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Our man in Europe, TIM THOMAS, reports on the exciting recreational boating industry now beating to a different, up-tempo drum. Here are the world beaters, boat-show picks and swanky new Euro craft to watch this season…


The boat-buying public may have been quiet over the last couple of years in Europe, but the builders themselves appear to have been busier than ever. That was certainly the impression in Europe last September, as the Autumn boat-show season kicked off with a bang. We were on hand to sample the boats to watch this season.

First came the glamorous Salon Nautique de Cannes (otherwise known as the Cannes International Boat & Yacht Show), followed just two days later by the more down-to-earth PSP Southampton Boat Show. Between them, dozens of new models had their premieres leading to some speculation about a new collective noun for mass debuts — an "avalaunch", perhaps...

Indeed, September was a busy month for shows, with Cannes and Southampton followed by the impossibly extravagant Monaco Yacht Show closing out the month in style — and in a style that doesn't come cheap...

Over the past decade, the Cannes show has grown into one of the largest in Europe, where rakish and exotic models — the ones who wear impossibly high heels and designer dresses — flood the Vieux Port's quays and pontoons, and where Cote d'Azur chic and designer shopping are as much a part of the show experience as the yachts themselves.

Opening just two days before the Southampton show, many builders used Cannes to launch their new models on the world, leading organisers to claim an impressive 139 "new models" at the 2010 edition of the show.

Like the clientele, many of the yachts fell into the category of "exotic", with such design masterpieces as Art of Kinetik's Hedonist and Mazokist models, Windy's SR 52 Blackbird, and the Aquariva by Gucci stealing the show. But for those with more conventional tastes, there were plenty of new and agreeable boats to whet the appetite.

The Ferretti Group's range of brands had a strong showing, with the Pershing 50.1, Ferretti 800, Mochi Dolphin 74 Cruiser and an updated version of the Navetta 26 Crescendo sitting alongside the Custom Line 124 — the yard's largest planing model to date.

Grand Banks debuted its new, and very impressive, 53 Aleutian RP (raised pilothouse) yacht (watch Trade-a-Boat for test this year), while Sealine chose Cannes for the world premiere of the new F42. Similarly, Fairline rolled out the recently renamed Squadron 42 (it was previously known as the Squadron 41), while at the upper end of the food chain was Gulf Craft's Majesty 125 — a pocket superyacht offered at a price that makes it a little more accessible than you might think, although the trade-off is perhaps
a level of finish that, on the first hull at least, lacks a little of the finesse that usually comes with the superyacht territory.

Still, with Gulf Craft claiming Australia as one of its top-six sales territories, and with the yacht offered at an excellent price point, it might not be that long before you see one in a marina near you...

It would be easy to feel sorry for the PSP Southampton Boat Show. Starting just two days after opening day at Cannes, and ending just before the opening day of Monaco, it can sometimes feel like Europe's poor relation — particularly when Cannes offers so many of the European and worldwide debuts.

When you mix in the vagaries of the UK weather (and the clothing choices of the average tyre-kicker) it suddenly becomes quite a depressing thought. But make no mistake, Southampton is one of the world's largest in-water shows, and what it lacks in bling and elan, it more than makes up for in the sheer volume of "sensible" boats on display.

Visitor figures of a snip over 122,000 people over the 10-day show — just up on last year — demonstrate the popularity of Southampton on the show calendar. The range of new yachts was extensive — around 50 new models were on display, 14 of them making their world premieres at the show. Every budget was catered for, from a £GB150 Chinese-built tender (a surprising good design, one might add), to the new flagship of the Sunseeker range — the 40 Metre Yacht.

Between these extremes lay a variety of interesting options, each battling for its own breathing room in an increasingly crowded market sector. The sailing cruiser market featured a bumper crop of new models, including Jeanneau's new Sun Odyssey 409, the Cruiser 40 and Cruiser 45 from Bavaria, the new Dehler 45, Hanse's new 445, the 375 from French builder Dufour, the XC38, and the Contest 50CS alongside Southerly's new flagship, the 57. Delphia Yachts showed its new 40.2 and 47 models, while Euro-giant Beneteau weighed in with the new First 30 and the Sense 50, as well as showing it's new pod-drive, easy-docking system. If space was more important than looks (beauty is only skin deep, after all) then the new Lagoon 450 catamaran offered a volume-for-buck ratio that would be hard to beat.

The motoryacht sector was equally well-represented, with the new Princess 42 going head-to-head with the Sealine F42 and Fairline Squadron 42, which had both been shown at Cannes. Princess also showed its new V52 and the latest flybridge cruiser 64 which, interestingly, faced up to Sunseeker's impressive Manhattan 63. The launch of the latter, which under normal circumstances might perhaps have warranted a major fanfare on its own, was overshadowed by the arrival of the yard's 40 Metre Yacht, fresh from the company's Poole build facility just along the coast. Other debuts included Jeanneau's innovative NC11, new cabin cruisers from Bavaria and Beneteau, a sweet gentleman's launch (with attitude) in the form of the Dale 23 from Nelson, and the wicked 9m Scorpion Strike RIB.

