Watch the 2022 Motor Boat Awards, presented by Motor Boat & Yachting Editor Hugo Andreae and Deputy Editor Jack Haines...
It has taken months of testing, weeks of analysing and days of deliberating amongst our judges but the results of our annual Motor Boat Awards can now be revealed.
As always we have chosen a winner in each of our ten categories based on how well the boat performed during our rigorous sea trials but also how well it meets the requirements of its target market in relation to its size, style and price.
In some categories we have also awarded a highly commended to boats which may not be as rounded as the winner but which have moved the game on in some significant way.
Last but not least we’d like to thank Sleipner for once again partnering with us as the headline sponsor of the 2022 Motor Boat Awards.
Customer Service Award
Approved Boats, Bates Wharf Marine Sales, Boats.co.uk, Haven Knox-Johnston, TBS Penton Hook
We are delighted to report that we received more nominations for this year’s customer service award than ever before, suggesting businesses are doing a better job of looking after customers and that customers are returning the favour by letting us know about it.
So congratulations to all our finalists for their sterling work. It is also heartening to see so many familiar names among our finalists, many of which have either won or been nominated for this award before thanks to their ongoing commitment.
However, this year’s winner stood out due to the number and strength of commendations from customers who have already had to endure the distress of seeing their pride and joy damaged.
This is what they had to say about boat insurance specialists Haven Knox-Johnston: ‘Haven’s management of my claim was seamless and effective.
‘It was as if I was not involved; I made the claim and Haven dealt with the repair all the way to completion, no delays or complaints, proper job.’
‘It is extremely refreshing to find an insurance company who want to help their customers instead of trying to find an angle to refuse the claim.’
‘Impact damage to my craft was a bad enough experience for me but the execution of the claim was just what was needed.’
Brabus Shadow 900 XC
A small category this one but populated with some seriously high- quality contenders. The Brabus Shadow 900 won out because of its peerless combination of practical Axopar underpinnings, lashings of sinister glamour and performance to knock not just your socks off but your deck shoes as well.
The twin 450hp Mercury Racing outboards produce such laughably easy performance that cruising at 40 knots feels almost compulsory and we have rarely been at the helm of a boat that can make 60 knots feel so… normal.
Performance is one thing but the beauty of this boat is that underneath you have all the versatile trappings of an Axopar 37 so it’s incredibly functional and as happy loading up with water toys and a picnic for a day out at the beach as it is ferrying VIPs from the quayside to bathing platform in the role of a superyacht chase boat.
The Cross Cabin especially hammers home the synergy between these two brands as its year-round fast cruising capability reflects exactly what the Brabus road cars are designed for.
From the way it demolishes the chop and swell to the admiring glances it draws from fellow boaters and those on the quayside, this is a boat that makes you feel special.
Sportsboats up to 30ft
Axopar 22 Spyder
For a lesser brand, distilling the best bits of two award-winning models into the smallest footprint yet would seem an almost impossible task but Axopar rose to the challenge with aplomb to create its fabulous entry-level model.
The 22 does more than mirror its larger siblings, however, and stands out within a spectacularly successful range as a boat in its own right.
To make a sub-25ft boat look and feel so grown up takes real skill and an eye on components and materials that appreciates where the money should and shouldn’t be spent.
Producing boats for this price at this scale could, if mishandled, cheapen the brand but the 22 feels expensive in all the right places.
Crucially for a starter boat it is approachable, safe and very easy to handle out on the water both in the confines of the marina and when faced with more challenging conditions out at sea.
It is also an enormous amount of fun to drive, something that shouldn’t be overlooked if a boat is designed to encourage new blood into boating.
Axopar admits that this was the toughest design brief it has had to meet to date but what it has produced is a truly attractive
package that is perfectly suited to its target market.
We have been waiting for the boating world’s ‘Tesla moment’ and the arrival of the all-electric foiling Candela C7 could be it.
The C7 is expensive for a day boat but it moves the game on. A line in the sand for sustainable boating.
