Fall is right around the corner, and back-to-school isn't the only annual tradition: it's also boat show season. This year kicks off as usual with the Newport International Boat Show, September 13-16. Spread across the docks of Newport Yachting Center, Oldport Marine, Bannister's Wharf and Bowen's Wharf, the show is accessible by land or water.

Here are a few boats (both sail and power) that caught our eye, out of the wide variety of entries making their US debut at this year’s Newport for New Products contest.

Protector 30 pounds through rough water

The Protector 30 is built to absorb a rough offshore ride.


Protector 30

If this is anything like its big brother the Protector 38, you’ll definitely want to climb aboard and settle into a “Soft Rider” seat, which has a gas cylinder in the pedestal to help absorb a rough offshore ride. According to reviewer Lenny Rudow, “The makers of tough commercial and military boats know how to do comfort, too.”


This multi-purpose speedster is the first J/Boat that can be launched from a trailer at a boat ramp. Reviewer Dieter Loibner calls it “nothing less than a shift in paradigm” for the established builder, though J/ watchers will recognize the carbon sprit and masthead assymetrical spinnaker. The first J/70 Midwinter Championship will take place at the 2013 edition of Key West Race Week.

J/70 sailing

The J/70 is the first trailer-launchable boat from J/Boats.

Prestige 550

In her review of the slightly larger Prestige 60 last spring, Diane Byrne said: “One of my favorite parts of the [boat show] dock-walking ritual is the rare “Aha!” moment. That is, when you find yourself in a space that looks and feels just right.” This new 59 foot 550 claims "a harmony of design and assurance of power and safety."

Prestige 550 rendering

The Prestige 550 is a flybridge model with a luxurious interior.

Dufour 36

I was lucky enough to do a test sail on this boat (read "Dufour Proves Fast can be Comfortable") and came away ready for more. You can also read our full review, Dufour 36: Bold New Lines.

Dufour 36 sailing

Even in light air, the Dufour 36 is easy to sail.

Hunt 44 Express Sedan

We spent an afternoon aboard the Hunt 44 filming three video boat reviews of the Hunt Harrier 36. The 44's luxurious interior overlays twin IPS drives just like the Hunt 52 IPS, and the seakindly Hunt hull shape carries over across the model line.

Hunt Yachts 44 under way

The Hunt 44 Express Sedan is powered by a pair of IPS drives.

Motive 25R

With the America’s Cup raising interest in multihull sailboats, here’s a carbon fiber trimaran that looks a little easier to transport—and intriguing enough to attract the attention of non-sailors like the avid fisherman Lenny Rudow.

Motive 25R trimaran rendering

A foldable carbon fiber trimaran: intriguing, even to fishermen!

Hanse 44.5

Michael Good reviewed the smaller Hanse 385 and found that “this German builder went the extra mile, trying to bridge the gap between creature comfort and sailing performance.” Reviewer Zuzana Prochazka called the larger Hanse 545 ”a no-nonsense, brawny speedster.” The 44.5 is making its US debut at the Newport show.

Hanse 44.5 at anchor

The Hanse 44.5 is making its US debut at the Newport Boat Show.

For those traveling to the show from parts west, consider taking the Jamestown Newport Ferry. In addition to avoiding the bridge toll and parking aggravation, you’ll enjoy a lovely boat ride to and from the show. And often you'll find yourself chatting with other boaters on the way over about the boats you most want to check out … and then admiring their smaller purchases on the way home.

On Sunday, you can also feel even better about buying a ticket to the show. Part of the proceeds will be donated to the US Coast Guard Foundation, a non-profit organization committed to the education, welfare and morale of all Coast Guard members and their families. According to Anne B. Brengle, president, “We truly value the partnership, support and recognition for our work on behalf of the brave men and women that keep us safe on the water.” Staff will also be manning a booth every day at the show.

For more information, visit the 2012 Newport International Boat Show website. And let us know in the comments below if there's something else that caught your boat shopping eye.