Latest News



Story by Caroline Strainig

Anyone for a boat? Would-be boat owners were spoilt for choice at the Sanctuary Cove International Boat Show, with plenty of sail and power options. The show was held on the Gold Coast in May 2021, considered to be the best one in 32 years, attracting almost 52,000 visitors and recorded more than $250 million in sales across four days. 

My mission seemed simple: check out what’s new in sailing yachts at the Sanctuary Cove International Boat Show and write a short article.

“No problem,” I thought. “There will be only a handful. I can whiz around and have time for a nice lunch with friends.”

Wrong. While Sanctuary Cove is renowned for power boats, it has a small but impressive sail contingent. Distributors turned out in force this year after the 2020 show was cancelled because of COVID, so there were a lot of new sailing yachts to see. The crowds were also massive.

My first stop was the Multihull Solutions display. Marketing manager Rachel Crook always has a smile on her face, but this time it was even bigger than normal, as was the case with all the distributors I spoke to. All are experiencing bumper sales because people with disposable income are spending big on recreational activities while overseas travel is curtailed.

Multihull Solutions imports several ranges, including the French-built Fountaine Pajot catamarans. Their sailboat showcase included the Fountaine Pajot Elba 45 catamaran, as well the Asia-Pacific launch of the Dufour 470 monohull.

Dufour is a sister company to Fountaine Pajot, and Multihull Solutions recently took over the Australian distributorship. Rachel told me the Dufours and pre-owned monohulls were being marketed under the banner of The Yacht Sales Co.

The Fountaine Pajot Elba 45 catamaran is an elegant, roomy bluewater cruiser set up to be sailed two-handed.

The Dufour 470 monohull is a roomy, well-thought-out cruising yacht. One innovation was the outdoor galley-cum-barbecue tucked away under a lift-up seat in the transom.

A couple who had purchased a 470 were at the show and could not get the grins off their faces. “I love it,” new owner Christina Robinson of Brisbane said. “It’s so well built and the finishes are great. The main cabin has a fantastic-sized bed with great access and the whole boat has a lovely airy feel to it, almost like an apartment on water.”

Next for me was the Lagoon catamarans display. I spoke to Marnie Ebeling, marketing manager of Eyachts and the Multihull Group, distributor of the French-built Lagoons in Australia. Lagoon is part of the Beneteau group of companies.

Marnie said sales during the past year had been exceptional and interest at the show had also been keen. “We are seeing more and more people buying to sail Australia, which is really exciting,” she said.

Her company was showcasing the Lagoon 42 and 46. The 42 is the best-selling catamaran in the world and the 46 is a newer model. Both were the three-cabin versions, which have a stunning owner’s suite taking up an entire hull. “Both are the next-generation models. This means they have the aft set further back; hence, a smaller boom but larger mainsail due to a square top, so they are better performing and the headsail can be self-tacking,” Marnie said.

Next, it was on to another two French yachts, this time monohulls: the Jeanneau Sunfast 330 and Sun Odyssey 410. The Sunfast range is more geared to racing and the Sun Odyssey cruising, although the latter are still popular club racers. “The Sunfast can be raced fully crewed or two-up,” Queensland distributor Ian Douglas told me. “In Europe, they are doing trans-Atlantics, and we are hoping to have one in the Sydney-Hobart race. It is a spectacular little race boat with a water-ballast option.” The Sun Odyssey 410 has some departures from previous models in this popular cruising range, the most obvious being the wave-piercing bow that rakes aft from the waterline to reduce drag.

Then it was on to Windcraft, the distributor of the German-built Hanse monohull range, which had the older-model Hanse 575 on display as well as the current-model Hanse 458. “The Hanses tick almost all the boxes,” Windcraft’s Ric Hawkins told me. “If you want to go extended cruising, they can do it. They sail well and their hulls are second to none as far as structural integrity goes.”

Graham Raspass from Beneteau distributor Flagstaff Marine was showcasing the new Beneteau Excess 12 catamaran. The Excess has been designed to be more performanceorientated than some of the more family, charter-orientated catamarans. “It’s got twin helms directly above the rudders, no flybridge and a lower boom, so a greater sail area; and the boat is designed to be lighter,” Graham said. “You end up with a boat with all creature comforts – even four heads if you want – but it will sail comfortably in six knots of breeze.”

One trend he had noted this year was that people inspecting the boat were very knowledgeable. “They have done their research before coming to the show and are familiar with all aspects of the boat, which is really encouraging,” he said.

Another catamaran nearby also caught my eye, the South African-built Leopard 42. Distributor David Flynn told me Leopards are known for build quality and were true bluewater cruising boats, well set up for a couple. “One of the stand-out features in this boat is that you can walk through to a forward cockpit, which gives you indoor-outdoor living at its best,” he said.

Then it was on to two more stunning catamarans being showcased by Multihull Central, another leading distributor. This company had the French-built Outremer 4X on display, as well as the Seawind 1190 Sports, which was built by an Australian-owned company. Both are popular performance-orientated, serious cruising boats. “The 4X is lighter and faster than the Outremer 45 but still offers the same levels of comfort and safety,” Brent Vaughan from Multihull Central told me.

Last but not least was the only home-grown Australian-built sailboat I inspected at the show: the Fusion 40 catamaran, built on the Fraser Coast in Queensland. “The Fusion catamaran basically starts as a kit boat and is shipped in two 40-foot containers,” Steve Smith from Fusion Catamarans told me. “The kit is an outside shell, with bare insides, so you can fit it out and customise it to your own needs.”

So there you have it, the Sanctuary Cove International Boat Show done and dusted for another year, with some very happy distributors and boat buyers. And, I never did make that long lunch I was invited to. Maybe next year.


Published in print July-September 2021