Boat of the Year Category Winners 2023

These six boats reign over their respective categories.

Boating’s Boat of the Year is the most prestigious honor a boatbuilder can receive. The selection process starts with our team assessing each of the 100-plus boats we sea trial and publish a test about each year to see how any might stand out in their respective categories. Not every category of boat has a true standout every year, even though it may be populated by great boats. A BOTY category winner, besides possessing top construction, component installation and performance characteristics, must somehow advance its category, providing boat buyers with a better experience. From these, Boat of the Year will be selected. This year, we are proud to present the following category winners. Congratulations to each one!

Accessible/Skiff: Veer V13

The Veer V13  won first because we found it to be affordable for a segment of society not typically served by boatbuilders. It’s also offered colors that appeal to a younger, non-traditional demographic. We believe both of these features are great for the future of boating by helping to introduce new participants to the activity and lifestyle that is boating. Finally, we found the Veer V13 functional and safe, and it’s offered with your choice of internal combustion or electric outboard power.

Watersports: Montara Surf Boss 2.0

The Montara Surf Boss 2.0 is one the most innovative boats we have ever tested, seamlessly blending the very best of a V-drive towboat with the attributes of a pontoon boat. There’s more: Innovation alone isn’t enough. To win a category, the boat must be built to a high standard and meet ABYC standards, as well as the discerning eye of our editors, each of whom possesses decades of experience evaluating boats for a living. The Montara Surf Boss 2.0 ticked all these boxes.

Runabout: Four Winns H2e

First, this is an exceptionally well-done bowrider. The interior is luxurious, its construction is excellent and its appearance is at once fresh and classic. Performance-wise, it delivered superior speed, handling and ride quality. Finally, this Four Winns H2e bowrider is powered by an electric outboard. It gives boat buyers the choice of electric or internal combustion propulsion with the confidence of a longstanding and well-known—iconic, really—boatbuilder.

Center-Console: Formula 387

Our team tests over 100 boats per year, many of them center-console models. We selected the Formula 387 for its great ride and top-notch construction and pristine finish. But Formula has long maintained those bars high. What really wowed us was that Formula produced two distinct variants of the same boat for center-console buyers—a sport version and a fishing version. Putting a finer point on it, these two variants serve different missions with very little compromise between them.

Deckboat: Tahoe T21

Why did this Tahoe win? First, we found it to be priced lower than similar-size boats. But, a low price alone doesn’t win awards. No less than two members of our Tech Team stated that the Tahoe T21 is equivalent (if not superior) in ride, performance, construction and equipment to other similar boats. A review of our boat-test archive backs those assertions. As such, the T21 represents an outstanding buying experience delivering a higher-quality, higher-performing boat for a lower price than others in its category.

Pontoon: Manitou 24 Explore MAX

The Manitou 24 Explore MAX takes pontoon-boat ownership to another place. Powered by twin 150 hp Rotax S outboards (which themselves won our Marine Power Innovation award last year), which live under the expansive MAX deck aft, this ’toon offers sporty performance and the convenience of a joystick for docking control. But most importantly, the wide-open MAX deck provides pontoon buyers the ability to choose wide-open access to the water, as well as wide-open views.