US Sailboat Show - Pics, Words, Vids

Thoughts, impressions and gossip from an amateur exhibitor at the Naptown Boat Show:-

Battle of the 20' Sportsboats

Its all good.

This category will act as a much needed "shot in the arm" for sailboat racing in the US. Some have mentioned the growth of the Viper fleet in Marblehead. I should add that the growth of this fleet has NOT come from cannabalizing the existing One Design fleets. All of the new owners and most of the crew were reasonably good sailors living in the Boston area who for one reason or another were not racing. The Viper brought them back. Including skippers and crew, this 20 sports boat has added 70 new participants/members to MRA, our local One Design racing organization. The whole one design scene benefits from this.

There will be more than one succesful class in this category. The niche is not only broad enough to accomodate more than one NEEDS more than one boat. There is a wide range of requirements. Lightweight construction and assymetrical chutes were first embraced by high performance racers........but light loads and easy to handle spinnakers are going to appeal to novices, intermediates and families as well.

The Sailboat Industry

This was vacation time for me. I had a ball. Most of the exhibitors were there to make a living. They were having a ball as well. This is a group of people who include "quality of life" as one of their career criteria and it self selects a great bunch to hang out with. Competitors, customers and the show winds down in the evening, exhibitors and industry heads wander over to each others stands. Naptown is both a social and business gathering.

We went to the Sail magazine party where they announced the "Sailing Industry Person of the Year" award. It was won by the marketing director of Hunter Boats. Now, I have never had any urge at all to own anything made by Hunter. But this happy guy stood up, full of bonhomie and spoke about how good the industry had been to him and his company. He radiated a passion for sailing and a passion for building affordable cruising boats and anyone who does something they love is alright in my book.

The Crosscurrent 33

So beautiful.

The Melges 20

I am a Melges fan. This is a company that only builds boats they would like to own and race themselves.I had a good chat with the Melges guys. I listened in to a conversation with European supplier.

My impression is that The "Twenty" is still barely a concept.

I don't think the "Coming soon to a regatta near you" is smart marketing. It will inevitably get stale. I think they would be better off announcing that they are going to enter the 20' niche, they are at the preliminary design stage and invite input. I don't buy the "We were burnt by imitators of the Melges 24" argument .

The Melges 32

Love it

The English invasion?

I spotted 2 prominent Brit visitors at the show.

Ovington Boats.......They came over to look around and see if there was an interesting US boat that they could build for the European market. IMHO, Ovington is up there with Rondar, Melges etc. but not many in the US know them. The boys from Tanners Bank in Tynemouth build the 49er, 29er, 18 ft skiff, flying fiften, Musto skiff, Mumm 30 in Europe. Rocket 22 in Europe anyone??

RS Boats. Martin Wadham, CEO from RS was here. Purely as a visitor. Purely to look around. Others have commented in other threads that RS has a great dinghy range in Europe and that it would be great to have them over here. I asked and got an enigmatic smile as an answer.

The Cruising Cats

So many. This is a huge segment now. The Gunboat is the high end boat porn.....but no doors between the 2 guest rooms will cramp sex life in the port hull. Corsair are going to bring out a Performance cruising Cat at 50 foot. I looked at the drawings. This will be very interesting. Corsair's smaller boats have mantained an emphasis on performance. Will this be something more performance orientated that most of the big cats but less all carbon-all expense than the Gunboat?

The big ugly cruising cat/hotel behind us with 2 jacuzzis on deck ? $4.2m!

Esse 850

Anarchists selling a cool alternative way to combine, classy day sailing , PHRF and higher end OD. Its been here for a while, but this was my first up close look at it.

Rocket 22

Its got to be one of our favorite small boats with a lid. With the used prices of U20's as high as they are(and still not in production again). This boat with carbon rig and really high quality construction has to be an alternative. It is certainly a modern alternative to the J24.

More Racing Dinghies

There were some dinghies there (Vanguard and the Flying Scot)....... but mostly this is the "Annapolis keelboat and Yacht show". More dinghies please.

Meanwhile, why is it that I have to find out today that you've been twin-wiring these things?? Thanks again for a great ride.
Try the forums on a website called Sailing Anarchy to stay current.

Its a few guys who have put wires on for a couple of Wednesday evenings to see how it works......."Wired Wednesdays". The mainstream and the One Design racing is strictly feet in the hiking straps only.

The Viper may be able to broaden its appeal by going in 2 directions simultaneouly.

1. The club spinnaker. Similar to the Laser Radial concept which created a depowered version of the Laser. An easy, entry level small spinnaker.

2. Wired Wednesdays. Mainstream racing will always be a crew of three with hiking. For those looking to raise the thrill levels, the Viper could be an amazingly stable and easy platform for someone to get out on a trapeze.

We'll see how it goes. The great thing about this class is that the sailors and the class are in control. We can try stuff, get feedback and then give direction to sailmakers and builder.



640, you got my vote to give us the heads up on the show next year ;)

......................much better than a hangover report :(



Yep, figured that one out later when we launched the viper at SSA. What an awesome fucking place SSA is!
Yes it is, and everyone should know that! I am just another proud SSA member. But seriously, great coverage and great article about the small sportboat segment at the show. I came to the same conclusion about the Viper being the best one of the lot, and I am very excited to sail one someday. I was even more excited to hear that there are several in the Annapolis area.

This brings me to my next point of wanting to start a Viper class at SSA. I do not have the money right now to buy one, but if I did, I most assuredly would. There would need to be enough boats to gain/sustain fleet status, and they might have to wait a year or two to do so, but if so the effects would be great. Currently the most modern/recently designed boat would be the Johnson 18. Unfortunately there is no fleet nationally and there are only several at SSA. A more modern, and much faster boat would serve to increase interest greatly and could garner new interest from young sailors looking to sail a fast/fun/affordable boat with few crew. I think what the Class and Rondar are doing is great and wish them all the best in building many new fleets, with one hopefully at SSA. If there is anything I can do to help in the Annapolis area, don't hesitate to ask, I would love to be of assistance.




640, what is the status of using a GNAV system on Vipers?

Class assocation website has pics of installation. It looks like the Viper that Clean sailed has a conventional vang.

What's the story?




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