The most important aspect of Southampton, however, was the chance to swap the cocktails, champagne, Gucci and pretension of Cannes and Monaco for some good, honest beer and a pack-a-mac (aka raincoat). And, as everyone knows, the Guinness stand at the show is where the serious business is conducted.

What can you say about Monaco? It's certainly not a show for mere mortals. With only 90-odd yachts on display, it would be easy to dismiss it, but when you realise that that equates to hardware cumulatively running into the billions, from the latest J Class to 90m motoryachts, you begin to realise that perhaps the world is not as economically challenged as the press would have you believe. Add to that another 100 superyachts sitting at anchor in the bay, and you have a truly other-worldly experience.

If there is a measure of a boat show, it is, perhaps, not the yachts sitting on the pontoons but the gear that resides in the shore tents. At Southampton, it's all about small-boat electronics, fenders, foul-weather gear and fishing rods. At Cannes, it's about jetskis, toys and watermakers. At Monaco, it's about exotic cars, gold taps, chinchilla cushions, satellite communications — any number of accoutrements that would, in fact, buy you an entire boat at one of the other shows.

The highlights at the Monaco Yacht Show, therefore, extend beyond the purely nautical. Enter, for example, the Vox Olympian speakers from Definitive Audio. Taking pride of place on just another stand in one of the equipment tents, these beasts were custom built in the UK by an audiophile company specialising in bespoke audio equipment, and which has previously been commissioned to build vibration-isolating hi-fi stands, and speakers in the shape of moon rockets for previous yacht clients. The speakers, finished in handcrafted woods, gun-metal bronze and marble, employ a sophisticated design that allows them to compensate for any form of awkward acoustic space that might be found on yer average superyacht. These masterpieces of design could be yours for a mere £GB285,000 per pair.

Similarly, if you want to best possible tan you need the best possible sunbed. This is where the Lasy Solar comes in. Add it to your flybridge, and you gain a large, round sunpad that uses a solar-powered motor to rotate the bed, tracking the sun and ensuring the best possible tanning angle. Controlled from your iTouch or similar device, it includes pop-up fine-mist nozzles to keep you cool in the midday heat, and it is fully customisable. What price this bliss? €110,000 — starting price — since you ask. It could only be the Monaco Yacht Show.

If you're bored of your PlayStation or fancy a large Sunseeker but can't convince your bank manager (or your wife) to front the money, then you need to give electronics giant Raymarine a call. On display at Southampton, lifted from Raymarine's UK HQ, was the company's very own Predator 84 simulator. Taking a full mock-up of the yacht's interior helm, complete with glass bridge, and adding a series of wraparound LCD screens, the Raymarine test bed uses advanced ship-simulation software to allow you to take the helm and practice manoeuvring, navigation and even extended passages from the comfort of your (large) lounge at home. A hit of the Southampton show, and definitely one of the coolest 'toys' out there.


This 31ft pocket deck saloon from German builder Sirius made its debut at Southampton. The fact that there was no fanfare reflects the understated nature of the yard, which has no dealer network, although it has sold its yachts all over the world. The secret is in the incredible level of thought that goes into the design. For example, this baby cruiser has countless interior layout options, plus various rig and keel configurations, but more than that is the pure level of detail. Everything, from bin placement to a workshop with bench and toolbox seat, has been thought of and included. Add to that a good quality of build and the ability even to specify a series of hull windows (for an under-saloon second guest double cabin) and you have a truly remarkable, fully customisable pocket cruiser that puts yachts twice its size to shame. Genius.

Norwegian builder Windy is perhaps best known for its moderately conventional range of cabin cruisers and dayboats, so you can imagine the gawps that this baby received on her launch at Cannes. Designed by Ed Dubois and intended no doubt partly to appeal to the superyacht tender market, this startling 52ft dayboat appears a radical departure for the yard. She sports triple IPS600 diesels which push her to 46kts, with a cruise speed of around 40kts. The tongue-in-cheek reference to the Lockheed SR 71 Blackbird is well observed — she is magnificent at speed, and has a superb hull that really makes her fly. Rumour has it that Windy had to change her hull branding from a straight 'W' to 'Windy' as people thought she was from the iconic Wally stable — a rare compliment indeed.

Born from a new Croatian yard and debuted at Cannes, this extraordinary 63ft boat aims to marry classic mahogany to modern design. The result is a blend of pure style and sculpted beauty, but fortunately form does not come at the cost of function. Her hull delivers a superb ride and excellent manoeuvrability, even in a reasonable seaway, and her triple Rolls-Royce KaMeWa jet drives, powered by three 800hp MAN engines, give her a top speed of 40kts and a cruise speed of around 33kts. For all the dazzling design work and beautiful craftsmanship though, the highlight is hidden under the triangular aft sunpad — a made-to-order 1+1 baby version adorably called the Hedonist Mini Me. Johnny Depp apparently tipped his hat to this boat as she cruised past his yacht in Monaco — enough said.

