Big-boat bling is back in style

Quality reigns as the Sanctuary Cove Boat Show celebrates a milestone, writes David Lockwood.

Quality reigns as the Sanctuary Cove Boat Show celebrates a milestone, writes David Lockwood.

Who said luxury is dead? This weekend's 25th Sanctuary Cove International Boat Show (SCIBS) bears testimony to the resilience of the top end of town, to the return of conspicuous consumption and the fact there is still a lot of old and new money looking for a five-star floating home.

Exhibitor numbers are down in the pared-back pleasure-boat market, but quality is up.

Local yards have raised the bar, releasing ever-more lavish, user-friendly and capable boats to compete with the importer marques; sybaritic shoppers will find plenty of English, Italian and French boating bling at this weekend's show.

And there are still some immoderate motoryachts in terms of unmitigated metreage. Bigger is better remains the tenet of the Gold Coast boating scene. Here's what's making waves this weekend at Sanctuary Cove, on the water and apres soiree.

Australian boat builder Riviera is staging its second branded boating festival at its factory, transferring visitors from SCIBS by ferry to view a $15 million red carpet on-water boat show, which includes 76 educational workshops and social events. The new 565 SUV will make its debut, as will a full interior mock-up of the new 50 Enclosed Flybridge slated for release at the Sydney Boat Show in August.

Riviera will celebrate its 25th year at SCIBS with a $5 million marina display that includes its popular 43 Open Flybridge with new aft galley, 5000 Sport Yacht next generation, 5800 Sport Yacht with twin upgraded Volvo IPS 900 propulsion units, and the 445 SUV that ushered in the new cruising class last year.

Gold Coast boat builder Maritimo has its biggest on-water display at SCIBS. Flanking its world-championship-winning Maritimo race boat, with two big-block V8s, are a new M50 Cruising Motoryacht and C50 Sport Yacht sister ship (without the flying bridge).

Both new Maritimo 50s are ground-breaking in that they offer a full-beam master stateroom with full headroom in a traditional shaft-driven boat. The M50 has big shoes to fill as it replaces the M48 that clocked up more than 100 sales.

United Motor Yachts will have a new Fairway 37 based on the 36 that racked up 131 builds for the Gold Coast yard. The bay and coastal cruiser is now built in Asia, but still offers terrific economy from a single 240hp Yanmar sipping 20-30 litres per hour at 12-14 knots for 300-plus nautical miles. A Fairway 41 Offshore game and sport fisher will also be displayed.

Grand Banks makes a return with the 53 Aleutian Raised Pilothouse pitched at those wanting to cruise north for winter. Hampton has a new 720 Skylounge with stabilisers that take the rock-and-roll out of the ride. Smaller trawlers in the 40-60-foot league from Alaska and Clipper are on display for coastal shellbacks with tighter budgets.

Horizon's glitzy motoryachts are defying gravity and are a natural fit for the Gold Coast. There's a new E56 with Euro-inspired interior; a PC60 power catamaran for frugal level-deck cruising; and a 110-foot trideck motoryacht that's still doing the boat-show rounds (seen last year in Sydney). It now has a reduced $9.9 million price tag, and a racy Maserati GranTurismo MC Stradale parked on the rear deck.

Britain's Sunseeker, the preferred palaces of celebrities and F1 drivers in pre-GFC days, is back in a smaller way. A new Manhattan 53 will make its Australian debut. British compatriot Princess, part of the LVMH Moet Hennessy group, has a range of princely motoryachts on show.

Princess Australia has just acquired big-boat broker Grant Torrens International Marine at Sovereign Islands, along with its superyacht marina. Grant Torrens will host his own luxury-boat show and will transfer VIP customers via helicopter from his two-boat display at Sanctuary Cove.

The Torrens' Luxury Lifestyle Show makes a statement with more than $100 million in the finest luxury motoryachts, aviation and exotic cars. An Aston Martin Vanquish, a James Bond car, will be on display while Calleija will showcase more than $2 million in diamonds.

Naturally, the Moet will be flowing as luxury boating reasserts itself and the Gold Coast regains its lustre.

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