Some things in life hold timeless appeal: a cold bottle of champagne, a blue-striped shirt, and a luxury boat to match. Private liners, cool cruisers and racy runabouts made by European, Asian, American and, enduringly, Australian companies vie for attention.
When luxe vessels are exhibited en masse, it makes for an extravagant on-water show and at the 2015 Sydney International Boat Show more than 160 top-drawer yachts and powerboats will each covet a berth at Darling Harbour.
The stars sailing in include French trendsetters, favourite playthings of Hollywood stars, chic Italian sports cruisers and superyachts built for business and pleasure.
The preferred plaything of former F1 driver Eddie Jordan, who took delivery of a 155-footer last year, Sunseeker loves a good Sydney soiree almost as much as a Monaco Grand Prix. The British luxury marque, now owned by Chinese billionaire Wang Jianlin, is showcasing several Sunseekers, including the dashing new Predator 57. Since its launch at the London Boat Show in January, about 50 orders have been taken for the Predator 57. An electric saloon door blurs the line between indoors and outdoors, but it's the 37-knot top speed and complementary svelte lines that wow.
La Dolce Vita
The genuine Italian article, Azimut boasts an impressive five-boat display catering for diverse tastes. The new Magellano 43 is a cool neo trawler, the Atlantis 43 and 50 are GP sports cruisers, there's an elegant 64 motor yacht (below) and a stunning 86S head turner straight from the Med – with king bed.
Italian Absolute boats have a 45 and 52 on show, with hitherto new levels of hull glazing for an atrium effect indoors. The Absolutes are favoured by Luxury Boat Syndicates' fleet at Rose Bay, a share-ownership company used by networking Sydney executives.
The svelte Jeanneau and Prestige badges include 11 vessels on show, ranging from a utilitarian 855 Merry Fisher cabin cruiser to four comfortable Sun Odyssey cruising yachts up to a 57 footer, and a Prestige 500 flybridge cruiser MKII with tender garage to boot.
A Jeanneau 349.
Beneteau is a popular French badge in Sydney and is bringing six yachts – from the new First and Oceanis 35-footers to the avant-garde Sense and Oceanis 55-foot sister ships. When you've grown tired of pulling strings, the 44 Trawler appeals for Hawkesbury cruising. Beneteau-owned Monte Carlo will have a new 70-foot motor yacht with Italian bloodlines on display, too.
Local German yacht and powerboat broker Windcraft has one of the biggest displays with 14 European craft. There are five Hanse yachts from the 345 to the 505, all with signature self-tacking headsails for easy handling.
The Dehler, Salona and Moody yachts offer great performance and/or more space, while Sealine sports cruisers are a new acquisition for the German giant.
Joining the German sailfest, Bavaria has a six-yacht line-up, from the 37-51 Cruiser with bright interiors often hailing from BMW Designworks.
If you prefer classic nautical looks, the American Chris-Craft company teams traditional lines and tumblehome hull with teak accents and brightwork. The favourite playthings of Hollywood stars, Chris-Craft has a new 36 Corsair with Hardtop this year. But the runabouts with thumping V8 engines are the hipsters.
With their dignified Down East styling, the Back Coves built in Maine also enjoy a loyal Sydney following. There's a new 41 making its debut, the biggest boat in the range, and a terrific coastal cruiser with single-engine efficiency and thrusters for snapping docking.
The Fleming 55 is a home-away-from-home with transoceanic capabilities – a long-range live aboard and engineering marvel. The passage maker is designed and built by the footloose Tony Fleming, who cruises the world and blogs about it.
Horizon, another Taiwanese boatbuilder perhaps known more for bling, launches its E84 motor yacht this year. Some boats even include the option of inflatable waterslides.
Riviera's new model development train is steamrolling ahead and there are Flybridge, crossover SUV and Sport Yachts ranges in the $11 million, seven-yacht display it brings to Darling Harbour.
The showstopper is Riviera's new 57 footer (above) with full-beam stateroom and shaft or pod drives. The 52 Flybridge also makes its local debut, along with the 525 SUV iteration. The new 6000 Sport Yacht with optional Presidential full-beam stateroom has been a big hit and is in share-boat fleets. Certainly, the new-generation Rivs prove Australian-made boats are world beaters.
Long-range motor yacht specialist Maritimo has its Australian cruising beauties from the new 48 to the big 50, 58 with New York wenge-wood interior, and the ship-like 65 that is boatbuilder Bill Barry-Cotter's own boat. A new S48 Sedan without the flybridge is the Sydney show, too.
Evergreen Caribbean will have a new 420 on show, the first sedan-style boat from the Melbourne yard to cater for owners who have grown weary of climbing flybridge ladders.
Relative newcomer Elandra is another local yard with a single-level entertainer via their 53 Sport Yacht. And New Ocean, with Australian Keith Hanson at the helm, has a brace of 60-footers built in Asia for local boaters.
The cat clique
Catamarans are purring along: the French-made Fountaine Pajot come in power and sail guises; the Leopards from South Africa are popular in global charter fleets; and the Seawinds keep things affordable. Horizon and Lagoon have new cats in litter as well.
runs from July 30 – August 3.