Launched at Southampton, this new flagship of the Southerly range is another to come from the boards of well-known superyacht designer Ed Dubois and the Northshore team. The result is a sleek, stylish performance cruiser with several big-boat features, including an aft tender garage accessed via an opening transom, a large raised saloon that is spacious inside while keeping a sleek profile outside, a slippery hull with a long waterline and fine entry, and a lifting keel to allow for visiting shallow anchorages. Her well-equipped galley is designed to cater for a large number of guests, but the kicker is that she can also be sailed by just two people. The Dubois studio is already working on a Southerly 67 design.

She looked good on paper, and in reality she was my pick of the show at Cannes. "The idea was to build the most Italian boat possible," says MCY’s MD, Carla Demaria. "The real innovation in the 76 comes in the production process, which allows for a 40 per cent reduced build-time, while upgrading the quality." All this means a 23m flybridge yacht at a base price of €2.5 million, a million Euros less than its typical competition. And all this with "superyacht details", as Demaria puts it. These include solid stylistic cues throughout the interior both in finish and in layout, an open-plan saloon, a generous aft master cabin complete with walk-in wardrobe, and a wonderful foredeck seating and dining area. Definitely one to watch.

You can always trust Sunseeker to kick off a boat show with a song and dance, and this year Southampton was graced with the operatic warbles of singing sensation Katherine Jenkins, who was on hand for the worldwide launch of the Sunseeker 40 Metre Yacht, fresh from the Sunseeker yard in Poole, UK. Entrepreneur and TV’s Dragons’ Den star Theo Pahpetis dropped in to cut the ribbon on the largest yacht at the show, whose sleek lines, opening balconies, vast deck spaces and comprehensive superyacht interior were dwarfed only by a huge cruise ship docked nearby. The 40 Metre Yacht is the largest launched so far by the yard and has been described as taking the best elements of the 37MY model, while adding an ocean-going bow, raked stern and large hull ports for the lower deck guest cabins.

The new 42 from Princess is not quite a brand-new model, rather she is a reworked version of one of the most popular models in the Princess range. She features enhanced styling complete with wraparound windscreen and revised, sleeker windows and ports, and she offers plenty of social spaces both inside and up on her flybridge, which has a generous U-settee with an integrated sunbed aft. Her interior styling is modern, but incorporates several practical elements — for example, her saloon two-seater, moveable settee converts into an occasional double bed for when extra guests turn up. And turn up they may well might — first impressions suggest that Princess has upped its own game in terms of finish quality, making this fast family cruiser a real contender in the 40-foot bracket.

It was perhaps telling that the latest Squadron received a name change shortly before her world debut at Cannes from a 41 to a 42 — and one could speculate that the decision was a direct response to the launches of the Princess 42 and the Sealine F42. Nevertheless, the 42 is a strong offering in a competitive bracket. Of note are the starboard guest cabin, which almost doubles in size when the twin doors to the en suite are open, and a decent main deck saloon area. She is offered with two power options — twin Volvo Penta D6-370 engines, which give a top speed of 28kts, or twin D6-435 engines for a top speed of 31kts. It will be interesting to see how she fairs against stiff competition from Sealine and Princess.

While she may not sport the sleek-styled profile of some of her competitors, Sealine's latest flybridge cruiser boasts solid build quality, excellent natural light for the main deck interior and one of the largest flybridges in class with adaptable seating that doubles as a large aft sunbed. A replacement for the F42/5, she comes with Volvo IPS propulsion offering joystick control, an open-plan main deck layout, and five berths as standard. Interestingly, Sealine's new managing director in the UK, Chris O'Connor, told me during the Cannes show that unlike its rivals, Sealine will not be looking to extend its range upwards into the pocket superyacht bracket, but will instead look to concentrate on expanding into the entry-level market at the lower end of the size range. Watch this space.

ELAN 350
Although the Elan 350 was launched earlier in the summer, she was one of the standout sailing yachts at the Southampton show. Why? Because she borrows hull design cues from grand prix racers and maxis, carrying a distinctive chine to her aft quarters. This represents a step change in the performance cruiser/club racer concept, and the result is a dynamic yacht that is superb to sail. Designer Rob Humphreys explains: "The chine is more marginal at this displacement than on, say, a Volvo racer, but it does increase waterplane inertia and it helps with helm when pressed. Moreover, it allows a beamier cockpit, with more space between the twin wheels. The T-keel arrangement keeps displacement low, and keeps the yacht in planning mode. It means also you can cruise at 10 or 11kts and be completely comfortable." Not bad for a 35-footer.

Photos: Cannes boat show at night; Sunbake rotisserie-style on the Lasy Solar sunbed; Art of Kinetik’s Hedonist; Elan 350; Fairline Squadron 42; Monte Carlo Yachts 76; Princess 42; Sealine F42; Sirius 31DS; Southerly 57RS; Sunseeker 40 Metre Yacht: Windy SR 52 Blackbird.


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