March 6, 2012
2012 Miami Boat Show: What’s new this year
Going to the Miami Boat Show is the ultimate pilgrimage for just about any boating enthusiast. Not only does this event unfold under sunny Florida skies, the region’s natural environment just makes you want to get out on the water. And then there’s the feature attraction: the chance to treat your eyes to an incredible variety of watercraft – including a number of products that simply aren’t available in Canada. In all, the event showcases more than 3,000 boats from more than 2,000 exhibitors. As a recent ad stated, “One day is not enough!”
A multi-dimensional event
The Miami Boat Show draws some 100,000 visitors daily over four days. The Miami Beach location adds to the event’s charm, but what really makes this show unique is the fact that it unfolds in four different places at once. The main event goes down at the Miami Beach Convention Center, while the Sea Isle Marina & Yachting Center hosts the water exhibition, where you can see the boats from an entirely different point of view and – more importantly – try them out. Meanwhile, sailing enthusiasts flock to Strictly Sail at Miamarina at Bayside. And finally, anyone seeking a yacht can head over to Collins Avenue for the Yacht and Brokerage Boat Show, featuring more than 500 new and used yachts docked along the Indian Creek Waterway.
This year, the show certainly showed signs of a comeback. After a few rocky years, the outlook is more optimistic and cheerful. On the first day, the number of visitors was much higher than it was in the past two years – so much so, in fact, that the crowds made taking pictures challenging!
High performance: dead or alive?
It’s the story of a death foretold: high performance boats were scarcer than ever this year, with many of the big names missing from the roster. In fact, only custom boatmakers seem to be bothering with high-end units. Baja, a well-known brand in Canada, has been off the market since the takeover from Fountain in 2008. This manufacturer promised to produce four models under 30 feet in 2012, and fans were hoping for a revival now that American Marine Holdings (which owns the Donzi and Pro-Line brands) regained control over Baja and Fountain. But the joint venture recently applied for bankruptcy protection, casting serious doubt on the return of these brands.
The opposite is true for central console boats. These were everywhere and made up many of the new products on display at the show. This category is not all that popular in Canada, but is certainly worth taking a closer look at.
Here are some of this year’s most interesting new products:
2012 Four Winns V275 and H260
Many brands put the brakes on development during the economic crisis and therefore continue to rely on the same old models. But Four Winns has made a point of going the opposite route. Thanks to their aggressive development strategy, this company has a wide range of products on offer, including the H210, H210SS, S215 and S215SS – all introduced earlier this year. Meanwhile, the Miami show shone the spotlight on two new models: the V275 and H260.
The 2012 V275 is a compact cruiser featuring the same fluid, modern lines that typify Four Winn’s most recent additions. It also inherits the same two-tone palette and style elements as the brand’s larger models. On board, you’ll find a spacious cockpit and open concept design. On the water, the Stable Vee hull contributes to a gentle, comfortable ride.
The Four Winns Horizon 260 bowrider is another example of the company’s new style direction. Its design balances elegance with clean lines. It stands out thanks to its bow lounger, which transforms the front deck into a large relaxation area. Measuring 26’ long and 8’ wide, the H260 offers plenty of space and the whole gamut of interesting functionalities.
Mercruiser 565 EFI
Engine builder Mercruiser has stayed mum on new products, but its high-performance division, Mercury Racing, has garnered attention over the last two years with the successive introduction of 1350- and 1100-horspeower engines. Both of these turbo engines were developed entirely by Mercury Racing, which means that neither uses a GM block. The brand is not about to let us down this year; they’ve added a new engine to their line-up: the 565 EFI, specially designed for high-performance boats. Based on the same block as the popular 525 EFI, the 565 has more displacement (8.7L compared to 8.2L), allowing it to unleash more power – fully 565 horsepower.
Not only does this engine offer additional horses, it features a clutch and an electronic accelerator – a first in the high-performance category. It comes in 11 different colours and can be paired with either the Bravo 1 XR or Bravo 1 XR Sport Master drive. According to Mercruiser big wigs, this engine adds to the company line, but other manufacturers and consumers are speculating that it could very well replace the 525 EFI in the future.
Anyone waiting for Mercruiser to innovate with a more fuel efficient engine for pleasure boats will have to keep holding their breath, unfortunately.
2012 Mastercraft X-30
In the past few years, Mastercraft has had a major presence in the ski and board boat segment and now enjoys a solid reputation. For 2012, they have added the X-30 to their product line. Take one glance at it and you’ll immediately recognize some of the style elements from the X-Star. At 23"4' (7.3 m) long and 8"6' (2.44 m) wide, the X-30 features a large, classic bow with plenty of space for passengers to enjoy.
Like all Mastercraft products, the attention-to-detail on the X-30 is exceptional – especially in the cockpit. But what really stands out is the new hull, which optimizes performances while generating a superb wake for skiers. Plus, different features allow you to change the wake according to your wakeboarding, waterskiing or surfing preferences. The X-30 comes with your choice of llmor engines, reaching up to 430 horsepower.
2013 Rinker 290 EC
Rinker chose the Miami event as the right place to unveil its new sport cruiser, the 290 Express Cruiser. This model is equipped with the same hull as the 280 (which it is replacing) but its cockpit configuration is copied from the Rinker 310 EC. This configuration has been widely applauded by consumers, who appreciate its added space and sociable lay-out. Another thing buyers are sure to like about this model is its attractive starting price!
Sea Ray Sundancer 410 and 230 SLX
Sea Ray presented its new 210 and 230 SLX, both of which have been revamped and fall into the luxury SLX family. But Sea Ray is best known for its all-new 2012 410 Sundancer, which bridges the gap between the 39’ and 45’ models. The 410 Sundancer is latest of the company’s products to feature the brand’s new design lines, which were first seen on the 48 Sundancer. Fans love the European-inspired look, as well as the new on-board stylings characterized by more square corners. Although the 39 Sundancer is still offered this year, there’s a good chance that the 410 Sundancer will take its place as the entry-level sport yacht from Sea Ray.
Monte Carlo MCY 76
Beneteau Group, which owns the Beneteau, Jeanneau and Prestige brands, introduced an all-new label two years ago: Monte Carlo Yachts (MCY). The French company currently produces the MCY 65 and MCY 76 at its Monfalcone plant in Italy – both of which are now available in Canada. The MCY 76 was on display at the Miami Boat Show, wowing visitors with its European lines and ingenious layout. Its strong point is the design of the front deck. The engineers managed to keep the deck surface unobstructed, making way for an additional lounge section with sofas that convert into sunpads and two oval tables. This area is sure to be popular with passengers. This concept is taken from small bowriders, but taken to a new level.
Seven Marine 557
Engine maker Seven Marine impressed the crowds by presenting the world’s most powerful outboard engine ever. With 557 horsepower, it is actually the supercharged 6.2L V8 LSA found on the Cadillac CTV-V. According to the manufacturer, the advantage of having all this power is that it allows you reduce the number of engines needed on large or high-performance boats. As for its appearance, there are tons of colours to choose from, including see-through covers.
2012 Sea-Doo RXP-X 260
BRP’s star product for 2012 is without a doubt the new RXP-X 260, the most high-performance sea-doo ever sold. But this time, the innovation was not in terms of power (the RXP-X’s engine is not new), but rather improved handling and agility during sport driving. Its T3 hull (which stands for “tight turning t-shap”) is ideal for high-speed turns, while the Ergolock system includes a narrower seat for an increased sense of stability