The 2014 Sanctuary Cove International Boat Show (SCIBS), May 22 to 25 2014, will be the place to see the newest sailing vessels, both performance and cruising yachts, mono and multihulls, for those who dream of feeling the wind in their hair and exploring boundless blue horizons.
Sailing is enjoying a boost in popularity, thanks in part to ‘the Jessica Watson effect’, the success of Australia’s sailors at the London Olympic Games in 2012 and the protracted, thrilling America’s Cup series which brought the multihulled wonders to the world’s attention.
But there’s more to it than media and international events, according to Lee Randall, Principal at Spirit Marine in Manly, Queensland, exhibiting at the 2014 SCIBS in May.
“There’s a return in consumer confidence and the emergence of a smarter buying population,” he points out. Spirit Marine is Beneteau dealer for Queensland and Nautitech importer for Australia.
“There are other social factors at play too,” he continues. “Diesel is not getting any cheaper, people are conscious of the costs. They are busier than ever before and looking for a more relaxing experience, a quiet connection to the ocean, which is where sailing fits the bill perfectly.”
At Multihull Solutions, Mark Elkington says he has seen a rise in interest in sailing catamarans among the retiree cruiser market, looking to spend many months enjoying Pacific and world cruising, attracted by the low running costs, safety, stability and comfort that a multihull offers at sea.
“The main growth area in the worldwide sailing market is sailing catamarans,” says Elkington. “The reason we feel the multihull sailing market is experiencing this growth is due to the change in buyers’ requirements. These new buyers want stability, safety and comfort and their budgets are also well suited to the higher price of multihulls.
“These buyers don’t want performance sailing at 35° and the compact living of your usual mono. They want the space, the shoal draft, beachability, and 360° view from the interior living spaces, as is now the norm for modern and market-leading designs.”
And where once rigging, spars and equipment, sailing terminology and gadgetry were complicated and costly, the next generation of sailing yachts have been designed to simplify the entire experience and dealers offer sailing lessons and guidance for new owners.
“It’s our objective as dealers to demystify sailing,” says Randall. “We spend a lot of time instructing people on how to use their new boats and Beneteau as a brand has evolved design wise to be more ergonomic, easier to use and more user-friendly, for people crossing over from powerboats or entering the boating market for the first time.
“The main market for sailing these days are families and couples planning extended cruising.
“For the majority who buy new boats, the focus will be coastal cruising and they will move up to longer trips, depending on work commitments. While our market is across the board, sailing will always be popular with professional people, retirees and those coming close to retirement.”
Spirit Marine will be exhibiting the Sense 46 model at the 2014 SCIBS.
“This is a transitional yacht that doesn’t intimidate people. It’s a good entry level boat that suits all kinds of people, across all demographics,” said Mr Randall.
Randall advises those interested in finding out more about the options in sailing yachts to attend SCIBS, “find somebody they’re comfortable with, and who will explain the product to them, not just sell it to them”.
Paul Taylor, broker at Ensign Ship Brokers which represents Bavaria and Nauticat, says sailing is enjoying a resurgence as a “cool sport”, thanks to the high profile of the America’s Cup in San Francisco last year, which elevated the sport to Formula 1 status to the broader public.
“There are a lot of young people getting in to sailing all over Australia,” he said.
“It’s competitive and social. There’s the camaraderie, it’s open to everybody at all skill levels and you don’t have to have lots of money. Kids are moving from Moths and Lasers and progressing through with a love of sailing.”
He said Baby Boomers are also realising their long-held cruising ambitions. “Over the past few years, the market has been quite flat, making prices more competitive and giving people access to newer, larger vessels. This is attracting new people to sailing who may never have considered it before.”
Sailing delivers all the serenity and adventure people of all walks of life are seeking, says Taylor. “We are girt by sea after all! There are so many good cruising grounds and facilities in Australia. From a live-aboard perspective, it’s an economical way to live, whether that’s at a marina or moorings. It’s a great lifestyle, you meet lots of interesting people, and you can see the country from the sea. The Grey Nomads often do the coast by yacht and then inland by camper.”
He says up north, miners are flocking to sailing for both recreation and accommodation. “We have found they are buying yachts and spending their swing – their week off – on their boat. It’s a lifestyle choice.”
At SCIBS 2014, Ensign will have a strong showing of around seven yachts on water, including a good selection of Bavaria yachts, sail and power, and the Nauticat 40, a performance sailing cat ideal for bluewater cruising.
Peter Hrones, Team Windcraft Managing Director says the sailing market that is proving the most vital and expanding is the couples segment. “Couples whose children have or are nearing end of schooling. They are keen to give more time to their own activities while still relatively young and healthy, and their children can join them. Also younger families keen to enjoy an activity which brings them all together,” he said.
Hrones, whose company represents Dehler, Hanse and Moody brands, says the reasons for taking up sailing are varied, but include simply “playing in local waterways, and then they get the ‘bug’ of sailing and plan longer cruises”.
“Likewise, they may find their competitive spirits kindled and take up competing in local club races and regattas. For some they are fulfilling long held dreams to sail the world.”
He said cost and environmental concerns are prime concerns. “Sailing is about the journey as well as the destination. Getting there is interesting, challenging and fun. Sailing provides an endless learning curve and sense of achievement. It only takes one person to drive a power boat, whereas all passengers can if they wish participate in sailing a yacht. A yacht is very versatile and can keep all members of the party happy.”
Like all sailors, Hrones says the sheer joy of sailing has to felt to be understood. “It arises from the fundamental pleasure of simply catching a bit of wind in a cloth to propel your craft across the water. You are at one with nature, the elements are what is important. In this modern age of gadgets, screens, noise and business, it is pure pleasure to come back to basics and focus on one activity.”
Thankfully, in a more practice sense, he says “modern boats are easier and more comfortable to sail which makes them even more appealing”.
SailTime is a membership-based alternative to yacht syndication. Since 2009 when the Australian division launched with a single boat and single location, Pittwater, the company now has 14 boats at six locations on the east coast, from Hobart to Moreton Bay.
SailTime Australia founder, Graham Raspass says sailing is viewed as a pastime the entire family can enjoy together. “While the kids are still young enough to spend time with their parents, sailing allows you to travel, spend time as a family unit and create memories. Perhaps one of the parents has sailed in their youth and they’re reliving the joys of their youth. Most people say they are looking to sailing for a healthier, outdoor lifestyle and the opportunity to entertain family and friends.
“With memberships starting from $635 per month, we offer a low cost, flexible means of getting in to yachting.”
SailTime membership covers member access to all the boats at all the bases – whether that’s Port Stephens, Moreton Bay, Lake Macquarie, Pittwater, Sydney Harbour or Hobart.
“We also have a sailing school attached to the business, offering training for both beginners and experienced sailors,” said Mr Raspass.
“We provide the whole solution, recommending a boat that suits in terms of size, then getting you up and running. We like to think of it as ‘try before you buy’. We have families who move on to owner-members and we manage their boat in our fleet.”
The SailTime fleet has recently been bolstered by the addition of two new Lagoon 400 catamarans, due to client demand.
At SCIBS 2014, SailTime will have the Jeanneau 379 on display and will be outlining their program in terms of sailing membership and learn-to-sail opportunities.
Proudly sponsored by Club Marine, the 2014 SCIBS will run from Thursday, May 22 to Sunday, May 25.
Tickets are now available online from Ticketmaster.com.au