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Westwinn Group reports sales gains from shows

Westwinn Group reports sales gains from shows

Posted on 28 February 2012

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Westwinn Group, the Canadian-based builder of Kingfisher, Jetcraft and Harbercraft boats, is reporting strong results from recent Western boat shows.

“Buyers are excited with the upgrades we made to our popular 16- and 18-foot Falcon line. Based on feedback from our angler community, we zeroed in on fishability, value and overall performance,” company president Andrew Klopak said in a statement.

“The new 20-foot Discovery series, featuring our console-forward design and class-leading storage, also struck a chord with buyers,” he added. “Buoyed by an improving economy, healthy fish stocks, together with the performance advantages that heavy-gauge aluminum boats offer, the robust return of the offshore buyer is also very exciting.”

Westwinn Group, based in Vernon, British Columbia, distributes its three welded aluminum brands through its network of 40 dealers across North America.

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A fishing way of life is threatened

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GLOUCESTER, Massachusetts (CNN) — By daybreak, much of this town has already been at work for hours.

Fishermen have long since cast off aboard boats named for their sweethearts and chugged out to sea before sunrise.

Clad in yellow and orange rubber suits, these seafarers drag giant nets across the ocean floor during 12-hour work days, hauling back fish that they will later bring to market.

For about 400 hundred years, fishing has sustained communities such as Gloucester along America’s northeastern shores, where thousands of seafood processors, wholesalers, distributors and retailers make a living off the waterfront.

Dennis Robillard scans his radar screens in search of fish.

“It’s kind of the bread-and-butter and the backbone of the community,” said Dennis Robillard, who has scooped up fish off the coast of Massachusetts for more than two decades.

Now the federal government is contemplating what for generations seemed inconceivable — restricting or shutting down most of the cod fishing in the Gulf of Maine, a region that extends from Cape Cod up through Nova Scotia.

A recent government survey found that Gulf of Maine cod, considered a top earner for fishermen in the region, are in far lower numbers than what experts had thought.

Just three years earlier, the government had projected the area was well on its way to recovery after decades of overfishing. Since then, federal regulators gradually raised cod catch rates to nearly five times the sustainable level — with those allowed rates based on what are now reported as overly optimistic and incomplete estimates.

The new data now suggest the stocks are so depleted that even if the fishing industry were to shut down, codfish would still not recover by 2014 to the levels mandated by federal law. Beginning in May, that will trigger a legal requirement that fishermen bring in around 22% less cod than they caught last year. But next year is the big one — the industry could face more than an 80% reduction from prior years’ catches in the Gulf of Maine.

“This is total Armageddon now for the fishery,” said Vito Giacalone, a third-generation Gloucester fisherman and policy director for the Northeast Seafood Coalition, an advocacy group for the fishing industry.

“What happens when you do everything right and they still shut you down?”

Cod also swim alongside other fish, which means the proposed reductions would impact other industry staples such as flounder and haddock, even though those populations are considered to be far healthier.

While larger trawlers capable of traveling to more distant fishing grounds are expected to survive, the reductions could cost most of region’s smaller crews their jobs.

“We basically have a balloon payment now to make up for those years (of overfishing),” said Steven Cadrin, a scientist at the University of Massachusetts-Dartmouth, who worked on the assessment.

Cadrin and others say a year isn’t enough time to make up the difference and meet federal mandates, which he says could signal an end to much of the region’s small-boat fleet.

Cod fish are hauled aboard a fishing trawler in the Gulf of Maine.

Environmentalists say depleted stocks show the region needs time to recover.

“The coastal fishermen are facing an impossible situation through no fault of their own,” said Peter Shelley, a lawyer with the Boston-based Conservation Law Foundation, an environmental advocacy group.

“But once those fisheries are gone, that’s it.”

Codfish aren’t about to become an endangered species, according to Sam Rauch, head of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s fisheries service. The coming restrictions are about protecting the overall size of the cod population, which has been at a steady but low level for decades, and complying with federal law.

Confronted with possible drops in domestic supply, industry analysts say U.S. cod consumers will likely look elsewhere, importing more from countries such as Canada and Norway.

“It will affect the local fresh market,” said Cadrin. “There’s a lot of frozen cod on the market from elsewhere.”

