Just as the U.S. Sailboat Show in Annapolis is the one essential showcase for American builders and importers, so the annual Boot show held in Düsseldorf, Germany is the one event where all the big players—and many not-so-big ones—have to exhibit their wares. Each January, the sprawling complex of hangar-like halls alongside the mighty Rhine hosts the world’s biggest boat show and nearly a quarter of a million sailors, powerboaters, scuba divers, kayakers and just plain watersports fans make their annual pilgrimage.
Naturally, the German boatbuilders are there in force, none more so than the Hanse group, which encompasses Hanse, Moody, Dehler and the Fjord powerboat line. Of the new models, the Hanse 575 had the biggest presence. A long waterline, plenty of beam and towering topsides make this an exceptionally roomy boat even for its size; one of my favorite features was the dinghy garage that swallows a 10ft tender. The first example is due in North American waters this spring, and we should see another at the fall boat shows.
I was also taken with the new Hanse 345, which succeeds the 355. This is a big little boat, right from the broad transom with its fold-down swim platform to the long cockpit and the capacious, cheerfully finished interior with its multitude of hatches and portlights. By all rights, this should be another winner for Hanse.
Not to be outdone, Bavaria Yachts introduced its new Cruiser 56, which is based on the slippery Farr-designed hull of the 55, but with a new deck layout and a choice of six accommodation plans. It too boasts a dinghy garage, and the boat on show had one of the most practical galley layouts I’ve seen. Also making its debut was the Vision 42, smaller sister to the pretty and practical Vision 46 introduced last year. Combining most of the 46’s features with a compact, easily managed and less expensive hull/rig package, the smaller Vision should win lots of friends. It’s interesting to see that the 46’s versatile cockpit ergonomics, including the ability to lower the table to form a double bed, is now being widely copied. A couple of years back it was drop-down transoms that caught on across the board. Now it’s cockpit sunbeds.
Moving on, I came across the gorgeous new Grand Soleil 47. There is something about these boats that demands a double-take every time you walk past to admire the harmonious lines that this yard gets right every time. This is more than just a boat for posing around Mediterranean marinas: the interior is sweetly styled and practical, and performance promises to be excellent as well.
The new Elan 400, a Rob Humphreys design that just oozes machismo with its broad-shouldered hull, complete with aggressive chines, retracting sprit, twin rudders and a stiletto of a keel, made me wish the Slovenian yard would step up its marketing in the United States. The Premier 45 is a Botin & Carkeek creation from Dubai, with an e-glass/carbon fiber composite hull, a carbon fiber deck and rig, and a functional cruising interior fitted out with cored composite bulkheads and furniture. Then there was the sharp-looking Dehler 38, another lightweight flyer from the brand that has produced so many hot performers over the years. I drooled over the new Dragonfly 32 tri from Denmark, and was suitably awed by the GC32 one-design cat with its sexy curved daggerboards.
In cruising mode, I looked over Jeanneau’s new Sun Odyssey 469 and admired not only its flowing lines—this current generation of Jeanneaus is the best-looking yet—but the roomy, well-fitted out interior and generous storage. Meanwhile, Beneteau’s new Oceanis 55 attracted such a steady stream of admirers that it was difficult to squeeze past them on the show’s opening day. It has as much room as any cruising couple could reasonably demand, along with an easily handled, powerful rig that should put 200-mile days within the reach of competent sailors.
Three new boats from Dufour marked a resurgence for the French yard, whose Grand Large cruising line was starting to show its age in this era of ever-accelerating obsolescence. I especially liked the new GL 410, a sporty-looking boat with an excellent cruising interior and enough sail area for fast passage times and fun daysailing. The new 450 and 500 models were impressive too.
See Peter's entire photo gallery from Boot