BWS’s Annual Fall Boat Show Preview

New Cruising Boats: monohulls and multihulls  (published September 2018)

Every year as we prepare our annual boat show preview of new cruising boats we are remined of two important changes that have taken place in the U.S. sailboat market in the last decade: fewer and fewer new boats are being built in North America and, second, multihulls are gaining in popularity at a rapid rate.

With that in mind, we offer our preview and note that half of the section is devoted to multihulls and half to monohulls. And, we note also that most of the boats of both types that we will be previewing were built in France or Germany. How the tariffs imposed by the current administration in Washington will affect the prices of boats being imported from Europe and other countries remains to be seen. But, as you are looking at new boats this fall, be sure to factor tariffs or potential tariffs into your calculations.

Beneteau 46.1
Beneteau has been pushing the innovation envelope in the last few years in boats with the new “point one” identifiers. The 46.1 is no exception. The new Finot-Conq design has a wide variety of ways that the interior spaces can be configured to suit the needs of owners with different requirements. The hull has a long chine or step that helps keep the waterline narrow for performance and the interior spaces above that as large as possible. The boat’s ample beam helps to create a very large and commodious cockpit. You can have the 46.1 with three, four, or even five sleeping cabins and the galley can be placed either aft in the saloon or along the port side. Beneteau is all about you having your boat just your way.

Beneteau Figaro 35
The newest boat designed for the French offshore sailing event known as the Figaro, the Beneteau Fiagro 35 brings foiling technology to the production boat market. The boat has two inward facing foils that can be retracted against the sides of the boat or deployed for high sped sailing. The foil on the leeward side provides lift and increases the boat’s righting moment considerably, which therefore allows it to carry a larger press of sail. All of this translates into very high speeds. The concept has been proven in the designs of the IMOCA 60s that race around the world in the Vendee Globe Race but the foils used in the Figaro are different and less extreme. Not a boat for casual coastal cruising, instead the Beneteau Figaro 35 is a pure performance machine that will supply plenty of high speed thrills.

Dufour 390 and 430
The French builder Dufour will have two new designs at the fall boat shows, the Grand Large 390 and the 430. (Grand Large is a term used in France referring to blue water sailing.) Both boats have modern performance cruising hulls from Italian design Umberto Felci that are beamy and streamlined with a definite Euro flair. The transoms fold down on both boats to create huge swim and boarding platforms. Down below both boats have spacious interiors that make good use of the boats’ high volume. The 430 comes standard with three sleeping cabins and two heads. The saloon can be configured with either the galley aft in the saloon or it can be placed forward of the dinette. Known for boats with excellent sailing qualities, Dufour is one of the most popular brands in Europe and is making steady progress developing an audience in this country.

Elan i45
The Slovenian builder Elan has two basic lines of boats, the high-performance GT designs, and the roomier, more commodious Impression line. The Impression 45, is the largest boat they build and it is a modern Rob Humphries design that offers excellent sailing performance with a rig that is easy for a couple to handle. The cockpit is large but not too large, the interior is roomy yet it feels more traditional than some of the other boats in this category. The i45 can have two master staterooms with en suite heads, or the standard three-cabin two head version, or it can even have four individual cabins. Although not well known in the U.S., Elan has been building quality sailboats for 30 years and is well respected around the world.

Garcia 45 Explorateur

Garcia Exploration 45
Garcia Yachts is a French boat building company that specializes in aluminum construction. They build the Garcia line of yachts but they also build large commercial vessels, expedition ships and large custom aluminum yachts. The Garcia Exploration 45 was developed with Jimmy Cornell to be a rugged, fast, comfortable cruiser that would be well suited to high latitude sailing in the Arctic and Antarctic. The aluminum hull is incredibly strong and capable of serious groundings and collisions with ice. The 45 has a centerboard that can be retracted for negotiating shallows or lowered when sailing in deep water. The interior is warm and traditional and set up so you can operate the boat from the warmth of the cabin. If you are headed on a cruise to the farthest reaches of the planet, the Garcia Exploration 45 is the boat for you.

