Enthusiasm Grows Across the Board Heading into Big Fort Lauderdale Show
By Peter A. Janssen
Now that the fall boat show season is well underway, it’s easy to see some trends, and to get a look at what cruising is going to look like in the years to come. For people who’ve been paying attention at least half-way, the trends are obvious: More outboard-powered boats, even among the most traditional of blue-blazer brands; more trailerable boats; more buyers who are downsizing; more cruisers who are seeking adventure; more attention (finally) to the ease-of-use factor, and more emphasis on enhancing the overall ownership experience.
I’m writing this on the opening day of the Annapolis power boat show where, despite the rain, the upbeat mood is inescapable. The Newport, Rhode Island, show, a few weeks ago, seemed like a home run across the board, and since then the mood, among many industry leaders, at least, has only improved. “This has been our best fall ever,” said Bentley Collins, vice president of marketing and sales for Sabre and Back Cove.
And the big Fort Lauderdale show (pictured above) is right around the corner; this year, under new ownership, the show starts on a Wednesday, Nov. 1, and runs through Sunday, Nov. 5, centered, as usual, at Bahia Mar, but stretching across six in-the-water locations with some 1,500 new boats. The way things are going, it should be a record-breaking show.
The trend toward outboards will accelerate tomorrow when Hunt Yachts will introduce a new 40, the flagship of its Coastal series., which now stops at 32 feet. At the Lauderdale show, Intrepid also will introduce a new 40, with two outboards. MJM Yachts, meanwhile, has already had a great success (selling about two dozen boats) with its new MJM 35z with two outboards, and it just launched an MJM 43z, with three. At the other end of the price spectrum, Ranger Tugs, one of the most successful builders in the country, just launched its R-27 with a single Yamaha 300, and it was attracting a crowd all day here, certainly helped along by its $199,937 ready-to-cruise sticker price.
Ranger Tugs and its sister company, Cutwater Boats, are trailerable, of course, which adds to their appeal. But more companies are joining that space, including the new Great Harbour TT 35 (powered by twin Suzuki 60s) that was introduced here and also drew crowds all day, including a few who were interested in trading down from larger boats.
For the long-range cruising aficionados, the new Grand Banks 60 is a major draw, while Nordhavn reports one of its best years in a long time. All these builders are making the boating experience, no matter what the size of the boat or the price on the sticker, easier and more user-friendly. “The whole idea is to enhance the user experience,” said Scott Bryant, the head of product development at Hinckley, as he walked around the company’s new 28’6” all-electric boat. “It’s different, it’s quiet, it doesn’t look like anything else in the harbor, but it lets the owner connect with his family and friends on the water, and that’s the real point.” http://flibs.com