Aboard the Julie Ann II, a not-quite-paid-off fishing trawler named for Robillard’s wife, talk of cutbacks is a source of anxiety.

“If they cut half the quota, that’s my last day here,” said crew member Kevon Hughes, hauling back nets from the day’s catch — a mixture of cod, lobsters and flounder.

The sun rises aboard a fishing trawler in the Gulf of Maine.

“I’d have to leave.”

Hughes, his face pink from the biting cold of a winter wind at sea, says he’s tired of the uncertainty.

“I’m sick of everybody else running my life, my income,” he said. “It’s up to them. It has nothing to do with me.”

Fishermen say the cod report doesn’t actually reflect what they’ve seen out on the water. Surveys come from murky science, they say, that rely on catch records, government observers and random samplings at sea.

“Fish have tails. They move,” said Giacalone, emphasizing the difficulty of counting unseen fish in a region the size of Indiana that nearly spans the length of New England.

“The data they have is ‘best available,'” he said. “We’re going to destroy 400 years of fishing based on what’s ‘best available’?”

Cadrin, a former NOAA scientist, said the science is “not much different than a weather report” and considers the issue more of an “administrative crisis than an environmental one.”

But the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration says the work is based on three years of additional data, and includes better technologies as well as records of fish discarded by recreational agencies — something that wasn’t tallied in 2008.

“We just have a much more realistic picture of the stock,” said NOAA spokeswoman Teri Frady. “The really troubling thing here is the low number of young fish coming in.”

Other factors, she noted, like shifts in water temperature and natural predators, also likely contributed to the depletion of a once cod-heavy region.

“Cod fishing in New England is like cowboys out west,” said Frady, stressing New England’s historical ties to the bottom-dwelling ground fish. “They don’t call it Cape Cod for nothing.”

Her agency’s report has become a hot topic among interests groups and legislators in New Hampshire and Maine, though especially in Boston, where a wooden carving of a codfish still hangs from the House of Representatives.

Massachusetts ranks second, behind California, in the number of jobs supported by the fishing industry. And Gulf of Maine cod brought in nearly $16 million to the regional economy in 2010, before distribution sales were tallied.

“When I was a kid growing up, people would ask who your father went fishing with as a way of identifying who you are,” said Mike Parisi, 62, owner of Amanda Marie Fishing Charters in Gloucester.

Fishermen work on docks in Gloucester, Massachusetts.

“It’s been a way of life here.”

Recreational fishing on charter boats, like the one Parisi owns, now account for more than 30% of the region’s total catch.

The danger, industry advocates say, is a loss of market share.

“You can’t expect the fishery to come back in the same way after taking years off,” said Jackie Odell, executive director of the Northeast Seafood Coalition. “Your suppliers and consumers just go elsewhere. It takes years to develop those kinds of relationships.”

The issue garnered national attention last year when Senate lawmakers petitioned NOAA to reevaluate its findings.

“The most recent Gulf of Maine cod assessment threatens to further exacerbate a number of issues our fishermen already face, with potentially disastrous consequences,” Sen. John Kerry, D-Massachusetts, wrote in a letter, asking for a new assessment.

NOAA declined the request, citing time constraints that prevented it from conducting another report ahead of the 2012 fishing season.

“The only real solution is more fish,” said Frady of NOAA. “Unless we just decide to make fishing less efficient.”

Agency officials also point out that their assessment had been reviewed by other independent scientists and would likely yield similar results.

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Boat and sailing show opens March 2

MINI regatta by the Philippine Sailing Association

It began as a passion, a passion for boating and sailing, and from that passion was born a mission: To stage a premier exhibition that will gather manufacturers and enthusiasts in one venue for a weekend of shopping, exchanging ideas, sailing and festivities.

Today, the 4th Sea-Expo, the country’s only nautical lifestyle exposition, will hold its annual exhibit showcasing anything and everything that has to do with the water or the ocean, from March 2-4 at One Esplanade, SM Mall of Asia, Pasay City.

A showcase for national and international manufacturers of nautical lifestyle accessories, yachts, water sports equipment and boats, the 4th Sea-Expo is hoping to receive about 5,000 guests this year.

