Every year, we ask boatbuilders to present us with their new models so that we can include them as nominees in the SAIL Top 10 Best Boats contest. We start reviewing these boats as soon as they are available, sometimes traveling throughout the country or overseas to examine the boats, talk to designers and builders, and most important, to take these boats out sailing.
We look at systems innovation and installation, design, construction quality, deck and interior layouts and ergonomics, sailing characteristics, price—all adding up to answer the fundamental question of how the boat fulfills its intended purpose and meets the requirements and needs of its intended owners. We also try to include as many boats as possible, from 60-foot multihulls to trailerable daysailers.
This culminates at the U.S. Sailboat Show in Annapolis in October, where the vast majority of the new models are on display, and when our review team can examine boats they haven’t had a chance to see or sail yet. After we’ve all had time to study, sail, and review the nominees, we put our heads and our notes together and determine the year’s Top 10, which we announce in our January/February issue of SAIL.
SAIL’s been doing this for more than 20 years, and our current review team represents a diversity in knowledge, sailing experience, age, and gender to bring multiple perspectives to the process. Here’s some background on our Top 10 review team.
SAIL Editor-in-Chief Wendy Mitman Clarke logged some 30,000 bluewater miles during four and a half years of full-time cruising on an Adams 45 with her husband and two kids. Growing up on the Chesapeake Bay, she has raced and cruised all manner of sailboats over a lifetime of sailing, from Snipes and E-Scows to performance keelboats and bluewater passagemakers. Complementing her cruising experience, she’s competed in the Newport-Bermuda Race, Key West Race Week, Block Island Race Week, and hundreds of round-the-buoys races out of Annapolis. She and her husband regularly sail a Peterson 34 that they have continued to upgrade as a fast cruising boat.
SAIL Managing Editor Lydia Mullan has been involved with SAIL’s Best Boats competition for six years, sea trialing all manner of boats. Having grown up racing in the New England area, her first loves will always be dinghies and performance boats, but she’s broadening her experience to offshore sailing as well, this year racing a J/122 in the Annapolis-Newport Race, Marblehead-Halifax Race, and Ida Lewis Distance Race (among others). Also this year, she applied to and was accepted as a mentee in the highly regarded Magenta Project Mentorship Program, which aims to improve diversity and in particular support women at the highest levels of the sport of sailing by pairing aspiring athletes with industry leaders who can help them reach their potential.
SAIL Charter Editor Zuzana Prochazka is a USCG 100-ton master who logs countless miles on all kinds of boats around the world and never misses an opportunity to raise a sail or crawl into the engine room of a new design. She started sailing in California during grad school when she capsized her Lido 14 on the first day—an inauspicious start to a lifelong love of sailing and her career in the industry. She serves as an international presenter on charter, safety, and technical topics, and is the executive director for the board of Boating Writers International.
SAIL Technical Editor Adam Cove is a naval architect and marine engineer (University of Michigan) and trained under David Pedrick. He previously gathered experience as a boatbuilder, rigger, and sailmaker, before adding an MBA to become CEO of Edson Marine. He currently operates as director of Cove Marine Consulting. Adam grew up sailing on the south coast of Cape Cod, captained his high school and college racing teams, and can regularly be found racing around the buoys in New England, heading offshore to cruise or race short-handed, or cruising long distance in his Luders 33.