Nostalgia is a funny thing. When we think of the past, usually it’s rendered in a rosy tint too illustrious to ever have been true. And yet we pine, and reminisce, and stare into the prop wash. We imagine an impossibly large fish that got away, or that unblemished little boat we had to sell. Like such cherished memories, the return of Cabo Yachts owes a debt to nostalgia. Stoked by the forces of consumer research, market share analysis and dealer input, the new 41, which debuted in 2019, is the builder’s first new model in over six years.
In reviving the ineffectual brand, Hatteras Yachts is betting on familiarity and brand loyalty. When the company bought Cabo in 2006, they did so with the goal of continuing the populist appeal and legacy of the California-based builder famous for its line of express-style sportfishermen in the 36- to 52-foot range. And they did, for a time. But after production was moved to New Bern, North Carolina (where then-Brunswick-owned Hatteras Yachts was located), it didn’t take long for it to grind to a halt thanks to the recession and prioritizing the introduction of new Hatteras models.
Pre-recession, most anglers can remember being impressed after owning or seeing a Cabo in action when the brand was white hot, throughout the late ‘90s and early aughts. After its lengthy hiatus, Hatteras conducted discussions with Cabo customers and dealers. They were surprised by what they learned: all these years later, the brand ranked second overall in brand reputation, quality and construction when compared to the competition. In 2017, such feedback led Hatteras Yachts CEO Kelly Grindle to announce “the market conditions are right to bring back the proven Cabo line of hardcore fishing boats.” Shortly thereafter, the design process on the 41 began.