Around 20 big boats will be in the exhibit area, along with booths featuring everything from boat parts, navigation systems, paddle works, surf boats and dive gear to just about every imaginable summer gear there is. Aside from exhibitors from Australia, Hong Kong, and other international companies, this year will see the addition of a helicopter company.

“It sounds unusual but it actually makes sense to bring in a helicopter company into the exhibit. This is especially useful for resort owners who might need a luxurious transportation for their special guests,” said Bianca Jison, event manager of Sea-Expo.


Rising market

Jison noted that the growing number of international exhibitors only shows that the Philippine market is steadily rising as well. While it’s a very niche market aimed for the very rich—a boat will cost at least $1-1.5M—she said the market’s growth has been encouraging, especially with boating and sailing having become popular even among celebrities. Willie Revillame reportedly owns a few boats, and Manny Pacquiao is said to have recently purchased one.

“Some of the guests are boat-owners who might be looking into purchasing a second boat, some are resort owners, and some are really interested in the lifestyle itself,” she said.

This year’s main feature is the Lagoon 500, a 50-foot catamaran that is currently based in the country. The Lagoon 500 has already visited neighboring Asian countries.

FLOATING Dock by Tektwin Marketing, Inc.

There will also be services for repairs, seminars, yacht cruises (first-come, first-served basis), live bands playing jazz music to reggae, and a guest DJ who will spin retro and fresh music. The Philippine Sailing Association will once again stage a mini-regatta.

The Sea-Expo is chaired by boat-builder Angelo Olondriz. An entrance fee of P150/day for adult guest is required at the gate; free admission for children below 15 years old.


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Successful Boat Show

GOOD TURNOUT: Show Manager Jennifer Maricle and Brad Smith of Brad’s Boat Sales paused for a photograph in front of his display at this year’s show.

GTR Newspapers photo

The Tulsa Boat, Sport Travel Show was held recently. With 445,000 square feet of exhibit space, the show ranks as the nation’s fifth largest according to the Consumer Travel Agency.

The Marine Retailers Association of America ranks the Tulsa show in the top 10 in the nation for attendance. It is also the largest single and longest running event held in Tulsa, with the exception of the State Fair.

Updated 02-27-2012

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Cruise line: crippled ship to reach land Wednesday


NAIROBI, Kenya (AP) — A French fishing vessel on Tuesday began towing an Italian cruise ship drifting powerless in the Indian Ocean to a nearby Seychelles island, but was not expected to reach the tiny resort island until Wednesday, officials said.

Seychelles authorities said they are making arrangements to evacuate people to the island of Desroches and then to transfer the more than 1,000 passengers and crew members to the main Seychelles island of Mahe by plane and fast boats. Desroches is a small, exclusive coral-lined island that has seen such visitors as Prince William and Kate Middleton before the two married.

The Costa Allegra lost power Monday after a fire in its generator room only six weeks after one of its sister ships, the Costa Concordia, hit a reef and capsized off Italy. No one was injured in the fire Monday, but the blaze set the cruiseliner adrift at sea in a region where Somali pirates prey on ships.

Two tug boats continued to steam toward the stranded cruise ship on Tuesday but were not expected to reach it until the afternoon. The tugs will tow the Costa Allegra back to the Seychelles’ main port — Port Victoria — under escort by the coast guard and military.

The cruise ship company said that a helicopter took off from Seychelles’ main island on Tuesday and will take food, satellite phones and VHF radios to the ship. Guests have been asked to prepare their luggage for disembarkation.

Photos released by the Seychelles on Tuesday showed hundreds of people milling outside on the decks of the Costa Allegra. Taken by an Indian navy plane, the photos showed calm seas and an upright ship.

The Costa Allegra has 636 passengers and 413 crew members on board. The fire knocked out power to the ship’s engines as well as to its lights and air conditioning.

The power burnout came six weeks after the Costa Concordia capsized, killing 25 people and leaving seven missing and presumed dead. Both ships are operated by Costa Crociere SpA, which is owned by the Florida-based Carnival Corp.

However, company officials rushed to play down concerns.

The Costa Allegra is adrift “and being pushed by the current. It is stable and upright,” Giorgio Moretti, the director of nautical operations for Costa Crociere SpA, told reporters in a conference call late Monday from company headquarters in Genoa, Italy.

