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Old 18-10-2014, 09:23   #1
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Annapolis Sailboat Show Review

Annapolis Sailboat Show Review.

Having returned earlier this week from the 2014 sailboat Show in Annapolis, MD, the largest sailboat show in the country... the place for all major manufacturers to be seen and to preview their new models, got me to thinking... especially after reading a recent thread on the Shannon yachts. I'd like to throw my impressions and thoughts out there and hope that others will do the same. There's no right or wrong answers. What do you think of all the new models and what the manufacturers have to offer? New designs?

I'll start out by saying, Mrs. Kenomac and I had a great time spread over three days, looking in the display booths, speaking with suppliers and spending time with cruising friends. We looked at nearly every boat, except for some trimarans and Catalina Yachts... I don't know how we could have missed them.

The European yacht manufacturers were alive, exciting and busy with apparent sales activity. Beneteau, Hanse, Jeaneau, Dufour, Bavaria just to name a few; all of them showing off their wide transom, huge cockpit, light interior designs. The target audience/buyer was definitely on those wishing to head out with a group of friends for a day sailing adventure, short overnight or maybe a week long sail with another couple or family. All four of these manufacturers seemed to hit their target market spot on. The boats were easy to board, plenty of outdoor room in the sun, everything seemed to be located right where you'd want it.

Others present on the more specialized cruising dock were Discovery, Oyster, Outbound, Hylas and several others including Island Packet. Morris Yachts had their 47ft in a different location.

The US manufacturers present were Hunter, Catalina, Island Packet and Morris. For cruising boats, I think that was all... very sad. We were very impressed with the level of quality finish on the Hunter 40 interior, but the exterior was basically the same as the boats they made during the 1990's. I asked about the Hunter 50 and was told by a sales person that it had been hit by lightning at the yard; I then asked about the 45cc and was told that it had been sold. It? What... the company only had one of each? Geez, all the Europeans had one of each of their models to show. We were left with the impression that the US manufacturers including Morris, seemed stuck in the past century attempting to attract buyers which no longer exist. I can't comment on Catalina and hope others will. Island Packet... same models as they had 5-10 years ago, unchanged.

I really want to cheerlead for the home team here in the US, but it's getting difficult as they seem to fail at innovation and adapting to the new market.

Your thoughts? We also looked at all the catamarans, but there's a separate thread running on those, so I'll keep this one dedicated to monohulls.

Ken
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Old 18-10-2014, 09:28   #2
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Re: Annapolis Sailboat Show Review

Thanks for the update, K. Sorry I missed my trip this year.

Bit sad, really. Out of date for sure. Not one major Cat. manufacturer in the USA. Why is that?
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Old 18-10-2014, 09:39   #3
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Re: Annapolis Sailboat Show Review

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Originally Posted by SaltyMonkey View Post
Bit sad, really. Out of date for sure. Not one major Cat. manufacturer in the USA. Why is that?
I see the future in wide, open stern monohulls and catamarans. A puzzlement why there are no US manufacturers participating in that market.
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Old 18-10-2014, 09:49   #4
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Re: Annapolis Sailboat Show Review

Just as a comment: you do realize that Beneteau does in fact do quite a bit of manufacturing in the USA?
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Old 18-10-2014, 09:53   #5
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Re: Annapolis Sailboat Show Review

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Just as a comment: you do realize that Beneteau does in fact do quite a bit of manufacturing in the USA?
Yes, I do. But Beneteau is a French Company, French design group.

I also found it difficult to place Hylas Yachts, they are a US corporation but all manufacturing is done at Queen Long Marine in Taiwan.
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Old 18-10-2014, 10:06   #6
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Re: Annapolis Sailboat Show Review

Hunter and Catalina have a well established base in the USA. What new USA boat builder in his right mind would want to start taking on the big European production builders during their race to the bottom producing the cheap seats? I'd like to see the business plan but I don't have to. Companies like Morris build what they build because they are niche builders and I'm sure they know who their buyers are. Island Packet are closer to production builders but they produce a higher quality boat compared to the entry level European builders so they have their little market figured out. There is very little money in building entry level boats and I don't think the US government want to subsidize boat builders the way the Europeans do.
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Old 18-10-2014, 11:34   #7
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Re: Annapolis Sailboat Show Review

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What new USA boat builder in his right mind would want to start taking on the big European production builders during their race to the bottom producing the cheap seats? I'd like to see the business plan but I don't have to. .
Robert,

I don't think it's a race to the bottom, but rather a contest to offer a product that the future consumer wants.

Over in Mallorca anchored next to you last summer, you witnessed the same phenomenon as us... the anchorage fills up during the day, then empties out late in the afternoon except for us. On Formenterra the phenom was even more obvious... several hundred boats filled the anchorage each day, Beneteaus, Jeaneaus, Bavarias, Hanse, Dufours etc, then 6pm rolls around........ all gone home leaving just me/us and maybe one or two other boats in the anchorage for the overnight.

If a company wants to sell a sailboat these days, they're going to have build what the market wants. There're very, very few folks wanting to sail around the world in a stout bullet proof yacht. Most just want to have fun with friends on weekends. Nothing wrong with that.

