‘A picture paints a thousand words’ – a much used phrase and never more true than the recent photos thundering into the inbox and flying around the web of the Southern Most Regatta in the USA – formerly known as Key West week, playing out in the paradise of the Florida Keys in 30 degree sunshine and bright, bright turquoise waters. You can zoom in on all the photos and every single person has a smile on their face stretching from ear to ear.
The regatta was one of the most famous and ‘go to’ events if you were wealthy enough to take your own yacht or lucky enough to be asked to help get someone else’s around the course. An iconic regatta in an iconic venue. Sadly its demise was a few years ago, brought about by the lack of sponsorship (it was not run by a yacht club, but by an events company, which tells a tale in itself).
However, seeing the rebirth of the regatta is seminal in many ways, not only as a rebirth of that single event, but also the rebirth of yacht racing in general, following a difficult couple of years thanks to the advent of Covid-19 and all the restrictions we have had to endure subsequently.
2021 was a gasping effort; the true, die hard sailors managed to get on to the water and some events had a modicum of success, but all hearts are set to return to ‘normal’, with plenty of racing, but as important, the after sailing social side of yacht racing.
2022 is showing signs of promise, the early One Design events in Miami are being carefully managed and supported, with great success. The Caribbean regattas are generating much enthusiasm, although shipping has been a challenge for yachts unable to make their own way there. We would expect to see a strong showing, and numbers returning to pre-pandemic levels in the next few years.
It’s no surprise that the market for racing yachts has been slow over the Covid-19 years, with owners preferring to wait to see which events are being run before investing in a new yacht. As a result we have seen a modicum of downward spiral as we with some areas of the property market, where owners decide not to sell as there is little else to buy.
However, despite this, the international market has been OK, with a larger pool of yachts and buyers leading to some successful sales and it’s good to see an emergence of activity and enthusiasm in the USA, and Europe this year.
Performance cruising remains a large growth market with Italy in particular producing some spectacular yachts, chic and fun to sail. Design is leading to wider and wider hull forms, which fit very well with performance cruising.
A very interesting development in hull design is the tiptoe towards the scow hull form. Wide and beamy up to the bow, they excel in cross wind sailing, enabling the yacht to be light, with twin rudders and mast moving further and further back in the yacht to give more and more available power, coupled with a long, more acute tack angle for the code 0 / spinnakers that lift the bow at speed. The design movement of these hull shapes is rapid in the open and offshore classes – mostly the Class 40 and Open 60, but we are now seeing a slow trickle and careful updates creeping into the cruising world; which is very conscious of aesthetics. Of course, as ever, beauty is in the eye of the beholder, it is a much more conservative market.
For the Advanced Yachts, 2022 sees the launch of A66 #3 SALT, which is an upgrade of hull #1 and #2. The most obvious difference is the fixed bowsprit to allow Code 0 sails for cruising and also to clean up the anchoring system as the roller is located in the bowsprit, keeping the chain away from the yacht and protecting the anchor when stowed. A very neat solution. Further enhancements to the cockpit layout give a more user friendly layout and provide for easier shorthanded sailing, updating this evergreen design for the future. She keeps her unique Advanced open plan interior and sailing performance.
Advanced 80 #3 was also launched in 2021 and she is available to charter and purchase. A similar layout to #2, with a different colour scheme. Please do call and ask about this beautiful yacht, which I could chat about all day.
2022 we all hope will turn out to be a year we will look back on fondly, with the rebirth of the regatta scene and many more opportunities to enjoy your local cruising grounds wherever you are.