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Discussion Starter #1
Hi,

How would you rank the following boat manufacturers from "Best" to "Worst"? You get to determine what "best" means to you.

Catalina, Hunter, Beneteau, Jeanneau, Dufour, C&C, Tartan, Sabre, Dehler, Hanse

Feel free to add additional manufacturers if you want too.

Thanks,
Barry
 

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I think there should be some sort of use qualifier for this such as off shore, inland, protected waters.
Maybe one way of looking at this is pound per foot comparison.
 

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I'll bite - C&C, Tartan, Sabre, Catalina, Hanse, Dehler, Dufour, Beneteau, Jenneau, Hunter.

But depending on year range, the list might be higher/lower for particular brands... example: The Hunter Cherubini lines are quite good. I like certain versions of Catalinas as well over others.

S2 has some pretty high quality boats (certain years). J boats, some are better than others. WD Schock boats depending on models. Lots of other brands to consider as well.
 

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Farr 11.6 (Farr 38)
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In my mind, there is problem with this question as I see it. Almost all boat builders, who have been in business over a longer period of time, may have had better period, and better models, and some pretty crummy periods and models. That makes ranking a manufacturer very tricky.
Beyond that it seems like ranking should be based on solid criteria that might include build quality, design quality, sailing ability, seaworthiness, and suitability for it's intended purpose. But then again some folks might want to include level of fit and finish, or standard equipment, performance, or any other criteria that floats their boat, so to speak.

Then there is the horse trading, balancing say a company that has consistently built high build quality boats vs higher performance boats, vs a company that has pinnacles of grandeur as well as long plateaus of mediocrity.

There are a few companies like X-yachts who have consistently built carefully engineered, ergonomically laid out, high performance boats. Dehler used to be known for a similar consistency. There were small shops like Olsen and Holby, who had extremely high build quality but with a strong performance bias. There are some higher production number better quality production builders like CS. But boat builders who do a decent balance of criteria are a pretty rare commodity.

Jeff
 

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I like SNHOOL's list...Almost. But I am partial.

Sabre, C&C, Tartan, Catalina, Hanse, Dehler, Dufour, Beneteau, Jenneau, Hunter. I think you can put can put #4 (Catalina) through #6 (Jenneau) in about any order without much argument.

I like any boat that anyone loves and is proud of. And as always, horses for courses.

Foster-Proud owner of a Sabre 42.
 

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Catalina above Hanse and Dufour? I don't think so. Isn't it common knowledge that Jeanneau is little more than an upgraded Beneteau (same company, like Lexus and Toyota)? That order seems weird. Hunter (modern Hunter) is last. :)
 

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Discussion Starter #8
Hi Guys,

Thanks for the comments. My sort of goal was to get some feedback on what most people think. My own personal ranking would be
Sabre, Tartan, C&C, Catalina, Dehler, Jeanneau, Dufour, Hanse, Beneteau, Hunter.

I agree that there are some specific models that are better / worse than others and not all boats from one brand are equal.

Personally, I'm in the market for a newer, bigger, boat. I want a FAST CRUISER the 40' range. The boat must sail really well, and must be comfortable. No stripped racer. No shoal draft cruiser with in mast furling. An XP44 would be perfect, but WAY out of my budget. I was focusing on the Dehler 42/41 but they are impossible to find. Originally I excluded Jeanneau because most have shoal draft, in mast furling, or no traveler. However I found a Sun Odyssey 409 performance model that I hope will work for me. I also found a very nice looking Dufour 40E performance boat as well. So now I'm re-thinking my views on what boats are better or worse, and, more important for me: what boats meet my needs, regardless of perception.

Barry
 

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Farr 11.6 (Farr 38)
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If I had to rank these (plus a few that I threw in), and assuming some of these are still available, I would rank them this way:
CURRENTLY MIXED CRITERIAPERFORMANCE BEST MODELBUILD QUALITY BEST MODEL
1​
DehlerC&CX-yachts
2​
X-yachtsX-yachtsJ-Boats
3​
J-BoatsJ-BoatsDehler
4​
SabreBeneteauSabre
5​
TartanHanseBeneteau
6​
BeneteauTartanTartan
7​
JeanneauSabreHunter
8​
C&CCatalinaC&C
9​
DufourJeanneauJeanneau
10​
HanseHanseHanse
11​
CatalinaDufourCatalina
12​
HunterHunterDufour

