Boot Dusseldorf: Cats, Clubs and Sustainable Solutions

Boot Dusseldorf: Cats, Clubs and Sustainable Solutions

Boot Dusseldorf: Cats, Clubs and Sustainable Solutions


13/01/2024 - 09:30

After the 2023 yachting season, many will have wondered which market insights this eventful year has brought. We have asked around and can now share the top trends.

Like with many other industries, specific trends for the coming years can be read from customers’ and vendors’ behavior. In boating, this starts with the current need for eco-friendly solutions in both propulsion technology and furnishing solutions. The buzzword here is the by now established term of “sustainable luxury.” But higher demand for multihulls and explorer motor yachts is a trend that’s set to continue in 2024, as well. Last but not least, it is worthwhile to take a closer look at the phenomenon of boat clubs, which have become increasingly popular among many water sports newbies.

E-Segment Steadily on the Rise

Probably the biggest and at the same time most impactful trend both for the industry and our environment is the constantly rising demand for sustainability in powerboating. More and more owners dream of boats with a smaller carbon footprint made possible by alternative drive technologies and furnishing solutions that are environmentally friendly without foregoing performance and luxury.

Currently, the most popular solutions in this area are yachts with hybrid or all-electric drives. These technologies have been continuously improved and optimized over the past few years, now making them a reliable alternative to conventional internal combustion engines– at least on short and medium hauls.

Matjaz Grm, CEO of the Slovenian shipyard Greenline (in Hall 1 at boot 2024) confirms this rising demand for hybrid and all-electric powerboats: “We see a clear shift towards hybrid and e-boats. Consumers’ environmental awareness and their confidence in green technology have risen very much lately, and this is also reflected in our order books: More and more customers opt for hybrid or all-electric models.” As early as 2021, every other powerboat leaving the Greenline shipyard was a hybrid yacht. “People are becoming increasingly aware of their impact on the environment and are looking for solutions in line with their value perceptions,” Grm adds. “This rising awareness creates a favorable climate for the introduction and promotion of sustainable boating practices.”

Which is why more and more brands are entering the business of alternative propulsions, providing this sector of the industry with quite a bit of impetus and clearly driving the development of novel and improved solutions. At boot 2024, the shipyards will be showcasing their latest models in the powerboat halls, Halls 1 through 6.

But the sustainability trend long ago started expanding beyond merely propulsion technologies, as evidenced by the rising demand for individual and eco-friendly interior solutions. Here, the focus is on the materials used: Reclaimed wood, recycled plastics and teak substitutes are just a few of the many ways of coming up with sustainable solutions in this area.

As a conventional decking material, teak has had to deal with a bad reputation for quite some time because it requires tropical rainforests to be cut down. One of the valid alternatives currently establishing itself seems to be cork. The production of this decking material is almost CO2-neutral, yet it boasts properties similar to teak: It’s lightweight, heat-insulating, sound-dampening, and soft and pleasant to the touch. Moreover, in terms of its nonslip properties and durability, cork as exhibited by vendor Amorim in Hall 10 at boot 2024 by no means plays second fiddle to the real-deal tropical wood. Synthetic materials like Esthec or Flexiteek, which can be found in Hall 11 at boot 2024, are being featured more and more often; likewise, vendors of Tesumo wood are penetrating this market.

Short Trips and Plenty of Volume

In 2023, the demand for explorer yachts continued to rise, reflecting the trend of owners again wanting to explore more of the extreme destinations off the beaten track. The Global Order Book reveals that explorer yachts – meaning full displacements yachts with large-range, rugged hulls and equipped with helicopter pads, dive centers or research installations – were the second most popular type of motor yachts in 2023.

Expectations are that the growing popularity of dayboats will continue as a trend in 2024. Brands like Pardo/Van Dutch, SAY, Wally, Fjord and Jeanneau are rejoicing at plentiful orders for their dayboat models. “Powerboaters increasingly use their boats for short day excursions,” said Paul Blanc, Brand Director at Jeanneau, after the company’s launch of the DB/37 dayboat in spring. “Thirty to 50 foot luxury dayboats are turning into the principal market segment in the Med and in Florida.” At boot 2024, a comprehensive display of these models can be found in the super boats hall, Hall 5.

Multihulls and Yacht Investment

Significant growth can also be seen both in the supply of and demand for power cats. The period 2020 through 2022 saw a constant rise in the number of larger multihulls offered for sale. This trend seems to continue in 2023 and, above all, to also spill over to the charter sector: Here, too, the volume of available multihulls was up in 2023, just like demand, which rose from 13% to 16%, according to reports by charterer Master Yachting, who’s at boot 2024 in Hall 13. Moreover, these figures are rising further.

“I would not speak of a cat boom,” says Peter Kollmann-Jehle, Senior Manager Marketing and Public Relations at Master Yachting. “The demand for monohulls is still stable, but we detect a clear trend towards catamarans, which is probably due in no small part to the renewed popularity of long-haul destinations, such as the Caribbean.”

New to boot 2024 is the Multihull Village in Hall 15, where interested visitors will find manufacturers of both motor and sailing catamarans.

Hall 13 at boot also presents itself as a veritable Eldorado for investors. At leading international brokers such as Pitter Yachting, Kiriakoulis Meditarrenean, Sunsail Yacht Owner Programmes, Athenian Yachting, The Moorings or Istion Yachting, boating enthusiasts who want to invest their money profitably can obtain comprehensive information.

 On Board with A Club

For many, the dream of owning a boat doesn’t come down to money but to the twin problems of crowded marinas and too few berths. Those wanting to buy their own boat currently have to put up with extremely long waiting times for berths, creating a good breeding ground for a trend that moves boat clubs into focus again.

The underlying idea is to allow easy and low-cost boat use while freeing customers from maintenance and care duties. To this end, customers join a club, their membership permitting them to use one boat from the vendor’s fleet for a limited time period – depending on the selected customizable package. It’s like a boat subscription, so to speak. For customers, this eliminates the high costs of purchasing a boat, the search for a berth and maintenance expenses. At the same time, the model ensures optimal utilization of the boats.

This trend, which has long become established in such countries as the U.S., is only just starting to pick up in Europe. The Bénéteau Group is the first well-known European company to make inroads into this promising segment. The French group of shipyards “aims at a consolidation in France in 2024, followed by an introduction in Europe – first Italy, then Spain in 2025.” Because dealers are to be included alongside company-owned marinas, the Bénéteau Boat Club service could soon be available at multiple destinations. Also developing this market very successfully are Brunswick (Freedom Boat Club) and Axopar (Agapi Boat Club) with their clubs.

Lately, the interest in boat clubs has risen, above all because they provide water sports newbies with an easy and low-cost entry into boating. While in the past people would buy a small boat complete with trailer, they are more inclined to subscribe to a club now because it enables them to enjoy the pleasant sides of boating without entering into long-term commitments.

By Marcus Krall

Custom Line closes 2023 with three new launches
France triumphing in Abu Dhabi’s practice racing