By: Scott Way
2020 will see some radical designs hitting the water across North America. And that’s awesome, because some boats coming out this year are radically different in the best way possible. From bizarre hull shapes claiming to offer superior performance to subtle elegance stashed inside economy platforms, 2020 will showcase several manufacturers pushing the boundaries of their reputations. Let’s take a look at the most innovative new designs you’ll see in 2020.
1) Jasper Marine Freedom 28
One look at the hull of the Jasper Marine Freedom 28 tells you why it’s on this list. It’s a standout vessel, no doubt about it. Jasper calls it their “high performance express commuter” and based on looks alone, it seems clear it’s designed to get you where you want to go. The hull was conceptualized by award-winning naval architect Bakewell-White Yacht Design Co. based out of Auckland, New Zealand, so suffice to say some mathematics went into engineering this sleek “express boat.” According to Jasper, the objective of the Freedom 28 is to “get from A to B safely as fast, efficiently, and comfortably as possible.” Nothing wrong with that, and they certainly deliver on the premise. It’s got a military grade aluminum hull with a wave piercing bow that includes a “double stepped high speed bottom design” with a 22 degree deep-vee reverse chine. The hull is designed for extreme impact resistance and Jasper claims that compared to a fibreglass hull this unique deep V will hold its shape (and value) much better over time, especially if you’re travelling in gnarly waters where wind, waves, and debris are a regular hassle. This funky hull design also helps give it a top speed of 55 knots, aided by a pair of twin 300 HP Mercury Verado V8 outboard engines. It’s got a cruising speed of 40 knots at 4000 RPM with a range of 250 nautical miles, so not surprisingly it needs a 500L fuel tank to feed that horsepower.
Even with a focus on power and seaworthiness the Freedom 28 has an impressive eye for elegance and comfort, too. The cabin seats 6 comfortably with ShockWave S2 Corbin high back seats with flip bolsters, shock mitigating pilot and co-pilot seats, 6’5” of headroom, and an entirely customizable interior. There are dual 12” Garmin touchscreens that control all the systems, plus an electric head, mini galley, a massive power sunroof, and convertible seating. The cabin sleeps 4 with a full 6’6” twin V-birth, and the rear deck layout is primed for fishing with 60” Scotty downriggers, a livewell, and Rocket Launcher rod holders.
If you find yourself pressed for time to find the morning’s catch, you can beat anyone out of the harbour while the rest of the crew gets some shut eye down below. The Freedom 28 is very cool, and on top of that it delivers more than just a visual statement, it’s an exceptional boat.
2) Axopar 28/Brabus Shadow 500 Cabin Black Ops Limited Edition
The Brabus Shadow 500 Cabin ‘Black Ops Edition’ is the stealthiest boat not owned by the military, period. Looking at its exterior it wouldn’t shock anyone to see it launching over ocean swells to shuttle commandos into top-secret operations in the dead of night. It’s the kind of boat you expect to see in a Hollywood blockbuster about Navy SEALS, or in declassified government documents dug up once the secret is out. Take a look at the interior, though, and you’ll see that the Shadow 500 is also the ultimate in opulence. Like a limited edition Bentley it’s all about scarcity marketing, so only will be 28 made. If you’d like one as the ultra-cool tender for your super yacht you’d better call Brabus ASAP because the Shadow 500 oozes exclusivity.
The boat itself is a partnership between Brabus Marine and Axopar and utilizes the popular Axopar 28 design. With a 9’8” beam and a draft of only 2’8” it’s a high efficiency cruiser that can handle just about any kind of water. The boat comes standard in gunmetal grey with red accents and carries an obvious devotion to the ‘blacked out’ aesthetic in high-end automotives. Much like pairing the right cabernet sauvignon with a Japanese Wagyu steak, the Shadow 500 pairs well with a nice Mercedes SUV. Which is pretty fitting, because Brabus happens to be an aftermarket tuner for Mercedes.
Aside from the sultry exterior, the Shadow 500 also packs some intense power and style. With a top speed over 50 knots and an ultra-luxurious cabin, it really does have everything. It carries a total output of 500 HP and “bags of torque” from duel Mercury 4.6L ProXS V8 lightweight FourStroke engines, with Brabus claiming it will deliver “thrilling acceleration, dominating performance, and massive torque all in a truly electrifying ride.” Inside it looks and feels like you’re sitting in the cockpit of a Ferrari or a Maserati; high end electronics, digital gauges, leather accents, and a steering wheel full of quick-touch buttons add to the overall feeling of high-end luxury.
