Attempting to pick out the marine trends for the year ahead is always a great opportunity for seasoned journalists to make tits of themselves. So this year, we’re playing it relatively safe. We’re steering clear of predicting the lifting of speed bans, the return of cheap diesel, the advent of Approved Used boat schemes and the building of British boats in Britain. We’re not even thinking about the eradication of corduroy, the outlawing of deck shoes or the mandatory use of kill cords. Instead, we’re building our predictions upon a sturdy bedrock of precedent.
The 80ft aluminium superboat proposed by adventurer Alan Priddy to break the round-the-world powerboating record starting November 2016. For more, see: Circumnavigation: the latest world record attempts.
More private ownership
There was a time when shared ownership schemes were all the rage. They allowed you to dip your toe into powerboating without committing too much faith or money. But with better economic conditions, cheaper fuel and plenty of fuss-free dry stack services, the time has come to stop dabbling. In 2016, we will buy powerboats outright and use them for 200 hours a season instead of just 20.
Eventually, we (and the rest of the world) will copy the Scandinavians. That means building small boats from sensible materials like aluminium and roto-moulded plastic instead of shiny, high-maintenance fibreglass (see Finnmaster Husky range hits the water). We can then smack our boats off gnarly groynes and drag them up shale-strewn beaches without behaving as though it’s sacrilege.
Driven by vanity and enabled by technological advancements, the race for the world’s largest megayacht will continue apace. And ironically, it will be joined by a self-defeating belief that greener processes and more fuel-efficient operation are making superyachts ever more friendly to seals and puppies and fish and trees. Ignore the lie and enjoy the spectacularly ambitious hardware. Read: Superyachts flash their green credentials.
The Interboat Neo 7 – like marmite, you either love or hate the pontoon boat look, but have you ever driven one? Thought not…
Though I’ve predicted it before, I confidently (re) predict that this year will see deck boats and pontoon-style platforms win a foothold in Britain. Having witnessed several new beam-forward designs emerge to great critical acclaim, the time is now ripe for British buyers to recognise that there is better value in a blunt-headed plodder than in a rapier speed machine. See Interboat Neo 7.0 review: buy a better boat.
Amphibians – yes. The Ford Focus “Floater F1” – not so much!
I confidently predict that in 2016, lots of boat designers will attempt to piggyback the appeal of the mainstream automotive world with a spate of car-style boat designs. They will be good to look at but they will never make the transition from the draftsman’s board to the water because now, as ever, the overlap between cars and boats is conceptual rather than genuine.
Orsos Island: In a shrinking world a private island seems to be a universal ambition.
In a busy and finite world, a manmade island is fast becoming the ultimate maritime solution – and from respectable designs like Wally Island to otherworldly objects like Orsos, Kokomo and Project Utopia, they come in plenty of shapes and sizes. Expect more of the same in 2016 as we all dream of abandoning the land for the freedom and self-reliance of our very own sovereign states. Read Floating islands: a new way of life afloat.
The Sea Ray 19 SPX remains one of the best examples of its type.
When Bayliner invests in the bottom end with boats like the Element (and Sea Ray joins in the fun with a fresh and accessible bow rider range), you know that entry-level budgets are once again a driving force. Expect a flurry of new sub 20-footers, all aiming to win fans by getting as close to the magic ‘Grand a Foot’ mark as possible.