There was a time when the sheer number of boat shows on the UK calendar threatened to water every one of them down to the point of pallid mediocrity. But among it all, the Southampton Boat Show shone through as the standout event in Britain and it remains the UK’s key show today. Not only is it held at the spiritual home of south coast boating, but it is a predominantly outdoor venue with the largest purpose-built show pontoons in Europe. In short, it’s a must-see event and the one place at which you can expect to see the best of the new powerboats making their public debuts.
Debut after debut after debut This year, there are scores of power-driven debuts to get you excited. From the prolific Ribeye stable, we have the new Custom version of its 785 (stand E058). From Jeanneau we have the new Cap Camarat 6.5 Walkaround (stand M454 - pictured) and from Clipper Marine’s Bavaria range, we have the new 44-foot sports cruiser (M359). We can also look forward to the Sealine F48 (tested earlier this year - see Sealine F48: new Flagship Flybridge) and the Nord Star 28 Patrol (M240).
On the motor yacht front, we have a selection of new Broom cruisers, a new Squadron 60 and Targa 62GT from Fairline, and plenty of action from Sunseeker, with the immense Predator 80. But Princess (M493) will be putting on a particularly good show with its new 56, as well as the V39, V57 and V62-S. There will be plenty more debut powerboats to tempt the visitor, including the Trusty T28 (M134) and the epic Beneteau Swift Trawler 50 (M431), but some of the real standout highlights are likely to be as follows…
AB Oceanus 28 VST
From AB Inflatables comes the 28-foot AB Oceanus 28 VST. It is the largest console tender in the Oceanus line up but the real pull is the distinctive forward-hull design, which is purported to generate more internal space than any other comparable RIB. They will also have a 15-foot luxury boat and a 17-foot aluminium RIB on display for the first time, so stand E066 will be well worth a look.
Meanwhile, on the Piranha stand (F007) the new 8m RIB marks a considerable departure from the standard fleet. This high-riding, soft-running, heavily built craft is far removed from the very affordable leisure-biased craft for which the brand is famous. I have already enjoyed a 120-mile trip round Cornwall in this boat in all kinds of conflicting conditions and its ability to cope with a lumpy seastate is on an entirely fresh level.
Minor Offshore 28
Minor Offshore is a Finnish boatyard with a great reputation both for seakeeping ability and ingenious use of space - and these strengths will be powerfully evident in the new 28. With two cabins and a U-shaped sofa for six, it’s essentially a four-season people carrier - and yet, with its Volvo Penta D6-370 stern drive, it is apparently still capable of around 38 knots. See it on stand M161 courtesy of Marco Marine.
Sunseeker Portofino 40
Sunseeker’s new Portofino 40 is particularly interesting because it represents the builder’s return to what it calls an ‘entry-level length’. This two-cabin craft is capable of sleeping five people and comes with all the facilities you would expect of a 40-foot sports cruiser, including a central saloon, a galley, a twin-access head and shower room and a forward stateroom. With 34-knot performance and a price of tag of around
£325,000, it may be as close as you’ll get to a recession-friendly Sunseeker. See this bold new boat on stand C040.
From the delectable Marex stable comes the new 320 Aft Cabin Cruiser. Based on its enormously successful big sister, the 370ACC, it will have a walkaround deck, a panoramic, full-beam aft cabin and a very civilised pantry in the cockpit. Displayed on stand M229 courtesy of Wessex Marine, you can expect prodigious build quality, gorgeous materials and classic Marex attention to detail.
Windy 26 Kharma
There are few builders in the world able to match the pedigree of Windy’s express cruiser hulls - and in the form of the new 26 Kharma, this Norwegian builder is aiming to set a new benchmark in sporting ability. Expect a comfortable fixed double berth in traditionally muted Scandinavian colours, plus a quick, dry and confidence-inspiring helm experience. You can witness the UK debut on stand M115.
Quicksilver Activ 705 Cruiser
We’ve been well acquainted with the simple, spacious, affordable practicality of the Activ line for a couple of years now and the Activ 705 Cruiser aims to take those same qualities into a new shape of craft. Designed to accommodate eight people, with a large dining area and permanent galley, this is a very sociable boat - and with a private double berth and enclosed heads, plus two extra convertible berths, it looks like a useful weekender too. See it on stand F021.
On Stand C003 is a boat described by its builder as ‘the most inclusive boat Cobalt has ever built’. Known as the 273, it aims to combine the glamour of a cruiser with the powerful and engaging performance of a cuddy. We won’t know if it succeeds until we see it in the flesh but 50 years of boat building has generated a reputation for boats of genuine quality. It could be a big winner for importer, Gibbs Marine.
The Southampton Boat Show is the key event for new boat launches and the 2012 event is certainly not going to disappoint. The boats listed above are just a small snapshot of the variety you can expect, so for full details of all exhibitors (and of all updates as new boat launches are confirmed) visit the official Southampton Boat Show website. The Show runs from September 14-23, 2012.
For a glimpse of some of the hottest sailing boats at the Show, see Five Hot New Sailing Boats at the Southampton Boat Show.