Hanse 458 and 508
Built in Germany, Hanse Yachts offers a full line of performance cruisers that are noted for their great sailing characteristics, comfortable cockpits, easy self-tacking rigs and huge interior spaces. You often feel like you are on a boat five feet longer when you climb down the companionway of a Hanse. The new 458 falls right in the middle of the Hanse range and is designed for a couple or a cruising family. The cockpit is large and the twin wheels both have excellent visibility forward. The transom folds down to make a large platform. Down below the saloon has a dinette forward with a settee across from it and the L-shaped galley aft. The standard 458 has three sleeping cabins but the forward cabin can be split into two cabins as an option.

The new 508 replaces the 505 in the Hanse line and is a brand new take on what was a very successful 50-foot blue water cruiser. The boat has all of the signature Hanse features noted above in the 458 but is much larger. The 508 has a huge interior with a great master cabin forward, two big double cabins aft and a spacious saloon with the galley along the port side ands the dinette to starboard. BWS’s editor sailed a Hanse 505 across the Atlantic Ocean last summer and reports that the boat makes a fine, fast and comfortable passagemaker. The new 508 carries on that blue water tradition.

Gunfleet 58
Although the Gunfleet 58 is not a brand new design, the Gunfleet brand is still new to the U.S. and a worthy entrant in the luxury passagemaker category of yachts. The company was founded by Richard Matthews who founded Oyster Yachts so you can be confident that the Gunfleet line of boats is of the highest quality and integrity. The Tony Castro designed 58 is a center cockpit cutter with a raised deck saloon that has tinted wrap-around windows. The cutter rig is all run from the cockpit with electric winches and hydraulic roller furling. This set up works well for a lone watch stander or a two-person team who will be able to run the boat easily. The standard layout has the master cabin aft, two guest cabins forward and a “captain’s cabin” aft of the saloon amidships. The galley is in the passageway leading aft to the master cabin, while the large dinette and settees are in the saloon. The 58 is a true world-class luxury yacht that will take her crew anywhere.

Hylas 48
Hylas Yachts has gone through a management change in the last year and with it a whole new direction for the company. They still build the German Frers designs from the past, including the ever-popular Hylas 54, but new designs from Bill Dixon as well as powerboats are on the horizon. The new Dixon-designed Hylas 48 will be the first of the next generation of boats. It is a stylish, modern center-cockpit, deck-saloon cutter with a cruising fin keel and a large semi-balanced spade rudder. The cockpit is large enough for six or eight to sit for sundowners and will be dry and safe at sea. Down below, the master stateroom is in the aft cabin and has a huge centerline double berth and an en suite head. The guest cabin is forward and there is a pullman cabin just after it with upper and lower berths. The galley is in the passageway from the saloon to the aft cabin. The saloon has a large dinette to port and comfortable seating to starboard. The large chart table is at the base of the companionway to starboard. This new 48-foot passagemaker is finished in the fine style Hylas owners have always expected with teak everywhere and the glint of varnish catching your eye.

Island Packet 349
A couple of years ago, when Darrell and Leslie Allen bought Island Packet, Seaward and Blue Jacket from the previous owner, fans of these traditional and high-quality yachts were rooting for them to make a true success of the venture. Well, that is just what has happened. The company is building all three lines of boats and has taken decisive steps to modernize and update the designs while staying true to the blue water values that created these designs in the first place. This fall they are introducing the new IPY 349, which is a solid little passagemaker for a couple. The boat has a sensible cockpit and a step aft down to a swim platform. The cutter rig has a self-tacking Hoyt Jib-Boom and a genoa forward and a slab reefing mainsail. Below, is a V-berth forward and a large double berth in the quarter cabin. The galley is aft and the saloon has a bench settee to port and two swiveling easy chairs to starboard. The table folds down from the bulkhead. If you are ready to head offshore in a traditional full-keel design and want to do so on a moderate budget, then the new IPY 49 is for you.

