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Mercury tunnel race boat (Jared Lindzon for The Globe and Mail)
Mercury tunnel race boat (Jared Lindzon for The Globe and Mail)

Toronto International Boat Show

Boat show: 1000 models from 'epic' jet packs to luxury yachts Add to ...

With more than 1,000 boats crowding 430,000 square feet of the Direct Energy Centre, touring the 2014 Toronto International Boat Show this weekend may feel like trying to navigate through an endless sea of watercraft. Here are some highlights:

Flyboard

One of the newer toys on display at the show this year is the Flyboard, which utilizes the propulsion from Jet Skis and Skidoos to create a personal water jet pack.

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“It’s an epic thing to do. It’s a thrill,” said Martin Lovoie of Ontario Flyboard. “You’re flying like Ironman, you’re a rocketeer, but it’s actually much easier than it looks.”

Lovoie explains that those unwilling to shell out $8,000 for their own Flyboard can take it for a test flight at various locations across Canada this summer, starting at $150 for half an hour with an instructor.

Yachts

Visitors can board a number of luxury yachts, including the 2014 Beneteau 44 Swift Trawler, the only one of its kind in Canada. It travelled from France before arriving at the show last week.

“This is brand new to Ontario, so we’re hoping to turn some heads,” said Keith Sanford, a salesman for True North Yachts. Main features include two bedrooms and two washrooms, a full kitchen and plenty of seating, lounging, and storage space – but the vessel’s design is perhaps more impressive than its features. Being inside the ship feels like hitting the open waters in a hotel suite, complete with panoramic views, wood finishes, hidden compartments and an overall homey aesthetic.

Starting at $499,000 the 2014 Beneteau 44 Swift Trawler is perhaps the most rare yacht on the boat show floor, but certainly not the largest. That honour goes to Meridian Boats, specifically the Meridian 441, which starts at $790,000.

“Think of it as your own personal cruise line ship,” says Mark Hurst, a salesman with Pride Marine Group. “You can spend the entire summer on this boat and not be wanting for anything,”

The Meridian 441 features a spacious flying bridge that includes a large seating area, mini fridge and TV, and the interior is roomier than many condos in downtown Toronto. The dining area features a full kitchen and plenty of lounge space surrounded by a 360-degree panoramic view, leading to a lower level that includes two master bedrooms, both with en suite washrooms.

Green boating

Family owned, Kelowna-based Campion Marine is showing off its line of environmentally conscious powerboats.

According to designer Peter Wingfield, a bio resin called Envirez from Ashland Inc. reduces the amount of petroleum products in building its products.

“We’re looking for whatever avenues we can find that follow the green path,” he said. “You don’t think of boats as being environmentally friendly but we’re trying to go that route as much as possible.”

Campion is also displaying its Biltmore Fibertoon 5 series. Constructed from composite material, they have the look and feel of a pontoon boat, only with much more to offer.

“The biggest market right now is in pontoons. It’s a great concept, there’s lots of space, they’re relatively inexpensive to get into, but you get certain individuals who go, ’I don’t want a pontoon.’ It’s like a sport utility versus minivan,” said Wingfield. “We’re trying to go for a slightly different market. The ones who don’t want a pontoon but like the practicality of a pontoon.”

Unlike most pontoon boats, Biltmore’s patented tri-pontoon hull doesn’t require an airtight seal, providing room for a small cabin and washroom below the deck as well as additional storage space.

Hovercrafts

Greg Swanson of Air Rider Hovercraft was back again this year to show off the Air Rider 23, a $48,000 sport model hovercraft that holds three people and can travel up to 55 km/h. Swanson is also displaying the Air Rider 45 Ranger – the latest of the company’s New Zealand-designed, Canadian-made hovercrafts. The 45 has two motors with 23 horsepower in the front and 45 in the back. The utility model, for safety and rescue, holds five people and runs up to 60 km/h.

Swanson adds that hovercrafts can be used for anything ranging from first responder rescue missions to easy transportation to and from the cottage. Gliding over rocks up to 14 inches high, water, mud, gravel and ice with ease, the AR 23 and AR 45 are among the few hovercrafts in the world that can also travel in reverse.

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