What I Saw at the Boat Show

Published on October 11th, 2018

by Craig Leweck, Scuttlebutt
I relish my annual stroll down Main Street in Annapolis toward the marine industry epicenter in early October. The 2018 US Sailboat Show is such a who’s who and what’s what, with each day capped by late night attendance at McGarvey’s Saloon. It’s a tough job, but somebody’s gotta do it.

I’m always asked what grabbed my attention, though for me it’s mostly about the conversations with industry insiders and sailing enthusiasts. I learn so much and come away so inspired, but here are some notables from the Show:

Annapolis Yacht Club: After its horrific fire in December 2015, the newly built main clubhouse opened just weeks before the Show. It’s stunning, but this is just the beginning as the sailing center across Spa Creek is soon to open with work underway on the club’s activity center annex across Compromise Street. When all done, AYC is going to claim an epic complex.

Market House: Also recently opened, the locals can’t say enough about the re-birth of this venue. At the bottom of Main Street, it’s quite the community gathering site with all forms of food and drink that highlight the local offerings. The guitarist one night ended his set with Tom Petty’s ‘American Girl’… the name of our Alerion Express 28. Perfect!

Alerion Yachts: Speaking of Alerion, it’s back. After bankruptcy, and less than a year under new ownership, they had the 30′ and 33′ on display (stunning!) and proudly report they’ve built a bundle of 20s this year along with a 28 and two 33s. Love it!

Harken: No slowing down after their 50th anniversary last year, with 20 new products now released. Among the new offerings is the SnubbAir™ Snubbing Winch, designed to replace the J/70’s larger standard winch, but fully capable of taking on any situation where you need something small for holding power but also can be cranked. There was also applause to celebrate the 20th year of McLube coatings, plus a hint about designing new gear for the 2021 America’s Cup.

Bitter End Yacht Club: After Hurricane Irma last year wiped out Virgin Gorda in the BVI, our friends at the BEYC resort have been committed to supporting the recovery of the community and in commencing their own construction. The plan is by Spring/Summer 2019 to have ready the marina, restaurant, bar, and waterfront operations, with overnight rooms coming online the following year. Great news!

Figaro 3: This boat was so cool it was roped off as ‘look but don’t touch’. If you think of Beneteau as a stubborn performance boat, the Figaro 3 seeks to alter that image. I was privileged to get a tour of this first-ever production foiling one-design monohull, and it intends to fully alter the brand’s gene pool. This 35-footer is a no compromise rocket ship.

Winch Handle: Ever since one of my good friends threw both my winch handles overboard this year during a particularly sporty race, I’m now somewhat fixated on the equipment. My replacement choice was the Ronstan Quick-Lock Winch Handle, and after testing every handle at the Show, I remain convinced it’s the best for our 28-footer. Stylish and light, fits easily and can insert into the winch without activating.

Inflatables: While my host came home one night with an oversized backpack for the SUP he bought at the Show, I continue to adore the inflatable Tiwal sailing dinghy. Easy to transport, skiff-like in appearance, rock-hard when pumped up, and now with a newly designed sail. This French group has fans in Europe and seeks to gain a footprint now in the US.

Exhibits: Checking out the exhibitor displays is almost as fun as what they are exhibiting, with the show management recognizing those that exceeded expectations. Awards went to Dubarry of Ireland (and the guy that stands in the water bucket), The Moorings, Daedalus Yachts (and the rebirth of the G4), Jeanneau America, and Lagoon.

To learn about all the Exhibitors, click here.

This was the 49th edition of the Show, and they are already getting geared up for their 50th anniversary celebration. See you there!

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