Here is what I mean by the column titles:
Currently Mixed Criteria: This is based on the current (or most recent models if the company is essentially out of production) and on a set of criteria that are a mix of build quality, design quality, sailing ability, seaworthiness, and performance.
Performance Best Model: This is based on the highest performing boats built by that manufacturer in the past 20 or so years and not on the average model. In the case of C&C for example, they recently built a 'no-hold-barred" race boat that would out perform anything built by the other manufacturer's. That does not make it the best boat to own. X-yachts, J-Boats, and Beneteau have each built dual purpose boats which perform very well over a broad range of conditions and in that regard maybe are better boats to own.
Build quality Best Model: This is a tough one, In my mind a part of 'build quality" should include the quality of the engineering, as well as the choice of materials and methods of construction, and the associated quality control. When you look at some of these companies it gets very tough to rank them. For example, Sabre used good materials and methods and had good quality control, but the quality of the engineering was not all that great. By that I do not mean that the boats were inherently weakly engineered. But the engineering was not optimized to balance weight to strength, and ergonomic engineering was really poor, Similarly, Beneteau has produced some really poorly engineered and built boats at times, but in general, their best built boats are well engineered and have exceptionally high quality control measures in place.

Jeff
 

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If I had to rank these (plus a few that I threw in), and assuming some of these are still available, I would rank them this way:
CURRENTLY MIXED CRITERIAPERFORMANCE BEST MODELBUILD QUALITY BEST MODEL
1​
DehlerC&CX-yachts
2​
X-yachtsX-yachtsJ-Boats
3​
J-BoatsJ-BoatsDehler
4​
SabreBeneteauSabre
5​
TartanHanseBeneteau
6​
BeneteauTartanTartan
7​
JeanneauSabreHunter
8​
C&CCatalinaC&C
9​
DufourJeanneauJeanneau
10​
HanseHanseHanse
11​
CatalinaDufourCatalina
12​
HunterHunterDufour

Here is what I mean by the column titles:
Currently Mixed Criteria: This is based on the current (or most recent models if the company is essentially out of production) and on a set of criteria that are a mix of build quality, design quality, sailing ability, seaworthiness, and performance.
Performance Best Model: This is based on the highest performing boats built by that manufacturer in the past 20 or so years and not on the average model. In the case of C&C for example, they recently built a 'no-hold-barred" race boat that would out perform anything built by the other manufacturer's. That does not make it the best boat to own. X-yachts, J-Boats, and Beneteau have each built dual purpose boats which perform very well over a broad range of conditions and in that regard maybe are better boats to own.
Build quality Best Model: This is a tough one, In my mind a part of 'build quality" should include the quality of the engineering, as well as the choice of materials and methods of construction, and the associated quality control. When you look at some of these companies it gets very tough to rank them. For example, Sabre used good materials and methods and had good quality control, but the quality of the engineering was not all that great. By that I do not mean that the boats were inherently weakly engineered. But the engineering was not optimized to balance weight to strength, and ergonomic engineering was really poor, Similarly, Beneteau has produced some really poorly engineered and built boats at times, but in general, their best built boats are well engineered and have exceptionally high quality control measures in place.

Jeff
Wow! Tapatalk really scrambled your table, but after looking at it on the main site, I am curious...how is it that you rank Jeanneau build quality so far below Beneteau in build quality when they are both built in the same factory by the same people?

Of course we are have our own biases, but when it comes to the Beneteau vs Jeanneau the big difference I believe is design philosophy. Beneteau designs 2 different boats in each size range. A racer/cruiser with more emphasis on performance, and a full on cruiser. When looking at the Beneteaus built at the same time as my boat, there was the First 40.7 and the Oceanis 393. The 40.7 is a great racer cruiser that still has an active fleet, but it definitely made some sacrifices to cruising comfort and functionality. For those not interested in performance there was the 393, which checked a lot more boxes for cruisers, but in terms of sailing performance is a bit of a dog.

Jeanneau has a different philosophy. They come up with 1 design that performs well, and then they tweak performance using different trim levels. A Sun Odyssey and a SunFast (now known as Performance) are the same basic boat, but the SunFast, had taller mast, deeper keel etc, but you don't sacrifice the amenities at all.

Using this philosophy Jeanneau has consistently produced great sailing boats that perform almost as well as Beneteaus race offerings, but far better than their cruising line, and they seem more refined than the beneteaus, with better ergonomics. Perhaps that is because they focus their resources on 1 boat rather than 2.


