Reasons to be cheerful.
The old adage that every cloud has a silver lining is in need of updating: from where I’m sitting it’s more like a GRP lining. The explosion of new models at the recent Cannes and Southampton boat shows proves that while the sales teams may have had a slow couple of years, the design teams have never been busier.
The really good news is that it’s not just the big boys who have been innovating their way out of the mire (although the folding balconies on Sunseeker’s new Predator 130 are pretty damned special). Much of the action is at the lower end of the market.
Take the Marino APB we’ve tested on p28 – here is a 27ft boat with more tricks up its sleeve than a Magic Circle convention. From its folding transom to its disappearing bulkhead and stacking sunroof, this remarkable little boat is the marine equivalent of a Transformer Robot.
If that proves a little too gimmicky for you how about the Paragon 31 with its sporty deep-vee hull, pin-sharp handling and 40-knot performance married to a supremely usable two-cabin walkaround layout. Speed not your thing? Then perhaps Bénéteau’s brilliant new Trawler 34 might do the trick. From its spacious light-filled saloon to its chunky looks and long-range fuel efficiency, it’s every inch the pocket-sized ocean trawler. Except that it costs a fraction of the money and can still scurry along at 22 knots when the occasion demands.
It’s too early to say whether this rash of new models has convinced people to part with their cash but there’s no doubt that it has got buyers back on the pontoons. With the supply of good-quality used boats rapidly drying up, it’s these interesting and affordable new boats that will lure people back into the market and kick-start the process. Nobody’s pretending the past few months have been anything but painful – however, they have helped focus everyone’s minds and the future looks all the stronger for it.