If I had to do it over again, knowing what I know today, we'd probably buy a 50-58ft catamaran, something like a Sunreef or Isara.
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Old 18-10-2014, 11:36   #8
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Re: Annapolis Sailboat Show Review

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Originally Posted by SaltyMonkey View Post
Thanks for the update, K. Sorry I missed my trip this year.

Bit sad, really. Out of date for sure. Not one major Cat. manufacturer in the USA. Why is that?
Coz they prefer Dogs.........
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Old 18-10-2014, 11:54   #9
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Re: Annapolis Sailboat Show Review

I hear you Ken and I agree with most of your thoughts. I had a British surveyor tell me that for the first time he was actually seeing new sailboats that had a best before date because of the way they were built. I'm also on the old fashion side and like aluminum or stick built FG boats for offshore sailing but I can not argue that the new production boats offer tremendous value. If we were going to hang around some of the popular cruising grounds we too might buy a new production boat. Having said that it always surprises me that many folks actually believe they can pay the entry level prices and buy a high quality boat .
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Old 19-10-2014, 05:50   #10
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Re: Annapolis Sailboat Show Review

One can pay entry an entry level price to purchase a quality boat, it's usually done over at the brokerage show. But not many boats over on those docks at Annapolis. Many more brokerage boats at the Newport, RI show.
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Old 19-10-2014, 10:54   #11
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Re: Annapolis Sailboat Show Review

I have been trolling for a long time but this thread convinced me that I needed to register and chime in positively. Welcome to my first post.

I came away thinking that the production boats are actually getting better and in fact have added a couple to our short list. Just a couple of the show highlights for us:

We were very impressed with both the Bavaria Vision 42/46 and the Catalina 445. Both layouts worked brilliantly for a couple when one of us is 6'5".

If we can pull off double the budget the Outbound 46 was our favorite in the entire show. We spent a lot of time with Phil and the couple that owned the boat at the show. That boat seemed to hit all of our marks and I am jealous they are starting their adventure now.

The Gozzard business plan was interesting. Buy an older Gozzard and then they will rebuild and re-outfit to your modern needs. They are not far from us in Ontario and we will visit them in Spring. You can get a custom set-up at a reasonable price.

If I had to decide today, I would buy the Bavaria Vision and flip a coin between the 42 and 46.
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Old 19-10-2014, 11:09   #12
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Re: Annapolis Sailboat Show Review

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A puzzlement why there are no US manufacturers participating in that market.
That easy....US labor costs and regulations.
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Old 19-10-2014, 11:20   #13
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Re: Annapolis Sailboat Show Review

Kenomac, great review and good observations. From a business perspective, the production manufactures have it nailed. From a boat quality and seaworthiness, perhaps not as much.

Does that matter for day cruisers? Maybe not as much. True blue water sailors and the boat design they prefer are a small minority of the total market.

That being said, I suspect that there is a spot for the niche, more robustly built and equipped with larger tankage, manufacturer out there. I'm not sure at what point volume starts impacting costs, but my guess is that those niche manufacturers will never get to a point that their volume can actually be spread over many boats.

Hunter has it's own problems that are not yet solved, so my guess is that is why they only had one of each model.
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Old 19-10-2014, 11:26   #14
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Re: Annapolis Sailboat Show Review

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Originally Posted by bsfred View Post
I have been trolling for a long time but this thread convinced me that I needed to register and chime in positively. Welcome to my first post.

I came away thinking that the production boats are actually getting better and in fact have added a couple to our short list. Just a couple of the show highlights for us:

We were very impressed with both the Bavaria Vision 42/46 and the Catalina 445. Both layouts worked brilliantly for a couple when one of us is 6'5".

If we can pull off double the budget the Outbound 46 was our favorite in the entire show. We spent a lot of time with Phil and the couple that owned the boat at the show. That boat seemed to hit all of our marks and I am jealous they are starting their adventure now.

The Gozzard business plan was interesting. Buy an older Gozzard and then they will rebuild and re-outfit to your modern needs. They are not far from us in Ontario and we will visit them in Spring. You can get a custom set-up at a reasonable price.

If I had to decide today, I would buy the Bavaria Vision and flip a coin between the 42 and 46.
Gozzards plan is an interesting perspective. I wonder what the refit costs would be?

On a similar note, I have had a private discussion with a small boat builder who has access to original molds from a now defunct boat builder. As Kenomac mentioned, the market is for the Ikea type Benes, Bavarias etc. This boat definitely does not fit into that category, although imagine the interior could well be changed to reflect current material type preferences. The question becomes, what is the market for that?

Obviously there is a good market for older boats of various designs. How does that translate into a boat that costs many $$$ more. I assume one can look at some of the Catalinas whose basic design has not changed for years and years, and take a cue from that.
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Old 19-10-2014, 11:41   #15
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Re: Annapolis Sailboat Show Review

Is there a difference in tastes between new boat buyers and used boat buyers? I don't know.

Specifically, they have to sell what NEW boat buyers are looking for. I suspect flash and boat show appeal matter more than cruising practicality, maintainability, and durability. Perhaps many of these folks figure they won't have the boat long enough to get into these issues. So emphasize spiffy decor and nifty electronics.

I pointed out some obvious failings to one builder and his response was that he sels to a different kind of sailor. I think he meant one that motored a lot. There were 8 jammers feeding the lone starboard winch, which was only reachable by the helmsman. But the arrangement certainly saved cockpit space!
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