I've got to hand it to Sealine...
I’ve got to hand it to Sealine. Say what you like about the styling of the new SC38 but there’s no doubt it makes a statement. The easy option would have been to launch another safe update of a tried-and-tested concept complete with cream topsides, beige seats and a glossy cherry interior. Existing Sealine owners would have made all the right noises and a fair few of them would have swiftly upgraded from their existing S34s.
Instead, when the wraps came off the new SC38 at the London Boat Show there were barely concealed gasps of astonishment at the controversial two-tone paint job, radical extended hardtop and edgy interior furnishings. It was so unexpected, that existing owners must have wondered
what on earth the designers had been taking.
In my opinion that’s exactly how it should be. No company ever grew its customer base by pandering to the tastes of current owners. That’s the mistake Jaguar made with its talented but staid range of recent saloon cars. Existing customers loved the traditional Jaguar styling cues but nobody else gave them a second look. BMW meanwhile rode out the initial howls of protest from older fans left cold by the more challenging looks of its new 5-series and 7-series but are now reaping the rewards of their bravery.
As you’ll read in our world exclusive test of the SC38 starting on p60, that’s exactly what desrves to happen to Sealine’s bold new offering. My only concern is the pricing. How on earth can Bénéteau build its new Monte Carlo 37 for £145,000 when an SC38 starts at £220,000 and a Fairline Targa 38 is pushing torwards £250,000. I hate to say it, but shouldn’t we be taking a few lessons from the French on this one?
On a different note, I reckon the revised London Boat Show was a useful step in the right direction. How ironic then that a rival organisation has just announced plans for an alternative Earls Court boat show in December (see p11). It’s hard to believe that there’s room for two London shows within a month of each other but even if the Earls Court show never takes off, it may give National Boat Shows just the spur they need to press on with their revamp and make some tough decisions. We’ll watch the ensuing scrap with interest.