The UK’s best boat show has come and gone - and as ever, it’s a bittersweet moment. On the one hand, it marks the end of the boating season and on the other, it has left us excited by the delights that lie in wait next season. Here, we pick out ten new powerboats that offer us particular cause for enthusiasm…
1. Sunseeker Portofino 40
The new Portofino 40 (the ‘little’ boat in the foreground) is designed to offer class-leading internal space, while retaining some of Sunseeker’s key features from the larger boats, like plenty of helm seating, generous dining space, a proper wet bar and a large aft bathing platform. And in all relevant respects, it seems to work, with a four-plus-one-berth layout, a central saloon and galley and impressive headroom throughout. It comes with a pair of Volvo D6 330s promising a top end of around 35 knots and a useful cruising speed of around 28 knots, but those in need of more can up the ante with a pair of 400hp units for an extra five knots or so.
2. AMT 230 DC
The new 230 is something of a departure for the Honda-powered AMT brand. We have become well accustomed to open AMT craft where the emphasis is on deck space and easy internal movement, but the 230 comes in at the pinnacle of the fleet as a cuddy with altogether loftier intentions. Here you get a classic Scandinavian deep-set cockpit with a huge wraparound aft bench, plus a softly raked teak-lined bow housing a subtly upholstered V-berth for two. With Honda’s reworked (and impressively restyled) BF250 on the transom, it looks like a very dynamic package.
3. C-Fury Patrol
In its infancy, the C-Fury was a very unlikely looking prototype from a boat building company full of fresh and bold ideas. This, however, is a very polished and complete looking craft. The AWC (or Adventure Water Craft) takes the now well established C-Fury blueprint and adds extra weight of build, dynamic grey colourways and a range of carefully conceived options (including an A-Frame with accessory mounts and a long-range fuel tank) that are very well suited to the boat. It’s still a bit of a tangent for the norm, but this is a C-Fury that fully justifies its premium price tag.
4. Smartboat 23
With its clean lines, pared back, ultra-modern internal configuration and sleek, ‘wave-piercing’ point of entry, the Smartboat looks like it ought to be an electric boat - and yet, nestling on the transom is a 115hp Yamaha four-stroke outboard. So what’s this boat really all about? Well according to the builders, it’s about two primary things - efficiency and simplicity - and when you see the Smartboat 23 up close, that rings true. It’s a great looking boat and while the slightly slavish pursuit of cleanliness of form seems to have resulted in rather rudimentary seating and a conspicuous absence of handholds, the film star looks, the low wash hull and the cleverly conceived cabin are likely to win plenty of admirers.
5. Marex 320 ACC
The 370 ACC from this illustrious Norwegian stable won just about every powerboat accolade going, so it is great news that its success has generated a smaller sibling. Like the 370, the 320 employs a panoramic aft space (hence the Aft Cabin Cruiser suffix) to generate the kind of accommodation you rarely see in the sub 35-foot sector. It also retains the ability to provide full-length cover, courtesy of the clever cockpit roof and the quick-fit aft deck canvas. Of course, it’s more about gentlemanly refinement than cutting edge sport, but this 28-knot cruiser is another beautifully built Marex, full of sumptuous materials and first-rate workmanship.
6. Redbay Stormforce 7.4
There are very few boat builders with a more profound reputation for build quality and seakeeping prowess than Redbay and yet here, at the hands of the MRL team, the Stormforce 7.4 looks every bit the A-list leisure boat. This particular offshore package, comprising four KPM suspension seats, a Garmin electronics suite, a 315-litre stainless steel under-deck fuel tank and a Suzuki DF300 outboard, looks like a very well judged expression of the modern RIBster’s needs - and at a shade under £60,000, it’s also much more affordable than you might think.
7. Scandica 21 Sportster Deluxe
The striking eggshell blue Sportster 21 is a very clever Scandinavian cuddy. By keeping its overnighting facilities shallow and housing them inside (and beneath) the forward part of the centre console, it frees up the forward deck to operate as a dining area with seating for four and a removable table that can be used to adapt the space for sun bathing. The package is well managed too, with bolstered seats and a Suzuki DF100 plus lots of optional upgrades. It’s good value at the regular package price of £34,749, but at the ‘show special’ price of £28,775, it’s an undeniably excellent buy.
8. Sealegs 7.7 Cabin
Once we got our heads around the fact that these amphibious Sealegs craft were genuinely capable sea boats, it was only natural that the range would develop - and it has done so in the form of the 7.7-metre Cabin. This is the largest boat yet built by the New Zealand based Sealegs stable and it is designed to add some shelter and some overnighting ability to the brand’s existing armoury of talents. True, with the current exchange rates, its premium price (around £145,000 with the ETEC 200) puts it at the very top end of the mid-sized RIB market, but it remains a very capable and beautifully engineered amphibious boat.
9. Guy Marine Antioche 550
Guy Marine is a well-established French builder of affordable, general-purpose family fishing craft and its appearance at the Southampton Boat Show represents its first foray into UK waters. Appearing as an exclusive boat partner with Honda outboards, the Antioche 550 is one of two boats based on this hull length and it majors on usability, with plenty of open deck space, deep freeboards and robust metal handholds in all the right places. This broad, beamy craft looks powerfully built with a very upright (if rather prosaic) central wheelhouse and some handy folding seats. It’s not exactly dripping with additional features but with a price of just £18,280 (including the Honda BF50 outboard), it is likely to meet with considerable success.
10. XO 240RS Cabin
XO is a Finnish boat building company responsible for the construction of a small range of aluminium craft between 20 and 27 feet in length. Here we have the sporting, cabin-equipped 24-footer, capable of carrying eight people and offering a very soft ride courtesy of an extremely fine entry which tapers to a (still surprisingly acute) 24-degree deadrise at the transom. It’s a great looking boat with GRP topside mouldings adding a quality finish, and it’s also extremely tough courtesy of that aluminium construction (a particular favourite of Finnish boat builders). It might look like it costs the earth, but with a price tag starting from little more than £50,000, it could become a genuinely thrilling option for those in search of a distinctive four-season sports boat.
For more on the rest of the show’s exhibits and news of what to expect from next year’s event, visit www.southamptonboatshow.co.uk.