By: Scott Way
The Fort Lauderdale International Boat Show took place this past weekend in sunny Florida and the magnitude and extravagance of a typical FLIBS were surprisingly on full display. Despite estimates pegging attendance somewhere between 20-30% below normal volumes, sales figures from exhibitors indicate the show was a standout success. The boating industry, which itself has been kickstarted by an influx of recreational investment for the past several months due to COVID-related disruptions, found those in attendance as serious buyers eager to test the latest 2021 products. The show operated under strict health and safety protocols, which by accounts ran relatively smoothly given the circumstances.
We've put together a thorough overview of FLIBS 2020, complete with a list of the Top 10 must-see mid-size boats, the top 6 superyachts that snugged their way into 'superyacht village,' quotes from industry leaders that gave insight into the current state of the boating marketplace, and video walkthroughs of the showgrounds that allow you to experience the event from home. Let's take a look at FLIBS 2020:
BOAT SHOW WALKTHROUGH
Two popular Floridians, Wavy Boats and Yachting Hub Miami, posted their experiences from the event, which included a full walkthrough of the show from Wavy Boats and a showcase of the must-see superyachts from Yachting Hub Miami (for those who don't know, Wavy Boats posts great videos from one of boating's most infamous passages- Haulover Inlet). The superyacht category at FLIBS is allocated its own real estate known as 'Superyacht Village,' and suffice to say significant resources are allocated to luxury vessels within the event's enormous in-water section.
Wavy Boats' walkthrough highlights the extent of the in-water showcase, which is the world's largest and includes over 6 miles of floating docks, 1500 boats, and over 1200 exhibitors. Check it out:
QUOTES FROM THE SHOW
We reached out to several industry personnel for input from the event, and show organizers released several updates from insiders. Many manufacturers utilized FLIBS to unveil 2021 products, as well as to give consumers their first opportunity to explore new products by stepping onboard. Here's a look at what manufacturers and retailers had to say:
Steve Langlais, Sea Ray President:
“The health and safety of our employees are our priority and I am very proud of our staff who attended the show. It was warm and a very unique setting but our team was just fantastic and this was a successful showing for Sea Ray. We also took the opportunity to announce that the all-new Sundancer 370 will arrive in early 2021, featuring the new design language of Sea Ray. This new release will usher in a new modern design, while still celebrating the rich 45-year history of the Sundancer.”
Wayne Porter, Vice President of Sales Formula Boats:
"The Formula Boats display attendance level at the 2020 Fort Lauderdale Boat Show was down from last year and limited to mostly South Florida visitors. However, Formula Boats remained active with both sold boats and clients interested in purchasing for the Fall/Winter boating season. Clients visiting the Formula Boats display represented current Formula owners, competitive brand owners and the ever growing First Timers looking to join the Formula family of boaters."
Pat Healey, Viking Yachts President & CEO:
“FLIBS has been a huge success for us, especially considering the challenging circumstances, and has exceeded our expectations in sales activity and attendance. In the first three days, we sold more than a dozen boats between Viking and Valhalla Boatworks, including two 92s and a 68. Our new product has done extremely well, with two Viking 54s and Valhalla 46s selling as well. Informa has done a tremendous job keeping the event safe and fun for everyone. FLIBS is an extremely important part of the industry and we support it 100 percent.”
Federico Ferrante, President Azimut-Benetti Americas:
“Our numbers are all incredibly positive, attendance of the first two days of the show was actually up 12% vs 2019. Overall attendance was down only 20%, which given the circumstances is an achievement. Last, but surely not least, we contracted 16 units at the show, which is only slightly less than our average FLIBS!”
James Noble, Vice President and Marketing Director, Princess Yachts Americas:
“From the start of set-up, the tone of the show was undoubtedly different, but it was clear to me that the Informa team was intent on ensuring a safe environment for all exhibitors and attendees. All of this was extremely positive, and even above and beyond expectations. We have seen outstanding sales success and activity as a result of the show. As of Saturday, we had seven yachts under contract, and a number of strong leads to follow up on that we believe will result in outstanding sales results. Even better, there is a sense of urgency in the activity that you would not normally see during a major election year.”
