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A Look Back at the Cannes Yachting Festival 2021

Visitors from Asia to this year’s Cannes Yachting Festival were happy to see Europe’s largest in-water show maintaining its scale and popularity, while the city was as vibrant as ever.

Jan 19, 2022 | By Nick Hung

It is hard to say what was more surprising about this year’s Cannes Yachting Festival. That the attendance was the same as the record-breaking target set two years ago? Or that people in Cannes — at least outside of Vieux Port and Port Canto — were carrying on with their lives sans masks, living free from the rules and regulations still evident in much of Asia?

Yacht Style staff made the trip to southern France to attend the world’s most important show for new models and again had a booth in the Palais indoor exhibition by the main entrance. Yet overall, there were only a sprinkling of visitors and exhibitors from this region due to the complications of travel and required quarantine upon return.

Many usual attendees from Hong Kong, for example, were put off from travelling to the six-day show after the hotel quarantine after returning from Europe was raised to three weeks.

However, industry figures who did travel to Cannes included representatives of the Asia offices of the Ferretti Group, Benetti, Prestige/Jeanneau and Fraser, dealers Simpson Marine, Asiamarine, Starship Yachts, Farfalla Marine and Asia Yacht Services, insurance firm Voyager Risk Solutions and Delta Marina.

While live coverage of packed football stadiums in the UK and around Europe had indicated for months that the continent is trying to ‘move on’ in the battle with Covid, it was still alarming for visitors from the likes of Hong Kong, Singapore and Thailand to see almost no masks being worn in the streets of Cannes, with restaurants and bars as busy as ever. In many ways, it all looked and felt just like it did pre-Covid.

However, masks were mandatory in public transport, airports and planes. Flights within Europe were packed, marking another contrast to Asia, where outbound and inbound long-haul flights were so quiet that all economy passengers could have a row of three or four seats to themselves.

Just Like Old Times

Ione Astondoa, Astondoa As5
Image: Astondoa

Masks and proof of vaccination and Covid tests were required to enter the show, which otherwise looked and felt very much like the previous edition in 2019 when a record-setting 54,000 visitors attended, following multiple shows around the 50,000 mark.

The 2019 show also marked the first time motor and sailing yachts were split between Vieux Port and Port Canto respectively. The physical layout was replicated this year with Canto still hosting the superyacht brokerage and toys zones.

Crowds felt similar in scale to recent editions, which was confirmed when show organiser RX (Reed Exhibitions) revealed attendance figures of 54,400 described as both a record and record-equalling figure, while 50 per cent were from abroad.

The 575 exhibitors and 620 boats were a little down from 2019 — when there were 611 and 575 respectively — but organisers highlighted an increase in world premieres, up from 127 to 141.

Sylvie Ernoult, Director of the Cannes Yachting Festival, said: “Our ambitious aim for the Festival — which was prepared during Covid — was to do as well as the 2019 edition in terms of the number of exhibitors, boats and visitors.

“If exhibitors and boats were slightly down, the number of world previews was up by 10 per cent and the number of visitors was the same, which is very positive during this time. We are proud of and happy with these results.”

Cannes Yachting Festival 2021, ribbon cutting

Ernoult attended the show’s opening ceremony where Annick Girardin, France’s Minister of the Sea, cut the ribbon before going on to visit exhibitors on both sides of the bay.

VIPs attending the opening also included David Lisnard, the Mayor of Cannes; Anne Franckowiak-Jacobs, Subprefect of Grasse administrative districct; Jean-Pierre Savarino, President of CCI Nice Côte d’Azur; Hugh Jones and Michel Filzi, Presidents of RX and RX France respectively; and Yves Lyon-Caen, President of Federation des Industries Nautiques (FIN).

Motoring On In Old Port

On the 620 boats in the show, 480 were motor yachts in the city’s harbour and picturesque Vieux Port (‘Old Part’), where yachts ranged in length from about 10 feet to the 144 feet Sanlorenzo Alloy. The main Jetée was again dominated by Italian giants Ferretti Group, Azimut and Sanlorenzo, and British builders Sunseeker and Princess.

Ferretti Group and a remarkable 26-yacht display that included the world premiere of Riva’s 68′ Diable and 76 Perseo Super, Pershing 6X and the much anticipate Wally WHY200, which berthed at the Super Yachts Extension along with a Custom Line 106′ and Navetta 30. The Group’s other highlights included the show debut of the Ferretti Yachts 1000 — first shown at the Venice Boat Show in June — and a Pershing 140.

Neighbouring Azimut had 18 yachts including world premieres of the 38.2m flagship Grande Trideck and the 53 and brand-new 68 from its Flybridge Collection.

Sanlorenzo’s models ranged in size from the 24m SX76 to the 44.5m Alloy and included the premieres of the SD118 and the SL90A and SL120A Asymmetric models, which had been privately unveiled the evening before the show at a waterfront dinner in front of Le Majestic hotel. Next to Sanlorenzo, Princess’s display included the Y72 world premiere and the show debut of the X95.

Sunseeker again dominated the corner of the Jetée and Pantiero, where its eight models include this year’s “Famous Five” — Manhttan 55, Preator 55 EVO, 65 Sport Yacht, 88 Yacht and 90 Ocean.

sunseeker predator 65
Image: Sunseeker

In the Pantiero area, world premieres include the Prestige 690, Absolute’s 48 Coupé and 60 Fly, Beneteau’s Grand Trawler 62 and Gran Turismo 45, and Fairline’s 2021 version of its F//Line 33. The new Galeon 325 GTO and Sessa C47 were new to Cannes debuts after premieres at shows earlier in the year. Pantiero also featured a new space for about a dozen fully electric or hybrid boats.

On Quai Max Laubeuf, the Sirena 68 and the 60 Sunreef Power and Fountaine Pajot MY4.S powercats made their world debuts, although the new Silent 60 solar-electric cat built at PMG Shipyard in Thailand was unable to make it to the show in time.

At the Super Yachts Extension, Benetti staged the world premiere of its Motopanfilo 37M beside its Oasis 40M, whose beach club pool and open aft deck made many visitors stop and stare. Cantiere delle Marche showed the first Flexplorer and RJ 130, both just over 39m, while other superyachts included a 40m Baglietto, 38m Rosetti Explorer, Amer 120 and Gulf Craft Majesty 100.

Sailing Across the Bay

On the other side of the bay, Port Canto featured 110 boats in the busy Sailing Area, which separated monohulls and multihulls. The Swan 98 and 34m Solaris 111 CeFeA were the zone’s largest monohulls, while world premieres included the YYachts Tripp 90m, Jeanneau Yachts 60 and Swan 58.

Global premieres among sailing catamarans included the Sunreef 70, Lagoon 55, Fountaine Pajot Tanna 47 and Bali 4.2, while the Leopard 42 that premiered at Palm Beach in March made its Cannes debut.

Port Canto also housed the Brokerage Area, which had three sailing yachts and 27 motor yachts available for sale or charter including the 51m Mondomarine Mrs L, the show’s largest yacht. Both Vieux Port and Port Canto were busy across all six days, as many visitors were delighted to attend a physical boat show again and lots of overseas visitors travelled abroad for the first time in the Covid era.

“This edition represented a real challenge at each stage of its organisation,” Ernoult said. “However, the more the opening date approached, the more we felt the motivation, enthusiasm and growing impatience of our exhibitors and visitors to meet up in Cannes again.”

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