The PSP Southampton International Boat Show is a very cool event. Not only is it the only major UK show that’s open to the fresh air, but it also offers the largest floating display in the whole of Europe.
With end-of-season euphoria, allied to excitement at the proximity of the town’s social diversions, the happy vibe is also unmistakable. And yet if you (like me) are only there for a single day, it’s impossible to see every exhibit firsthand - so instead of trawling the aisles like a clueless shopper, cooing at everything that falls into your path, why not set aside six or seven genuinely new or remarkable powerboats that really deserve your time. Boats like these for instance...
English Harbour Yachts 27
Following on from the debut appearance of the EH16 last year, this fledgling British company is back with its second model, the EH27. With design by Adam Greenwood and a hull by Andrew Wolstenholme, it aims to be the perfect four-berth semi-displacement cruiser – not just for inland use but also for coastal and offshore applications. To that end, you get a full-length keel, two separate cabins that can be converted from twins to doubles, a heads with separate shower compartment, a spacious saloon with dining space for six and five engine choices plus an all-electric e-drive option. Unlike so many modern pretenders, the EH27 is also designed and constructed right here in Britain, so if the standard of finish on this super beamy craft proves as sumptuous as the company’s first model, it will be a must-see exhibit.
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Sargo 28 Explorer
The new Sargo 28 (a development on the old Minor 28) is everything the Action Man mariner would want it to be. Available with either twin or single engines, this heavyweight offshore craft offers fine seakeeping qualities, a super soft ride and remarkable levels of refinement for genuine four-season ability. Cocooned in the wheelhouse with its insulated walls, reverse screens and heating and ventilation systems, you get tinted glass side windows and clear front ones with marine defrosters for better nighttime visibility. This cunningly arranged two-cabin craft also offers a separate heads, a convertible galley, plenty of communal seating, expansive external decks and authentic 40-knot performance.
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Now under the auspices of the powerful Hanse Group (builders of Hanse Yachts and Fjord Motoryachts among others), the new Sealine fleet comprises just two hull lengths (the smaller 380 and the larger 450) - and both are available either as Sport (S) or Flybridge (F) models. In this instance, the F380 provides an open-plan main deck with a connected saloon and galley, plus a pair of cabins down below and a truly vast flybridge up top. There is plenty of versatility built into the seating arrangements plus plenty of internal light from the enormous windows. With its classically steep, slab-sided design, plus lots of space, a well-proven hull and the promise of improvement in the materials and finish, this new Sealine will be a warmly welcomed attendee.
Haines 32 Offshore
The new 32 Offshore is set to be the smallest of the three Offshore craft offered by Haines Marine of Norfolk. However, its relatively compact fleet has already exhibited some expertise at this length, with a pair of established 32-footers in its three-strong Inland/Estuary range. Here, however, in addition to a planing hull designedby the prolific Andrew Wolstenholme, the new Offshore model uses an open-plan layout that majors on flexibility to offer a four or six-berth arrangement. With minimal side decks to help maximise internal capacity, it also offers the relaxed, free-flowing living space you would expect of a Sedan Cruiser specialist. True, it still seems to carry the gentlemanly aesthetics of an inland conveyance and at £173,800, it’s not cheap, but it remains a must-see at this year’s show.
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Orkney Pilot House 20 Mk III
The new Third Generation of Orkney’s extraordinarily prolific Pilot House 20 model should be well worth a visit this year. Having originally been developed from the Day Angler 19+, the Pilot House 20 combines a lockable wheelhouse with a decent cabin, plus a galley and toilet option. You also get wide, safe side-decks, plus outboard and diesel options and an easy ‘tow/launch/store’ ownership experience that makes this one of the simplest boats in the world to use. What’s changed on this latest model is improved forward facing seating for both helmsman and co-pilot, plus a variety of new pursuit-specific package options, including a 'Day Angler' fishing pack and a 'Valiant' cruising package. What hasn’t changed is the simple, affordable effectiveness of this craft as a family-friendly, multi-purpose day boat.
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Windy 39 Camira
Norwegian express cruiser specialist, Windy, is taking along a pair of new boats. The first is the 29 Coho - an evolution of the extraordinarily effective 28 Ghibli but reportedly “lighter, stronger, faster and more economical than her predecessor”. The second is the 39 Camira, a larger and more heavily featured cruiser but feted as one of the best handling craft ever produced by this illustrious Nordic builder. The 39 comes with a choice of arrangements, enabling the boat to be matched to the needs of the region or the buyer. With two-cabin accommodation, plus a tender garage and an ingenious new canopy system, it’s aiming to be one of the most complete family weekenders money can buy.
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Draco 26 Sport
While we’re bigging up the qualities of the Windy yard, it makes good sense to draw attention to one final highlight at Southampton – namely the Draco 26 Sport.
Draco was one of Europe’s biggest powerboat manufacturers in the 70s and while we haven’t seen this boat since 2002 (when Windy ceased production of the brand), this iconic 50-year old powerboating name is back in the public eye with a fast, 26-foot sports weekender. Designed by British naval architects, Dubois, and available with a range of powerful Yamaha outboard options, this very exciting and modern interpretation of the much-loved Draco looks set to be one of the most prominent feel-good stories of the show.
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