For five days in early October, Annapolis, Maryland becomes America's sailing mecca, with more boats, more booths and more sailors than any other pure sailing show. Here's a rundown of content for the weekend of October 4-8 (published October 2018)
For sailors, the Annapolis Sailing Show is a show we love to attend every year. America may not have as many sailors compared to countries like England, France, New Zealand and Australia, but we are a passionate tribe that loves to get together at this annual event.BWS22 years of exhibiting at the show, and our employees have been at the show long before that. Every year we are amazed at the vibrancy of the nautical industry when everything is gathered in one place.
There are some general trends worth noting. The number of boats on the water has declined since the industry's heyday in the late 1980s, but Annapolis is still a great place to test out all the new boats on the market. The number of monohulls has fallen sharply, but the number of multihulls is increasing every year. This year the show will be the largest multihull show in the country.
Also, the boats are getting bigger and bigger. A 36-foot boat was once considered the perfect size for family cruising, not too big, too expensive, and not too difficult to maintain. But 45-50ft seems to be the average length for a cruising boat these days and we see many production boats larger than 55ft designed for tandem sailing. Catamarans of 45 to 55 feet are now the average length of the multihull fleet, offering enough space to rival 70-foot monohulls.
It's been a year since hurricanes Irma and Maria devastated the Caribbean and Florida Keys. Charter companies based in these regions have been severely disrupted, but almost all are now operating their fleets and expect a more normal winter charter season this year.
Introducing new models to the American sailing public at the Annapolis Yacht Show is a tradition for boat builders, and this year was no exception. Beneteau will present the new Oceanis 46.1, a two-person yacht sure to be a hit. The major French manufacturer has also launched a new range of sport boats under the First banner. Originally Seaview boats from Slovenia, these boats offer Beneteau dealers a new entry-level style of fun cruiser/racer that should appeal to a younger generation.
Jeanneau will be showcasing two new boats at the show, their Sun Odyssey 410 and their new pocket cruiser, the Sun Odyssey 319. The SO 410 is the little sister to the new 490 and 440 introduced last year. It sits in the middle of the pack and is a great cruiser for couples. The new SO 319 is the perfect entry level boat for families looking for an easy, fun and affordable way to get on the water. Plus, the 319 is sure to appeal to older sailors migrating from larger cruising boats.
Dufour, another major French manufacturer, will have at least three Grand Large 412, 460 and 512 yachts on display at the show. Dufour competes with Beneteau and Jarno in Europe, but has not had the same breakthrough in the North American market. If you're looking for a European-style performance cruiser this fall, be sure to add the Dufour to your list of boats to see at the show.
The big German manufacturer Hanse always has a big presence at the show and will have five or six of their performance cruiser models for you to look at. Like other major European production manufacturers, Hanse offers you a wide range of products from 34 to 55 feet. Hanse has always combined modern European hulls and rigs with teak and holly interiors reminiscent of the past.
Island Packet will be showcasing their just released brand new American made IPY 349. The new entry-level Island Pack offers an attractive price and all the traditional design and construction details that make IPY Cruises a favorite among high-water fleets. IPY will also have the Blue Jacket 40 and Seaward 32 to complement its company's branding.
Tartan Yachts, another well-known American manufacturer launching a new model, will have the new Tartan 395 on display. This mid-size cruise ship offers much of the quality and attention to traditional detail that has been Tartan's hallmark for nearly 60 years. The tartans are made from epoxy resin hulls and carbon fiber spars, so they will serve owners for generations to come.
Catalina Yachts, once the largest sailing manufacturer in North America, is still thriving and will be exhibiting its full line of cruise ships. The newest design in the fleet, the new 425 offers an updated and thoroughly modern interpretation of value and quality, making Catalina owners some of the most loyal and repeat customers in the business. The company uses the marketing motto "The closer we look, the better we are," which is a very honest assessment of the company's commitment to its core values of quality and integrity.
