Boat Shows

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By James Wharram

December/January in Northern Europe was cold and wet. January found Hanneke and I attending and tramping around two major boat shows. First to the London Boat Show which after 30 years at the cramped Earl's Court exhibition hall has moved to its new ExCel site on the river Thames. After 3 days in London, we moved on to the much larger Düsseldorf Boat Show in Germany.

Hanneke and I "know" boat shows from the inside, having in the past exhibited at the London Boat Show for 12 consecutive years. We usually had a small stand, as exhibiting a full-size craft at a major boat show is extremely expensive, expense that in the end has to be paid for by the customer. We stopped going to the London Boat Show in the mid-1980s because the exhibited rows of glass fibre yachts had become increasingly boring.

People who had no intention of buying a catamaran (they were monohull sailors) and those that already had one of our designs, would fill up our stand saying, "I just like being here, this stand is about sailing".

So what were we doing in January 2004 at these boat shows? Students of Wharram designs will have realised that for the last 3 years, due to changes in economic - and work patterns affecting present day life style, we have had to go back to Building Boats Professionally (which we had done for a period in the late 1980s, but gave up to sail around the world aboard our 63 foot Pahi).

James talking to people at a boatshow
London Boat Show, Multimarine stand.
James talking in front of a group of people
James gives a lecture on the origins of the multihull.

At the 2004 London Boat Show, a section of the shared stand of the Multihull Group was occupied by Multimarine Ltd. ( who exhibited drawings of our new composite-built trailer sailer design, the Tiki 8m. The drawings did attract favourable attention, so the attack of flu that both Hanneke and I got in the dirty air of London was probably worthwhile.

Moving on from London to Düsseldorf we found the Düsseldorf Boat Show bigger, better organised and exhibiting a wider range of sailboats, including large charter catamarans.

Near the Multihull Deutschland stand (where I had been invited to give a lecture), occupying a small stand by the wall was Nusser Yachtbau (our German Professional builder), one of the reasons why we had come to the Düsseldorf Boat Show. Walking towards the stand we could see it was humming with interested people, like our boat show stands in the past.

The first person we saw was our Portuguese friend, diver/marine-archaeologist Alberto Machado, owner of a Tanenui. Ten years ago, he took our son on his first scuba dive when we were on a joint expedition with Alberto and his 'GEO group' to the lonely isles of the Desertes near Madeira (using our Pahi 63, the Gaia, as expedition ship). It was difficult to have an exciting reunion with Alberto, my eyes, my thoughts were totally distracted by the large model of the Teuton 47 which dominated the small stand.

Two years ago, Ingrid and Roland Schule commissioned JWD to design a development of the Tiki 46 for Professional Building. Ingrid and Roland Schule are engineers as well as experienced Wharram sailors (see them sailing their Tiki 21 in high Mediterranean seas in James' web letter of Feb. 2002).

James and two others studying a boat model
The Teuton 47 model with James, Alberto Machado and Gerhard Nusser.
Close up of boat model cockpit
Details of the Teuton 47 model.

Gerhard Nusser could be described as a "wood fetishist" boat builder i.e. like us, he sees wood as a material of beauty, strength and versatility and in combination with epoxy a superb boat building material. German engineers take their time in setting up projects, they only move when all is perfect. Nusser and his team spent time on a CAD Program to get every detail correct and to be able to Laser-cut all the ply parts, for economies in serial production.

The model was not just a glass cabinet showpiece; it has been actually tested on a small lake. The Teuton 47 has gone through a design process from traditional drawings, to models, to CAD. Building will begin soon.

Looking at the differences between the hull form of the Teuton 47 and the French charter style catamarans exhibited close-by at the Düsseldorf Boat Show, I realise that it is time that I explain publicly, what ideas are behind our hull shapes/designs. What makes a Wharram design look different? Why does it look different?

That is my next writing job, which in due course will appear in our website section "How We Design".

- James Wharram

Postscript 2007: Due to various circumstances Gerhard Nusser is no longer a Franchised Wharram Builder, he never built the Teuton 47.