Latest News



In September 2021, the bay of Cannes was host to the Yachting Festival. Despite Covid restrictions and more elaborate travel requirements, Australian writer-contributor and boating and adventure enthusiast, Jamie Roberts, who is based in Dubai, ventured to Cannes, France to experience this year’s ultimate rendezvous.


While Australia is struggling with COVID outbreaks particularly in Sydney and Melbourne, the rest of the world has begun moving on. After the cancellation of the 2020 event, the 2021 Cannes Yachting Festival has been a tangible sign to the European boating community that life is starting to move on.



Getting to Cannes this year required careful monitoring of the constantly changing requirements for each country. Several airlines provide up-to-date information on their website that include links to the authorities and regulations in each country on their network. As I am currently based in Dubai, I was not subject to the highly restrictive travel rules affecting the Australian population. In addition, I have benefited from the aggressive rollout of COVID-19 vaccinations that has occurred in the UAE and completed my second dose of Pfizer in July 2021. For travel to France, this meant providing proof that I had received one of the approved vaccinations – Pfizer, Moderna or AstraZeneca (with at least 7 days since the second dose) and Johnson & Johnson (with at least 28 days after the complete dosage).

The UAE has made the process incredibly simple. All I had to do was download and print my vaccination certificate from the Health Ministry’s smart phone application. In addition to this, any traveller to France must complete a passenger locator form, which once registered online will generate a QR code that is inspected upon arrival. This registration must be completed before travel commences and must include details such as the address of your accommodation, the flight details and a copy of your passport.


The flight itself was as normal as can be expected during these times. Aircraft movements through Dubai have grown to around half of what they were pre- COVID. This meant that the terminal was busy on the Friday I departed. Face masks were required from the time of check in through the whole flight, with the exception being during meal times. Each passenger was provided with a hygiene kit which included sanitiser and spare face masks. Flight attendants reminded passengers to wear a face mask when required and the toilets received more attention than normal, which was a bonus.

Once I landed in Nice, everything was relatively normal with the ubiquitous face mask being the only obvious sign that the world is a different place now. I collected my rental car and made my way down the spectacular Cote du Azur to Cannes which was a relaxing 40-minute drive to the west.

Other than the presence of the face masks at the Cannes Yachting Festival, you would not know that COVID existed. Once evidence of a negative COVID test or up-to-date vaccination was provided, each attendee was issued a different coloured wristband each day before entry.


The Cannes Yachting Festival is one of the largest shows on the international circuit showcasing over 600 vessels (140 of those were premieres), staged over two separate geographical locations. The festival covers almost the entire spectrum of leisure craft, from the 2.5m semi-rigid RIB all the way through to mega yachts over 60m in length. It covers sail and power, and increasingly electric vessels (but more on those later), as well as the usual equipment suppliers, engine manufacturers and service companies.

Cannes is a perfect location to host a show of this nature and utilises the two available marinas situated in the northeastern corner of the Bay of Cannes to its advantage. On the eastern side of the bay is Port Canto, which is on Pointe Croisette. This year, the location was used as a dedicated display area for sailing vessels as well as an area for yacht brokers to display their stock. If you are in the market for a one-owner superyacht used only on the weekends and never in seas with larger than 1.5m swells, then this is your destination!

Over on the western side is Vieux Port located below the historic Le Suquet area of Cannes. This port was divided into six different zones, which included the Super Yacht Extension (or SYE) where – believe it or not – the superyachts were berthed (don’t bother asking to berth here if your vessel is under 20m). Interestingly, the main public entrance to the show was located right beside the Palais des Festivals, which is where the famous Cannes Film Festival is held.

Both areas of the show are arranged in a ‘U’ shape that have been expanded with floating docks to accommodate larger vessels and to increase capacity. Access for vessels conducting sea trials is maintained with a floating bridge that opened following a schedule to allow vessels to move in and out. At all other times, the bridges were closed and used as pedestrian thoroughfares to allow people to circumnavigate the show in a logical manner.

It takes around 30 to 40 minutes to comfortably walk along the famous Cannes promenade between the two different port display areas. This walk parallels the Boulevard de la Croisette. This is a great opportunity to stop and catch your breath at a traditional café or restaurant, and see the famous sights such as the Hotel Martinez, or the strip of luxury outlets such as Louis Vuitton, Cartier or Hermes on one side, and a selection of beach clubs on the other.

As a boatie, you probably want to get out on the water. The show organisers had this covered and provided a free ferry shuttle service between Port Canto and Vieux Port with five different hop-on-hop-off wharfs. The ferry operated about every half hour and was a great way to move between the displays and take a few minutes to appreciate the scale of the event and the natural beauty of the location.

