OCEAN racing’s top guns are looking nervously over their transoms as so-called ‘cruising’ yachts now dare to dream beyond a life of bareboat chartering and luncheon cruises.
Plush finishes aside, the humble mass-production hull has been infused with high-performance additives that allow twilight sailors to win a frozen chook on Friday then spend weekends enjoying lifestyle regattas like Sail Port Stephens.
They’ve become increasingly popular, and Sydney International Boat Show (SIBS) – which opened on Thursday – has an armada of offerings from Europe and the US, including several Australian firsts.
Italia Yachts Australia, for instance, imported a new Italia 13.98 especially for SIBS. The 47-footer was designed to excel under sail, with the underwater lines drawn before anything else. It was nominated as US Sail magazine’s Best Boat and Cruising World Best Performance Cruiser in 2016.
Sydney dealer Performance Cruising Yachts has two debutantes from French builder Dufour – the 56 Exclusive and a 512 with the latest interior options.
Dufour is Europe’s most popular yacht brand and Performance Cruising was recently named best new dealer for 2017. Their display includes five ‘Grand Large’ models, starting at 31 feet, along with an Elan S4 cruiser-racer and a French Bali catamaran in collaboration with Dream Yacht Charters.
Team Windcraft has three Dehler and five Hanse models, including the launch of the Dehler 34 penned by leading designers Judel/Vrolijk. It flanks two sisterships, the award-winning Dehler 38 and top-selling Dehler 46.
Hanse’s entry-level 315 also made its national debut alongside a 345, 385, 415 and 455. The 9.6-metre ‘pocket rocket’ was named European Yacht of the Year in the family cruising category but will also suit racing-oriented buyers. The mid-sized 455 is Hanse’s current bestseller, with the biggest cockpit in its class.
Jeanneau has five yachts, headlined by the premiere of the 51 conceived by Philippe Briand and superyacht specialist Andrew Winch. There’s also an R2 version of the Jeanneau Sun Fast 3200 with open cockpit, carbon mast and straight keel.
For the largest, most luxurious sailboat on display, see Vicsail. Called the CNB76, this semi-customised vessel is tailor-made for world cruising in comfort and safety. Also look for the Amel 55, a centre-cockpit cruiser with joystick-controlled sail handling.
Flying the Aussie-made flag is Bluewater Cruising Yachts from Cardiff, with the Cygnet 20, a gaff-rigged trailer sailer that turns the clock back beyond the first Sydney show. Sydney’s Hardcastle Lowe drew the four-berth, 20-foot hull, providing carbon fibre spas and water ballast as modern touches. Bluewater is also displaying a fully equipped 420 Raised Saloon cruising yacht.
Catamaran buyers have their first look at the Seawind 1260. Seawind also has the 1160 Resort to suit the day-charter market, offering commercial operators the ability to carry up to 43 passengers.
For more information visit sydneyboatshow.com.au