They also design much better looking boats than Beneteau does!

I would expect build quality would be pretty much the same as Beneteaus, both of which I suspect are also similar to all the other production boats and better than some.






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I am curious...how is it that you rank Jeanneau build quality so far below Beneteau in build quality when they are both built in the same factory by the same people?

Jeanneau has a different philosophy. They come up with 1 design that performs well, and then they tweak performance using different trim levels. A Sun Odyssey and a SunFast (now known as Performance) are the same basic boat, but the SunFast, had taller mast, deeper keel etc, but you don't sacrifice the amenities at all.

Using this philosophy Jeanneau has consistently produced great sailing boats that perform almost as well as Beneteaus race offerings, but far better than their cruising line, and they seem more refined than the beneteaus, with better ergonomics. Perhaps that is because they focus their resources on 1 boat rather than 2.

I would expect build quality would be pretty much the same as Beneteaus, both of which I suspect are also similar to all the other production boats and better than some.
Here is the quick explanation, When I was looking at build quality I was looking at the best built model from each builder. Beneteau has built a number of lines of boats over the years, some have had an extremely high level of engineering and quality control. In fact the level of engineering and quality control used on some models exceeds that of many custom and low volume builders. That is not the normal off the rack 'Number', Oceanis, or Idylle series that most folks think of when they think of Beneteau. By the same token, Jeanneau has also produced some very highly engineered designs (JOD for example) but most of the more recent (last 20 years) Jeanneaus have not had the same commitment to structural and ergonomic engineering, and the related quaility control. I was tempted to move Jeanneau up the list because of the Sunfast 3300, but I thought that the ergonomics were not as well executed as they should have been for a double-handed race boat, and there has been discussion that they are not holding up as well as they perhaps should.

I will note that Jenneaus are not built in the same factory as Beneteau and that not all Beneteaus are built in the same factory or with the same standard of care.
But when it comes to the 'Mixed Criteria' which I was basing on a broader view of the current boats, for me it was a toss up between Jeanneau and the Beneteaus.

Jeff
 

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Originally I excluded Jeanneau because most have shoal draft, in mast furling, or no traveler.
All depends on your desire. If you need every last degree of pointing, you’ll need every last bit of draft. However, that also comes with the cost of access to more anchorages. If you think about it, you’ll spend substantially more time at anchor than pointing. A serious vang system really can replace a traveler, in many cases. Especially when a non-battened furling main probably isn’t the designs primary propulsion. On our in-mast setup, the 150 mast-head Genoa is doing most of the work. I would be more concerned with main sail options, if I had a fractional jib out front. We actually do have a traveler and I find I rarely bother. Modern furling systems are far more reliable than the reputation earned by their earliest ancestors. I dare say most boats crossing oceans in the various rallies have mast or boom furling.
 

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Hi Guys,

Thanks for the comments. My sort of goal was to get some feedback on what most people think. My own personal ranking would be
Sabre, Tartan, C&C, Catalina, Dehler, Jeanneau, Dufour, Hanse, Beneteau, Hunter.

I agree that there are some specific models that are better / worse than others and not all boats from one brand are equal.

Personally, I'm in the market for a newer, bigger, boat. I want a FAST CRUISER the 40' range. The boat must sail really well, and must be comfortable. No stripped racer. No shoal draft cruiser with in mast furling. An XP44 would be perfect, but WAY out of my budget. I was focusing on the Dehler 42/41 but they are impossible to find. Originally I excluded Jeanneau because most have shoal draft, in mast furling, or no traveler. However I found a Sun Odyssey 409 performance model that I hope will work for me. I also found a very nice looking Dufour 40E performance boat as well. So now I'm re-thinking my views on what boats are better or worse, and, more important for me: what boats meet my needs, regardless of perception.

Barry
I would rank them similar to what you have, although I don't think I would rank Catalina that high.

Sabre and Tartan are premium brands that are going to cost a lot more. C&C are also pretty pricey, and tend to be more performance oriented. We had a close look at a C&C 121 before we bought. I was tempted by the performance aspects, but it was an epic fail when it came to interior design, storage and layout. The Jeanneaus and Beneteaus were much better thought out as cruising boats.

The X-yachts and Dehlers are very nice, but again, they are much more expensive than the typical production yacht. A friend of mine has an XP44 that he plans to do transpac, vic Maui etc on, but also family cruising. Things like a cavernous sail locker in the foredeck, and a cockpit table that stows into its own compartment in the cockpit sole are great touches, but that boat would cost more than double what I paid for mine.

