Galeon Yachts 560 Fly Wins The Day

The Galeon Yachts 560 Fly wins Yachting's inaugural Innovation Award for a multifunction design that blends form, function and fun.
Galeon Yachts
Galeon creates its yachts from stem to stern, allowing for what the company calls vertical innovation. Courtesy Galeon Yachts

When Yachting decided to present its first-ever Innovation Award, the question was not which boat deserved to win. Most builders, after all, can turn out at least one good boat model every couple of years. What’s much harder is consistently producing new models with features that are smart and stylish, fun and functional, and unlike anything else on the water. What’s really hard is doing all of that at a production-boat pace to please dozens upon dozens of new-boat buyers each year.

After much deliberation, the choice was clear: The inaugural Yachting Innovation Award goes to the Galeon 560 Fly. It’s a boat that epitomizes the Polish builder’s drive not only to think differently, but also to build differently, in a way that ensures originality on the docks.

Or, as Galeon Yachts brand manager Bob Burke aptly puts it, “The 560 Fly is really the evolution of the last eight years of what Galeon’s been doing.”

Galeon 640 Fly
Galeon’s 640 Fly is one of the models with a center opening section in the windshield, allowing access to the bow. Since the side decks aren’t needed for that purpose, they can be narrower with a wider salon. Courtesy Galeon Yachts

An Exciting Start

Many American boaters first heard of Galeon Yachts in February 2016, when the powerhouse dealer MarineMax introduced the brand at the Miami International Boat Show. It’s not that Galeon was a new builder; it had been in business since 1982, building boats primarily for the German market, a culture whose automobiles alone say a thing or two about demand for precision engineering. MarineMax wanted to gain market share in the 40-to-65-foot market, so its team asked people they knew at engine maker Volvo Penta which brands to consider. “They gave us a few brands, and we didn’t know a whole lot about Galeon. They didn’t have a story in the United States,” Burke says. “We flew to the factory, and they showed us around. We were looking at the quality of the boats—everything they were showing us was what you want to see in a partner.”

That’s how Galeon ended up having such a notable presence at the 2016 Miami show, where MarineMax sold 17 of the boats—the whole first year’s production—in just five days. Fast-forward to today, and there have been 430 deliveries overall, with MarineMax now selling about 80 to 100 of the Galeons each year. There are Hardtop, Flybridge and Skydeck models, and the choices for yachtsmen of all tastes only continue to broaden. “In 2020, we launched our first outboard-powered Galeons,” Burke says. “We started with a 325 GTO, and then a 375 GTO, and we have two more coming in the 40s over the next two years.”

Galeon 560 Fly
The Galeon 560 Fly is the winner of the inaugural Yachting Innovation Award. Courtesy Galeon Yachts

The 560 Fly made its debut about a year ago at the 2023 Miami show, bringing together many of the notable features that Galeon has been working on across the board—including Beach Mode, which is the fold-out decks that lots of builders are trying to do now but that Galeon was first to popularize in production boats.

They do everything in-house. They’re building their own furniture, doing their own upholstery, stainless-steel work, lamination, tooling. They’re building their own teak decks. That’s very rare for builders.

— Bob Burke, Galeon Yachts Brand Manager

“Galeon does it in a unique way where they fold the side down, but they also open up the aft-galley area,” Burke says. “On the 560, the beam of the boat goes from 15 feet, 10 inches to an opened-up space of about 21 feet wide. When you think about a boat that’s 21 feet wide, it’s usually 90 feet long. You open this up, and the beauty of it is that the side opens as well, so you have this indoor-outdoor galley and dinette space that feels like you’re on a 90-foot boat.”

Galeon Yachts craftsman
Galeon builds its boats with a combination of advanced technology and craftsmanship by hand. Courtesy Galeon Yachts

Thinking about that wide of a beam aft also led Galeon’s team to reconsider interior spaces. “We’ve taken the beam of the boat and carried it way forward, which started with the 325,” Burke says. “We managed to get such a great volume of space that we could have a head and sleep four in a 32-foot boat. Well, when you stretch a bigger boat out and carry that beam forward, you think the guest cabin is the master, it’s so big. This is an evolution of innovation.”

Vertical Innovation

Galeon refers to its design and construction process as vertical innovation. The idea is that if the company controls everything from how the teak decks are built right up to the way the stainless-steel rails are polished, it can innovate in ways that stymie other builders, which rely on third-party vendors to help them construct various parts of their boats.

“They do everything in-house,” Burke says of Galeon. “They’re building their own furniture, doing their own upholstery, stainless-steel work, lamination, tooling. They’re building their own teak decks. That’s very rare for builders. Most of them have some component they’re not so great at, and they subcontract it out.”