To see what you are interested in at a show of this size takes planning. Viewings were generally by appointment for press and potential clients. The number of people allowed on a boat was controlled and limited due to COVID precautions; however, this was generally a good thing as it ensured people were not swarming in the boats. Face masks were mandatory for boat tours as was the boating lifestyle hallmark of shoes-off prior to boarding. With a mix of press briefings, sea trials and on-the-spot appointments, I found that time management was critical.


Despite my best efforts on the first day, I felt like a kid in a candy store. It was also my first boat show since COVID so there was a real sense of excitement. This feeling was enhanced by the location and the general upbeat vibe that was shared among the crowd. When I wasn’t attending a specific event, I used my time to survey the show and get a feeling for where to find everything. There truly was enough to see and do to keep you busy for a full week – possibly two!

The remaining days were more productive and more focused. I knew where I needed to be and I had a rough idea of the time it would take to move between locations. With this knowledge from the first day I was able to plan my stops in similar locations to use my time more efficiently.

It is almost impossible to see everything in detail. The best advice I can give anyone planning on attending the 2022 Cannes Yachting Festival – or any large event of this nature – is to do as much research as possible prior to your arrival. Use resources such as the event website, and even study the location using online mapping applications to give you an understanding of what to expect.

The general view among regular attendees was that the 2021 event was as big as or bigger than any previous year. It really is a huge display that has something for everyone. The Dusseldorf show is larger; however, it is held indoors in massive exhibition spaces.

The next greatest thing about this event is how truly international it is. There are exhibitors from all over Europe, America and even Australia. Almost every country has a coastline, a lake, a river or a sea, and therefore a need for a boat to suit the local conditions.

I do not think there are many boat shows around the world that would have such a large number of super and mega yachts on display. Put simply, it is a show with a large emphasis on luxury boats and custom builds. There were several small shipyards that offer unique bespoke products for the discerning client who wants something a little different and for whom price is no object.

The large European shipyards dominated the big-end of the show, with the big names such as Azimut (19 boats displayed), Beneteau (13 boats displayed), Benetti (4 boats on display), Ferretti Yachts (6 boats on display), Jeanneau (13 boats on display), Next Yacht Group (4 boats on display), Riva (9 boats on display) and Sunseeker (8 boats on display). This gives you an indication of the size and nature of the market here in Europe.


It is almost impossible to choose the best from the over 600 boats on display. Firstly, there are different boats for different purposes and then there are the considerations of budget and conditions the boat will be used in. Therefore, I will approach this from the perspective of highlighting one sailboat, one power boat and one manufacturer. Each of these have been selected because they stood out in my mind as products that capture the imagination and bring a new perspective to the industry.


The biggest surprise in the sailing display was the number of multihulls. These types of boats are increasingly dominating the leisure charter market and manufacturers are continually incorporating feedback from operators on their requirements and preferences into their products. The sweet spot seems to be the 50-foot market. The boat that really caught my eye was the Waves 50, which is the latest offering by Polish manufacturer Wave Blue.

This new-to-market boat is strikingly designed and places an emphasis on comfortable living. Waves CEO Artur Zochowski explained that the company has moved away from the large trampoline between the hulls found on most multihulls and instead used this space to create a generous outdoor living space. This allows a large outdoor living area forward to take in the sights and enjoy the oncoming view. This forward area is shaded by the eye-catching “eagles” beak that is a fixed design element that not only provides a signature identity but is functional as it provides shade for the front lounge area. For those who want it, there are two small trampoline areas at the very front on each side of the stays, and anchor storage and chain locker. These are fitted with removable sun lounges covered with a tasteful and durable grey material.

The bow area is accessible from either the wide decks on each side or the large sliding door that takes you through to the main saloon. The saloon has also been designed to be functional as well as be an identifying feature of the yacht. It is really a contemporary design that looks modern and very stylish.

The main saloon itself is huge with a large L-shaped lounge area, a fixed dining table that seats 10, all serviced by a kitchen large enough to suit most homes. In fact, the feeling you get inside is of being in a contemporary, tastefully decorated open plan living home. This feeling is reinforced by the use of domestic appliances in the kitchen including a large dual-door fridge with a slide-out freezer drawer at the bottom.

With four large double cabins of equal size, a domestic washing machine and dryer and enough outdoor living areas to allow you to enjoy privacy from your fellow guests, the Waves 50 certainly deserves success in what is a very competitive market segment.

In the powerboat arena, the choices were mind blowing. From superyachts that cost hundreds of millions to a more modest day boat, I settled somewhere in the middle. The Zeelander 72 represents a midpoint in the luxury superyacht market. Having said that, the Zeelander 72 is a low-volume high-end boutique vessel that is built to order with the company producing just five boats per year – this is not a series production boat.

