-Creedence Clearwater Revival
The opening riff of this post pretty much summed up the "Sail Fest" section of the Toronto International Boat Show this year. More on that later.
I've spent the last week or so working to organize my thoughts and impressions of the show this year, trying to separate the quantitative from the qualitative, sussing out feedback from other attendees, attempting to figure out whether my initial impressions of this year's Show are accurate.
We had great fun with great friends who attended, but the mix of craft on display and the vendor mix in the Marketplace was... underwhelming. Prices on (almost) everything were up. In some cases WAY up. More on that later, too.
Somebody in the Show's head office must have lost their mind, because this year I was issued press credentials.
Minor gripe: Reading the back of the badge, it looks like the badge is also my ticket. Woohoo! Free admission!
However, to get my badge I had to go to the Press Office...
Which is inside the Show, which requires a ticket to enter.
No biggie, SWMBO and I had already bought our tickets online.
Friday night, Hilary and Deb and SWMBO and I checked into the Westin, and Saturday morning offered us a spectacular view:
After a quick breakfast, we caught the shuttle bus to the Show.
I snapped a shot as we walked in the gate, to try to capture the scope of the event:
I got about half of one building in this shot. There are still two more buildings and a hockey arena converted to an indoor lake. It is a BIG show, area-wise.
The first impression I had when we entered was that there were fewer seven-figure big pimpin' moneyboats than last year. In past years, there were always a half dozen or more 50+ foot power cruisers in the center of the room. This year it looked like the number had been cut in half. Still, there were some interesting big boats, like this hardtop express:
While the hedge-fund and gold chain crowd was underserved, it seems like there were a slew more wakeboats and pontoon boats than in years past. Some ideas stood out, like this pontoon boat manufacturer who seems to understand the best uses for a pontoon boat:
A floating bar!
A floating waterpark!
Some of the wakeboard boats were beautifully finished:
with bow styling that looks familiar...
Where have I seen that before?
Ah! I remember! Bertone did it in 1953.
While some wakeboat styling cues worked well,
others... maybe not so much.
MasterCraft had a large display of boats, and I noticed that they sported the mother of all wakeboard towers.
Look at that bad boy! Cast, jointed, cantilevered and articulated! Hell, it even has a shock on each side! Now THAT is bad ass!
"Er, why?" some of you might be asking.
I wondered too, so I asked one of the MasterCraft reps what the shocks actually did.
"They make it easier to raise and lower the tower for storage and transport."
Looks trick, though.
One of the better changes at the show this year was that the large sailboats were all accessed from one platform.
That's the good news.
The bad news is that this was possible because there were fewer large sailboats this year.
And fewer midsize sailboats this year.
And fewer small sailboats this year.
Fewer boats, by fewer manufacturers, represented by fewer dealers.
This pic captured almost half of the 30'+ LOA sailboats on display.
Hunter, Beneteau, Jeanneau, Bavaria, J Boats, Hanse, Dufour and TES all had boats on display, but Catalina really came out to play, with a full handful of boats available for a walk through.
This year there were no powersailers. No McGregor 26M, no Hunter Edge. That may be good news or bad news, depending upon your point of view. Frankly, I figure fewer boats of any sort is bad news.
Some hits and misses from the sailboats on display:
Bavaria's stern rail cushions, as demonstrated by Deb:
Catalina's cavernous cockpit lockers, and the clever trashbin access:
Dufour 445 chartplotter location:
Impossible to see from the wheel. Because Catalina got it right, and because of the quality of the brightwork finish, Catalina gets a...
Catalina 445 cockpit stack:
The cockpit table sports the best brightwork finish I have ever seen on a production boat, the chartplotter is well located and it's nice to see somebody put the engine instruments in front of the helm, but not at the front of the cockpit!
Catalina 445 hard-top dodger:
I like the idea of a hard top dodger, and the handholds are well integrated, however the hardtop's curve is just a little too bowed compared to the cabinhouse top, and the whole thing a few inches too tall to really integrate well with the rest of the boat.
Still, it's a hell of a package if you've got near on $400 000 to spend.
Hanse 445 cockpit cushions:
Gemini had a broker, pamphlets and a video on a small TV to show off their new Legacy catamaran. I know the companyy has seen some upheaval recently, but come on, this is not how to debut a new boat.
For the first time in years there was no cruising catamaran at the show.
Stay tuned for our next exciting adventure, as we pick up the pace and go shopping!
"Talk the Dock!"