Report from New York: The Start of a Golden Age
I’ve had a special fondness for Beneteau powerboats ever since I spent a week on a Beneteau Swift Trawler 34 a few years ago, cruising the Great Loop from the top of Lake Michigan down to St. Louis. There were two of us on board, and the living was easy, the 18-knot cruising speed sure and steady, and the boat’s contemporary French looks drew compliments everywhere we went. So, when I learned that a new Beneteau, the Grand Turismo GT49, was this year’s queen of the Progressive Insurance New York Boat Show, I had to take a good look.
Before I got to the new Beneteau (pictured above), however, I ran into an old friend, the vice president of one of the largest boat builders in the U.S. (who asked not to be identified for competitive reasons). He was all smiles, saying that he’d just come from the Vancouver boat show, where his company sold more than twice as many boats this year as they had last year, and last year had been a record. Even more interesting, he said the company was making a major investment in R&D and opening new plants to meet demand. Good news all around.
Along the same lines, Thom Dammrich, the president of the National Marine Manufacturers Association, which runs the New York show, among others, reported a few days earlier that new powerboat sales rose 7 percent last year, the start of a trend he said would continue at least through 2018. In fact, Dammrich said we could be in the start of “a golden age” for boating.
With that in mind, I headed for the Beneteau exhibit, where a large sign in front of the GT49 had some interesting figures, saying the boat cost $4,374/month with 20 percent down and a 20-year loan. The price for this boat, all tricked out for the show, was $949,744, delivered in New York. Well, that was a bit above my budget, but I’m sure, with the stock market setting a record that very day, it would not be a problem for more than a few traders or hedge fund managers.
With twin Volvo IPS 600s, the luxurious new Beneteau, with an absolutely gorgeous modern interior with windows and light all around, cruises at 23 knots and tops out at 33 knots. Now that would make for a fairly comfortable cruise, on the Great Loop or anywhere else.