Toby Hodges takes a look at all the nominees and the winner of the best family yacht category in the European Yacht of the Year Awards
There are many categories in the European Yacht of the Year awards, from the best luxury yachts to performance yachts. But some of the most hotly-anticipated options come when it is time to choose the nominees and winner in the best family yacht category.
The European Yacht of the Year awards are selected by a broad panel of expert judges from across the globe. These are people who spend their professional lives sailing and comparing yachts, so you can be certain that the yachts which stand out in this field are truly the best of the best on the market for those looking to set out with the whole family in tow.
Typically this category brims with midsize yachts from mainstream manufacturers. And while the Dufour flies that flag, when you put these three nominees together you have a very diverse selection of interesting new family friendly cruising yachts from 30-40ft to suit significantly different budgets.
Best family yacht
Best family yacht winner – Linjett 39
This is quite possibly the best boat you haven’t heard of. The 39 offers easy, fast family cruising and occasional racing in luxurious comfort and proves that classic needn’t be old fashioned.
Linjett exudes Scandi heritage: a third generation 50-year-old brand, it’s run by three brothers and has built 900 yachts from its Rosättra yard in Sweden, which dates from to the 19th Century. Its business model is based on long production runs – think evergreen rather than trendy. Linjett not only designs, engineers and builds its own boats, but services and maintains them too, with 220 in winter storage. It also now produces the high performance Shogun Yachts in carbon epoxy, which hints at the skill levels of its infusion techniques.
A telling result at sea is how quiet the yacht is. Sturdy and stable, it instils instant confidence and proved a delight to sail. We had some very pleasant upwind beats, pointing high, and some lively reaching, hitting double figures a few times while pushing it under 150m2 gennaker in waves. The Linjett is set up to easily short-hand it too, with two winches and a bank of clutches each side positioned aft in reach of the helm.
The interior is offered with two or three cabins and the latter we saw had an excellent layout, including separate shower/wet hanging compartment aft. Joiner work is first class, with traditional mahogany used as standard, or the more contemporary European Oak on the test boat.
This is a premium yacht, but you get what you pay for. It will surprise most and ensure everyone steps ashore smiling. See our full review next month.
The Dufour 37 may be shorter than the old 360, but Dufour was reluctant to brand this 37 as smaller because its modern, broadened hull shape has resulted in an enlarged deck space, cockpit and owner’s cabin. Felci has designed a clever hull that sails well with good performance for its (34ft) size. The aft quarters behind the helms feel compact to maximise cockpit size, but proved comfortable enough to sail from. The primaries are in reach of the helm and we liked the lightweight, low friction jib sheet adjusters.
The 37 is offered in Easy (two winch), Ocean (cruising), or Performance versions and with a two- or three- cabin layout. The test boat was the most popular Ocean model, although it had €100,000 worth of optional extras including sails, engine and bow thruster, resulting in an expensive yacht for its length.
For those who recognise the Bente name, we previously featured it in detail in 2015 when it burst onto the scene with an innovative and affordable new 24-footer (around 150 of which have been built in Poland). We then tested its 39 in 2019, a year before the yard then filed for bankruptcy. But it’s now back under new ownership with this really impressive and more refined Bente 28, again by Judel/Vrolijk.
It’s a fun yacht to sail, easy to short-hand, with sprightly performance, especially when reaching. The coachroof is part of the deck structure and proves crucial in providing light, space and headroom below in an ergonomic interior that has been very well thought out.
All in all it’s a great compact, entry-level cruiser, with a practical, well protected cockpit.
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