SYDNEY BOAT SHOW – Our Best Boats of the Show

SYDNEY BOAT SHOW - Our Best Boats of the Show

Officially, the SCIBS was up about 1000 visitors on last year. That’s a real achievement given the economic climate (how it is supposed to be gloomy) and the fact that this year’s SIBS was a four-day instead of five-day show. All told, some 72,000 came to look, feel, smell, and breath boats.

Inevitably, boats were bought in a vote of confidence for the recreational boating industry. Without all the fringe brands that have sailed to Sydney in previous high times, what we saw was the core, the jewels in the crown of boating.

As with Sanctuary Cove International Boat Show back in May, Trade-a-Boat spent a considerable amount of time pining over the boats pulling at our purse strings, weighing up the options, and speaking with our bank manager. Here's the verdict – our Boats of the 2009 SIBS.

While the imported category wasn’t as heavily contested as years past, that is set to change now that the Aussie dollar is sitting above US80¢. Once pre-existing inventories are cleared, it’s only a matter of time before more boats arrive to fill the showrooms.

Meantime, the Back Cove 37 took our fancy, with great finishes in a single-screw lobster-style boat from Maine. American giant Sea Ray had a new 370 Sundancer with Axius that’s pretty smart buying. Bayliner has tweaked its entry-level cruisers for family boating, while the Arvors are the recession-beaters with cute cabins and single frugal diesel engines. What this space for tests of them all.

Then came the parade of pilothouse passagemakers – the new Hershine 52 for $1.25 million and Pama 54 for a similar price were the standout owner/driver motoryachts in a range of excellent craft.

But it is French giant Beneteau that has taken our fancy and Trade-a-boat’s coveted imported boat award for its Swift Trawler 36 that made its boat-show debut. For under $500,000 the two-cabin trawler with single diesel engine, walkaround decks, a big flybridge and galley-up saloon layout is plainly good value.

The Australian boat of the show was fought out between Maritimo, Riviera and Mustang. But no-one could go past the former’s new flagship 73 Motoryacht, a $4.5 million work-of-art with tender garage, huge flying bridge, full-beam stateroom, dedicated dining area… oh, and up to 34 knots top speed, with a range of 3000nm at 11 knots.

The Maritimo 73 Motoryacht is an Australian dreamboat, a carefully considered work of art from the Gold Coast's yard’s top designers, and the biggest production boat ever built in this country.

Maritimo maestro Bill Barry-Cotter told Trade-a-boat he had buyers waiting in the wings. And here's some more good news: prices have retreated and new boats are cheaper today than two-years ago. Lizard Island, here we come. Watch this space for our upcoming test of the sumptuous 73.