Watch the first ever virtual Motor Boat Awards, presented by Editor Hugo Andreae and Deputy Editor Jack Haines...
Much like the actual Oscars, we would normally be holding this hotly anticipated annual event at a fancy hotel with guests from all over the world, but for reasons we all know that simply isn’t possible at the moment.
The good news is that by holding this virtual event instead we can invite not just the 250 or so guests that we normally fit into the venue but as many members of the public and the industry as wish to attend.
For that reason it’s worth reminding any newcomers what makes the Motor Boat Awards so different to most others, and why they are so highly prized by boat buyers, as well as boat builders.
Firstly, we only consider boats that have been independently tested by at least one of our judges.
Secondly, there is no costly or complex entry procedure, we automatically consider any boat that we have sea trialled and published in the last 12 months.
Thirdly, we always base our decisions on what we think the boat buying public are looking for.
In other words, every single one of the boats that has made it through to our shortlist of finalists has been thoroughly tested, reviewed, and approved by us as a boat that we would happily recommend to a friend.
We’d also like to thank our sponsors for continuing to support these awards in these most trying of times.
So thank you to Lumishore and Nautibuoy for their sponsorship of two of the most highly prized of tonight’s awards, and an even bigger thank you to Sleipner for once again partnering with us as the headline sponsor of the 2021 Motor Boat Awards.
Without further ado, the winners of the 2021 Motor Boat Awards are as follows:
Sportsboats & RIBs
Winner: Nimbus T8
Nimbus came very close to winning one of these awards with its larger range of 9 and 11m walkaround weekenders but it’s this smaller 8m version which really impressed our judges. The T8 offers many of the same desirable traits as the larger T9 and T11, such as safe walkaround decks, reassuringly solid build quality, versatile cockpit seating and overnight accommodation, but in a smaller, faster, trailable package.
That makes it more accessible for first time buyers but also more fun to drive for experienced owners. Powered by a single 300hp outboard engine, it sprinted to a top speed of almost 46 knots on test but proved just as happy cruising at 20-30 knots burning a modest 1.72 litres per mile.
Crucially, it’s also a very usable boat at anchor, when the benefits of that clever cockpit with its folding seats/sunpad, pop-up table and easy-to-move-around decks really come into their own. Throw in a bright and surprisingly pleasant cuddy cabin with a double berth and proper separate heads compartment and you can see why it impressed judges. In short it is the consummate all round day boat/weekender.
Highly commended: Saxdor 200
This innovative little craft isn’t just a welcome breath of fresh air, it’s also huge fun to drive, remarkably capable for something so small and fantastic value for money.
Sportscruisers up to 40ft
Winner: Grandezza 37CA
In a category full of desirable machinery, the 37 CA stood out because of its chameleon-like ability to fulfil both the sporting and cruising roles of this segment of the market. By offering both an open cockpit and a fully enclosed upper saloon enhanced by a sunroof and full-height side door, its stylish coupé design makes winter jaunts as comfortable as summer ones, while a pair of comfortable cabins and a generous bathroom make longer cruises possible too.
It’s a sensible, well built and cleverly designed boat and yet with a pair of powerful diesel sterndrives it’s also rewarding to drive and just as capable of raising a smile from the helm as the racier entrants on the shortlist. With many of the better-known brands moving away from this size and style of boat, the well-rounded 37 CA is rarer and more welcome than ever.
Sportscruisers over 40ft
Winner: Azimut S6
We don’t mind admitting that this was the hardest category of all to agree on. The truth is that all five of our finalists are excellent boats, any one of which we could justify picking as our winner. It’s also the reason we didn’t think it was fair to single out any one of them for a highly commended.
However, after three rounds of discussions we did finally settle on the Azimut as our winner. Its bold triple-IPS layout not only delivers strong performance and impressive fuel economy for a craft of this size but also frees up space for a lavish owner’s suite, a generously proportioned VIP suite and a proper double cabin without the usual bunk beds you’d typically find in its rivals.
Then there’s the striking design and rich detailing that not only looks sensational and exudes class but also works well from a cruising perspective. This is a boat that is just as comfortable hoovering up the miles quietly and without fuss as it is strutting its stuff off the beaches of the Côte d’Azur. Above all it’s a boat that makes you and your guests feel special every time you step on board and for a big sportscruiser with a hefty price tag that kind of wow factor is priceless.
Flybridges up to 50ft
Winner: Prestige 420 Fly
In replacing the 400 with the 420, Prestige hasn’t just improved on its predecessor, it has made it far more desirable as well. By removing the separate master cabin access, the designers have created more space in both the saloon and the cabin.
And in moving away from pod drives to Cummins diesel engines on traditional shaft drives, it has kept the purchase and running costs down while actually making it more enjoyable to drive. The big twin 425hp diesels transform the way the 420 performs, offering mountains of torque and punchy acceleration as well as relaxed long range cruising and easy maintenance.