THE MUST-SEE BOATS AT FLIBS 2020
FLIBS packs in over 1500 boats from every class and category, so there is no shortage of available vessels no matter your preference. We compiled a list of the top 10 must-see boats from several mid-size specialties, including fishing, recreational cruising, and yachting. As the industry continues to navigate through late 2020 and early 2021 without the typical schedule of boat shows and media fanfare, FLIBS offered many manufacturers the opportunity to showcase their latest to the public. They took the opportunity in droves. Here are 10 great boats you can expect to see gaining traction in 2021:
1) Boston Whaler 240 Vantage
According to Boston Whaler President Nick Stickler, the all-new 240 Vantage "is incredibly versatile and customizable. We call it the ‘Swiss Army knife of boating. Just like our new 280 Vantage, the 240 is ideal for boaters who want to take advantage of everything the water has to offer.”
The Swiss Army knife moniker is apt: the 240 Vantage boasts a multitude of features that make it fully functional for fishing, cruising, beaching, watersports, and entertaining. There's no shortage of seating, with a spacious bow lounge and foldaway aft seating, and portside lounge seating next to the helm which converts to multiple positions. There is also an optional fibreglass prep center in the cockpit that creates a platform for meal prep, snacks, drinks, or bait, and a standard enclosed head and sink, making longer outings easily possible in the 24-foot platform. The 240 was built as a "spacious dual console model perfect for active families eager to enjoy everything the water has to offer." As an added bonus to its functionality and appeal to multiple uses, the platform is low-maintenance and easy to operate, making it a considerable choice for novice and experienced boaters alike.
2) Caymas 341 CC
Caymas is a relatively new brand founded by renowned builder Earl Bentz. The Caymas lineup offers fishing vessels with a new slant on conventional wisdom. The 341 CC is their largest model to date, and boasts a Stepped-Vee Ventilated Tunnel (SVVT) hull with a virtuosic deck plan allowing for complete customization for any angler. It's powered by triple Mercury 300 hp V-8 outboards and carries a top speed of over 60 mph. A diverse array of fishing features belie a testament to design ingenuity, and the boat also delivers cruising comfort with a set of plush bow loungers. The cockpit carries a slide-out cooler cushion and room for a pair of passengers on the foldaway transom jump seat, as well. For mixed crews, the console compartment below the helm only offers space for changing, and there's a flushing head with additional storage. It's an unquestionably versatile platform.
3) Grady-White Canyon 326
The Canyon 326 deserves a serious look from anyone in the centre console market. As a renowned and respected manufacturer for open water enthusiasts, Grady-White designed the Canyon to include armrests and flip-up bolsters throughout, triple bucket seats, and a weather-capable acrylic windshield. Forward seating options include a front facing console lounge, two lounge seats in the cockpit, and stern coaming bolsters that convert into a double couch with comfortable seating. The Canyon 326 carries a stop speed of about 49 mph powered by twin Yamaha F300 outboards. It's a Grady-White, which means it can handle the big waves while giving you the comfort to maximize your on-water time.
4) Everglades 235 CC
Dubbed "a fish hunter at its core," the 235 CC carries the functionality needed to take boaters beyond shallow bays and intercostal waters and into the deep. Powered by a 300 hp Yamaha outboard with the newly redesigned Helm Master EX system, the specialty fishing platform also carries digital displays, Bocatech® switches, a sliding windshield, and 360° visibility. A patent-pending swivel helm seat is a standout feature and proclaims to keep the captain comfortable yet stable when facing forward but can also be made stern-facing as a mezzanine seat, thereby giving the captain an alternative cushioned leaning post. In the bow,, console seating comes with large contoured seats and under-seat insulated cooler storage. For the hardcore angler, the 235 CC features a rigging station with tackle tray storage, tackle drawers, rigging surface, tool and leader storage, and four-rod holders. The transom includes a standard 27-gallon starboard circulating livewell with a clear acrylic lid and stainless steel components to avoid saltwater degradation. The Everglades 235 CC can hold its own in the waters of its namesake, but there's no doubt it carries the potential to angle its way into new markets.
5) Sea Ray SLX 400
Sea Ray took the opportunity at FLIBS to unveil a new outboard version of the 400 SLX, as well as the SLX 350. The ultra-popular Sundancer series was also on full display, at it should be as one the industry's premier boats in its class. The SLX 400 Outboard features triple Mercury 300 Verado outboard engines with Joystick Piloting and modern tech including include Quiet Ride™ with Tuned Transom®, a Dual Digital Dash™ helm with Simrad NSO evo3 16-inch touchscreen displays, a Fusion® Apollo audio system, Sea Ray Connect remote monitoring powered by NAUTIC-ON™, and optional Dynamic Running Surface™. The best-in-class layout also boasts seating for 22 passengers, an impressive storage space, and the comfortable amenities Sea Ray fans have come to expect including a sunpad, fold-down swim terrace, and a spacious cabin with sleeping accommodations for four passengers.
