Greg Alexander

Sailors Invade Annapolis!

Mason-Dixon Arrive, September 2007

Annapolis is known for a lot of things – the U.S. Naval Academy, charming shops, Colonial and Federal architecture and world-class seafood. However, one of the state capital’s proudest distinctions is its international reputation as the epicenter of sailing. No matter where you go worldwide, mention Annapolis in sailing circles, and sailors know immediately what city you are talking about, so it’s no wonder that the United States Sailboat Show has been held in this Colonial port for the past 37 years.

Each October, boat builders from around the world utilize the Annapolis show as a “coming out party” for their new models. Additionally, boating equipment suppliers and retailers congregate to show off their latest wares, and with the United States Powerboat Show held annually the following weekend, the month of October is all about boating in Annapolis.

The Sailboat Show features over 250 boats on display in the water, including several ocean-going cruising sailboats in the 60-foot range. Meanwhile, inside the “circus tents,” show attendees are sure to find every imaginable sailboat gadget and accessory, as well as fashionable apparel to ensure that you look your finest while sailing The Bay. Free seminars are also held throughout the show to brush up on your sailing knowledge.

Besides the fabulous sailboats, what makes the Annapolis show – the oldest and largest in-water show in the industry – unique is that it is the only major boat show not produced in an existing marina, as each year, a temporary facility is constructed that is an engineering marvel. Show producers drive over 60 temporary pilings in the waters of Annapolis harbor, and these pilings anchor a mile and one quarter of floating docks, assembled in 20-foot sections, requiring 600 bolts just to hold them together. The 250-plus exhibitor tents are erected on over 500 wooden floor sections covering more than three quarters of an acre. All this is done in a mere three days, and after the sailboat show is complete, the “change-over” from sailboat to powerboat show begins – involving the load out of sailboats, load in of powerboats and the reconfiguring of the docks – a fete in itself that has become a spectator sport for locals at neighboring bars and restaurants.

Plan to spend the day at the Sailboat Show, as the dizzying amount of boats, configured in a maze-like tapestry of docks, beckon that you slow down, take your time and be amazed at the beauty of the boats, as well as the impressive advancements made each year, especially inside the boats where galleys now rival those found in grand new homes in the suburbs and cabins are outfitted with ample storage space, large beds and in-suite bathrooms. While there’s much to see at the United States Sailboat Show, here are a few new models that are sure to be “the buzz” at this year’s show.




Buoyed by the positive reception the Friendship 40 received at its debut in Europe this summer, the Friendship 53 is ready for its own debut in Annapolis. The 53-foot yacht, built by Austral Yachts in New Zealand, has either two or three staterooms (based on design choice), a step up from the one-stateroom design of its little sister. “Retaining a nearly identical exterior, the flawlessly clean decks and low profile cabin top provide a full 360-degree line of sight for the helmsman. The spacious cockpit with three deep settees provides an ample seating area unparalleled to any other yacht in this size range,” says Ted Fontaine, the award-designer of both the Friendship 40 and 53. Retaining the 40’s shallow draft, Fontaine notes that the Friendship 53 draws 5’9” with the centerboard up, and 12’2” with the board fully down.

Inside, the classically designed boat, with 6-foot-6-inch headroom, has satin and gloss varnished, raised-panel teak joinery with painted V-groove hull ceilings. A double-cabin aft, with an in-suite head to port, will make cruising luxurious for friends, while the forward master cabin boasts an in-suite head and separate shower. The main salon has plenty of room for entertaining with two large facing settees and a flat screen TV that retracts down into the back of the centerline settee.

“The Friendship 53 and her little sister the Friendship 40 are exquisite yachts, built for the extraordinary sailor who understands and appreciates elegance of design and uncompromising quality. In the world of luxury toys, there are boats and there are yachts. The Friendship is built for those who know the difference,” says Fontaine.




