A dedicated cruising boat from a Danish brand perhaps better known for crossover racer/cruisers: the Xc 35. A German yacht with an important American connection – its naval architects, Farr Yacht Design, are based in Annapolis, Maryland – from a builder that continues to make strong inroads into the U.S. market: the Bavaria 37. And finally, a French design to be built in the company’s Marion, South Carolina plant that comes in various stages of fit and finish depending on the owner’s budget and sailing agenda: the Beneteau Oceanis 35.

Once again, the judging panel was tasked to sift through very different mission statements to determine which boat best suited its stated design brief in the Mid-Size Cruiser category. The boat they ultimately chose sported the year’s most versatile layout and accommodations: the Beneteau Oceanis 35.
A sister ship to the company’s Oceanis 38, introduced last year, the new 35-footer shares an unusual but incredibly well imagined and executed interior plan from Nauta Design. “This is a very interesting boat,” said judge Tim Murphy. “The interior, I think, is great. The floor plan in the main saloon is completely open with no forward bulkhead, which is very unusual, but it works. They offer the boat in three stages, so you can buy it as a daysailer with no galley whatsoever, and then up through two more levels, as a weekender or a full-on cruiser. We were on so many other boats this year, many of them in the mid-40-foot range and larger, and my notes over and over again say the Oceanis 35 compares favorably with them.
“There are just so many little things that add up,” he continued. “For instance, on this 35-footer, there’s a separate head with a completely separate shower room. The aft cabin is a wonderful space. Those are always a challenge to get that space to actually work under the complex curves of the cockpit sole, but they nailed it. In the main cabin, there are windows in the hull, which you see on more and more boats. I liked sitting down there when we were sailing, with the light coming in, watching the shoreline and the water pass by. I reviewed a 58-footer recently with the same features, and the view on the Oceanis 35 was exactly the same. I think that’s quite a nice thing.”

“The target market, I believe, is the millennial generation, the kids who played with Transformer toys,” said judge Mark Schrader. “They’ll have a number of different things to do with the interior here, it’s really very clever. The Lewmar steering package was very smooth, and the mechanical installations were good. The cockpit was huge, thanks to a wide, wide transom. It’s a lot of boat in 35-feet. They also offer a 7-year hull and structural warranty, 3 years on equipment, and all the warranty work goes directly through Beneteau.”
That final point earned Schrader’s vote, and ultimately, his fellow judges, too. “I like a company that stands behind what it makes,” he said.
Cruising World Magazine’s Editor-in-Chief Mark Pilsbury announcing the new Beneteau Oceanis 35 as the Best 2015 Midsize Cruiser Award winner! Left to Right: Mark Pilsbury, Murray Yacht Sales’ Bill Wright, Stanton Murray & Michael James at the Miami International Boat Show.