More Than a Party Boat: Rise of the Day Boats
Jeanneau, Sunseeker, Galeon, Fairline, Sunreef and Swan are among a diverse range of builders who have recently entered the luxury day boat market, which has grown rapidly in the Med and Florida. But will such boats also prove popular in Asia?
With over 250,000 boats around the world, Jeanneau has a client database that most other builders can only dream about. Part of the Groupe Beneteau collection of yacht brands, the French shipyard doesn’t create new series on a whim. Its Cap Camarat range of open outboard models marked its 40th anniversary last year.
Its Leader series started in 1985, yet this line of open inboards has been discontinued to make way for Jeanneau’s new DB Yachts range of day boats, which started with the DB/43 last year and has been bolstered by the DB/37 that debuted at Boot Dusseldorf in January. DB stands for day boat and was also the name used for a series of day boats Jeanneau launched in the early 1980s.
Day boats are nothing new. Vincent Piel, Jeanneau’s Powerboat Product Marketing Manager, says “every boat can be a day boat”. However, the luxury or premium day boat — open designs with large aft decks dedicated to social entertaining — has risen dramatically in recent years, led most notably by Scandinavian, Dutch and Italian brands such as Fjord, VanDutch and Wajer.
When Jeanneau premiered its DB/37 at Boot in Hall 5, dedicated to “superboats”, neighbours included Pardo, Invictus, Frauscher, Solaris Power and Sacs Tecnorib, while the likes of Nimbus, Axopar, Brabus Marine and Saxdor were in Hall 4 for “motor boats”.
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For Paul Blanc, Jeanneau’s Brand Director, the premium day boat market is here to stay and reflects a notable change in the market.
“For us, the clear trend in the market is that people are increasingly using their boats as day boats, whatever the size, whatever their budgets. Whatever the size of boat you can afford, the trend is that you’re going to go out for one day, come back to land and play, and go for dinner in the marina,” says Blanc, who spent 16 years in Asia including 10 as Jeanneau’s Asia-Pacific Sales Director.
“That means that people have a different need than they used to have. The traditional express cruiser is a boat that’s great for a family to go island hopping and spend a week or two cruising, but that sort of usage is disappearing.
“Instead, people want a big entertainment platform with a lot of space. They go out to an island for the day, they go there fast, they go there in style, then they come back. That really is the trend and that’s why we found the market for the Leader series was slowly decreasing.”
In contrast to some other famous brands moving into the luxury day boat sector, Jeanneau is reaching upwards for clients in terms of budget. The DB/43 is Jeanneau’s most expensive motor boat, even pricier than the far more voluminous Merry Fisher 1295 Fly, yet Blanc’s confidence seems well founded. The new flagship has already sold out well over a year’s worth of production, which is a significant achievement when you can produce an average of one unit per week.
“This new trend of day boating includes a lot of clients who come with significant budgets, so we can offer a more premium product. These clients with big budgets may decide they don’t need a big flybridge boat anymore and prefer to downsize to a sports boat or a luxury day boat, or just have another boat,” Blanc says.
“Of course, the DB/37 is significantly more affordable, so the potential for sales is even greater and will potentially appeal to a much greater spectrum of clients.”
With luxury day boats often seen as party platforms for groups of friends enjoying the summer season, Blanc has previously stated that Jeanneau’s aim was to bring “a bit more rationality to a market segment that’s not the most rational, because it’s party boats before anything else”.
Jeanneau has a long history of producing family-friendly boats and Blanc says the DB models differentiate themselves from competitors by offering versatility and accommodation suitable for extended trips.
“We’re trying to bring an offer in the luxury day boat segment that’s still quite rational because we offer an interior capable of taking you for a week of cruising. With DB, we have a sexy design with a good entertainment platform, but offering you a bit of rationality in that market. That’s why we say it’s ‘more than you expect’. It can do much more than you think.”
Flybridges to Day Boats
In contrast to Jeanneau, a luxury day boat is at the smaller end of some builder’s portfolios. Italian builder Azimut caters to the sector with its Verve 42 and 47 open-style outboard cruisers, primarily targeted at the US market. British yard Fairline moved into the open sector with the high-speed F/Line 33 in 2019, adding an outboard version in 2020.
Galeon launched its Grand Touring Outboards series in early 2021 by debuting the 325 GTO through US dealer MarineMax before adding the 375 GTO last year.
Sunseeker is also among major brands entering the luxury day boat segment and started this year by unveiling the Superhawk 55, arguably the most dramatic world premiere at Boot Dusseldorf.
The British shipyard, whose core business is flybridge motor yachts, revived the name of Sunseeker’s high-performance Superhawk series that spanned over a decade from the mid-1990s, but has created a model in fitting with today’s demand for useable deck space, flexibility and comfortable accommodation.
Sean Robertson, Sunseeker’s long-serving Sales & Marketing Director, says: “At this size range, the luxury day boat is the biggest growth sector. Day boats have changed and they’re attracting everybody from existing owners coming up through the range to people new to boating.
“They’ve almost become watersports platforms. Whether you’re going to the restaurant, swimming, wakeboarding, using the tender or Seabobs, whether it’s with family or a group of, friends, its primary use is as a watersports base. People are realising what they can do with this type of boat — go places quickly, enjoy your watersports, but also have a cruise for four or five days when you want to.”
Robertson says Sunseeker has benefited from observing the recent growth of the sector and tracking other models, “seeing what works and what doesn’t”. It also appears to have joined the market at just the right time, judging by early sales of the Superhawk 55.
