Southerly 57RS by Dubois Awarded (Best Boats 2011)

Southerly 57RS by Dubois Awarded (Best Boats 2011)

22nd November, 2010

The business maxim that you have to innovate your way out of a recession seems to have been taken to heart by boatbuilders. After a comparatively small field of new boats in 2009, this year's boat shows were crammed with talent. There was genuine innovation, a great degree of variety and a good many excellent examples of the art of boat design and building.

Our judges' task was harder that it has been for some years, but by the end of the US Sailboat Show in Annapolis, MD we had sailed and pored over enough boats to arrive at a consensus.

Southerly 57RS Winner: Flagship Monohull One day you might be power-reaching across an ocean, logging double-digit speeds under a massive A-sail set on a retracting bowsprit. On another day you may be tacking effortlessly up a narrow channel, putting the helm over and watching the self-tacking jib slam across its track, enjoying the windward bite and responsive steering of a deep-drafted performance cruiser. Or you may have nosed up to a beach, the boat sitting upright on the hard sand as the tide recedes, your children playing in the shadow of the sleek hull.

If you own a Southerly 57RS all this and more is possible, which is why we had no hesitation in singling this boat out from a strong group of contenders. Designed by Ed Dubois and built in Britain by Northshore Yachts, the 57RS is the flagship of a line of strong, seaworthy and well-crafted variable-draft sailboats. It is a bluewater-capable cruiser with a difference.

On deck, the 57RS’s opulent teak decks and aggressive styling combine with a superbly designed cockpit and a powerful, versatile double-headsail sailplan in a sophisticated package that any sailor would be proud to own.

A sophisticated package that any sailor would be proud to own.

Down below, the craftsman finish sets off an accommodation plan that’s obviously been designed by sailors who’ve put in some hard sea miles. The massive, beautifully engineered swing keel and its accompanying hardware dictates the layout, but you’d scarcely know it was there. Whichever of the two stock layouts you choose, you’ll have seaberths and private spaces to spare.

Here is a luxury cruiser whose 10ft maximum draft will stand you in good stead offshore, and whose ability to sneak up shallow rivers or take the ground on its own bottom means it can take its crew to places monohull sailors have scarcely dreamed of.