Costa Crociere said the Costa Allegra is not expected to arrive to Desroches island until Wednesday morning

“It’s a big ship and to tow it, to move it across the waters, is a heavy task,” said Seychelles presidential spokeswoman Srdjana Janosevic. She said that everything is calm on board the cruise ship and that no one is hurt.

Italian Coast Guard officials said emergency generators were keeping the ship’s control room illuminated and communications equipment such as radios running. Officials said the cruise liner was holding steady, despite 5-foot (1.5 meter) waves in the area and passengers were being kept in the ship’s big communal rooms, not in their cabins.

Moretti, a longtime Costa captain, said he expected the 636 passengers aboard would spend the night on outside decks. Among them were 212 Italian, 31 British and eight U.S. passengers, he said. Four of the passengers were children ages 3 or younger.

The Allegra, whose Italian name means “merry,” or “happy,” had left northern Madagascar, off Africa’s southeast coast, on Saturday and was cruising toward Port Victoria when the fire erupted. Costa said the Allegra had been due in Port Victoria on Tuesday.

The general region where the cruise ship was adrift — off the coast of Tanzania — has seen a rash of attacks by Somali pirates. In 2009, an Italian cruise ship with 1,500 people aboard fended off a pirate attack in the Indian Ocean far off the coast of Somalia.

Moretti said an armed nine-member Italian military team on anti-pirate duty was aboard the Allegra, but he insisted the maritime region where the ship was now “isn’t a high risk area for pirates.”

“If pirates attack, the armed guards on board will respond. But as far as I am aware, no pirates have been sighted in the area,” said Janosevic.

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SAILING | Elis shake off winter rust

With only one day of practice, the No. 4 Yale coed sailing team pulled off a tight team victory this weekend.

A three-pair team represented the Bulldogs at the two-day Bob Bavier Team Race, which marked the team race season opener for the team. Hosted by the College of Charleston on the Cooper River in South Carolina, the race saw the team sail to a 23–4 victory, edging past No. 9 Stanford’s record of 22–5 and No. 2 Charleston’s third-place record of 21–6.

In team racing, each of a school’s three boats face off against another school’s fleet of three boats. A team’s score is equal to the sum of the ranks of its three boats, and the team with the lowest score wins the round. Each school competes in a total of 27 rounds.

“This victory was a great place to start off this season,” sailing head coach Zachary Leonard ’89 said. “We’re still trying to shake the rust off, and we’ve got a lot of improvement to make, but we were pretty solid across the board.”

Leonard added that the weekend provided good sailing conditions for competition, despite the freezing weather.

By the end of the first day, the Bulldogs were in third place with an 11–4 tally, but went on to win all 12 races the next day. The tournament result came down to the last race against Stanford, in which crew member Genoa Warner ’12 said the Yale team narrowly beat the Cardinal. Warner added that team members did not even know the overall score until after the entire event.

Leonard attributed the team’s victory to the experience of the three skippers, Joseph Morris ’12, captain Cameron Cullman ’13 and Chris Segerblom ’14.

While colder weather in the Northeast meant that the team only had one full day of practice before the event — compared to nearly a month for some of the Bulldogs’ western and southern rivals — the team had weekly meetings during the winter offseason to discuss team race strategy.

Heather May ’13, who crewed for the Bulldogs, said the team has not changed its racing strategies over the years, but focused on how they would implementing them during the meetings. She added that she was pleased by how the team performed, and at this point the team’s technique just needs fine-tuning.

The Bulldogs will train for the first week of spring break in Florida after competing next weekend at the Eckerd Intersectional in St. Petersburg, Fla.

Leonard said the team’s training program in Florida will depend upon the weather conditions there.

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Cincinnati water sports fan creates boating games

Cincinnati entrepreneur Al Buchweitz has spent his life in product and service development and sales. His latest endeavor is a personal, and fun, one, a line of games designed for family play in the water.

Buchweitz’s new company, BoatFun Sports, targets casual boaters looking for activities while they’re anchored and lounging in the water. That’s something Buchweitz, a longtime boater, and his family enjoyed, playing games to pass the time.

