it easy to carry or store.

Summer in the Fjords is unlike any other, as is summer in St Tropez. Explore new beaches and seas, meet new people, and expand your sailing horizons beyond the neighborhood harbor. Isn't it true that the goal of every journey is to learn something new? It is easy to see what the brand is all about. The Domani is about Gran Turismo-style sailing: quick, exciting, and elegant.

The Beneteau Oceanis 30.1

The Beneteau Oceanis 30.1, a 31-foot-3-inch tiny yacht that was best-equipped and spec'd out as a specialized cruising boat, was also given the title of Best Performance Cruiser for 2020. But don't be fooled by her modest internal amenities; she is a lively small ship.

The sail layout emphasizes power aloft with a single-spreader fractional number rig with a square-top main. Our test boat has an optional bowsprit and a lap-streak genoa; the normal version features a self-tacking 100 percent headsail. Although dual wheels make handling straightforward, old-school men (like me) can choose a tiller.

A boarding ladder and a small fold-down boarding step are included on the transom. Also, a Facnor headsail furler is stationed alongside the Lewmar windlass on the opposite end. The overall level of attention to detail is outstanding.

The adaptability of the 30.1 was a strong selling point for the judging panel. There are four keel variations, as well as a centerboard. A tabernacle may be added to the deck-stepped mast for simple lowering and trailering to a new location or navigating waterways. It was also the most affordable option in the category, at $160,000. The benefits just kept on coming.

The forward V-berth is undoubtedly spectacular, and the deck-stepped spar described before freed up the space below, especially in the center saloon and eating area. The entire galley is to port at the foot of the companionway, and the enclosed head is to starboard, where there is also a practical tiny navigation station. A large aft double cabin may also be found to starboard. This is an ideal solution for a small family or a couple of couples.

There's plenty of natural light below deck thanks to the coachroof windows, and overhead hatches, which are supplemented by energy-efficient LED lighting. The eye-catching hull decorations grab attention, and the well-executed dodger is an excellent spot to get out of the rain.

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Born into a family of sailing enthusiasts, words like “ballast” and “jibing” were often a part of dinner conversations. These days Jacob sails a Hallberg-Rassy 44, having covered almost 6000 NM. While he’s made several voyages, his favorite one is the trip from California to Hawaii as it was his first fully independent voyage.

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