The Stars Come Out at Cannes

Over 585 boats were on display at the 2013 Festival de la Plaisance de Cannes, including new models from Ferretti, Benetti, Baglietto, Absolute, and Princess. By Michael Verdon.

2013 Festival de la Plaisance de Cannes

Cannes is known for its famous film festival, but the stars also shine every September when the Festival de la Plaisance de Cannes comes to town. Of course, the leading ladies and action heroes in last week’s show weren’t Brad, Angelina, Sylvester, or Tom. They had names like Ferretti, Benetti, Baglietto, Absolute, and Princess—in total, 585 boats from Europe’s leading yards, with a smattering of brands from countries like Turkey, the US, and China. Cannes is quickly becoming my favorite boat show, surpassing Ft. Lauderdale, Monaco or even Miami. The town’s a gem on the French Riviera, and despite France’s reputation for less than stellar service, I’ve always found the people here hospitable and friendly. But more important, the show provides an opportunity to see the European boats you have to wait six months or a year to see in the US, and check out others that’ll never make it across the pond.

Cannes Boat Show

There were more than 150 new models making their Mediterranean debut at the show, but I narrowed the list to seven floating in the main venue, Vieux Port, the marina sitting in the center of town. I didn’t see everything, and there are many other excellent candidates, but here are my seven favorites, in no particular order.

Chris-Craft Capri 21

Chris-Craft Capri 21
Americans sometimes look down on their own, but I'd put Chris-Craft's design and quality up against any European production builder, including highly regarded Italian brands. The Florida builder launched its new 21 Capri at Cannes, and the stylish, modern classic sportboat will likely find many fans in Europe. What I like about this closed-bow boat is the combination of old-world craftsmanship (piped teak bow area, teak swim platform and deck, mahogany steering wheel, perforated panels on the helm console, etc) with a solid, good-running hull, and its trademark tumblehome stern. The seating also has retro-looking cross-stitching in the upholstery, another little detail that is important to the whole presence of the boat. New owners get to choose from a bunch of low-key, but refined "Coach" colors. Click here to see more yachts from Chris-Craft. www.chriscraft.com
Courtesy Chris-Craft

Frauscher 858 Fantom

Frauscher 858 Fantom
Stealthy and cool are probably the two best words to describe the new 28-footer from the Austrian builder. Throw in a stepped black hull with deep insets along the rear quarter, add a sweeping wooden foredeck and swim platform, toss in a sleek black windshield, broad white swimpad, and white cuddy, and you have a one-of-a-kind day cruiser. The black heartthrob not only looks mysterious, but runs fast and turns hard. Sterndrive power ranges from 300 to 430 hp. Frauscher also makes some stylish yachts with electric motors. www.frauscherboats.com
Courtesy Frauscher

Cantieri Magazzu MX-13 Coupe

Cantieri Magazzu MX-13 Coupe
You really have to admire any boat builder that can turn what is at its core, a rigid-hulled inflatable, into one of the classiest-looking boats on the water. The Magazzu family has been designing boats for 50 years, including trimaran sailboats, traditional motoryachts, and even amphibious aircraft. The 13-meter (42-ft.) MX-13 Coupe is unconventional, even downright beautiful. I've never considered owning a RIB as a primary boat, much less using the word beautiful, until I came across this at the dock. The teak swim platform, the beige cushions and interior, the sleek, sloping windshield, the long, lithe hull—bellisimo. There's even a cabin with a V-berth and fairly spacious head—with one of those cool-looking designer sinks. The MX-13's powered by either MerCruiser gas or Volvo diesel sterndrives, with a potential top end of 55 knots. Not a real boat? Think again. Options include a 3.5-kW diesel generator, air conditioning and bowthruster. www.magazzu.com
Courtesy Magazzu

Cantiere Delle Marche Darwin 96

Cantiere Delle Marche Darwin 96
Sitting down near the end of the superyacht dock, this relatively unassuming 96-ft. explorer-style motoryacht hides a voluminous interior. First and foremost, the owner wanted a genuine expedition yacht. Secondly, he wanted a large, interior with plenty of amenities to keep his family comfortable. Third, as a vineyard owner, he wanted storage for 850 bottles of wine—and for the boat to be stable enough in big seas so they wouldn't break. The owner got his wishes after the Italian yard delivered the Darwin 96 last summer. He and his family stayed happily aboard for three months straight, with only five short stops. I'll write more about this amazing yacht in a future issue, but some trick features included 80-liter fuel consumption at 8 knots, a filtration system that turns black and gray water into potable water, and the interior and deck spaces of a much larger yacht. Of course, multiple wine lockers, and even a wine cellar, are scattered across the yacht. www.cantieredellemarche.it
Courtesy Cantiere Delle Marche

Princess 82FY

Princess 82FY
I saw this 82-foot flybridge at Princess's headquarters in Plymouth, England, getting ready for the shows. When we ran it in six-foot seas, the interior was covered in plastic to prevent scratches and the leather helm seats had a cheap camouflage cover to prevent protection. All I can say is that it cleans up beautifully for the shows. The boat ran really well in the big chop—very solid ride, but at the show I could see inner beauty popping up all over the interior. The UK builder's woodworking shop is one of the best in Europe, judging from the rich, flawless joinery. The interior had wonderful leather and stainless steel accents (not to mention a shower in the master suite with tiny ceramic tiles). Excellent fit and finish, spacious flybridge, and the many non-cheesy, luxurious features (big and small) make you feel you're on a luxurious, well-designed flybridge. But as I knew from Plymouth, the 82's also got chops in the chop. Click here to see more yachts from Princess. www.princessyachts.com
Courtesy Princess Yachts

Sunreef 70 Power

Sunreef 70 Power
Sunreef is one of those unusual enigmas you sometimes find in the yachting world. Its French owner established a shipyard in Gdansk, Poland—in the same yard where the Solidarity movement was born. Owner Francis Lapp began with a 60-foot sailing catamaran, dreaming big. Ten years later, Sunreef has built a 120-foot catamaran, and the average LOA and list of technological accomplishments keeps growing. The company launched its new carbon-fiber Levante, a giant 80-foot sailing cat with a state-of-the-art composite mast and hull. Another winner for the shipyard. But the Sunreef that really caught my attention was the 60-foot power cat with Volvo’s IPS pod system. It’s big and spacious like its siblings, but the thing I found most impressive was the captain navigating the 28-foot-wide gargantuan out of a crowded slip. The Volvo joystick steering system moved the boat laterally, forward and backwards, answering the unanswered question I’ve always had about big cats—how do they get them out of tight spaces? A nod to the captain’s testicular fortitude, though he did have some aid from a high-tech YachtView 360 camera system. Still, I was biting my knuckles in sympathy the whole time. Click here to see more yachts from Sunreef. www.sunreefyachts.com
Courtesy Sunreef Yachts

Couach 2400

Couach 2400
This French shipyard isn't that well known outside Europe, but makes some very handsome cruising yachts. The new 85-footer has a well-laid-out flybridge, with hardtop as well as space for a jet ski—and there's a tender on the hydraulic swim platform. The interior is light and airy, defined by light-colored oak walls, cabinets and and an open salon that looks more like a modern pied-a-terre than a typical motoryacht. The pilothouse also has the same level of fit and finish, plus excellent visibility. Couach notes that this model fills in the gap between its 22- and 28-meter boats, but I'd submit it's very much its own man. www.couach.com
Courtesy Couach