It’s become a fine tradition: Whenever the jury from 11 leading European sailing magazines convenes for the tests, it’s blowing dogs off their chains. Last year at Ijmuiden in the Netherlands they encountered a full-on gale. This past week at the first sea trials in Southampton, it blew again, albeit 'only' a Force 9!

Archambault A27, one of the entries in the Special Boat category. Credit: YACHT&K.Andrews

Archambault A27, one of the entries in the Special Boat category. Photo YACHT&K.Andrews.

Wind speed 43.1 knots

Wind speed during the test. Photo YACHT/M.Rassy.

While the flapping tents and displays of the largest UK boat show were being dismantled and the empty floating docks swayed to the rhythm of the swells, it was down to tough business on Southampton Waters for nine of the 25 nominees.

Magnus Rassy, who brought the new HR 412, had to roll up a good chunk of the boat’s pretty Fat Furl mainsail from Elvstrom and a quarter of the genoa. But on the beam reach he left all the canvas up and soon hit 10 knots of top speed. As the hardest puffs hit, he pulled out his iPhone, knelt down behind the wind meter display to record the numbers for his Facebook page.

Dragonfly 32, tearing up the course - photo YACHT/N.Krauss

Dragonfly 32, tearing up the course. Photo - YACHT/N.Krauss.

Traveling twice as fast was the Dragonfly 32 trimaran, clocking in at a top speed of 22.7 knots. While most others only managed an up-and-down run in the test venue, the yellow rocket sped did two full laps around the entire course. Company boss Jens Quorning was logging the most miles during the three test days by a wide margin and was the only one to outrun the Red Funnel Ferry.

Halberg-Rassy 412 - photo YACHT/M.S. Kreplin

Halberg-Rassy 412hoto YACHT/M.S. Kreplin.

The fleet of nominated boats ran the gamut of the 2012/13 model year, including the solid cruising vessel Delphia 31, the MV 34, a racer with a masthead rig and the luxury cruiser Discovery 57. The tests after the Southampton Boat Show mark the beginning of the test regimen of the chosen boats. In October it’s the turn of the remaining 16 boats to demonstrate their abilities in La Spezia, Italy.

The winners will be determined after analysing the test data and long discussions among the jury members. The announcement will be made January 19, 2013, on the eve of the Düsseldorf Boat Show.

The nomiees:

Bavaria Vision 46 (see Bavaria Vision 46: First of a new generation of deck saloon cruisers)
Delphia 31 (see Delphia 31 to debut at Dusseldorf)
Jeanneau Sun Odyssey 469
RM 1260

Performance Cruiser
Dufour 36 Performance (see Dufour 36: Clever High Performer)
Grand Soleil 39 (see Grand Soleil 39: Nifty, charming and fast)
MC 34
Sly 38 (see Sly 38: Pretty can be fast, too)
XP 50 (see New 50-footer from X-Yachts)

Luxury cruisers
Amel 55
Discovery 57 (see Discovery Yachts: A British Boat Builder on the up)
Hallberg Rassy 412 (see Halberg Rassy 412: A new sporty cruiser from Sweden)
Italia 13.98
Southerly 47

Catana 59
Dragonfly 32
Nautitech 542
Outremer 5X
TNT 34

Specialty boats
Archambault A 27
Bavaria B/One (see Bavaria B One: new one-design sportsboat)
Code 0
Seascape 27 (see Seascape plans 27-foot cruiser-racer)
Vismara 50 Hybrid

Screen Shot 2014-02-07 at 11.20.08 This story originally appeared in YACHT magazine, and is republished here by permission. Translated by Dieter Loibner.