London’s ExCeL recently played host to this year’s CWM FX London Boat Show, when just shy of 100,000 visitors packed in to gawk at the latest and greatest in the nautical world. The Show’s 400 exhibitors boasted a varied range of attractions from university projects to world-class debuts from the likes of Sunseeker and Williams, with a good dash of celebs in attendance too.
Robert Braithwaite CBE and Nicole Scherzinger
There seems to be every indication that the Show has shaken off the hangover of previous years’ declining attendance, with exhibitors cheerfully reporting that boats have been flying off the stands amid generally renewed interest. This not only bodes well for the Show, but for the industry in general.
This year’s event, running from 9 to 18 January, placed strong emphasis on new technology featuring, amongst others, the real-time build of the first production model of Southampton Solent University’s hydrofoil catamaran, the Solent Whisper, (with HRH Princess Anne lending a hand), and Landau UK’s 4D dance floor which applied thumping bass directly to dancers’ feet. Other displays such as a life-size model of Bloodhound Project’s 1,000mph rocket-powered car and the sporty new Range Rover SVR catered to a more land-lubbery crowd. A variety of hi-tech mobile and wearable accessories further emphasised the Show’s focus on tech.
While these futuristic attractions certainly turned more than a few heads, most were turned in the direction of the Sunseeker stand where former Pussycat Doll and popular X Factor judge, Nicole Scherzinger, unveiled the Company’s brand new Predator 57. The world-debut 57 bridges the gap between Sunseeker’s traditional open and closed-top yachts with innovative sliding glass doors between the saloon and cockpit, which drop below decks when open.
Despite its unconventional mechanics, this whizz-bangery doesn’t detract from the space available below decks, where it still boasts room for six guests in comfort and style as well as a dazzling range of toys. Sunseeker also had seven other models on display ranging from 40 feet to 28 metres (around 91 foot).
Not to be outdone, Fairline revealed designs for two new 53-foot additions to its lineup. The Targa 53GT continues the range’s sporty pedigree while the Squadron 53 features a breathtaking swept flybridge – with both sporting large, dramatic hull glazing and bright and airy cabins. Fairline also announced a special-edition Targa 38 Shadow-S, tricked out in carbon-fibre detailing with a blistering top speed of 44 knots. They had six boats on their stand ranging from 38 to 65 feet.
Sunseeker Predator 57
Princess was not absent either (we’re not talking about Anne again here), the Company’s 68 and S72 models were in attendance in London for the first time and, while not ‘world premieres’, they did the brand proud displaying trademark “space, grace and pace”. Eight other models joined them on the exhibition stand.
Aside from the ‘big boy manufacturers’ a further 75 boats enjoyed their premier, ranging from tenders to cruisers.
British design and craftsmanship was well represented at the smaller end of the scale by, among many others, the Ribeye PRIME series RIBs, Williams’ new Sportjet 520, the Dauntless Oyster 500 and Haines’ 360 Aft Cabin cruiser.
Sunseeker Predator 57
‘Foreign’ design also featured with Bavaria introducing its new Sport 400 range of motorboats, Hanse exhibiting its 385 and 455 sailboats, and Jeanneau displaying no less than seven new models.
As the Show wound up, the new air of optimism was infectious and next year’s bookings are already looking healthy, so here’s hoping for another great turnout in 2016.