Jeanneau 319, 440 and 490
Jeanneau, which is a part of Group Beneteau, is now the second largest builder selling boats in the U.S. after Beneteau itself. Some of their boats are built in the Beneteau factory in South Carolina while the larger boats are imported from France. Last fall Jeanneau introduced the all new 440 which is chock-a-block full of innovations, including the walk-around side decks that join the cockpit floor with the decks. The 440 was the first in the eighth generation of Sun Odyssey cruising sloops. The 490 is the 440’s big sister and offers all of the innovations in the smaller boat in a much larger package. Both boats have three-cabin layouts and spacious, well laid out saloons. And both boats embody Jeanneau’s reputation for delivering great sailing cruising boats that are modern and somewhat traditional at the same time.

This fall Jeanneau is introducing their new 319, which is a complete coastal cruiser in a small package. The 319 has a large cockpit and a simple, efficient fractional rig that will be a cinch for a couple or even a singlehander to manage. Below, there are two sleeping cabins, a V-berth forward and a quarter cabin aft, and a single head. The saloon is compact but made bright by large hatches, ports and hull-windows. With the size of cruising boats getting larger by the year, it is great to see a prominent builder like Jeanneau come to the market with an affordable, entry level boat that will be great for a young family or even a couple downsizing from a larger boat.


Moody 54
Moody yachts began life as a British brand but is now under the umbrella of the Hanse Group. The new designs that the company is building are very innovative and modern. The new 54 is an aft-cockpit cruisers with a hard top over the cockpit which is on the same level as the raised saloon. Altogether this creates an interesting inside-outside living space. The twin helms are aft where you can handle all sheets without creating a spaghetti mess in the cockpit. The salon is a warm, bright living space with a dinette to port, the galley to starboard and the inside steering station forward. The saloon offers panoramic views all around. The master cabin is in the forepeak and the two guest cabins are tucked in under the raised deck saloon. The Moody 54 is a large, luxurious sea going-yacht. One of the interesting design features that adds to its seaworthiness are the raised bulwarks that run all around the decks that will keep the decks dry and keep those working on deck safe.

Passport 545 BOTY test sail, Annapolis MD

Passport 545AC
The aft-cabin version of the beautiful Passport 545 is a modern classic that compares very favorably to other modern classics from builders like Hinkley and Alden. The modern cutter rig with a Solent style jib inside a full genoa provides a very flexible sail plan that can be managed easily from the cockpit. The roomy cockpit is well laid out for handling sheets and lines and is large enough for a gaggle of friends to relax at the end of the day. Down below, the elegantly finished interior has the master cabin forward with a centerline double and en suite head and the quarter cabin aft next to the second head. The U-shaped dinette will seat six and across from it is a settee that will double as an excellent sea berth. The galley is aft to port and one of the finest galleys you will see on a yacht of this size. Passport yachts are as much works of art as they are cruising boats with a very high-quality fit and finish and attention paid to every minute detail. If you are looking for a modern classic that can take you safely around the world, the Passport 545AC fits the bill nicely.

Tartan 395
Tartan has been building beautiful, high quality cruising boats in Ohio for nearly 60 years and has a well earned reputation for building some of the highest quality sailboats in the world. With epoxy hulls and carbon rigs that will last lifetimes, the boats are as much heirloom quality as they are proper yachts. The brand new Tim Jackett design is a 39 foot family cruiser that is designed to sail well while giving her owners confidence that the boat is set up to face all conditions. The double-headsail rig, with a Solent style jib mounted inside a large genoa, provides a very useful and flexible sail plan that can be reefed or unreefed from the cockpit easily. The boat comes with a standard cruising fin keel but for owners who sail in shallow areas a keel-centerboard version is also available. The interior plan has a large double cabin aft to starboard that will be the owner’s cabin. Forward there is a good center-line double berth in the guest cabin. The head and shower are on the port side of the saloon aft and the chart table is across from it. The U-shaped dinette has a table with folding leaves and across from it is a bench settee. Tartan is a company that should be considered an American treasure and for those who are looking for a classic, American style yacht that is built uniquely for them, then Tartan is the builder for you.