Annapolis-based Passport Yachts always has two or three boats at the show, and they're usually pretty eye-catching. These elegant, traditional couples cruise ships feature beautiful joinery below decks and are assembled to each new owner's specifications. While the hull and basic accommodation plan remains more or less the same, each new owner can detail their new passport. If you're looking for a boat that dates back to generations of traditional shipyards, check out Passports.
A number of European semi-custom builders will be exhibiting new or relatively new monohulls including Amel, X-Yachts, Hallberg-Rassy, Discovery Yachts, Southerly, Gunfleet, Oyster and Swan. These high-end boats are built to order for their exclusive clients, offering the level of quality you would expect from a boat builder, making each boat unique to each client. There are often long queues to board these ships, as most sailors cannot reach such sailing vessels.
Multihull offers the widest selection of makes and models of any boat show in North America. In fact, the multihull section of the show has become so large that it rivals the large multihull shows in Europe.
The big three multihull manufacturers will be unprecedented. lagoon. Both Leopard and Fountaine Pajot will offer complete production lines for tours. Among the new boats, Leopard will present its new 50-foot boat to the Annapolis audience. This new design offers a huge aft cockpit, a large bow cockpit and the option of a third cockpit with a hard top above the aft cockpit.
Lagoon will have the all-new 40-foot and 50-foot cats that were introduced last winter at the Miami show. Both boats combine great design ideas for family cruising with the practical advantages of building vessels for the world's bareboat and crewed charter fleets. Lagoon made many innovations in these designs, including all-new sailboats, which reduced the size of the mainsail for easier handling and enlarged the genoas for greater power, which could be easily stowed from the cockpit .
Fountaine Pajot is growing rapidly, introducing a new design at least once a year. This year they will have the new Astrea 42 cruising cat and a brand new 45 foot cat. The 42 is tailor-made for a couple or a cruising family who want to keep it simple, elegant and affordable. With its cockpit hardtop cockpit, the new 45 offers real elegance and spacious living, but is not too large for a couple managing the boat alone.
Katana and Bali will join the two brands at the show. Catana specializes in building cruise ships for couples and crews planning serious ocean voyages. The Bali itinerary caters to buyers looking to add their vessel to Dream Yacht Charter's fleet around the world. Over the past year, Dream has become the largest air charter company in the world, thanks in large part to the success of the Bali Cats.
High-performance cruising cats are a design category that's gotten a lot of attention lately. This more upscale style of boat is ordered on a more or less semi-custom basis, offering owners exotic designs and materials combined with high class elegance. At the show, you'll find boats like the Balance 526, a relatively new brand built in South Africa. You'll also see the new HH 55 built in China by Hudson Yachts using special materials, and the new Outremer 5x built in France for the high performance and semi-custom markets.
South Africa is a hotspot for catamaran builders. In addition to Ocelots and Balanced Cats, you'll also find interesting cruising designs from smaller manufacturers at the show that are often perfect for cruising couples. The St. Francis 50, Xquisite 50, Knysna 48, Majestic 53, and Maverick 44 are all semi-custom cruise ships that have proven to be perfect for couples who know what they want and plan to live on board and sail around the world.
The new Seawind cruising catamaran from Asia is under construction in Vietnam. These open Australian designs combine excellent sailing performance with indoor and outdoor living options. Seawind plans to showcase its 1160, 1160 Lite and 1260 models at the show. If you're looking for a smaller, more affordable feline, Seawinds should be on your list.
Other small semi-custom cats at the show include an Antares 441 from Argentina and a Maine Cat 38 under construction in Maine. Antares is a special blue water vessel whose builder has prepared it to sail the oceans. The Maine Coon is more of a coastal cruiser and would do well in the Bahamas or the Caribbean. Maine Coon Cats are built in Maine with that exceptional "Made in Maine" quality that has made the state a renowned location for quality boatbuilding.
Trimarans are becoming more popular because they sail well and are smaller and can also be towed by a family SUV. These foldable, trailerable trio include the Dragonfly design from Denmark and the Corsair design from Vietnam. These triathlons do sacrifice some interior bulk, but their sheer love of sailing and the ability to tow a wide range of cruising grounds makes sense.
