Skip to main content

Annapolis 2012: Innovation and then Some

If the recent Annapolis Boat Show were to have a theme song it would have to be Dylan’s “Times they are a Changing”—and not just because of the weather, which went from semi-tropical to polar in the space of only a few hours Saturday afternoon.
  • Author:
  • Updated:
    Original:

If the recent Annapolis Boat Show were to have a theme song it would have to be Dylan’s “Times they are a Changing”—and not just because of the weather, which went from semi-tropical to polar in the space of only a few hours Saturday afternoon.

It’s no secret that the boatbuilding industry has been experiencing rough times ever since the economic crash of 2008. But after years of waiting, things are finally looking up—for real this time. Major builders like Beneteau and Fontaine Pajot reported strong sales, good traffic and plenty of prospects for the future. Lower-volume builders reportedly had a good show as well.

“We’re optimistic that the conversations we started with people in Annapolis will result in sales down the road,” said Michael Beers of Maroneck-based McMichael Yachts Brokers, which deals in a number of brands including J/Boats, C&C, Tartan and, most recently, Hanse. “The mood is definitely better. I don’t know if we’ve ‘turned the corner’ yet, but we’ve definitely made a ‘soft right.’”

From an attendee’s perspective, the show also offered plenty of changes to chew on—especially with respect to new boats. According to Beers, with dealer’s inventories falling, new models are very much in the driver’s seat with respect to sales, and the result has been a plethora of boats to choose from.

The ongoing “innovation arms race” taking place within the industry was particularly in evidence along Dock C in the multihull area, which featured such cutting edge designs as the Neel 45 performance cruiser, the SeaRail 19 and Motive 25R performance trimarans, the spunky little Zen 24 sloop and even a bright yellow 31-foot proa design from Chesapeake Light Craft.

Other standouts included two blisteringly fast carbon fiber racing machines—the MC38 one-design and the Ker 40 —from Australia’s McConaghy and the Farr-designed B/One.

On the less radical end of the spectrum were Tartan’s new Fantail, the first of the new Vision series from Bavaria and a brand-new 40-footer from Hunter that reportedly went from a blank sheet of paper stage to sailing in around eight weeks. Despite having only recently passed through bankruptcy, the 40-year-old Hunter clearly has its eyes on remaining a force in the industry for years to come.

In all, there were some two-dozen new boats to choose from, not to mention dozens more models that are “nearly new” having been introduced within the past couple of years. The optimism and industry that has been displayed by builders and designers during the course of the current economic slowdown has been nothing less than incredible.

In the gear area, new products included everything from the latest in gee-whizz wireless, like Simrad’s new GoFree wireless system, which allows you to access your chartplotter remotely via a tablet or smartphone, to more basic, but no less innovative items like the Hook & Moor boat hook from New England Ropes.

I especially liked McLube’s new Antifoul Alternative Speed Polish, a citrus-based, environmentally friendly antifouling for dinghies, sport boats and other dry-sailed racers that keeps bottoms race ready without additional scrubbing for the duration of even the longest regatta.

Also getting into the organics business was Forespar, which is unveiled its new Tea Tree Power mold and mildew odor eliminator, which harnesses the power of Australian tea tree oil to keep your boat smelling fresh.

Last but not least, SAIL magazine unveiled an all new tent-and-booth combination, complete with a set of comfy new chairs for staff, subscribers and friends to rest their weary feet after a long day walking the docks. If you missed it this time around, be sure to stop by next year!

For the record, despite a cold front that came through Saturday afternoon and resulted in a cold, rainy Sunday, a reported 50,000 people and 600 vendors attended this year’s show, which took place Oct. 4-8. For more information on both the 2012 show as well as the next show, scheduled for Oct. 10-14, 2013, visit usboat.com

Related

01-LEAD-DSC_1255

BoatWorks: The Rig and the Crane-Barge

During the three months my little ship lay in Belfast, Maine, I had three friends. The first was a schooner bum I’d met sailing in Florida who now worked for the shipyard next door to where I had just bought my boat, Teal, a 1963 Tripp 29, sight unseen. He would hook me up with ...read more

01-LEAD-18-Running-before-strong-winds-en-route-to-Molokai

Cruising: Hawaiian Island Hop

We didn’t get off on the right foot sailing into Hawaii. It was our own fault, of course. We should have known better. It’s never a good idea to assume that just because procedures were a certain way one year, they will be the same the next. It was an especially bad idea given ...read more

DUFOUR_470.JM-LIOT-15

Boat Review: Dufour 470

Annapolis may be the sailing capital of America, but if you looked around the United States Sailboat Show last fall, you would have no choice but to conclude most sailboats are now built in Europe. The Dufour 470 is a good example of a modern French performance cruiser. DESIGN & ...read more

01-LEAD-IMG_6563

Close Encounters: Captain Sarah Schelbert

I met Captain Sarah Schelbert back in 2019 while on the boat trip from hell aboard a seaworthy but poorly run Triton 28 in the western Caribbean. I was trying to help the owner sail his boat back to Florida from the Rio Dulce, in Guatemala. Outbound from the river basin, we had ...read more

02-Voice-of-the-Oceans---sailboat-Kat-11

Raising Their Voices

Many of us who are cruising sailors have been sailing mid-ocean or walking along a perfect beach in the middle of seemingly nowhere, only to be appalled at the amount of plastic trash we find. Few of us, however, have taken that disheartening reality and turned it into a ...read more

IC37racingonSunday-Photo-by-Paul-Todd

IC37 North American Championship

This past weekend saw 20 IC37s off Newport, Rhode Island engage in fast and furious one-design racing with the win going to Peter McClennen’s Gamecock. “It’s huge,” said McClennen of the win. “I think of the one-designs of this club going back to the New York 30 [built in ...read more

01-LEAD-IMG_2056

South Pacific Storm Prep

Having set ourselves the task of transforming our recently purchased Open 66 ex-Vendée Globe racer, NV, into a performance family cruiser, my partner, Timo, and I found ourselves (extremely) high and dry as cyclone season approached. The favorite cyclone strategy in Fiji is to ...read more

00-Alexe-1---GUaGKDY4-single-boat-sailing-away-from-skyline,-Hill-Holiday

Cruising: Find Your Own Adventure

Whether they’re at the end of their collegiate career or after aging out of a summer sailing program, a lot of young sailors have a hard time finding a way to continue sailing as adults. Some of the barriers to sailing, including location, finances and time, can be hard to ...read more