Wauquiez Pilot Saloon 42
The French builder Wauquiez is known for interesting design and high-quality execution in the building and fitting out of their cruising boats. They are not a high-volume builder so each boat is crafted with hands-on care. The new Pilot Saloon 42 has a large cockpit with twin wheels and a fold-down transom. The simple sloop rig is both large enough to create excellent sailing performance and simple enough to manage that a lone watch stander can hand, reef and steer from the cockpit. Down below, the virtues of the Pilot Saloon concept are immediately apparent when you sit down in the raised dinette. You can see out through the saloon windows and have a great view of the water and the world all around the boat. The galley runs fore and aft on the port side. The boat can be set up with two master cabins or with a conventional three-cabin layout. If you are looking for a thoroughly modern Euro-style cruising boat with a raised dinette and full water view, the new Pilot Saloon 42 is the boat for you.

Antares 44GS
The Antares 44GS is the latest version of the venerable Antares 44i that has been in production for more than a decade. Now built in Argentina, this blue water cruising cat offers couples a very seaworthy and complete platform for wandering the world’s oceans and fulfilling their cruising dreams. One of the hallmarks of the new Antares is the list of gear and equipment that comes with a standard boat. Essentially, when you take delivery of a new Antares, all you have to do is fill the tanks, load on the groceries and sail away. Argentina has a long boatbuilding tradition so the quality and finish of the new Antares cats are excellent.

Balance 526
Multihull impresario, dealer and broker Phil Berman (The Multihull Company) has sold more multihulls over the last 30 years than just about anyone. His latest project has been the development of the Balance line of performance cruising cats. The queen of the line is the Balance 526 that was introduced two years ago and has proven to be a very successful player in the 50-foot plus segment of the cat market. Built in South Africa by noted composite experts, the 526 offers a well-conceived combination of great sailing performance and luxury living in a boat that can be handled by an experienced couple. The boat has plenty of innovations, among them a helm that can be tilted up so you can steer from the raised helm station or tilted down so you can steer from the protection of the cockpit. Very cool. The design does not take any particular element to the “extreme.” Instead, Berman and his crew have sought to provide a boat that is truly well balanced in all aspects. And, they’ve done it.

Corsair 970
Corsair Trimarans was founded in San Diego by WalMart heir John Walton with the introduction of the first F-27, designed by Ian Farrier. The 27 was so successful that the company quickly expanded its line to include boats from 24 to 37 feet. Now owned by Seawind Catamrans, an Australian builder of cruising cats, Corsair has moved to Vietnam and is building an all new line of great cruiser-racers. The 970 at 32 feet replaced the older F-31 that is one of the most popular trimarans ever built. The 970 offers owners better sailing performance, larger living accommodations and a lot more storage. Trimarans tend to be fast and the 970 is no exception. You will often see sailing speeds in the mid-teens and those hunting for a thrill will be able to sail at over 20 knots in the right conditions. With the Corsair-patented folding amas, the 970, like her sisterships, can be folded up to fit onto a trailer that can be towed by a family SUV. If you are eager to rediscover the pure fun of sailing in a boat that can take you offshore safely, the Corsair 970 is the boat for you.

Dragonfly 28
Designed and built in Denmark, Dragonfly trimarans are an innovative approach to building tris that will fit into a normal marina berth and can be trailered behind the family car. Like the Corsairs, the Dragonfly boats have folding amas. But unlike the Corsairs, the amas fold back against the side of the boat instead of hinging upward. This makes the boats stable in the water when the amas are folded which means you can fold the amas to enter your marina slip and then fold them out easily when you are in clear water and ready to go sailing. The Dragonfly 28 is the company’s mid-size racer-cruiser and has proven to be incredibly popular. The cockpit is large and comfortable, the interior roomy and well fitted out and the rig easy to handle. For a couple’s cruising boat, this little 28-footer is both very fast under sail and easy to sail. In 2019, Dragonfly will introduce a new 40-foot tri that will be a true voyaging boat that will be capable of very quick ocean passages.

