In terms of length overall, the four boats in the Midsize Cruiser Over 38 Feet class were tightly compressed, with one coming in at just under 40 feet (Tartan 395), another measuring in just shy of 43 feet (Wauquiez Pilot Saloon 42), and the remaining pair almost identical at 40 feet 6 inches (Jeanneau Sun Odyssey 410) and 40 feet 8 inches (Hanse 418). But from there, those contenders split tacks in several directions, and gave the judges plenty to consider before coming to their ultimate conclusion.
Alvah Simon was mightily impressed by the fold-out transom on the Wauquiez Pilot Saloon 42, one of the fleet’s two raised-deck entries in 2019. Wauquiez is far from the only builder to accentuate this feature, but with an integrated swim platform, shower, boarding station and life-raft storage, “They’ve added 5 to 7 feet to the boat in terms of enjoyable and useful space, and that’s a brilliant leap forward.”
The panel enjoyed a sensational sail aboard the Tartan 395, and made special note that it was fantastic to have designer Tim Jackett and the Tartan crew once again a force in U.S. boatbuilding. With its carbon rig and twin headsails, the 395 topped off at over 7 knots in a fresh Chesapeake Bay northerly. Like Island Packet, Tartan is another American builder that has returned with a bang after a short hiatus.
The Hanse 418 was one of three models from the German builder in the 2019 BOTY field, and it also received strong feedback from the judges. In particular, said Simon, “In my notes I wrote that their emergency tiller and emergency steering system was ‘best in show.’ In fact, it was the best I’ve seen in many years. It was light on the helm, the visibility was good and it’s truly a viable way to get yourself home if things go wrong.”
Once again, however, the judging team found Jeanneau’s mix of price point, performance and innovative features to be a potent combination. “This Jeanneau Sun Odyssey 410 is another domestic product, built in Marion, South Carolina,” said Tim Murphy. “They’ve retained several themes we saw on the 490, including the walkway where you come aft of the helms and then go outboard and up a sloping deck. You still have that almost hip-level pushpit. It’s a very safe transition from the cockpit to the foredeck.”
Simon also found the entire cockpit configuration intriguing. “They’ve done a very subtle thing, which is to slightly offset the companionway hatch and the cockpit table, so they’ve sort of created a favored passage forward there as well. Then, on the ‘unfavored’ side, they’ve found a very simple solution. Instead of installing a big 8-foot cushion that’s going to take up the whole corner and blow away, they just put a little head pad up on the cabin bulkhead. It’s a very smart, comfortable space. And I thought, these are simple and beautiful solutions. And you see that kind of thinking throughout the whole boat.”
Finally, Simon also compared the sailing characteristics with that of its larger 49-foot sibling. “The stability is impressive,” he said. “We sailed hard and turned hard, and always stayed under control. We just had total and instant response. We weren’t going to round up at all. It wasn’t a question. So it’s a really nice boat that performed well. In a lot of ways, this was Jeanneau’s year.”