PHOTO Preview 2015: where boats go in five moves

It’s September, and like every year in the last remnants of summer comes the time for boat shows. It starts, as per tradition with Cannes (Sept. 9-14). Here in the editorial office we are packing up to move to the Croisette, from where we will present to you live, in the next few days, what is new this season. But before we get into the specifics, let’s take advantage of these moments to take a little bit of stock of how boats have evolved in recent seasons, to try to figure out-where they’re going!


1. Hulls. Hull designs in recent years have undergone “greasing,” meaning that the maximum beam (the one we usually find in the middle of the hull) no longer shrinks much as we move aft. A major advantage in terms of space on board, not only inside but also in the cockpit. And the “famous” edge, where do we put it? Born for ocean racing boats, which have to perform their best at load-bearing gaits, it has become a fashion in the cruising world as well. Now, in the latter case it does not have the performance advantages (you have to reach certain speeds to get them), but undoubtedly it has served the shipyards and designers to improve (again) the spaces on board.

2. Sail plans and equipment.
The British, with their capacity for synthesis, call it easy sailing. It is the growing trend to make boating easy and convenient. This includes reducing the size of the headsails, which increasingly have almost no overlap, to the benefit of having a self-tacking jib. Crucial then, to “easy sailing,” reduce the forces involved or otherwise limit the crew’s efforts. Thus, “self-tacking” winches, thanks to which the helmsman only needs to press a button to control the jib when turning, have also made their appearance on medium-sized boats.

3. Deck layout.
The big stylistic “querelle” of the last year, as evidenced by the dozens of comments you have written to us, is the one caused by the increasingly frequent appearance of double wheelhouses even on smaller boats, including watercraft. The feeling is that the purists have to give up, the tiller rudder is slowly disappearing. The cockpits, as we have said, are widening (and lengthening), and thanks to the presence of larger sundecks, they once again become the real heart of life on board. Maneuvers also tend to be more and more concealed-just think of the increasingly frequent presence of the rollbar, which several yards exploit to accommodate the mainsail sheet turn and further clear the cockpit.

4. The evolution of designers. There used to be only the designer. Today the designer is instead the focus of a team effort, with an increasingly specialized team of engineers and technicians at work to enrich the boat. Then, in recent seasons, designers from other worlds have also popped up in mass production, which, if well guided (otherwise it can be trouble), are able to enrich design solutions and lead, why not, even to the use of new materials.

5. Interiors.
We have already mentioned it: modern hull designs have allowed for much larger interior spaces than in the past. What’s more, our feeling is that there is an end to that race to carve out as many cabins as possible, which would benefit theairiness of the rooms. A trend that has already been going on for several years in the States and Northern Europe. The other ongoing challenge among shipyards concerns the modularity of spaces, with the possibility for owners to increasingly configure and customize the environments of even standard boats. But the most important aspect is that of convenience, which, linked to autonomy, is part of the evolution of blue water. Indeed, more and more shipyards are focusing on long-distance boats, usually flanking a new range dedicated to their own higher-performance lines. Has the desire to sail returned, then? It sure looks like it!




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