Fountaine Pajot 44PC
The new wave of catamarans sweeping the market is definitely the new power cats that are being brought out by the big builders. Last year FP launched their first 44 PC to rave reviews. The design won the European Boat of the Year Award in the power catamaran category and has been a huge success with dealers. The 44 has all of the benefits of a large cruising cat – huge living spaces, stable platform, great maneuverability, lots of room for guests and more – without the addition of a mast and sails. Cruising power cats are also very economical as they can be pushed along with smaller engines than an equivalent monohull and can be run on one engine at a time. Next year, FP will bring out a 40 PC that promises to fit a lot of budgets.

Fountaine Pajot 67
One of the world’s top three builders of cruising cats, the French company Fountaine Pajot is launching a brand new 67 footer that will be the flagship of their fleet of cruising cats. FP builds six models of cruising cats from 40 to 58 feet. Over the years, FP has sold a lot of cats into charter fleets but in recent years their emphasis has changed to focus also on the luxury private yacht market. This year, FP is launching a new 67-foot cat that promises to redefine luxurious cruising. The boat has a flying bridge with a lounging area, plus a large after cockpit with a dining table and a forward cockpit with its own hot tub and lounge. Several layout options are available from four cabins with en suite heads to six cabins with four heads. Crew quarters are available in the bows of both hulls. The standard layout has the galley in the saloon but you can have a version that puts the galley down in the starboard hull. The 67 will make a great crewed charter boat but it also will make a fine and luxurious long-range cruising boat for a large family or a couple who sails with a lot of friends.

Gunboat 68
After Gunboat went into bankruptcy and was bought by Grand Large Yachting, the company has gone through something of a financial and creative rebirth. The first all-new Gunboat to be built in the new factory that GLY erected in France will be launched this summer and will be somewhat different from earlier Gunboats. Working with the design firm VPLP, GLY set out to create a 68 footer that was better balanced and faster than earlier designs while also maintaining a very high degree of luxury. The mast has been moved aft to reduce the mainsail size and roller furling headsails offer a wide variety of sail configurations. For most couples, running a boat as powerful as the 68 will probably require having a captain onboard. The new Gunboat 68 should be a real head turner as it speeds by.

HH55 in Annapolis MD

HH 55
Designed by Morrelli and Melvin and built in China by Hudson Marine, the new HH55 is a state of the art high-performance cruising cat that has been competing well against Gunboats and other such cats in regattas in the Caribbean and elsewhere. Built of carbon fiber, epoxy and other exotic materials, the 55 is a big and powerful cat that can achieve speeds in the high teens and 20s. With curved daggerboards, the boat sails well to windward and blasts off the wind with the boards partially down for stability. Hudson Marine has been building high performance, luxury yachts for a while and was once involved with the earlier Gunboat company. Their finish work is excellent. Fifty five feet is about as large a performance cat as an experienced couple can manage on their own. For passages, regattas or in challenging conditions, more crew will certainly be necessary. The HH55 competes in the water and in value for money.

Lagoon 40 and 50
Last winter in the Miami International Boat Show and afterwards, Lagoon launched the new 40 and 50 to the US market. The boats are sisterships in the latest generation of Lagoon cats and have many innovations that have been applied to these fleet-changing designs. The masts have been moved aft on both boats to reduce the size of the mainsails and to make sail handling and trim easier. The working genoa has been made larger but is still easy to handle from the helm station with the electric sheet winches. The 50 is a large and commodious cruising boat that will serve a family of four very well. It will also make an excellent bareboat charter boat. The 40 is remarkably large and offers plenty of space for a family or a charter party. In sea trials, the 40 was almost as fast as the 50 and very easy to handle.

