October 1, 2010

blogger - Two Schools

The recent closure and financial difficulties of the British boat company Broom, has got me thinking a lot how today's fleet of boats for a big majority just represent two schools of design. If you go to the boat shows in this period, being it Southampton, Cannes or the coming Genoa etc, you see for most part of ninety-per-cent plus a line of boats which are the modern Italian looks, or its other opposite of classic American flare, with really very little in between.
Yes some might say but British still has other big four builders who hold the flag for production boat building, and what was a maritime power back then in the twentieth century. While the remaining four British brands are very strong indeed with a good global presence in every market that matters, it is fair to say that their looks are just Italian. Just to mention some of the details, do you really need an extended flybridge to cover the cockpit in the UK, when seeing the sun in August is a bit of a miracle. Do the sport cruisers need a large sun lounger aft, when the big light hardly appears in the Solent, or any part of Britain in Summer.
In the last part of the previous decade in 1997 to 98 one of the big three builders i.e. Fairline made a return to a pure British cruiser, with the 43 Phantom Aft Cabin, which had to follow on the eighties success of the 36 Turbo. Surprisingly the boat was a real failure and rumours had it sold just ten units, and created quite a big hole in the accounts of Fairline. My questions about this failure of the 43 Phantom Aft Cabin still abound today. Was it actually a failure or was Fairline punished for abandoning this style of boats for over a decade, that clients looking for this kind of boat actually forgot it existed. If you ask a similar sized Broom buyer of the period he will just tell you a crazy price.
I am sad about Broom closure and I hope the management keeps its promises of restarting production in the end of the year, or early 2011. If they do not I hope someone buys those very worthy molds and restores this name of over fifty years of British boat building history. Yes Broom had some faults, but I think there product was still a very valid one on design, and with a little tweaking in some places they could still handle the new millennium pressure. They can look at Pearl for inspiration who are a British looking aft cruiser and yacht but with modern ideas and concepts going into them which sets the course into today's clients acceptance. Sadly Pearl's new 75 flagship escapes the British route, and looks again to Italy for inspiration. Could they not follow something along the Zuccon designed Ferretti Altura, which funnily comes from Italy but is very British inspired.