Sportsboats over 30ft
Saxdor 320 GTO
We knew Saxdor was a force to be reckoned with the moment we tested its first boat, the 200 Sport, in July 2020 but even we were taken aback by just how good the 320 GTO is.
It seems to cram everything you would want from a sporty open day boat into a good looking 32ft package and then add a few bonus tricks of its own such as folding balconies, see- through bulwarks and a comfortable cuddy cabin with separate heads.
The stepped hull delivers a smooth, predictable ride with plenty of performance on offer from single or twin engine options.
The cockpit features masses of versatile seating and sunbathing space around a good sized dining table while still leaving room for a well-equipped wet bar.
The walkaround decks and handholds make it safe and easy to move around, and the hard top provides shade and shelter where it’s needed.
In short it’s a boat that is just as much fun to sit on and socialise at anchor as it is to helm at speed through a chop. But the real surprise is that it delivers all this at a price which undercuts many of its mainstream competitors let alone supposedly more upmarket brands.
You will need to spend a bit of money on extras to get the best out of it but big ticket items like the hard top and folding balconies are standard.
Supermarine Spearfish 32
Far more than just a welcome blast from the past, this born again Spearfish is a thoroughly entertaining weekender with the looks, performance, handling and build quality to embarrass many of its cutting edge rivals.
Sportscruisers up to 45ft
There’s plenty to like about Bavaria’s range of family focused, well priced sportscruisers but the SR41 is a rare beast that appeals to both the head and the heart.
Aiming to combine the space and comfort of the Sport range with the style and elevated finish of the R series line-up, Bavaria employed Marco Casali of Too Design to take care of the styling and that faith has paid off.
The SR41 is a fine looking boat with tidy proportions and a sleek roofline that has sometimes escaped other models in this range.
On board there is lots of clever thinking, specifically the dinette mounted above the bathing platform, which creates a charming seating area to sit and have a drink at the water’s edge.
The rakish lines conceal an interior that is typically voluminous and two cabins comfortable enough for a family of four to happily spend a couple of weeks on board without getting in each other’s way.
More of a surprise is the way the boat performs, with a near 40-knot top speed and wonderful handling thanks to its twin sterndrives. It’s a peach of a boat at a good price.
Fairline Targa 45GT
This is Fairline doing what it does best. It may be the entry-level model but it ripples with the quality and attention to detail of larger boats in the range and has a cracking hull to boot.
Sportscruisers over 45ft
Sunseeker 65 Sport Yacht
Some sportsbridge designs fall foul of trying to be all things to all people and never truly satisfying any of them. Not this one.
The Sunseeker 65 Sport Yacht lives up to its name with the kind of nimble handling and near 35 knot performance that belies its size and simply wouldn’t be possible on a full- blown flybridge.
And thanks to that innovative Skyhelm on the sunken flybridge deck with its supercar driving position and lift-up helm pod, you can enjoy the experience to the full with the wind in your hair and the sun on your back.
As if that weren’t enough you still get the benefit of a fully enclosed saloon and an inside helm position complete with its own sunroof for that authentic big sportscruiser feel, not to mention a tender garage and a useful little crew cabin to boot.
None of this seems to compromise the main accommodation space which encompasses three lavish ensuite cabins and a separate day heads.
Factor in Sunseeker’s rediscovered passion for detailing which has helped lift the interior finsh of all its recent craft and the end result is one of the most polished and well-rounded craft ever to leave the Poole yard.
Flybridges up to 60ft
We had to bide our time before we got the chance to test the smallest model in the Princess flybridge range but it was well worth the wait.
With big shoes to fill given the provenance of its predecessor, the F45 wiped the slate clean and came to market with a thoroughly different accommodation layout and, in only the second instance in a Princess flybridge model, Volvo Penta pod drives.
This may be the smallest boat in the range but it feels every inch a Princess thanks to its beautifully judged interior and some very clever design work from the team at Pininfarina.
