Inquiry: where are the sailing yards going? Market segments compared


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The Maxi Dolphin 62, a mini maxi custom with a strong sporty soul, capable of combining a highly refined look with a high quality of life on board.

It had not been since the boating boom years, more than four decades ago, that the boat object had risen to the top of the charts of durable goods purchasing propensities. Not only in Italy, but throughout Europe.

The sociological reasons why the boat is back on consumers’ wish lists are quickly explained. In the Covid era, the propensity to purchase goods that make you and your loved ones feel safe is favored. Also, let you isolate yourself from problems, enjoy nature. Feeling free at last. In the head and in the facts. And the boat is the perfect object to fulfill these aspirations. No other commodity has characteristics that fit, like a tailored suit, these consumer demands.

This is not our prediction. Is a reality derived from facts. In fact, the sailboat sales and rental market has not fared badly at all, in spite of predictions.

But how are the construction sites performing? In which market segments do they invest the most?


In the lower range, up to 8 meters in length, we surveyed only three new 2020s among the 60 boats surveyed, accounting for 5 percent of the sample. And we are talking about dinghies, such as Decathlon’s Tribord 5S (3.08 m) or the 4.70 m RS Cat 16. Not even a shadow of minicabs under eight meters. No shipyard ventures to produce small cruising cabin boats anymore; they consider it too small and unprofitable a market.


In the second bracket by size, from 8 to 12 meters in length, there are 11 new products presented in the 2020 season. They represent 18 percent of the sample (60 boats). This is where big shipyards come in, such as Bavaria, which presented the 11.38 m C38, the 11.64 m Dehler 38SQ of the Hanse Group, the 9.53 m Beneteau Oceanis 30.1 or, in the catamaran world, Excess with two models, 11 and 12.

The Saffier 27 is a decidedly out-of-the-box boat, small and highly sought after in terms of design and performance.

Also enduring in this market segment, which once had the lion’s share of numbers and models, are examples of niche “daysailer” boats such as the refined 8.20-meter Saffier 27 or the sporty 9.07-meter Fareast 28.


We analyzed various market segments in our research, the one ranging from 12 to 14 meters, represents, 18% of a sample of 60 new boats (launched in the last two years) that we considered, with 11 new boats presented by serial shipyards in 2020. There are special boats such as the aluminum monohull from Alubat Ovni 400 or from “premium” shipyards such as the 13.06 m Hallberg-Rassy 40C, the 13.85 m Grand Soleil GS 42 LC, the m 12.36 m Solaris 40 or the 12.09 m X-Yacht 40.

The Ovni 400 is a boat with a “traditional” soul only in appearance. The Alubat shipyard actually included numerous innovations both in terms of interior livability and in terms of the hull. The DNA is true Ovni, but the gaze is toward the future.


Grand Soleil 42 LC
The Grand Soleil 42 LC (Long Cruise) is the smallest of the LC line, but it cannot be said to be any less comfortable. In fact, Nauta Design and the Grand Soleil technical studio have managed to achieve extraordinary volumes for a 42?, without altering the performance of a good cruising boat that knows how to sail.

This is where catamarans also come into play, right from the 12-meter mark, such as the 12.33-meter Bali Cat Space, the 13.45-meter Fountaine Pajot Elba 45 or Nautitech/Bavaria’s 13.79-meter 46. Large production yards such as Beneteau with the Oceanis 40.1 enter the field.

The Bali Catspace is one of the latest additions to the Catana Group. There is no longer the typical front cockpit of the Bali, but there are not a few interesting solutions as outdoor living areas.

But even this 12- to 14-meter market range is still not the top as number has been of novelties. One goes higher, to greater dimensions.


In fact, in the fourth market segment, the one ranging from 14 to 16 meters in length, there are 13 new entries detected by our sample of 60 boats, representing 22 percent of the total. Catamarans are well represented, and with this size they become true houseboats. News, for example, from France’s Allures, which presents its first 14.60-m C 47.9 catamaran, the 15.24 m Privilege Signature 510, the 15.20 m Sunreef 50, or the Italian C Cat 48. Among the large manufacturers manning this range, which is more profitable for their profit and loss accounts than smaller sizes, are two newcomers from Beneteau, the First 53 and Oceans Yacht 54 both 15.98 m.

The First 53 was the big Beneteau news of the last period. Nothing to do with the older, more race-oriented Firsts, here we have a luxury cruising boat with sporty performance.

Responding are rivals Dufour with the 14.85-m 470 and Elan with the first model of the Slovenian shipyard’s new era, the 15.20-m GT6.

This size is also the hunting ground for premium shipyards such as Hallberg-Rassy with the 15.23 m HR 50 or Grand Soleil with the 15.01 m 44 or Italia Yachts, which recently launched its new Italy 14.98 Available in two versions, Bellissima or Fuoriserie.


Strange, but the news collapses in the fifth length range analyzed, from 16 to 18 meters. There are only 5 and they represent 9% of the sample. Entering this range is a large series shipyard such as Dufour with the 16.35 m 530, a niche shipyard such as Garcia with its first catamaran, the Exploration Cat 52 or the refined Hallberg-Rassy with the 17.44 m HR 57, the sporty elegant 16.10 m ICE 54 and the 17.96 m Swan 58.


there’s something for every taste

The surprise comes from the last bracket, the one from 18 meters and up. Once upon a time an 18-meter boat was a real privilege for very few. It seems not to be so by looking at the numbers. There are as many as 17 new 2020s and they account for 28 percent of the analyzed sample of 60 boats. Let’s try to put things in order. There are prestigious shipyards that preside over this top range.

The Scuderia 65, a true example of the custom off-the-shelf sports car

Such as Adria Sail with the 20.50 m Scuderia 65, Advanced with 18.60 m A62, Y Yachts with 27.40 m Y9 or Maxi Dolphin with 18.80 m MD 62. Premium manufacturers such as ICE with the 23.10 m 70, Mylius with the 18.36 m 60 and 72RS, Nautor with the 20.11 m Swan 65 and 29.60 m 98, Solaris with the 18.31 m 60 and the 33.77 m 111. Jeanneau is also renewing its maxi line with the 18.38 m Jeanneau 60. Nourished is the lineup of catamarans such as the 18.21-m Fountaine Pajot Samana 59, Lagoon with 20.60-m Sixty Five, Neel (trimaran) with the 19.81-m 65.



This is a snapshot of the offerings of the major new features that the yards have unveiled in 2020. Strategies and products definitely conceived in the pre-Covid era. But as we said, a lot has changed in this year. Are we really sure that the way to meet the new needs of those who know how to boat, own or have owned one is the same as before? Our impression, supported by recent statements by Bavaria’s CEO that he sees a strong new demand for small to medium-sized boats, is that it is not to continue to push for larger boats. There is also the future entry of new consumers who had never gone boating before the pandemic to consider. They are the ones who have rented a boat for now, but they are the future new customers, joining the (increasingly older!) incumbents. In short, isn’t it time to return to offering a greater choice of boats in the 10/18 meter range? If recreational boating is to return to the numbers of the 1970s/80s, supply must be adjusted to meet demand. The conditions are there.



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