The nice thing about Jeanneaus is that they seem to find a good balance between interior space, comfort and performance. They are typically faster than a similar sized Catalina, Beneteau, Bavaria or Hunter. (Based on phrf numbers and anecdotal evidence)

It is interesting that you see only shoal draft and furling main Jeanneau models where you are. Here it is quite the opposite. Of course shoal draft are not very popular here, but I see far more furling mains on Beneteaus, Hunters and Catalinas. More often than not Jeanneaus have classic mains and stack packs, at least until you get up over 45ft. The reasoning given by my broker is that people opting for Jeanneaus are doing so because they want the better performance they offer.


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I have no practical experience with these mfgs... guessing

:) Contest ;)

Dufour
Dehler
Sabre
Beneteau
Jeanneau
Hanse
C&C
Tartan
Catalina
Hunter
 

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Originally I excluded Jeanneau because most have shoal draft, in mast furling, or no traveler. However I found a Sun Odyssey 409 performance model that I hope will work for me.
Barry
My Jeanneau 39i has batten cars for the main, and a 6'7" keel as well as a traveler. Also a removable bowsprit and German sheeting system, so it depends on the model. I think those things are common among the Sun Odyssey model after 2008.
As for that list, I'm curious to know how Catalina gets ranked so high. C&C ate Tartan, so they are pretty interchangeable, yeah? X-Yachts I love and someday will grow up to be able to afford one!
 

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My Jeanneau 39i has batten cars for the main, and a 6'7" keel as well as a traveler. Also a removable bowsprit and German sheeting system, so it depends on the model. I think those things are common among the Sun Odyssey model after 2008.
As for that list, I'm curious to know how Catalina gets ranked so high. C&C ate Tartan, so they are pretty interchangeable, yeah? X-Yachts I love and someday will grow up to be able to afford one!
The German sheeting is not stock on the 39i, it must have been a mod by the previous owner. As far as I know Jeanneau didn't start using German sheeting until the next generation.

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I think this is silly. A bunch of internet forum posters ranking boats they probably have never even been on by make, not ever a specific model.

Here is all I can say
  • I own a 2001 Hunter 410. Have owned it 10 years including the last 4.5 full time cruising. It has had ZERO built issues!
  • I used to have a 1988 Cal-39 and owned for it 2 years. I didnt have any build issues either really. But its 1988 high quality build method was crap compared to 2001 Hunter build methods.
 

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I think this is silly. A bunch of internet forum posters ranking boats they probably have never even been on by make, not ever a specific model.

Here is all I can say
  • I own a 2001 Hunter 410. Have owned it 10 years including the last 4.5 full time cruising. It has had ZERO built issues!
  • I used to have a 1988 Cal-39 and owned for it 2 years. I didnt have any build issues either really. But its 1988 high quality build method was crap compared to 2001 Hunter build methods.
I agree with Don's basic premise. I answer the thread with no actual experience and so I rated them on no other criteria than appearance.

Like so many polls if you have no experience your opinion is of no value.
 

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I think this is silly. A bunch of internet forum posters ranking boats they probably have never even been on by make, not ever a specific model.

Here is all I can say
  • I own a 2001 Hunter 410. Have owned it 10 years including the last 4.5 full time cruising. It has had ZERO built issues!
  • I used to have a 1988 Cal-39 and owned for it 2 years. I didnt have any build issues either really. But its 1988 high quality build method was crap compared to 2001 Hunter build methods.
I will start by saying that I have spent time sailing on and in most cases been through a survey of, and/or helped do repairs and maintenance on boats from every manufacturer that I commented on. In some cases I have had detailed experience with multiple models and dozens of examples over a long period of those company's production runs.

Regarding Hunter in particular, in the late 1990's and early 2000's, I ended up doing a deep dive into Hunter build quality. That process included hours of in depth conversations and dozens of emails. I also spoke with a half dozen surveyors.

The surveyors agreed that Hunter did the best job of building boats that were compliant with ABYC standards, and which generally held up better than the big four mass production builders of the day. (Catalina, Hunter, Bavaria, and Beneteau.) They further said Hunter tended to do better than many more respected brands in meeting standards.

The Beneteau's of the era also held up very well but more frequently had issues of ABYC non-compliance issues, and Euro-centric build choice preferences that were at odds with US preferences.

