What a difference a day makes. From grey skies, long faces, and a natural disaster zone emerges blue heavens, beaming smiles and (sun)rays of hope. And how they came: thronging crowds hit the Sanctuary Cove International Boat Show to ogle, marvel and —
yes — buy a new boat.

Tradeaboat continued its tour of the marina space and unearthed many terrific long-range passage makers, a flotilla of fabulous cruising cats, and rafts of great family boats from the big Americans such Bayliner and SeaRay to the UK-made yards such as Fairline and the ever-more luxurious Sunseeker, which has new backing in Queensland.

And we saw plenty of positive interest in the big display of Rivieras. Australians are showing their support and, I'm told, two of the new 5800 Sport yachts had been sold. Some smart marketing, too, with the “I ? Riv” promotion (pictured above).

On the sailing front, the Wright Potter 19 is a thoroughly affordable and fetching Californian-made trailer-sailer, there are more multihulls than you will find at any other show, but the yacht to beat them all is the Marten 49. Mind you, it has a starting price of $1.6 million. The 49 on show will eventually be based at Hamilton Island as a luxury charter yacht.

If you want to open the wallet, the Sunseeker 34M is the biggest-ticket item at the show. With a starting price of $26 million, it’s a real superyacht commanding a full-time paid crew. The owners had the boat at the show because, get this, they wanted to upgrade to a yet bigger Sunseeker, we’re told.

Speaking of new crew, our classic boat buff and new tester Tony Mackay toured the show and liked the Perth-made Secret Harbour with classic lines and Cummins engines with Zeus drives, the Outer Reef 63 that we featured in the last issue of Tradeboat, the Flemming 55 for a traditional long-range liveaboard craft with top-quality fitout, and the Palm Beach 50 as the superior picnic boat of the fleet.

"The girls on the Sheets Ahoy stand are tireless exhibitors and if you don't want to buy a new boat you can perform a makeover with a whole new soft furnishing package and fluff it up," Tony adds. Good point. To which I should add, those gleaming stainless-steel Ultra Anchors are a real treat.

Inside the pavilions, it’s another world again: cool kit, groovy gear, bright sparks in the electronics world, charters and boating holidays. And some keenly priced clobber and boating shoes. Get down to the show while you can. And check back for more boat-show news tomorrow. – David Lockwood.