Leopard 50L
The Leopard 48 which was launched in 2012 was one of the most popular cruising cats ever designed. But the design was beginning to become dated, even as new orders kept coming in. So, Robertson & Caine, who build the Leopard cats, set out to improve on what was already great. The new 50 was their answer and comes with many innovations that will make owners happy. We test sailed the 50L last winter in Florida. The L version has the optional lounge on top of the hard top over the cockpit. Unlike some cats with flying bridges and lounges up high, the 50L doesn’t feel like a layer wedding cake. The steering station is a traditional raised helm to starboard and the lounge is just up a few stairs from there. The helmsman is in contact with those in the main cockpit and those in the lounge. Out sailing we got the 50L up to 10 knots in a good breeze, so the boat is fast. It is also commodious and will make a very comfortable home for a family or a charter party.

Outremer 5X
Outremer is a French catamaran builder that specializes in performance cats that are not extreme in any way. The models run from 45 to the new 57-footer that is going to be introduced next year. Each model has its standard configuration and each can be built with the high performance package, the X series. We have sailed the 51 offshore for 1,350 miles and can vouch for the boat’s great performance and seakeeping qualities. We managed to get her going to 16 to 18 knots, but most of the time we were slowing the boat down for comfort and ease of sailing. At 10 knots, she was right at home and delivered 190 to 200-mile days without the boat or the crew breaking a sweat. The principals at Grand Large Yachting, who own Outremer, recently took a chance on sponsoring a YouTube vlogging couple and supplying them with an Outremer 45. You can watch their videos on You Tube on their channel La Vagabonde. What one wonders is if the Youtube generation has the interest or the money to spend a million dollars on a cruising boat.

Privilege 6 Series
Privilege Catamarans is one of the older names in French cat building with many cruising cats out there in the charter fleet and cruising the world. As the company has evolved it has focused more and more on the luxury, large cat segment of the market and have broken their line into Series 5, 6 and 7, which stand for the lengths of the boat from 50 to 60 to 70 feet. The Series 6 cat in the middle of the line has a 64-foot waterline and a 30-foot beam. The Marc Lombard design is thoroughly modern but very stylish and incorporates features from racing cats he has designed. One of the distinctive features of the Series 6 and the other Privileges is how the master stateroom can be placed forward of the saloon and have a width almost as wide as the boat. The cabins look like something aboard the Queen Mary. Privilege is all about pure luxury and modern design.

Seawind 1600
The new Seawind 1600 has been in the works for a while and has finally arrived on the market. The Reichel Pugh design is a departure from the more conservative looks of the other Seawinds and embraces a very Euro style with plumb bows, hard chines, a swept back cabin and a large open cockpit with helm stations on both sides. The boat is a pure performance cruiser that was conceived as a blue water voyaging boat for a family. At 52 feet it falls within the size range that an experienced couple can handle so it would make a great platform for a couple to explore the world. The 1600 like all of the Seawinds and Corsairs are built in Vietnam.

St. Francis 50
The St. Francis 50 has become a modern classic and could be seen as the model of what can be offered in a couple’s blue water cruising cat. Built in South Africa in a boutique shop in St. Francis Bay, the 50 is updated and improved with every boat built. Owners can add a lot of custom features to the boats so no two are exactly the same. Yet they all are fine passagemaking cats that have sailed all over the world and many have completed circumnavigations. This is a couple’s boat and can be easily handled by two experienced sailors. If you are heading over the horizon and want a semi-custom cat to do it in, then the St. Francis 50 should be on your short list.

Xquisite 5X
Once you have met your first Xquisite X5 you will never forget its absolute distinctive looks and almost space traveling styling. The whole look of the boat, with its large reverse curving arches and cat’s eye windows, says right out loud that you need to pay attention. The boat itself is a very modern design with a classic and comfortable interior. It sails better than most of its peers in the 50-foot range and is set up cleverly so one watch stander can hand, reef and steer all from the protected comfort of the raised steering station. Tomas and Sara who build the boats in South Africa are veteran cruisers and owned hull number one of the X5 line before taking over the company. Their attention to detail and the innovations they have incorporated into the boats all stem from their time living aboard and blue water sailing.



Author: Blue Water Sailing