2020: ‘It was the best of times, it was the worst of times’

By Robert Wielaard

AMSTERDAM – The global boating sector began 2020 by tanking as the COVID-19 nastiness surged worldwide.

But by late spring, lockdowns and travel curbs ignited an interest in boating that consumers welcomed as a shelter from the storm.

Saffier 27 Se Leisure

Saffier Yachts, a Dutch builder of high-quality open cockpit sailboats reports, “We are almost at the end of a strange, but extremely successful year. In March, we all thought this was going to be the toughest year in recent decades. We had a great year!”

Saffier markets 8 models in 2 ranges (elegant and classic) up to 11.2m (37ft.). In 2020, it launched a new model, the Saffier Se 27 Leisure.

“We sold 7 boats from the renderings,” says CEO Dennis Hennevanger. “The reactions were simply amazing. We sold 9 boats at the Duesseldorf Boat Show.” In all, the yard sold 51 Saffier Se 27 Leisures for delivery through 2021. The boat has been nominated for European Yacht of the Year.

“This is our 5th nomination in the last 12 years,” says Hennevanger. In all, he sold 86 boats for delivery through 2021. “This means that we are at the limit of our build capacity. We have sold 23 boats for 2022,” adds Hennevanger.

The year 2020 was also kind to the superyacht end of the Dutch sector where yards nurtured fist-thick order books filling halls with new build and refit projects.

The 2020 METSTRADE Show was reduced to a one-day, virtual event featuring 2 award shows, 9 ‘tech talks,’ 3 sustainability sessions, 40+ speakers and 150+ product pitches.

METSTRADE laid bare the details of a see-saw year that turned into an unintended poster child for the Grow Boating movement.

Industry types from North America reported record demand.

Sara Anghel

“In the US and Canada, the level of demand for boats has been so high sales are expected to hit a 13-year high this year,” said Sara Anghel, head of the Canadian chapter of the National Marine Manufacturers Association (NMMA). Same in Asia and Europe. HISWA-RECRON reported healthy sales, especially of dayboats.

The year 2021 will bring uncertain issues to the fore: the future of steel import taxes –  the fruit of a trans-Atlantic trade spat – and the impact of Britain’s departure from the EU.