Galeon factory
Some work at the Galeon factory is still done by hand. Gloss products and stainless steel are polished that way. Sometimes the same tools have been used for years to ensure perfect edges on caulk lines. Courtesy Galeon Yachts

Keeping everything in-house means Galeon is not governed by the products that are on the broader market. “I think that’s why people are so excited about the brand,” Burke says. “They haven’t seen it done in these ways anywhere else. Most production boats, they have the same cleats, the same cupholders, the same stuff that every boatbuilder uses. Galeon makes everything.” 

Flexible Onboard Spaces

One of the innovative features that the Galeon 560 Fly showcases is a shape-shifting dinette that converts into more of a social space opposite the galley. It’s an example of how the Galeon team constantly thinks about the way boaters use their vessels, and about how one area can be used in multiple ways during a day or week on board.

“When you have the side up and the window shut, it looks like a normal boat with a little dinette—a great place to have coffee or read a book, looking out the window,” Burke says. “But when you open the window, the backrest folds out and you can seat more people there. The table folds out too.”

Couple aboard a Galeon Yacht
The Galeon Yachts team excels at conceiving ways to turn a standard space on a boat into a whole other experience. Courtesy Galeon Yachts

There’s a similar transforming space at the 560 Fly’s bow, where the seating converts to suit multiple uses. On other models, Galeon continues to innovate in additional ways. On the 640 and 650, an opening center section of the windshield gives boaters a way to get to the bow without going out to the side decks, which in turn can be narrower, allowing for more volume in a wider salon. On the 800 Fly, the entire hardtop is built of carbon with no forward supports, giving it a stylish, modern look. “That’s a pretty amazing achievement in composite engineering,” Burke says. “There are zero stainless-steel supports on the front. That’s an innovative aspect.”

Yet another creative idea can be seen on the 470 Skydeck, which looks like a coupe but has a miniature flybridge that changes the boating experience with the push of a button. “It has a flybridge where you wouldn’t think it does,” Burke says.

We encourage people to take a ride on these boats. You can walk through five boats and love them all, but then you take them out, and they might be creaking and squeaking and you don’t enjoy them. We want people to be comfortable.

— Bob Burke, Galeon Yachts Brand Manager

Owners of Galeon boats, in addition to using onboard spaces however they best suit the style of cruising, also can customize the interiors with optional woods and fabrics to satisfy their personal tastes. “Depending on the model, you can have optional layouts in the staterooms,” Burke says.  

Galeon Yacht at sunset
Most of the Galeon models MarineMax sells have about a 25-knot cruise speed and a 30-knot top hop. Courtesy Galeon Yachts

Impressive in Motion

Galeon models that are Americas-bound come from ideas that the builder has, along with concepts from longtime design partner Tony Castro, and with MarineMax contributing its thoughts about what consumers want. While each model may have a different combination of features, they all share a quality of performance that Burke says is key to the brand’s reputation.

“We built most of the boats with a target of a 29- or 30-knot maximum speed or a 25-knot cruise,” he says. “We want to achieve that in most conditions, so the boats are built solid. It’s not about having the fastest boat on the water. It’s about having the most comfortable boat in 3-to-5-foot seas. Some boats are built light to be fast, and they don’t handle that type of condition well at 20-plus knots.”

Galeon Yachts team
Galeon has about 300,000 square feet of production space at two factories in Poland. They include an automated machine to spray-paint and varnish for a consistent finish. Courtesy Galeon Yachts

Galeon and MarineMax strongly encourage boaters to take a ride out on the water, especially if they’re shopping at a boat show and comparing the Galeons to models from other builders. “You can walk through five boats and love them all, but then you take them out, and they might be creaking and squeaking and you don’t enjoy them,” Burke says. “We want people to be comfortable.”

Achieving that goal includes smart positioning of equipment, along with the use of sound-deadening materials in each boat’s construction.

“Boats with the side-opening windows, like the 560, have a chilled-water air-conditioning system. That means the noisy part of the system is in the engine room, and all you have in the cabin is fans. It’s a very quiet boat,” Burke says. “You close the door in the master cabin, and if somebody’s having a conversation outside the door, you won’t hear it. They build a really tight boat.”

For all these reasons and then some, the Galeon 560 Fly is an ideal boat to earn the distinction of receiving the first Yachting Innovation Award. This yacht epitomizes the builder’s ability to conceive new ideas and then execute them well—and makes us all eager to get out and go boating.

17 in One Week

MarineMax launched the Galeon brand for American yachtsmen at the 2016 Miami International Boat Show. It was an instant hit. They sold 17 of the Galeon boats—the entire first year’s production—inside of five days.

430 in Eight Years

Since it introduced the Galeon line in 2016, MarineMax has sold 430 of the boats. The current pace of customer demand is about 80 to 100 boats per year, across the entire model range.