With the emphasis on craftsmanship and design, this Dutch family-owned and operated shipyard established in 2002 is producing vessels of outstanding quality. Particular attention has been given to reducing noise. With a background in oil and gas engineering, the CEO believes that silence itself is a luxury in a world where we are constantly assaulted by noise. At full speed, the noise in the interior has been measured at 72db. To put that into perspective, the average noise inside a moving car at 100 km/h is 70db. This is a very quiet boat where normal conversations are possible in all modes of operation. Add that to the incredible fit and finish, the classic exterior design lines and the versatile layout with 360 degrees from any seat in the cockpit, and you have a boat that is easy to fall in love with if you have the US$3 million and change required to tie one up on your wharf.

When it comes to the more affordable end of the market the company that captured my imagination this year was Axopar. This is a Finnish-based company that is the fastest growing brand in Europe. It markets itself as an adventure brand for the adventure seeker. The company’s range of boats starts at 22 feet and are offered in a modular form and can be configured to suit your primary purpose. They also offer a range of accessories that allows you to customise your boat further should the need arise. With an exclusive agreement with Mercury, they have also become the largest distributor for Mercury engines in Europe.

This year, they presented their line of Brabus modified boats. Yes, this is the same Brabus that will take your Mercedes Benz and give it performance and appearance modifications. The eye-catching Axopar Brabus Shadow 900 XC Black Ops is the top-of-the-line combination of style, performance ,and design. This 38ft long boat, with a beam of 10 feet, trades in the standard Mercury power plants for two 450hp performance engines from Mercury racing. These give the boat a performance potential of over 50 knots in the right conditions. The hull is a twin stepped 22-degree V “sharp entry” design that cuts through the water to give a comfortable ride. A 3ft draught to the props allows access to almost any location your adventurer lifestyle might take you.

Apart from the power plants, the other Brabus modifications include a striking black paint job with contrasting red trim and upholstery, enhanced carbon fibre trim, a BBQ grill on the aft deck, RGB LED lighting throughout, roof racks for your toys, air conditioning, extended navigation package and other ‘enhancements’. All yours for a cool A$925,000.


In similar fashion to the automotive industry, electrification is making huge inroads to the maritime environment. However, there are obvious challenges such as the ability of the industry to provide a safe supply of “plug-in” recharging points that are easily accessible and distributed widely enough that range anxiety is negated. We need to give leisure cruisers the confidence to take the family and friends out for a day or weekend on the water and not have that experience impacted by becoming stranded due to a lack of range or the ability to recharge.

Interestingly enough, the commercial shipping world has long employed large diesel engines as “generators” to drive electric motors. However, this technology has not yet trickled down into the leisure market. What is happening, however, is the flow from the other direction. Small to medium size electric engines and products designed as cleaner, more efficient, more environmentally friendly solutions, are becoming more prevalent. This year at Cannes, there was even an electric outboard that did not have any moving parts. It uses a vibration type of motion using electric induction to create a force that moves the water with enough force to propel a small dinghy.

In what is sure to become increasingly common in the industry, there was a dedicated on-water display area for electric-powered vessels. These ranged in size from small craft designed for tender duties through to the Silent 55 solar electric catamaran (soon to be joined by the recently commissioned Silent 100 featuring a helipad hidden beneath a pair of retractable solar panels).

Keep an eye on this segment of the market.


Being a world player, Riviera had the largest presence of any Australian manufacturer. They had a large stand and three boats on display including the world-class Riviera 6000 Sport Yacht. Unfortunately, due to the impact of COVID there was no Australian representation on the stand.

Riviera’s director of international sales, Chris McCafferty, told me that like many of the companies at the show, Riviera was enjoying a successful period with production slots allocated out until 2024. He went on to say that the European market is an increasingly important market for Riviera with strong sales in France and increasing interest from Italy and Spain.


The supply of raw materials has been impacted due to the various restrictions that have occurred around the world. Some manufacturers have said the larger impact has been from the rising prices for raw materials. One example was that the price for plywood has gone up 200%, and this cost will, in due course, be passed on to the consumer.

On the boat building front, the biggest surprise for me was the dominance of the Polish boat-building industry, not only with their own famous brands such as Sunreef, but also as a builder for other brands.

The boating industry is booming as people are looking to improve their lifestyle and escape the impact of COVID lockdowns. Boating allows people to control their environment and maintain social-distancing in a lifestyle-friendly way. Shipyards have record order books and backlogs of several years for their most popular products.

As life seems to move on in Europe, we are more likely to see annual international events and festivals re-emerge in the near future. The success of events like this year’s Cannes Yachting Festival, moving forward, requires event managers and organisers to take steps to collaborate with governments, and implement effective and reasonable measures to minimise the potential for exposure on everyone participating and attending. (For questions or comments, please contact


Published in print October-December 2021