Neel 45 and 50 Tris are completely different. Neel creates pleasure boats that combine the excellent sailing performance of a triathlon with the lifestyle amenities of a modern catamaran. If you haven't boarded a Neel trimaran yet, this fall is the time to do so. After all, how many ships have a full utility room, or as some call it, a "cellar" below decks?
Charter Schools and Sailing Schools
Traditionally, the major charter companies like to offer great discounts on bareboat and crewed charters during the Annapolis Yacht Show as they look to book during the winter charter season in the Caribbean. Moorings, Sunsail and Dream Yacht Charter have all pitched big tents in the middle of the show and will be doing land-based office deals and leasing deals over the course of five days.
Pre-orders and great deals are especially important this fall as last year's hurricanes Irma and Maria devastated the British Virgin Islands, St. Maarten and Puerto Rico. As the island slowly rebuilds, charter bases and fleets are ready for you and your friends to charter.
In addition, large companies have branches all over the world. So if you want to explore Thailand or the Seychelles, you can do so, and you're likely to find a good deal at the fair.
The success of big companies in Annapolis spawned what the show now calls "Vacation Basin" and "Mediterranean Point." The two venues are located in what locals call "Ego Alley," which stretches into the city center. Dozens of charter companies set up booths on the Vacation Basin's massive float. Here, you'll find boat charter options, sailing schools, timeshare packages, and more. The show makes the Basin a one-stop destination for anyone looking for a sailing holiday.
Next to the basin is Mediterranean Corner, a tent filled with charter companies and vacation brokers offering charter opportunities across the Mediterranean. You can talk to people from Turkey, Greece and the Ionian Sea. You can choose to charter in Croatia or Montenegro. Or you can explore Italy and the Balearic Islands of the Western Mediterranean. They are all in the same tent.
Sailing schools are dotted throughout the show and J/World, Colgate's Offshore Sailing School and Blue Water Sailing School are always well represented. Stop by these booths and find out how you can turn your winter sailing vacation into a family vacation that develops skills that will help you become a better skipper, crew member and make time chartering or sailing your own more enjoyable.
There are so many tents, and so many stalls in the tents, it will take a month to visit them all. You'll find vendors representing and selling everything from clothing to marine electronics, from boat engines to the latest sailboats.
If you want to find specific products and companies, it makes sense to get the program at the entrance or download the program PDF from the show website and do some homework. As the show has grown and evolved over the decades, most companies with similar products aren't under the same tent, meaning you can spend hours hunting for what you need. So make a plan and go, enjoy sailing.
In recent years, the show management has made targeted efforts to expand the show's seminar and educational activities.
The First Sail program provides new sailors with courses in the basics of sailing and sailing ownership. If you're new to the game, here's the workshop program to get you started. You'll be surprised how much you can learn in a short amount of time.
Arnold's sponsored Take the Wheel program gives new sailors hands-on experience navigating the Annapolis Harbor. You will be accompanied by experienced instructors who will assess your abilities and help you steer the sailboat in the right direction as you adjust the sails and sail.
Paid and sponsored seminars will be held throughout the show schedule. You can attend one- and half-day workshops that introduce you to cruising life, teach you about catamaran and cat cruising, and help couples learn how to be self-sufficient and productive on their own boat.
Cruiser's University runs four days at the end of the show, from October 8-12. With over 40 different workshops available, you can purchase individual courses or a series of courses to develop your specific skills.
On Monday the 8th, the show ends at 5pm and then the groups begin. All boats had to leave the moorings that night, and once the separation started it quickly became a chaotic dance of boats, floating docks and workboats.
It is traditional to watch the show halfway through from the pier next to Pusser or from the rooftop bar above Pusser. It's common to do this with a pain reliever or two on hand.
The captains who steer the boats are often good, and there will be enough close encounters, even the occasional collision, to give The Split a bit of a NASCAR feel. It's always a great way to end a five-day show.