No one really knew what to expect from this year’s Fort Lauderdale International Boat Show. After all, the worldwide pandemic has seen to the cancellation of most every other major show this year.
While some predicted doom and gloom at FLIBS — and a handful of builders abstained altogether— other manufacturers charged forward.
Perhaps it comes as no surprise to many that Viking Yachts was leading the way. The robust New Jersey builder had the largest display at the show according to communications director Chris Landry, with nine Vikings and an additional three of its Valhalla Boatworks center consoles.
The company debuted the 54 Convertible, which won Best in Show from an NBC Sports team that was cruising the docks.
The fish-world juggernaut did its usual thing sales-wise at the show, perhaps capitalizing on the marked absence of longtime competitor Hatteras Yachts. They sold a total of 11 Vikings, including two 92s and two of the new 54 Convertible — and 10 Valhallas, including two of the in-production 46 footers, Landry told Trade Only Today.
Though there were certainly changes to be observed.
“We are focused on doing a good job at social distancing,” said Landry. “We aren’t handing out brochures. No paper at all. We have QR codes at all the transoms and you can walk up and take a picture of it with your smartphone and it takes you directly to an online brochure and spec sheet, and from there you can get to our website as well.”
Another major debut was the Mangusta Gransport 33. The Alberto Mancini-penned designs for that 109-foot yacht were unveiled at last year’s Miami show. This fast-displacement vessel is among first pod-driven boats from the Italian builder, with four, 1,000-hp Volvo Penta IPS1350s growling in her belly. Top speed is 26 knots.
“This boat stands out for its customization. The owner has grandkids, so we had to pay attention to the little details. For example, we took care to see that all the corners on the boat are rounded, and the finishes are matte, to reduce fingerprints,” said Stefano Arlunno, area manager for the Americas for Mangusta Overmarine.
One vessel that may have been the most talked about debut at the show was the Yellowfin 54 Offshore, the latest beast to emerge from the years-long trend of monster center consoles, and a major step up from the builder’s previous flagship, a 42. Quad, 425-hp Yamaha V8s hanging off the transom certainly were eye catching, though no word yet on top speed.
At essentially the same LOA as the big, fishy center console — but a very different vessel — the Summit 54 made its debut at FLIBS. The Michael Peters-designed boat is an offshoot of the venerable Kadey-Krogen Yachts brand and is capable of a 25-knot top speed and a reported 350 nm range at 23 knots.
While there were definitely some notable differences about this year’s Fort Lauderdale show, for many industry insiders it was business as usual.