Strictly Sail Oakland

Part of the fun of being SAIL’s new boat editor is that I’m always “shopping” for a new boat. And there’s no better way to get a feel for the next new thing in the new boat market than to spend a couple days walking the docks at a boat show. I just returned from the Strictly SAIL show in in Oakland, California, and was pleasantly surprised to see that even in our somewhat challenging economy, brand-new designs from brand-new manufacturers as well as new and improved models from established builders were on display. Here’s an introduction to all the new designs that debuted in Oakland. And be sure to check back for future posts. Video clips of my tours of these boats as well as my interviews with the designers and manufacturers that built these new models will be posted in the future.

Freedom Boatworks (not to be confused with Freedom Yachts) announced its presence in Oakland with three brand-new models.


This 21 foot pocket cruiser is designed to combine trailerability and extreme shoal draft capabilities (11 inch draft with the centerboard retracted) with good sailing ability and decent living space below. There are three sleeping berths, a small galley, and even a self-contained head. The accommodations plan even has oak woodwork.


Freedom Boatworks maximizes interior volume on the 25-foot F-250c with a “deck saloon” layout. Down below, the mahogany furniture, fully enclosed head, and ample sleeping berths will have you scratching you head as you try to reconcile such a large accommodations plan on such a small, trailerable, coastal cruising boat.


As you may have already guessed by looking at these photos, the “s” stands for sportboat. And this boat’s long retractable sprit, plumb bow, open transom, bright red paint job, and spacious cockpit, attracted as many performance sailors as Freedom’s cruising boats attracted trailersailers. The light and lean hull should combine with 650 square feet of sail area to provide some real get-up-and-go. But like all Freedoms, it’s also equipped with a retractable centerboard and kick up redder to make gunkholing and trailering a snap.

Beneteau First 45

Here’s the first look of the ultra sexy First 45 from Beneteau. This boat made it’s US debut in Oakland, and it’s obvious that Beneteau knows the importance of good looks when launching a new model. The lines and deck layout are decidedly more racy than the more cruising oriented “Beneteau” line, but that doesn’t mean this is an all out racer. The accommodations plan combines edgy, modern styling with comfortable living spaces. I may take a little longer to get once since all these boats will be imported from France rather than being built in Beneteau’s Marion, South Carolina factory, but it should be worth the wait.

Jeanneau 45DS

Jeanneau and Beneteau share the same parent company, but you’d never know it by comparing the new Jeanneau 45DS with the First 45–they couldn’t be more different. The 45DS that debuted in Oakland is all about maximizing interior volume in the most stylish way possible. Jeanneau’s entire line of cruising boats that seamlessly blend the openness and interior visibility of a deck saloon with the cockpit, have been a bona fide success and the 45 should surly build on that reputation.

Hanse 540e

German builder Hanse Yachts is coming on strong in this country in spite of less than favorable exchange rates. And it’s easy to see why. The 54-foot 540e is jammed with design and engineering ideas that simply make sense. Notice the enormous swim platform reveals an even bigger “garage” that is designed to accommodate storing a fully inflated, 10-foot long RIB. The anchor is stowed on a retractable bow roller. And the interior combines clever ideas with spacious living spaces and distinctive styling.

Tayana 54

The new Tayana 54 was remarkable in the lines of show goers it created. During my two days of walking the docks, the 54’s cockpit was always jammed with prospective buyers and tire kickers alike. And it make sense. Bill Dixon didn’t reinvent the wheel with this design, but it does cut a nice profile and should be just the thing to take care of a crew offshore.

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