The Shadow 500 can serve as both a recreational cruising boat or as an impressive tender for a superyacht, and it truly does offer a list of features that make it viable for multiple uses. It has off-shore capability for 6 people and in-shore capability for 9, so it can be found “cruising between a summer home in The Hamptons and an executive apartment on New York’s 5th avenue just as likely as finding it undertaking adventurous island explorations in the Scandinavian archipelago.” Well, doesn’t that sound opulent?
Whether you’re a superyacht owner in need of the ultimate tender or someone in search of a wickedly cool vessel for coastal cruising, the Black Ops Limited Edition is unlike anything else you’ll see on the water. And that’s if you ever get to see one at all.
3) Super Air Nautique G23 Paragon
Nautique has a well-earned reputation for building some of the finest boats on the market, and the 2020 Super Air Nautique G23 Paragon is clearly intended as their ultimate offering. The all-new G23 Paragon is an engineering marvel devoted to fastidious detail. Each glance up and down the hull unveils something new, which is the intention if you speak to a manufacturing rep. The stitching in the seats, the subtle logos arranged throughout the hull, the virtuosic dashboard, the clever placement of every accoutrement, it’ll hold your attention. But be careful you don’t stare too long, lest you get sucked into the whirlwind. Price tag included, it’s an attention getter.
One of the cool things about Nautique, aside from their devotion to detail, is how identifiable they are. You know a Nautique when you see one; their signature jagged hull lines stand out against an industry full of rounded conformity. Nautique calls it a “faceted hull,” but no matter what the name it makes for a unique shape that can be customized to showcase each owner’s personal taste. When looking at high-end luxury boats like the Paragon, they come with the opportunity to use a virtual boat builder so you can tinker with every color scheme, option, and detail from bow to stern. Nautique’s 3D boat builder is a journey into being a boutique boat owner, and that’s half the fun. You have free reign to create what is, really, the ultimate wake boat.
As for the Paragon itself, the G-series has all the signature flair you’d expect from Nautique and is offered in 21, 23, and 25 foot lengths. According to Nautique “every square inch of the interior was thoughtfully designed” in order to “rejuvenate your sense of what luxury entails.” You can’t disagree with that assessment. The luxury starts with the performance, which comes from a 600 HP PCM ZZ8 direct-injection motor and a 2200 lb ballast for the ultimate wake. At 23’ long with an 8’6” beam it’s a solid size for a wake boat and seats up to 16 in a variety of luxurious layouts throughout the bow, cockpit, and stern. The reversible dual-position stern seats are pretty sweet if you want to lay back and watch the action, and the bow lounge can be tweaked for any number of passengers or functions. The “helm command” sounds as impressive as the name suggests with a full array of touchscreen interactivity using the proprietary MyNautique user interface. It makes you feel like you’re sitting at the helm of a vessel capable of inter-galactic travel, which feels possible when you throttle down.
With their obvious mission to build the ultimate wake boat, Nautique also offers a fully customizable Surf System that uses their proprietary WAVEPLATE technology. In essence it’s a stepped stern metal plate that works in concert with the hull to produce epic surf waves by redirecting the flow of water. In conjunction with the WAVEPLATE and perhaps coolest of all is if you get the Garmin Fenix 5X Plus wristwatch, you can use the Garmin app to remotely control the Surf Select 3.0 system inside the Paragon. This means you can change your boat’s speed, music volume, wave shape settings, shift ballast, or change the wave side while on the fly. By giving surfers the ability to shift ballast and crank the tunes while in the midst of riding a wave, Nautique has brought a whole new realm of functionality to the boating experience.
