5 New Boat Trends from 2018 Fort Lauderdale Boat Show

2018 flibs

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FLIBS 2018 boat show highlights with 5 boat design trends dominating new boat model debuts [with VIDEO highlights]

The fall boat show season is officially underway when new boat models debut at the annual Fort Lauderdale International Boat Show (also known as FLIBS). In fact, more new boats make an official debut at FLIBS then any other boat show.

The 2018 Fort Lauderdale Boat Show did not disappoint boat buyers with over 1,500 boats on display – many new 2019 model year boat models that showcased the latest in boat design and market trends.

Of course boat manufacturer endeavor to distinguish themselves from competitive brands by designing boats that are unique to their brand, but there are still clear trends in new boat model designs. Many of these trends are indicative of how boat design is changing for the long term because of new innovations or how boater use is changing.

General market demands are definitely drivers for some of these trends – such as what type of boats are selling the fastest or what buyers are looking for in a boat. Other new boat trends are simply incorporating must-have features that have become a new standard with boat designs.

It’s a smart approach for boat manufactures to cater to these trends if they want to sell more new boats…. which is why you’ll often see a design change common across multiple boat brands.

Here are 5 of the new boat trends I saw a lot of at 2018 Fort Lauderdale Boat Show…

Boat Trend #1: More Horsepower

If you are feeling the need for speed on new boats then 2 or 3 boat engines just may not be enough.

Many high performance boat brands were showcasing boats outfitted with quad (4) engines or even quint (5) engines with amazing displays of horsepower.

Midnight Express debuted their new 60 Open powered by quad Seven Marine 627’s and says that boat can also be equipped with quint engines if desired.

Midnight Express 60 Open

Nor-Tech Hi-Performance Boats also had their 450 Sport equipped with quint Mercury Racing 400’s – a real show stopper for the fast boat crowd.

nor-tech 390 quints

Boat Trend #2: Outboard Powered Models

The versatility of ordering a new boat with inboards or outdrives is a new trend we have seeing a lot of the last few years and was on full display at the 2018 FLIBS show.

In addition to boat brands debuting an outboard version of an already existing sport boat model – like Sea Ray’s 350 & 310 SLX models or Formula’s CBR models – we are seeing that trend show up on downeast style brands.

Hinckley has launched their new Sport Boats series and debuted the Hinckley Sport Boat 40C that comes with standard triple 300 horsepower outboards and optional twin 627’s from Seven Marine.

Hinckley Sport Boat 40c

Back Cove debuted their first outboard powered boat featuring a pair of Yamaha 300’s, with optional 350 hp Yamaha or Suzuki’s.

Many boaters like the speed and convenience of outdrives, and boat builders have recognized that they must meet that demand with power options that allow them to reach more buyers.

Boat Trend #3: Crossover Boats

A boat for all types of activities and boaters, the crossover boat is a multi-functional boat that offers boaters more flexibility in use and the “best of both worlds” when it comes to performance and luxury features.

Formula Boats followed up their 2016 debut of the 430 SSC (Super Sport Crossover) with their 430 ASC (All Sport Crossover) on display at FLIBS 2018. Set up for serious fishing and watersports, the 430 ASC incorporates performance, luxury and versatility. Their newest crossover model on display at FLIBS 2018 was the Formula 400 SSC.

Formula 400 SSC

Other crossover boats on display at FLIBS 2018 include the new Altima XCAPE 38 SFE – a luxury center console with one of largest most comfortable cabins in its size range – and the new Pardo 43 – an Italian built center console with a stylish European design.

Boat Trend #4: Flybridge Yachts

The trend of flybridge boats seemed to get much bigger at FLIBS 2018 that the trend was actually flybridge YACHTS.

Several builders debuted impressive new flybridge yachts, including the Absolute Yachts 58 Fly and Navetta 73 and the massive Fleming Yachts 78.

Fleming 78

Clearly the trend of luxury motor yachts that offer boaters spacious interiors elevated second level helms is only getting bigger.

Boat Trend #5: Mega Shade

When you visit the sunshine state you certainly need some shade. Luckily, nearly every dock featured a boat outfitted with a SureShade retractable boat shade system.

As the marketing director for SureShade I’m always quick to point out that our shade system is an increasingly popular design trend that more brands are adding to boat models… but of course it’s undeniable to ANYONE walking any boat show these days. There were 20 boats that debuted with SureShade at the 2018 Fort Lauderdale Boat Show, for a total of 125 SureShade-equipped boats at the show.

This year’s FLIBS we saw many new boats with what SureShade calls their M3 Mega Automated Shade. The M3 extends up to 10 feet long for more shade coverage on larger boats or areas of a boat.

sabre 66 dirigo flybridge shades

Boat models debuting with the SureShade M3 Mega shade included the Sabre 66 Dirigo Flybridge with the M3 in the cockpit and the ATF on the flybridge (the first boat to feature TWO factory installed SureShades), the Fleming 78 with M3 on the flybridge (coincidentally docked directly across from the Sabre 66 Fly) and the Hinckly Talaria 48 with the M3 in the cockpit (a boat that made an early debut at the 2018 Newport Boat Show).

2018 FLIBS Video Re-Cap

Take a quick walk down the docks with me to see more of these 5 new boat design trends at the 2018 Fort Lauderdale Boat Show in this short video recap!

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Diane Seltzer

View posts by Diane Seltzer
Diane is the founder of MyBoatLife.com as well as the boating lifestyle site for kids BoaterKids.com. Active in the boating industry, Diane has also led the marketing for multiple recreational boating businesses and startups.
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