2016 Annapolis Sailboat Show: Odds and Ends and Just Plain Odd

Charles Doane – wavetrain.net

I knew this would be an amusing show when I quickly deduced that this unlikely looking vessel, the new Exquisite X5 catamaran from South Africa, would likely prove one of the more interesting vessels on site. Yes, yes. I know what you’re thinking.

I have sometimes complained, in a condescending tone, of how many modern powerboats are designed to look like running shoes, and here we have a sailboat that clearly falls into that same category. But really, I swear, this is a very cool boat.

For one thing, the X5 has a very long standard-equipment list that includes such pricey kit as a genset, air conditioning, a watermaker, a washer/drier, electric winches, and so forth, yet itself has a very reasonable price of just $1.2M. Which isn’t chump change to be sure, but it does compare favorably to prices for other deluxe cruising cats of this size and type.

Even better, if you found the boat at the show (it was hard to miss), you got to meet Tamas and Sara, the young Hungarian couple who are promoting this new brand. Tamas, I swear, has the best how-I-became-a-boatbuilder story I have ever heard, which starts, improbably, with him borrowing five euros off Sara when they first met.

X5 SAIL on the Annapolis Boat Show

Picture 1 – That’s Sara beside a show-goer who is unwittingly standing beneath the outdoor shower head that is built into the X5’s swoopy targa arch
Picture 2 – Up on the coachroof you’ll find this massive 900-watt solar array (comes standard, of course) with the hard glass panels neatly installed in recessed mounts. They also can be canted toward the sun when necessary
Picture 3 – Down below you’ll find oodles of storage space, as seen in this massive telescoping drawer-within-a-drawer assembly found in the galley
Picture 4 – That bimini over the helm station just in front of the targa arch is, believe it or not, the best-designed helm bimini I’ve ever seen on a cat. It’s got a hard windshield, a bulletproof frame, and the fully battened canvas top can be pushed quickly out of the way when you want to commune with the sky above
Picture 5 – Finish quality is to a reasonably high standard, as you can see here in the master stateroom (it took up the whole starboard hull in the boat at the show and includes a large dressing area and a huge head and shower). Those portlights that seem a bit goofy on the outside seem fabulous on the inside, as they let in scads of light. And though this looks like heavy furniture, it actually isn’t, as everything is foam-cored to reduce weight
Picture 6 – The boat also comes standard with this cool iPad brain. It controls and monitors most systems and also the distributed power network, which Nigel Calder in my presence described as the best such installation he’d ever seen. The iPad also gathers maintenance and operating data for all onboard systems and shares this with the builder every time it is connected to the Internet

Of course, there were lots of other boats at the show, with many interesting features. Lots of characters and random madness as well.

Right now I’m just finishing up test-sailing boats after the show. I’ll share a few highlights as soon as I can.

Charles Doane – wavetrain.net

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