Miami International Boat Show
The sporty, sleek shape of the coveted Riva 86 Domino is inspired by the Italian boatmaker’s smaller, more athletic vessels.

There’s something paradoxical about the idea of the world’s newest and most innovative boats beached in convention halls or moored in marinas when the best place to fall in love with them is out in the wet beyond, surrounded by miles of water. “Only there can you see how they fit, how they really operate,” says Peter Johnstone, the founder of Gunboat, one of the premier yacht companies at the show. But there’s convenience in conventions, and that’s why an expected 2,000 companies, 3,000 vessels, and over 100,000 visitors will attend the Miami International Boat Show February 13 to 17. What is on display at the annual show is the latest in refined indulgence. Nothing says that better or more loudly than a few of the newest yachts that will be tethered across the street from the Fontainebleau Miami Beach.

The new megayacht-caliber catamarans might just be the belles of the ball. They move faster than most race boats and are five-star homes right down to their gourmet galleys. High speeds with high-end food—who isn’t in? Or, as Johnstone says, “Previously, the catamaran was regarded as floating condominiums for the charter market. This blows away that old idea.”

The Gunboat 60, for instance, is built with carbon fiber, the lightest, strongest, most impact-resistant material. So this new brand of performance catamaran isn’t just stronger; it’s lighter and, therefore, faster. It’s also more chic, with custom windows providing natural light to the traditional caveman feel of monohulls. Four staterooms offer queen-size beds (an additional crew quarter has two twin beds). The master stateroom has stairs up to an elevated bed for added elegance. Plus, the traditional teak on panels and woodwork is supplemented with cherry, makore, and sapele. One subtle touch: a barbecue built into the aft beams in case a seafaring trip demands a cookout.

Miami International Boat Show
Yachts and powerboats on display at the Sea Isle Marina in downtown Miami.

Another high-end cat on display is the Lagoon 52, on its debut tour. It is the result from a decade’s work. For instance, the continual moving of masts farther aft on the Lagoon race boats was done to center the weight better, improve the sail plan and, ultimately, increase speed. That designed idea for the masts has been transplanted into the Lagoon 52, along with options for first-class interiors. Want a gray Alpi oak or Milano oak floor? Black or white leather or fabric Arredo crème as upholstery? The four custom suites all come with double beds and organic lighting thanks to fixed hull windows positioned to provide healthy views out over the water.

If the catamaran isn’t your mode, the S2 Yachts’ Tiara 50 Coupe brings Garmin and Volvo together for the first time in a North American yacht to have all engine, navigation, and mechanical information together on a touchtone screen in the cockpit. And the twin Volvo diesel engines, of your choice of 625 horsepower or 725 horsepower, mean speeds on the plus side of 30 knots. It also features a relatively open design for such a large boat, with nouveau use of windows, sliding-glass doors, and European expanse to allow guests to see all the way through the salon area into the cockpit.

Also on the hot list is revered Italian boatmaker Riva’s 86 Domino in the company’s new metallic ice color. The shape, based on Riva’s smaller, more athletic models, makes it more of an oversize sporty yacht as opposed to a small-ish megayacht. The look is sleek without gilding the lily, and interiors are clean, as if pulled from a contemporary Italian manse, with plenty of room for entertaining—there’s a table for six on the massive bow sundeck, and another in the cockpit.

Line all the toys up at the Miami boat show, and you have miles of yachts, powerboats, sailboats, and various engines, electronics, and marine gear to inspect. That’s the convenient part of the event. The fantasy remains imagining yourself on the boat, surrounded only by water. February 13–17 at the Miami Beach Convention Center, Sea Isle Marina, and Miamarina at Bayside. 

Like what you're reading? Get it delivered straight to your inbox. Sign up now for our newsletters >>