Thursday, May 23

Miami Recap: More Energy, More Enthusiasm, More Innovation

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It’s easy to sum up the just-ended Miami boat shows with one word: Energy. There was so much going on, between the boat show on Virginia Key and the yacht show downtown, that the energy was almost palpable.

The logistics of traveling between the shows was not easy, but once you arrived there were new boat intros just about everywhere, new hull shapes (foils, anyone?), boats with seven outboards (yours only has two?), boats with hybrid power to keep your cruising quiet, green and potentially unlimited, and  boats with artificial intelligence that prevents you from running into the dock (you never have to worry about docking again!). Yes, indeed, lots going on.

In the new boat department, the very sleek Palm Beach GT50 Open had its world debut at the Sea Isle Marina, part of the downtown yacht show (actually, just across Venetian Causeway). It was next to the Grand Banks 60 Skylounge (its sister company), and the two offered different kinds of cruising, but both on high-tech, slippery hulls that provide both fuel efficiency and performance. The company is on a roll: a new Grand Banks 52 will debut in Cannes next September, while the first flagship Grand Banks 85 has already been sold, even though it won’t splash for two years.

Next to Grand Banks, the Sabre and Back Cove display was always busy, with the new Back Cove 340 twin-outboard cruiser getting a lot of attention. Several people were asking about the new Sabre 58 Salon Express, a three-stateroom, three-head, IPS950-powered cruiser that is now under construction in Rockland, Maine. It will be launched this summer. Bentley Collins, the Sabre and Back Cove VP of marketing and sales, said that five of the new 58s have been sold so far, with several customers moving up from the popular Sabre 48 (the company has sold 130 of its 48 so far). Price for the new 58: $2.5 million.

For its part, Beneteau celebrated the sale of its 300th Swift Trawler 44, one of its most popular cruisers ever. The two-stateroom, flybridge 44 seems the right size for a family or a couple with occasional visiting friends, and it has enough speed (23 knots) to make cruising easy and affordable.

Greenline had its new hybrid solar/electric/diesel 48 Coupe at the show. It was called the Great Loop Edition, and it would be an asset cruising there or just about anywhere else I can think of in the coastal U.S. or Canada. It also was filled with an enormous amount of natural light from windows all around, which would make cruising or living aboard a pleasure.

Aquila introduced its new 30 catamaran with twin 250-hp Mercury Verado outboards at the boat show, while the company announced it had tested foils on its Aquila 36, powered by two 350-hp Verados. The foils, a $27,000 option, added speed, fuel-efficiency and stability, according to the company. (During the show Beneteau announced that it had just tested foils for its boats in France.)

Sirena displayed two of its new 58s at the yacht show. The Turkish builder said it was expanding its business in the U.S. and had signed up East Coast Yacht Sales and Spring Brook Marina near Chicago as new dealers. Sirena will launch a new flagship 88 in May.

There was a lot of interest in the new CL 76 and 72 at the show. CL is a new line from Cheoy Lee, one of the most venerable builders in the world with a 130-year history.

Mercury introduced a 400-hp outboard, its largest yet for the recreational market. Outboards seemed to dominate the shows. Indeed, both Scout and Cigarette launched boats with six Mercury outboards.

Tiara launched its new Sport 38 LS with two massive 527-hp Seven Marine outboards from Volvo. The outboards, with Volvo’s DuoProps, offer the same performance as Volvo’s IPS, which was introduced 15 years ago and revolutionized much of the inboard market.

Hinckley showed its new 40 Sport Boat with three 300-hp Mercury outboards, while Ocean Alexander introduced its new 45 Divergence with four 350-hp Mercury outboards. Here is an example of two top-end builders turning to the increasingly popular outboard market for performance and ease of boating.

On the high-tech front, Raymarine demonstrated its new AI assisted docking system, called DockSense, on a new Prestige 460 with twin Volvos and a Boston Whaler 330 Outrage with twin 300-hp Mercury outboards. DockSense uses FLIR cameras and vision analytics to create a no-go zone, called a Virtual Bumper, around the boat. You set the zone, usually three feet, and the boat simply will not go there if it detects an object – a dock, say, or a piling. Then you use the joystick to ease into your slip without worrying about hitting anything. You can’t. I tried it. Very cool.


















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