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Top European sailboat honors handed out in Germany

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Four sailing yachts were honored Saturday by the magazine editors of Europe on the opening night of the the Düsseldorf boat show.

Beneteau, Dehler, Saphire and Contest were the big winners as several hundred industry executives gathered to learn the winners of the European Yacht of the Year Awards.The “Flagship Night” event, hosted by German publisher Delius Klasing and boot Düsseldorf, also included the presentation of the Seamaster Award for outstanding achievement in sailing.

From among 20 nominated models, European Yacht of the Year awards were handed out to winners in four categories — family cruiser, performance cruiser, luxury cruiser and special yachts. The boats were tested and debated extensively last year by the editors of 11 European magazines in Southampton, England, and Porto Venere, Italy.

In the family cruisers category the award went to the Beneteau Oceanis 38, which is offered in three configurations — daysailer, weekender and cruising boat. Good sailing performance and innovative interior styling with plenty of natural light admitted to the interior favored the Oceanis over the other candidates — the Allures 39.9, Bavaria Cruiser 37, Dufour 410 Grand’Large and Winner 900.

Another 38-footer was the top boat in the performance category: The Dehler 38 impressed the judges with strong performance and good all-around capabilities. The other nominees were the Elan 400, Pogo 30, Premier 45 and XP-33.

The win in the special yachts category went to the Swiss-built Saphire 27, which excelled in a variety of conditions and showed its potential as a one-design racer, daysailer and touring boat. The boat can be launched from a trailer, and the mast can be stepped without mechanical aids. The other nominees were the Django 6.70, Essence 33, Malango 8.88 and Sailart 22.

The race was tight for the title in the luxury cruiser category, and the winner was the Contest 42 CS. The jury’s verdict: The Dutch-built design won for its clean lines, good performance and luxury feel in a package manageable by a small crew. Other nominees were the Gunfleet 58, Hallberg-Rassy 55, ICE 62 and Mylius 18E35.

There was no multihull category this year because of a scarcity of new models.

Seamaster Award

Following in the footsteps of French multihull legend Loick Peyron, Australian Jimmy Spithill was named the winner of the Seamaster Award, a new prize that is handed to sailors for outstanding achievement. Down 8-1, Spithill led Oracle Team USA to a dramatic comeback 9-8 win in last year’s America’s Cup over Emirates Team New Zealand.

At age 20 Spithill made history in 2000 as the youngest skipper of an America’s Cup boat with the Young Australia campaign and became the youngest helmsman to win the America’s Cup with Oracle Team USA in 2010.

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