4) Avalon Waketoon Surf Series
Having the audacity to coin a new sport in conjunction with the release of a new boat is audacious, but Avalon gets away with it. Waketooning, according to Avalon, is the ability to create a dual-sided wave for tandem wake surfing on either side, rather than having two surfers on one side. To create this, Avalon partnered up with Volvo Penta to build the ultimate wake surfing pontoon boat that defies pontoon stereotypes and inches closer towards high-end luxury powerboats. The triple pontoon design combines the functionality of a pontoon boat with the engineering demands of a wake surf boat to create a package that’s the first of its kind. The pontoon design is patent-pending based on its utilization of integrated rocker and contoured wake plates on the pontoons to create ideal waterflow out the stern. This negates the need for a ballast system, thereby reducing weight (and improving fuel economy) while also increasing handling. It also cuts out time spent draining/filling the ballasts and removes the associated hydraulics, so there are fewer components to deal with and more time spent wake surfing. The combination of the tri-hull and forward facing Volvo engines is unique, and the design (not to mention the fancy new name) shows promise. According to Avalon president Jim Wolf, “we see it as the emergence of a totally new type of sport called waketooning where generations can come together to enjoy water sports and wake surfing on the stern of a powerful pontoon.” To create this new hybridized waketooning experience, Avalon and Volvo incorporated a Forward Drive V8 I/O engine that has forward-facing dual counter-rotating props with an adjustable tilt-drive. The Forward Drive engines are lightweight next-gen motors designed for simple serviceability, and the trim options allow the captain to enhance the wake by pulling the rear down via a digital touchscreen interface. The other great feature of the Volvo engine is Easy Drain, a raw-water draining system that can be activated with a knob at the helm to keep engine performance optimal during late year temperatures. The custom digital ‘wake form’ interface at the helm allows the captain to tweak wave shape in transit for more curl or push, so you’ve got adjustability while on the fly. Thanks to the dual-sided wave formation, pro wakesurfers pulled off several ‘world’s first’ tricks during testing, including the first-ever tandem 360 and tandem 360 shove, and that’s never bad for your marketing strategy. The performance created by the Waketoon Surf Series is legit and Avalon is chipping away at the misconceptions of pontoon boats: that they’re single purpose slow-moving vessels for recreational cruising only. They’re no longer just for the family cottage or for leisurely strolls down the lagoon, Avalon is pushing the pontoon category towards the high-end luxury powerboat realm where vee-hull designs used to reign supreme.
5) Yamaha 275SD Series
The 275SD is the sleeper submission for 2020. Yamaha’s signature style and presence is so well known it’s easy to let the 275SD slip by like another typical offering, but this is definitely Yamaha taking a quantum leap outside their wheelhouse. The 275SD is their first foray into the 27-foot category, and just about every detail about the boat steps away from Yamaha’s normal template and into new territory. It’s unquestionably a big boat for Yamaha with a full 27’ length and 9’ beam, but surprisingly only pulls a 22” draft. As the biggest boat Yamaha has offered it seems reasonable that it’s also the first to carry twin supercharged Yamaha marine engines via matching 1.8L SVHO power plants. It’s also their first step into DRiVE technology, a low speed manoeuvrability feature incorporating dual-paddle control arms on the steering wheel for quick left/right adjustments while docking.
New is definitely the operative word here; there are a mountain of features on the 275 that are a first. The swim platform and seating area is full of unique designs, including a patent-pending seat system that allows two removable stern seats to be connected just below the water’s surface so you can fraternize while lounging in the water. The swim ladder drops between the two seats, so re-entry is easy and the in-water seats can be quickly removed and reattached to the boat when you’re ready to get back underway.
The new 275 is also Yamaha’s first jet drive boat with a galley that includes a premium counter, plumbed sink, removable dinette table, and lockable storage. The cockpit has major perks with matching 12” Connext touchscreens with full GPS mapping and joystick control, plus a Fusion marine stereo system with Wet Sounds REVO speakers. There is high-end luxury tip to tail, but it’s done with subtlety. That’s signature Yamaha, and for taking a step out of their comfort zone they definitely took that step confidently.
As Yamaha’s first foray into the luxury runabout category the 275SD will fit right in among the Mastercrafts and Nautiques it’ll be docked beside. It won’t stand out, but that’s the point. The clever engineering and uncomplicated aesthetic give it a charm that exudes quiet confidence. The 275SD isn’t flash and flair, it’s subtle luxury in a package that pushes Yamaha, and the luxury powerboat market, towards even more exciting designs in 2021.