The use of soft curves around the outside of the boat is particularly successful and turns what would ordinarily be dull slabs of GRP into truly eye-catching design elements.
Its styling is more ambitious than the boat it replaces and all the better for it in our opinion. At its heart the F45 is simply a brilliant cruising boat for a family and the decision to opt for IPS makes all the more sense when you consider this is likely to be a boat that people step up to from smaller weekenders.
Grand Banks GB54
It’s eye-watering money but the GB54 is a truly stunning cruising machine that is quite beautifully put together. The Rolls-Royce of the waterways.
Flybridges over 60ft
We were fortunate enough to sea trial the Y72 in very challenging conditions in Plymouth. The boat rose to the occasion spectacularly and showed that for all the glamour, polish and attention to detail of a modern Princess motoryacht, the shipyard still gets the formula right when it comes to seakeeping.
There isn’t a single area of this boat that feels compromised or under designed, which may sound easy when you’re dealing with a craft of these dimensions but certainly isn’t always the case.
Yet the designers also know when to show restraint and let the spaces speak for themselves; it seems odd to say this of a 21m multi-million pound mini superyacht but the Y72 resists being flash, nor is it laden with features that could be cast off as gimmicks.
It is a boat as comfortable thundering along at 30 knots as it is with its stabilisers engaged slipping along in single figures, where its 4,500-litre fuel capacity provides excellent cruising range.
The Y72, in the judges’ opinion, is the best boat that Princess currently builds and right up there with the best that it has ever built.
Being different doesn’t always equate to being better but in the case of the Bluegame BG72 it really does bring significant advantages.
Putting the IPS engines in a separate compartment under the deck of a vast stern platform not only leaves the rest of the hull free for a wide variety of accommodation layouts but also creates a spectacular beach club area to rival craft twice its size.
Under way it makes the perfect spot for storing an entire fleet of tenders and toys, while at anchor it transforms into the ultimate outdoor party zone with sunpads, seats and a hydraulic teak stairway descending into the sea.
There’s more to the BG72 than just a clever aft deck, though. Those glass doors lead through into a water-level full beam space that can either be fitted out as a fabulous saloon with a view or as the coolest owner’s cabin you’ll find on any 72-footer.
A top speed of 31 knots and a range of over 800nm at 10 knots ensures this futuristic adventure yacht also has the performance to back up its purposeful looks, as well as the finish and build quality inherited from its parent company Sanlorenzo. Think of it as a kind of Range Rover for the sea and you won’t be far wrong.
Dubbed the Superfly, this brave new wide body design makes for an exceptionally voluminous craft with such a spacious, high quality interior that it feels like it belongs to a 130ft superyacht.
Judge’s Special Award
It’s rare that we give the Judges’ Special Award to a company rather than a person but Candela has achieved what many thought was impossible – making electric boats cool again.
It may sound trite but without that wow factor, electric boats would be stuck with the image of being painfully slow craft best suited to short trips along canals and rivers.
The C-7 with its stylish looks, 30 knot performance and 50nm range consigns that stereotype to the history books. However, it’s Candela’s computer controlled foiling technology that really elevates it to another level, both literally and figuratively.
Lower the retracting foils, push the throttle forward and the C-7 takes off like a low-flying waterplane, skimming above the waves with a level of comfort and silence that not even the most luxurious of petrol powered sportsboat could hope to match.
The C-7 itself isn’t perfect; it’s too small and expensive to cut it as a mainstream sportsboat (hence the reason it lost out to the Axopar 22 in the Sportsboat under 30ft category).
But as a proof of concept it’s a remarkable achievement and a clear pointer of what’s to come. We’ve already seen a tantalising glimpse of that in the renderings of the new C-8 now in development at Candela.
Bigger, prettier and more practical than the C-7, and designed with mass production in mind to keep the price within reach of its petrol powered competitors, it looks like being the Tesla 3 of the boat world. If it lives up to its promise this really will be the game-changer we’ve all been waiting for.