Demand has been so overwhelming that the Poole shipyard has dedicated its Willis Way facility solely to the production of the Superhawk 55, with an anticipated output of 35-40 units a year. It’s an impressive early return for the brand’s new “entry model”, especially as it’s still priced in a similar ball park to the Manhattan 55 flybridge and Predator 55 EVO cruiser.
“It’s important for us to have new clients coming in, although buyers aren’t just coming from other brands. We’re also getting people who have larger yachts, Sunseeker or otherwise, viewing it as a second boat. The demand for the Superhawk 55 seems to be coming from all angles,” Robertson says.
“Obviously, our Manhattan range works well for flybridge models, but this type of open layout [on the Superhawk 55] is what many people are now buying as first-time boats. It’s for clients looking to make that next step up, still focused on that day boat space and entertainment concept, plus with the comfortable saloon and cabins below. I think we’ve got a good balance with this model.”
Catamaran, Sailing Yacht Builders
The market is even attracting catamaran and sailing yacht builders. Sunreef is renowned for its increasingly large and luxurious flybridge sailing and power catamarans, as well as its new Eco range of solar-electric versions, announcing two orders for its 140ft-long 43M Eco sailing cat.
Back in 2018, the Polish builder debuted the 40 Open Sunreef Power at the Dubai International Boat Show before taking the model to the Singapore Yacht Show and Cannes Yachting Festival. However, it may have been a few years too early.
Demand has been far greater for the 55 Open Sunreef Power, whose sales soared soon after its design was announced at the Fort Lauderdale International Boat Show last October. Sunreef has since announced a 45 model, before announcing that it’s developing a full Ultima series, with two bigger models to come.
Even Swan, one of the world’s most famous sailing yacht builders, moved into the open day boat sector by launching its first-ever motor yacht, the 43ft Shadow, in 2021, a full 54 years since the brand was founded in Finland. At this year’s edition of Boot, the Swan Shadow was among the “superboats” on display in Hall 5.
Nautor Swan says at least 15 units have been sold and delivered in Europe, US and Asia, while the Finnish builder is now expanding its motor yacht range with the Overshadow, which will premiere at Cannes in September.
Roy Capasso, Commercial Director of Nautor Swan’s motor yacht division, said: “We developed the motor yacht division with Swan Shadow because the yard wanted to broaden the range of vessels to offer to our clients.
“She was born as a shadow boat for superyachts but quickly gained an own identity as a weekender or tender for a waterfront house, as she meets the needs of every owner with her customisation possibilities. She was born to fill the void of a multi-purpose yacht of 43ft.”
Day Boats for Asia
In contrast to the Med and Florida, the market in Asia has long shown a preference for flybridge models with extensive air-conditioned indoor areas. However, Capasso believes the Swan Shadow and other open day boats can make headway in this region, stating that an air-conditioning system can be set up in the cockpit, if requested.
“We truly believe Swan Shadow will be successful in Asia as it’s the perfect way to reach every destination in complete comfort,” he says. “Her customisation possibilities allow every customer to choose the version they want, including a long hard top with sun awning and bimini that offer complete coverage from the sun.”
Wally is also among one of the world’s most renowned builders of luxury sailing yachts and superyachts, which it has built since 1994, before moving into the open motor yacht market with its first wallytender in 2001. The brand’s tagline, “20 Years Ahead”, again appears appropriate considering the popularity of such models in the last few years.
In its new era under Ferretti Group, Wally released the wallytender48 in 2019 and added the wallytender43 in late 2020, with each model followed by an outboard version that debuted in the US market. Asia’s first wallytender43 was sold by Hong Seh Yachting and delivered to Singapore early last year before the second unit in the region arrived in Hong Kong in the summer.
Meanwhile, the iconic brand publicly debuted the wallypower58 at last year’s Venice Boat Show before the model made its US debut at the Miami International Boat Show this February. The wallypower58x outboard version then had its world premiere at the Palm Beach International Boat Show late March.
Della Pearce, Director of Hong Seh Yachting, the exclusive Singapore dealer for Ferretti Group brands Ferretti Yachts, Riva and Pershing, believes open day boats do have a future in Asia despite the traditional preference for flybridge designs plus a remarkable number of new clients who can choose a superyacht as their first boat.
“The market has experienced a growth in 24m-plus motor yachts in the last few years, but we’ve also seen a rising interest in the luxury day boat sector,” says Pearce, who is also Director of Hong Seh Marine, which represents brands including Sunreef.
“There’s an increasing variety of water toys such as Seabobs, e-foils, jet surfboards and others that boat owners are interested in, so there’s a need for a more spacious platform to accommodate these.”
As noted by leading builders moving into the sector, there also appears a market for luxury day boats as a second yacht, providing greater ease for quick and easy trips to destinations yet with the option of staying for several days.
“We’re seeing owners investing in luxury day boats to complement their larger motor yachts, as they can be a shuttle boat between shore or marinas, as well as a support boat for some to transport the toys and even provisions in some cases,” Pearce says.
“Interior areas and comfort are also important on these boats, along with the flexibility to entertain and cater for large groups, as seen in some new models like the Wallytenders and upcoming 55 Open Sunreef Power.”
Blanc is also convinced that there’s a market for such boats in Asia because despite the impressive average size of luxury motor yachts in marinas in Hong Kong, Singapore, Thailand and the region’s other key yachting hubs, the primary use of such boats is day cruises.
“I think day boats are suitable for Asian markets because that’s typically the usage, as owners have always focused more on day boating rather than long-time cruising, even more so than in Europe and the US,” Blanc says.
“Also, the boating is very social, not as family oriented. It’s often corporate entertaining or with a lot of friends, with 12-15 people on board, which is ideal for these premium day boats with these nice entertainment areas and large cockpits with opening terraces.”
This article first appeared on Yacht Style.
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