Bavaria had similar issues to those of Beneteau, but Bavarias tended to have more build quality issues than the others above.

Universally, the surveyors agreed that Catalina had the largest number of serious issues both in terms of non-compliance and structural issues. There was an agreement between the surveyors that matched my own observations that Catalinas seemed to appear worn more rapidly than the other three brands.

Now all of that was 20 years ago. Catalina and Beneteau have improved build quality. Bavaria is not much of a player, and Hunter is an entirely different brand that seems like a mix of some better ideas and some less appealing build details.

In my conversations with Hunter, I was impressed with the focus on achieving a reasonable build quality and low maintenance product that was well suited for it's purpose, at a good value pricing.But there was a lot of candour about what that intended purpose was. Largely Hunters were targeted towards coastal cruisers who sailed thier boats around a 1000 hours or less per year. Creature comforts and ergonomics were another major focus, as was delivering a reasonably well equipped standard product.

In that discussion, certain construction compromises were discussed with those compromised details being acknowledged as sellected because of some mix of ease of construction, cost savings or speed of construction. All were seen as being suitable and more than adequate for the typical use of their boats.

I came away thinking that Hunter, more than any other brand gets unfairly treated by the court of public opinion, especially for those who plan to use their boat as intended.

Jeff
 

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I will start by saying that I have spent time sailing on and in most cases been through a survey of, and/or helped do repairs and maintenance on boats from every manufacturer that I commented on. In some cases I have had detailed experience with multiple models and dozens of examples over a long period of those company's production runs.

Regarding Hunter in particular, in the late 1990's and early 2000's, I ended up doing a deep dive into Hunter build quality. That process included hours of in depth conversations and dozens of emails. I also spoke with a half dozen surveyors.

The surveyors agreed that Hunter did the best job of building boats that were compliant with ABYC standards, and which generally held up better than the big four mass production builders of the day. (Catalina, Hunter, Bavaria, and Beneteau.) They further said Hunter tended to do better than many more respected brands in meeting standards.

The Beneteau's of the era also held up very well but more frequently had issues of ABYC non-compliance issues, and Euro-centric build choice preferences that were at odds with US preferences.

Bavaria had similar issues to those of Beneteau, but Bavarias tended to have more build quality issues than the others above.

Universally, the surveyors agreed that Catalina had the largest number of serious issues both in terms of non-compliance and structural issues. There was an agreement between the surveyors that matched my own observations that Catalinas seemed to appear worn more rapidly than the other three brands.

Now all of that was 20 years ago. Catalina and Beneteau have improved build quality. Bavaria is not much of a player, and Hunter is an entirely different brand that seems like a mix of some better ideas and some less appealing build details.

In my conversations with Hunter, I was impressed with the focus on achieving a reasonable build quality and low maintenance product that was well suited for it's purpose, at a good value pricing.But there was a lot of candour about what that intended purpose was. Largely Hunters were targeted towards coastal cruisers who sailed thier boats around a 1000 hours or less per year. Creature comforts and ergonomics were another major focus, as was delivering a reasonably well equipped standard product.

In that discussion, certain construction compromises were discussed with those compromised details being acknowledged as sellected because of some mix of ease of construction, cost savings or speed of construction. All were seen as being suitable and more than adequate for the typical use of their boats.

I came away thinking that Hunter, more than any other brand gets unfairly treated by the court of public opinion, especially for those who plan to use their boat as intended.

Jeff
I agree with Don that it is a but silly for people to be ranking boats that they have little or no experience with.

My opinions of different brands is based largely on my personal preferences, as well as discussions with people within my sailing circle, which, to be fair, does include quite a few "industry professionals" for whatever that is worth. (I am sure they have their own biasses!)

Newer Hunters have always had a bad reputation in my circles, which happens to include a lot of racers and performance sailors. It is widely held that they heavily emphasize maximum interior volume and comfort over sailing performance and ergonomics. I don't think anyone could argue that your average Hunter is fast. For some people that doesn't matter, and for those people Hunters will rank higher on their list due to other factors they bring to the table. For me they weren't even a consideration.

As for ABYC compliance, that does seem to be more of a North American thing. European boats do not seem to place the same importance on that. I have found a number of things on my boat that don't comply with ABYC recommendations. Those items would not cost anything for the builder to change, so clearly they are doing it differently because they disagree with ABYC. I am not sure a builder should be ranked lower on that basis. ABYC is not a governing body, and their recommendations are not code.

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