This year’s Boat Show held once again at Olympia was full of interest for the motorist even if he was not interested in buying a boat. Boat builders are undoubtedly taking their cue from the motor manufacturers and many of the trends seen at the Boat Show have their precedents in the motoring world.
The greatest single advance in boat building is in the use of glass fibre materials for construction of hulls. From the tiniest of runabouts to a £25,000 motor cruiser, glass fibre is being used by nearly all the major boat builders in a way which has not been attempted by motor manufacturers. In fact only Jensen, Lotus and Peerless offer a complete car in this material. Do-it-yourself kits have become as popular in boating as they have in motoring and many kits are now on offer, most of which are quite easy to assemble even for anyone who has no experience of boats. One striking looking boat which caught my eye was the Kitboats Mistral which is a 15 ft. sports runabout having a seating capacity for five or six adults. No jigs are required to build it, all parts being fully machined and numbered to a plan. A basic kit of parts costs £88.
Realising that many people cannot afford expensive boats, the organisers included a stand called “Boating on a Budget” which displayed a wide range of craft for the impecunious sailor. The Microboat, a tiny runabout, which is a one-piece glass fibre moulding made by Microfilm, attracted much attention from visitors. Microplas, who were pioneers of glass fibre car bodies offer this boat for £49 15s. exclusive of engine.
With the use of glass fibre, more exotic designs can be used, and boats are sprouting tail fins. On the Dusky Queen made by G. Bunn. Ltd., red rear lamps and orange winking direction indicators are incorporated in the tail fins. The winkers are apparently used to signal turns to water skiers.
Coventry-Climax are also making a bid to enter the boating market with their single-cam 1,220 c.c. engine as fitted to the Lotus Elite. They claim about 70 b.h.p. from this engine, giving the Albatross boat to which it is fitted as standard equipment a useful performance.
Altogether the Boat Show indicated that those in the industry are alive to the fact that there is an enormous untapped market for the cheaper type of pleasure craft which can be towed by or carried on car. — M.J.T.