6) Jeanneau 12.5 Leader
The 40 foot (12.5m) Michael Peter’s designed cruiser is proclaimed to have "a multi-mission attitude with a do-everything layout above and a lower deck that combines clever and comfortable space for overnighting." It combines a smooth-riding hull with an adaptable layout designed to maximize on-water entertainment. The 12.5 Leader also comes standard with triple 300 hp Yamaha outboards and a top speed of 50 mph. Notable features include a main cockpit with a folding side terrace and wraparound seating, plus a well-appointed lower deck for overnighting. You can expect to see Jeanneau gaining market share under the leadership of Groupe Beneteau, who have ambitious plans for 2021.
7) Tiara Sport 43 LE
The Tiara Sport 43 LE made its debut at the Tiara Yachts Corporate Training Center in Holland, MI back in August, but the first in their new Luxury Express series wrapped up its debut tour around the eastern US with a final stop at FLIBS. At its core, the 43 LE is the embodiment of Tiara's renowned style: a hybrid of luxury amenities paired with top notch performance. According to Tiara's press release, the 43 LE "combines sport styling with luxurious amenities and thrilling performance. The transformational cockpit expands in size with its fold down terrace and rotating lounge module. The helm chair and companion seat both rotate to join the aft social zone, while the bow provides relaxation via a chaise lounge. Entertainment features are found throughout, including a galley, grill and premium stereo system."
8) Pursuit Boats S 428
As the flagship to their popular centre console Sport Series, the S 428, Pursuit's goal throughout the design and R&D phase was "to make it iconic." According to the company, "the size, power and amenities... deem it the epitome of a legend—combining the versatility of the sport in unrivaled style and comfort." The S 428 boasts an LOA of 43'9" with a 13' beam, making it both the largest Pursuit ever built and the most powerful. The added size also yields more interior space, and a thoughtful layout with a litany of clever amenities is a notable highlight of the interior design. The boat is powered by quad Yamaha 425 XTO outboard engines for a max output of 1700 hp and a cruising speed of 31 mph at 3500 RPM. It will also boast an industry-first second row of powered convertible seats beneath the oversized hardtop.
9) Marquis Yachts M42 Outboard
A year ago, Marquis Yachts re-launched and introduced the luxury M42 to the world. As the outboard market continues to grow, for 2021 Marquis will now offer outboard power by way of triple Mercury Verado 400 HP engines. The outboard model will serve as the standard configuration for the M42 going forward, and dual inboard 6.7 L Cummins 480 HP diesel engines serving as an available option. In order to redesign and retool the existing M42 to allow for the formation of the M42 OB, Donald Blount & Associates collaborated with Marquis Yachts engineers to extend the running surface while incorporating a platform to bracket triple Mercury Verado outboards. According to Josh Delforge, Vice President of Design & Engineering at Marquis Yachts, ”The M42 OB is a blast to drive. It turns on a dime, a rocket ship at wide open throttle, and the ride is extremely comfortable and stable.” Sounds like a great fit for the growing luxury outboard market that's taking hold at FLIBS.
10) Cruiser Yachts 42 GLS
The new Cruiser 42 GLS will likely become an industry reference point for the potential of a livable cruising yacht. The cockpit features a U-shaped dinette facing the galley, a raised wet bar with stools for group entertainment, and a covered hydraulic sunroof that comes standard. The bow lounge boasts a multi-faceted table that converts into a sunpad, and aft are dual “beach doors” that lower to expand the swim platform. The beach doors are large sections of the hull sides that fold down, allowing users to open the entire back half of the boat as a single-level entertainment area. Below deck is a high-ceiling aft stateroom and salon with a dinette that converts to a berth. Power comes from supercharged triple 350-hp or 400-hp Mercury Verados that can be tilted up to take you into shallow areas for mooring coupled with intuitive joystick piloting for easy docking.
The superyacht village at FLIBS was decadent, as always, and did not disappoint in magnitude nor luxuriance. In the days leading up to the event, boat fanatics watched superyachts meander their way into the show's private docks, where organizing the fleet is a task all its own. Vessels from this year's in-water display included some impressive craft. Here are 6 superyachts that made their resplendent entrance to the show:
You can get a glimpse of the magnitude of the superyacht display at the event below:
With the recent cancellations of most North American boat shows for the next several months, it remains to be seen when the next public event may take place. In the meantime, we will continue to keep boaters updated about any updates.