Where Did the Steering Wheel Go?

Where Did the Steering Wheel Go? Aug 9, 2018

When I tested my first “joystick” in a boat, I knew in my heart, and publicly predicted back then that it would only be a matter of time before the steering wheel would disappear.  Long the centre-point of any helm station, the wheel’s days were numbered with the advent of the joystick.

That day has now come to reality.

The new Schaefer 580 motoryacht recently made her debut at the 2018 Rio Boat Show, but without a steering wheel at the lower helm station!  Steering control was via a Volvo Penta joystick – the 580 was powered by twin Volvo Penta 670 hp IPS800s.  The joystick controlled motor yacht has arrived.

Márcio Schaefer, CEO of Brazil’s largest yachtbuilder, said: “At Schaefer Yachts, we have had a long-standing relationship with Volvo Penta for over a decade. When we designed the Schaefer 580 with Volvo Penta IPS we decided to go with a joystick-only steering control system. Our team worked very closely with the Volvo Penta engineers, and in roughly two months we developed this joystick-only steering system, eliminating the wheel altogether. In our opinion, this innovation will improve maneuverability and bring a new level of ergonomics to the helm station.”

“We pride ourselves on being innovators at Volvo Penta,” said Ron Huibers, president of Volvo Penta of the Americas. “We were the first to introduce IPS and the first to offer joystick for docking and driving. Wheel-free joystick-only steering with IPS is the next logical step in our Easy Boating strategy to harness new technical solutions to make it easier for owners to operate their boats and enjoy the experience of being on the water.”

“We’re especially proud to partner with our long-time customer Schaefer Yachts to introduce this innovation into the Brazil marketplace,” he added.

Schaefer said that the launch of the 580 with joystick steering at the biggest nautical event in South America stirred significant interest in the marketplace, and the yachtbuilder plans to continue incorporating joystick-only steering in other new motoryacht models moving forward.

For more information visit: VolvoPenta.com and Schaefer Yachts

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