The 420 may not be intended as a driver’s boat but there’s plenty to enjoy about helming it. The result is a good looking, well proportioned, unfussy family flybridge cruiser that ticks all the boxes but doesn’t come with a hefty price premium. For such a popular sector of the market, that is a surprisingly rare commodity.
Highly commended: Delphia Bluescape 1200 Fly
All credit to Delphia for offering an efficient displacement cruiser boasting masses of space and tidy sea-keeping at a great price.
Flybridges over 50ft
Winner: Pearl 62
British designer Bill Dixon has scored a major design coup by managing to fit four such stellar cabins plus a crew space aboard the Pearl 62 without any obvious compromises. This is complemented by a Kelly Hoppen interior that we rate as her best work yet; it’s a design that heightens the occasion from the moment you step on board and works well on a practical level too.
The result is a boat that feels larger and more sophisticated than its dimensions suggest, while Volvo Penta IPS drives deliver the kind of quiet, relaxed cruising which befits a craft of this style. On deck, the spaces are well balanced and appealing but it’s the spacious flybridge that steals the show thanks to its neatly integrated hard top and sunroof, and a great mix of sociable seating areas.
The low-slung sundowner seats at the aft end of the deck are a particular highlight. But arguably the most impressive aspect of the Pearl 62 is that such a small team of people has managed to produce a stylish, nicely built and well mannered flybridge cruiser and still ensure that it comes in at a price which undercuts its bigger, better-known competitors in the class.
Highly commended: Absolute 64 Navetta
The 64’s stunning beach club-come-aft cabin set-up is one of the most exciting new design solutions we have seen all year.
Winner: Pershing 8X
Not even Pershing is impervious to the market demands of more internal volume and a greater focus on living space. This could have posed a problem for a brand that prides itself on its boats’ abilities to outperform almost every rival. Pershing, though, is no ordinary shipyard and has worked its magic on the 8X, creating a yacht that is considerably more spacious than its predecessor but still handles and performs as a Pershing should.
It’s easy to get blasé about performance stats but the 8X’s really are eye-popping. It’s just shy of 84ft long and weighs 57 tonnes, but its top speed is a whisker short of 50 knots and it can cruise all day at speeds of 35-45 knots. So despite being bigger and having more space inside and out than the 82, thanks to a carbon fibre superstructure and a new surface drive system, it not only performs as well as ever it is also easier to handle both at speed and in a marina.
While many of the big yards are moving away from performance yachts in favour of slower, more voluminous designs, the Pershing 8X proves that if you do your homework right, it is still possible to have your cake and eat it.
Highly commended: Spirit P70
This stunning wooden motoryacht is a credit to the owner’s vision as well as the artisans who built her. Designed with a specific purpose in mind, she delivers on every front.
Outstanding Customer Service
Sponsored by Nautibuoy
Winner: Approved Boats
In a difficult year during which marine companies have faced challenges of their own, delivering first-class service to customers has proved more important than ever. So it was heartening to see that we also received more nominations from the public than ever before.
After reading through all of them and taking account of the size of the company and its likely customer base, Galeon dealer and used boat broker Approved Boats stood out both for the number “of nominations but also the heartfelt comments they included. Here are just a few of them:
“An excellent broker providing a service second to none – I have bought a boat from them and sold one. It has been an absolute joy to deal with a professional family-run business that employs great staff.
“I consider them all to be friends.”
“Approved Boats has serviced and maintained my boats for several years and has always provided exceptional service, responding at short notice, despite other commitments, to resolve problems that may have curtailed our activities.”
“Being new to boating a hassle-free experience was important to me. Approved Boats has been a joy to deal with.”
Judges’ Special Award
Sponsored by Lumishore
Winner: Knut Heiberg-Andersen
Knut Heiberg-Andersen joined Windy Boats back in 1990 as Sales and Marketing Coordinator rising rapidly through the ranks to Managing Director, President/CEO and more recently Executive Chairman/Mentor. In that time he not only helped make Windy’s reputation as one of the world’s leading manufacturers of performance sportscruisers, he also succeeded in the far more demanding task of maintaining that success for over 30 years despite fast changing consumer tastes and two global recessions.
That he managed to steer Windy safely through this maze to a bright new future building everything from top-quality driver-focused sportsboats and cruisers to custom built superyacht tenders, while retaining his warmth and humour is a testament to his visionary skills and exceptional character.
As Windy’s current CEO Trevor Fenlon put it to us when told of the decision to award this prize to Knut: “Many words spring to mind when describing Knut: smart, warm, friendly, but none of them can do justice to his all-round talents and driven but fun approach to life and work. He is a true gentleman of our industry.”