Each year for over 30 years, Boating’s Tech Team, comprised of both staff and contributing editors, honors one boatbuilder with the most prestigious award in recreational boating: Boating’s Boat of the Year.
Our Tech Team sea-trials over 100 new model boats per year. That gives us more on-the-water experience aboard more different makes and models of boats than any other group of marine professionals in the world. In the course of those trials and tests, we remain alert for boats that stand out, not just from the fleet but, more importantly, also from the other boats in the same category. It is the boat that stands out in its category more than any other boat stands out in any other category upon which is bestowed the honor of Boat of the Year.
At this point, after much debate and comparison, the Tech Team has winnowed the field down to the following six boats it ranks as best in their respective classes for 2019. Which one emerged as Boat of the Year? Find out here! Then, learn more about Boating’s Past Boat of the Year Winners.
Boston Whaler 380 Realm
This 38-foot LOA boat has a full-beam-width windshield, bow seating, a cabin and four engines. Putting unsinkability aside, no other boat combines all these features. Plus, it’s built and finished well. Read our review, here.
Aspen C 107
Utilizing a proa concept hull, this “catamaran” features one hull that is wider than the other. Not only that, it uses twin engines of two different horsepower ratings. The narrower hull makes less resistance, and so needs less power to perform as well as the fat hull with the more powerful engine. Yet the narrow hull offers plenty of stability as part of a cat form. It delivers owners a less expensive boat—versus two “big” motors—that is more fuel–efficient to run. Construction, finish, etc. are also top-grade. Read our review, here.
Cutwater C24 Coupe
This is the only stepped-hull, outboard–powered boat that sleeps four, fishes well, and delivers a trailerable sport–utility boating experience. We know of no direct comparison boats (at this size), which definitely makes it a Boat of the Year contender. Read our review, here.
The model we tested stands as one of the most -innovative designs we have seen in a very long time. The most prominent feature is the placement of the twin outboard motors to the outside and the walk-through transom platform, which give it the look and appeal of a cat hull. Yet this is a monohull. This boat also buzzes with technology, including a host of hydraulically operated accessories, such as the swim platform that extends out from the 52-inch-long walk-through transom, the hinged windshield, a slide-out cooler/seat, and the fold-down tower and buggy top. All of this is digitally controlled via CZone switching. We could go on and on, but suffice to say that Stephen -Dougherty has reinvented the center-console with the Solace 345. Read our review, here.
Chaparral 21 SSi OB
While so many boat companies continue to build luxury boats for the champagne–sipping crowd, Chaparral takes aim at the new boater with the 21 SSi OB. This outboard–powered vessel is also available in sterndrive propulsion, and both are modestly priced but luxuriously equipped with -top-quality vinyl, durable foam underneath, and premium hardware all around. Even with -wakeboard-tower options and a standard premium stereo, it costs about the same as the midsize SUV or crossover needed to trailer it, and its performance on the water with the Yamaha 150 outboard is exciting, with excellent fuel economy. Read our review, here.
Finseeker 220 CC by Crownline
The first center-console developed by the engineers at Crownline and brought to market under the Finseeker brand should be a smash hit. First, there aren’t many center-consoles in this size class, and second, the boat bears all the features one could hope for in a center-console—a sign the engineers studied the marketplace thoroughly before lofting the hull. The look is new and rugged, but also stylish with Finseeker’s own take on Carolina flare for big water. Its fishability is rivaled only by its comfort features. The Finseeker 220 CC will be popular on all coasts and in large Midwestern impoundments. Read our review, here.