It´s Friday morning and I am sitting in my gorgeously renovated Air b´n´b flat at La Grande Motte, sipping a hot coffee. The view is breathtaking, a foaming sea is rolling onto the shore, I just love to listen to the sound of the breaking waves! A last rain shower is drifting by, behind the dark clouds a gloriously blue sunny new day is approaching: The boat show weekend is coming!

Loads of visitors …

Each year in April the picturesque southern France marina of La Grande Motte turns into the center of the catamaran-world when “The Multicoque” opens its doors. As a dealer for the products of Groupe Beneteau brand Excess this is of course a mandatory event for me but it is also one of the real highlights in our event calendar: La Grande Motte has its own charm and I really like the show very much. The multihull-people are a very special breed indeed …

When do you start?

“Best experience … loaded”, that´s the motto of Excess this year and I found this little claim absolutely on target and fitting to describe the current state of affairs. As we are all undeniably in a kind of difficult situation right now, economically, politically and also regarding our societies, for many, many people a boat appears to be an “exit” from the burdens, restraints and calamities of life. A catamaran, much more than a monohull, may be a way to get away – at least for a period of time – from what is so bad about everyday´s life.

The current situation in the boat market

That is one of the most given feedback I extracted during the first three days of the show. Almost all people I spoke to – guests of the show and potential buyers of a catamaran – in one way or another are talking about their desire to cast off, sever all lines to the shore and sail away to “where it is better”, to “where we can be free” or “where we are left alone”. That´s for the current mood of the people I met. But what about the market?

Our 200th XCS 11!

A lot is to be read about a commercial crisis. A recession going on, the aftermath of Covid and supply chain horrors and of course the high price level due to inflation. The boat market is hit hard, just as any other product as well, and the shipyards have already reacted, for example by slowing down production. Nevertheless, and this is valid much more for the multihull industry, there is still high demand for catamarans for sure! La Grande Motte validates this by a very satisfying appearance of boat show guests, full boats and I personally can say that I meet a lot of Germans here in Southern France interested in acquiring a boat.

People getting excited

Excess recently launched their 200th Excess 11 catamaran, a proof of high demand on the one hand, a based customer pool with still a lot of money ready to be spent on boats and of course kudos to a “wonderboat” which the big-small Excess 11 is in fact. 200 boats in just a few years – in a segment that normally is beaten the hardest in economic crisis as this is our entry level catamaran, a boat for the normal middle class. I´d say, for cats and trimarans, the outlook and the market is still kind of bright.

The catamarans at La Grande Motte Multihull show

With the boat show weekend approaching and you maybe thinking about checking for a bargain flight to near airport of Montpellier to attend the show, what can you expect when arriving at La Grande Motte? Well, of course, being the world´s leading multihull show, first and foremost, all of the major brands are here showcasing more or less the range of their products.

Big brands, small brands: All brands

The big brands being Lagoon, Bali, Fontaine Pajot and such, occupying whole pontoons displaying cats and trimarans from 37 to +60 feet. A giant display and definitely worth strolling around, getting inspired and especially for starters a perfect place to getting a feel for what each brand and product stands for, for exploring the different characters and features of the boats. Just like Duesseldorf boat show, La Grande Motte is a big, big gathering of the major brands and their products.

Big brands, small brands: All brands

Band then there are the smaller brands and niche products. Those may just be having one or two boats on display, but you will get to see them anyway. La Grande Motte is the only chance to have them all in one place. Brands like Catana, the emerging players like HH Catamarans or special interest brands. It´s a bustling place and definitely worth attending this show – you should be here minimum two days to fully appreciate and discover this huge variety.

Really big cats …

There are also small boats, not just the half-million Euro to multi-million Euro budgets. Last year I was puzzled to discover the Rapido 40 trimaran made of Carbon, this years the small Libertist catched my attention. What I really like about La Grande Motte is the “down to Earth”-approach and sailing focus of the show. There is just a very small number of power-cats to be seen, as a sailor this is candy for my eyes. If you are interested in a sail-less power-cat, Cannes Yachting Festival in September is definitely better suiting for you.

And not so many Power Cats

La Grande Motte show is also not just about the boats themselves. There is a nice trade fair adjoining the marina with dozens of suppliers, sailmakers, producers of gadgets to be discovered. Big brands like Yanmar are also attending as well as all suppliers of onboard electronics and any kind of sailing related products. The show is big – but also kind of intimate and “family” like, a special feel that I personally really like very much.

New trends in multihull sailing?

The answer to this question is, to be honest, if anything “no”. There are no world premieres (at least not that I am aware of) and no real big news to be thrown out. Just as the Duesseldorf Boat Show in January this year, the catamaran industry seems to have downshifted a bit, maybe to not spend too much on completely new yachts, maybe to consolidate or maybe to just wait a bit for where the market is going. Instead, there is another trend blossoming all around: Gadgets!

A trend: Toys & Gadgets

There is definitely happening a lot when it comes to SUP-boards, water “toys” and stuff to put on your boat. For example, Excess now offers a really attractive Starlink-package for high quality internet connectivity all around the world on your boat. On each stand at least one of those more of less useful ideas are presented. Also, there´s a lot more talk going on about stepping up service, warranty and after sales quality, which is a very good thing for clients and owners.

Upcoming articles

As any boat show, the La Grande Motte as well is a gold mine for me regarding articles for NO FRILLS – this year, I will produce two or three articles on Outremer. After having the more than amazing experience of sailing an Outremer 45 last year, I was happy to do a full shipyard tour yesterday and a full walkthrough of the Outremer 52, which will be two absolutely amazing articles you can look forward to reading in the coming days.

A boat worth a look: Outremer 52

I will also produce a handful of articles about the said gadgets and services and maybe I find a catamaran that I deem interesting to showcase in a detailed article as well. In any case, even if there are three full more days to work on this show, I can state as a resume now halfway through that La Grande Motte 2024 was/is a success and coming here definitely worth the trip. Maybe you will make it, drop by Excess-stand for a chat – or let´s meet in 2025.


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