In the same way that the MLB MVP selection process cannot directly compare pitchers and catchers and that the MPAA cannot compare best picture candidates in comedy to those in drama, Boating cannot directly compare watersports boats to offshore fishing boats, or cruising boats to performance boats. The very attributes that make a boat great in one category make it less desirable in other categories. Therefore, we look at the boats that excel in their category. Then it’s a matter of deciding which ones excelled in their respective category more than another candidate excelled in its respective category.
Here are the Boating 2018 Boat of the Year finalists. Look for the Boat of the Year to be announced next month.
Invincible 40 Cat
Fishing catamarans are enjoying a resurgence, and this one is leading the pack for a number of reasons. One of these is the asymmetrical design of its hulls, which delivers remarkable efficiency, a super-smooth ride, and a comforting inboard lean during turns (many cats lean outboard). Finish and outfitting proved as good as it gets, with the Invincible 40 delivering a refined boating experience, whether discussing the ergonomic helm layout, the details of rocket-launcher angles, seating comfort, or the way a hatch opens, closes and latches.
Jeanneau NC 1095
The nomination could be justified by the fact that this is the only 35-foot cruiser with the option for three private staterooms (counting the convertible dinette topside, it will sleep eight). But really, it’s the asymmetrical side decks that sealed the deal. By offsetting the deckhouse to port, the starboard side deck is twice as wide, providing super-secure access from bow to stern. This feature also allowed for another wow: a door at the helm leading to the side deck. Docking solo is so much easier when the skipper has immediate access to the side, but few small boats offer this convenience.
The Malibu M235 is king of the hill in the ultra-competitive world of high-end wakeboats. We know, because we team up with the pros at Wakeboarding (the biggest, most connected media outlet in watersports) to cover tow boats. To create this beast, Malibu left no stone unturned, which means there are bells and whistles galore. Even better, the M235 delivers some of the best wakeboard wakes and wakesurf waves in the market, period. Thanks to Malibu’s exclusive hull design and innovative wake-shaping technologies, these wakes are all easily customizable. Add everything together and it’s easy to see why the M235 leads the watersports pack.
Tiara Sport 38 LS
High-performing, luxury center-console dayboats are where much of the recreational boating community’s desire and the industry’s resources are being directed. Tiara Sport leads the pack with its 38 LS thanks to innovations like rotating cockpit seating, which are not intended to solely amaze — though, these do amaze — but to further the mission of providing a boat as useful at sea as at the dock or cove. Coupled to Tiara Sport’s construction values, which exceed that of all standards bodies, it’s easy to see why this boat is a Boat of the Year candidate.
Yamaha FSH 210
A jet boat that one can safely navigate outside the inlet but doesn’t cost two college educations were the initial elements that helped this boat make the short list. Others include a list of standard features that help this boat fulfill myriad boating tasks: The FSH 210 can fish, party or partake in watersports with equal ease. Check out its wide-open transom design for a unique idea that is sure to be copied.