What is the central information nowadays when you are reading your favourite sailing magazine about a new yacht? No, it is not her sailing qualities nor is it her design features – it´s her size that seems to matter most. Last week I was talking to an editor of a German sailing magazine about submitting a story to them. She said: “The boat you are talking about is too small. We are only printing stories about vessels of more than 40 feet.” Why is it that size does matter so much?
Roaming Boatshow Dusseldorf: The Big Ones
Last weekend the world´s leading fair for yachting and boating had drawn to an end, Boatshow Dusseldorf (read about the fair´s highlights here) did attract thousands of people again and I was puzzled by the huge halls full of boats, gear, equipment and stuff. But also by the boats. Frankly: By the sheer size of the boats.
I´ve done the test and did a small survey by wandering through the halls between the big production boat brands: Virtually no yard at all didn´t at least had a boat of 60 feet length over all at their stand. Not a single brand. As I was talking to the staff at the stands about that issue, they were raising their eyebrows and mostly replied: “That´s the modern times, mate: 60 is the new 40 indeed!”
There have been some world premieres on the BOOT Boatshow 2017 and the biggest one certainly was celebrated by Bavaria Yachts. This is number two in the world when it comes to sold boats after Beneteau-Jeanneau and so it makes sense to take a closer look onto their “big one” to maybe understand this current trend.
It´s a Fact: The current Boat is always too small
Well, you probably know the talks on the pier side with your neighbour at the jetty: It´s always about those damn 5 feet that your boat actually lacks to “be perfect” isn´t it? I think it is a natural development and a part of human nature that we always want things to grow bigger. No wonder that the one and only form of society – capitalism – is the prevailing although this form of living together is farm from perfect. We seem to need growth.
When it comes to Bavaria´s new C-57 that´s a nice example: The boat is advertised to set new standards in living qualities, luxurious amenities and the offered space for the guests. It even features a proper garage for the dinghy and – of course – push button steering. That this boat needs a huge generator for electricity and also a huge amount of energy isn´t mentioned. Neither a word about sailing qualities. But that´s a different story.
Boats have to grow bigger ever more, because sailors want them to get bigger. That´s the simple statement of most of the sales personnel I was talking to. But come on, a +60 foot boat with all that stuff aboard … won´t sail anymore, will it? These are party boats, designed to appeal the rich and the nice. To moor at Cannes and Saint Tropez. Dufour´s all new Exclsuive 63 is advertised to make 11 knots by diesel power …
Reaction of the Market?
Okay, I must admit, I am a bit biased. I love sailing. I love to be at the helm, love it to pull the sheets as well. Push-button-sailing is something I cannot fancy. Dinghy-garages, icemakers and huge fridges for cold beverages of a dozen party guests dancing on my hydraulic bathing platform doesn´t align with what I call sailing. But the market demands it, so they say.
And I am okay with it. Everybody should be happy out on the water and that´s what I really love about sailing. There is the luxurious boat with all that stuff to take your high-class holiday home with all your party guests out to the next anchoring bay on the one hand and there is also performance sailing without any electronic help on the other. Besides, at Dufour, naval designer Umberto Felci told me that the 63 will be “sailing like hell”. There will be an interview with Felci published soon about the new Dufour 63.
Anyway. Looking at Jeanneau´s new 64 foot sailing yacht I cannot wrench excitement from myself. These boats do not attract me, I must admit. On the contrary: All this electronic stuff, the bow- and stern thrusters, furling mainsails and bells and whistles do intimidate me. Because, remember murphy´s law – everything that has been installed once will fail sometime.
A Society changing
There is another point to mention. A more serious one. Some people at X-Yachts and other stands were talking freely about that topic: Our society is changing. In short – the middle class seems to be disappearing. And thus not buying “their” 40 foot boats anymore. Or to put it another way, it seems that the middle class doesn´t have enough free money to invest in boats anymore. Rich get richer, poor get poorer and the middle is breaking away. Is that another reason why yards are reacting and putting out such big hulks like the Hanse 675 to attract the millionaires, because their bread and butter-sizes of 35 to 40 feet are vanishing slowly? Sure, I won´t get any hard facts in sales numbers from the yards, but that´s what people told me when I was talking to them.
I do not want to talk about politics and the crazy world we are living in, but I guess you know what I mean. In the end, if I´d had to choose, I´d rather take a real sailing yacht like the Oyster if I was a millionaire because this boat can sail quite nicely, rather than picking those bulky plastic boxes, no matter how big the luxurious amenities.
Cobbler, stick to your last …
In the end, this is not affecting me as I would guess it won´t affect most of you sailors as well. We won´t ever be able to afford to buy such a big thing nor will we ever be able to pay for maintenance and running costs. I love my 33 foot 40 year old used boat and no matter how fascinating it is to look at the high priced +60 feet yachts, I would say that for most of us, the real 40 is the real 40.
Such as this nice Grand Soleil 46LC which I got to see multiple times. Still a large boat though and high priced. She is also unreachable for myself, but at least her hull is surrounded by a small possibility of … maybe … one day … being able to afford such a beauty.
Find all articles on the Dusseldorf Boatshow 2017 by clicking the hashtag #boatshowdusseldorf
Other interesting articles:
Luxury plus sailing performance: Dufour Exclusive 56 revisited
Top Notch Performance Cruisers of X-Yachts
Black Hole Yacht Refit?