The brand-new 2008 48-foot-9-inch Island Packet 465 continues the company’s focus on being “America’s Cruising Yacht Leader” with its two-cabin, raised salon designed by company founder Bob Johnson. Island Packet’s successful 445 featured a large center cockpit for the helmsman and crew, as does the 465, with a few improvements, the company says, including a traditional transom stern that creates an enlarged aft cabin and an extended aft deck large enough to store up to a 10-foot dinghy.

Johnson says of his 26th new Island Packet model in 28 years, “The refinements we’ve made to an already successful design for Island Packet should make the 465 an even more desirable choice for today’s knowledgeable cruising sailor.” Safety on the 465 is a focus, too, as handholds and support rails are strategically placed.

Inside, the main salon boasts more than seven feet of headroom, handcrafted teak furnishings, a large navigation station, a gourmet galley and two spacious staterooms. Entertaining is a breeze with a salon table that can be stowed against the forward bulkhead and a built-in wine rack. The galley has opening ports on either side to keep it light and airy, a top-loading refrigerator and freezer compartments that may be used for refrigerated or frozen storage and a pull-out refrigerated drawer for quick access to popular beverages and food.

Need to shower? Take your pick of three locations – two private heads, each adjacent to a stateroom, or one outside at the stern. A washer/dryer unit also can be installed in the large hanging locker forward.

For cruising or living aboard, the two large staterooms provide luxurious comfort. Both staterooms include a double island berth, oversized storage, numerous opening ports and deck vents. Get ready for guests!




For serious sailboat racers attending the Sailboat Show, check out the new Melges 32, described as “pure speed, simplicity, function and fun in ultra high performance one design racing … a superior racer with a big, high-performance attitude.” The Melges 32’s “lean-and-mean, supersonic-sleek hull shape” and powerful sail plan, complete with asymmetrical spinnaker, equals exhilarating fun on The Bay. The Melges 32 has shown off its racing prowess at the U.S. National Championship in Newport, the Rolex International Regatta in the U.S. Virgin Islands, the Miami Grand Prix and – for the first time – at the East Coast Championship in Annapolis.

The Melges 32’s clean deck layout and rig make it perfect for day racing, while pipe berths can be added for sleeping comfort for those looking to race overnight. The Melges 32 is easily launched via ramp, and when equipped with a gin pole, it can be rigged without the assistance of a crane to step the mast.




Direct from France come two new catamaran boats from Fountaine Pajot – the Orana 44 and Salina 48, both of which sport new production techniques, as the hulls of both are built in one-piece infusion with partitions in infused composite material.

Designed by the famous office of architects Joubert-Nivelt, the Orana 44 delivers a catamaran with outside spaces free of obstacles, proving easy maneuvering on deck, and a spacious cockpit, which is on the same level as the salon, providing easy access. A wide sliding bay window gives direct communication between the salon and the cockpit, while a low center of gravity provides safety. A solarium behind the hem with two sun-bed style mattresses is the perfect sunbathing spot.

Inside, eight guests can gather around a spacious dining table and enjoy the 180-degree panoramic views through the bay windows and the sliding back bay. Entertaining is a breeze via a galley complete with a refrigerator with a “piano-type” opening that can be opened on top as well as on the front. Four large cabins, each with private bathroom with a separate shower, provide luxurious accommodations.

Meanwhile, the Salina 48 was designed by Berret Racoupeau with an emphasis on creating a layout where the helmsman is not isolated from the rest of the crew. Additionally, the halyard and sheet mechanisms are collected together at the helm, allowing the captain to maneuver without moving. The sunbathing spot, outside table and plenty of deck space will make guests want to linger outside, but, of course, the interior is inviting, too. Wide sea portholes, spacious salon, the low beds accessible with no step, the private bathrooms with separate showers and the gangways without a threshold are just come of the many special features inside.

The Salina 48 comes in two versions: the “Quatuor” with four cabins and bathrooms and a sleeping capacity for 12 people (not including the saloon), and the “Maestro” with a private suite in the hull and a utility area for navigating on the high seas.

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