“We would water ski and tube and wake board, then go party on the boat. We’d just hang out in the water, but were an active bunch,” he says. They’d throw tennis balls, and even played a modified version of water-bound baseball where batters hit from the boat, and took a quick jump in the water to round two bases.

“We would have a lot of fun, and I realized that this idea of having fun in the water is pretty common,” especially with rising gas prices, he says. “People all over the country tie boats together and hang out in the water.”

His first product, boat basketball, launches this spring. A plastic hoop attaches to the side or back of the boat or a dock. Strap on a life jacket, and users can play hoops. It’s a simple idea, but one Buchweitz hopes is the first of many that BoatFun Sports will add to the market.

“It’s the first of its kind, and we’ve filed provisional patents (for its design),” Buchweitz says. The product is set for sale directly to consumers through the web in April. In the meantime, Buchweitz has been attending boat shows across the country, pitching the product.

“I’ve been making contacts and getting market feedback and it’s been awesome. The number of people that park boats is huge, and they really love the idea of having something for their families to do,” he says.

After this spring, Buchweitz wants to release more products, but he declined to say what’s up next.

“But they’re pretty common sense ideas if you just think about it,” he says.

BoatFun Sports isn’t his first foray into entrepreneurship. He also invented the STAX 80, a line of desktop computer support stands and trays. Before starting his current, self-funded business, Buchweitz held several positions at LexisNexis and was an associate pastor at Vineyard Community Church.

By Feoshia Henderson
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Fisherman’s battle to revive tsunami-devastated industry

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Yoshimasa Koizumi looks at his fishing equipment on Katsurashima Island. He has never used it, having moved to the island one day before last year’s deadly tsunami.

Clearing and rebuilding efforts continue on Katsurashima Island off the coast of Miyagi prefecture.

Before the tsunami hit Katsurashima locals say the tide went out over 200 meters.

Huge piles of household items from demolished homes litter the beach area before being disposed of.

Mr Keikichi, a lifelong resident of the Urato Islands whose house was not destroyed by the tsunami, believes fishing as a livelihood is dead on the islands.

Standing in front of where his home used to be, Yoshimasa Koizumi says he has created a new form of cooperative he hopes will revive fishing and create a sustainable industry for the islanders.

Only one working oyster processing factory is left on the Urato Islands.

A worker at the oyster processing plant on Katsurashima says that more fishermen are having to pool resources.

A tree on the coast of Katsurashima bent by the force of the tsunami.










Katsurashima, Japan (CNN) — The dock on Katsurashima Island off the coast of Japan’s Miyagi prefecture has sunk by half a meter because of last year’s Great East Japan earthquake.

Walking along the cracked and sandbagged quayside, oyster farmer Yoshimasa Koizumi spies his fishing gear that has been lying untouched for over a year.

In fact the 38-year-old has never used it to fish with; he moved from Tokyo to Katsurashima, part of the Urato Islands, just one day before the devastating tsunami struck.

Koizumi was safe on a bridge when the huge black wall of water swept almost all before it, destroying his new fishing boat and making the house he had spent only one night in uninhabitable.

He’s one of thousands whose homes and livelihoods were ruined. The Japanese government has estimated that around 90% of fishing boats from Iwate , Miyagi and Fukushima prefectures were destroyed by the tsunami.

“In a way, (the tsunami) has made it easier to fit into the community,” he said, mentioning how lifelong residents of the islands are often quite insular. “A positive thing was that it made everyone come together. I was an outsider and many were kind to me.”

Tsunami debris headed for U.S.

Japanese pray hard for prosperous 2012

The quiet life Koizumi hoped for after quitting a job at his father’s lumber company in Tokyo is still to be realized, and some residents of Katsurashima don’t think fishing, a way of life for all on the Urato Islands and livelihood for most of the communities along the Northeast coast of Japan, is possible anymore.

“There’s not much future for fishing here,” said 75-year-old former fisherman Mr. Keikichi, a lifelong resident of Katsurashima.

However Koizumi sees things differently.

Even though only one oyster processing factory is still functioning and a third of fishermen of the Urato Islands remain, he is determined to revive his new community and create a sustainable fishing industry.

Just a month after the tsunami, Koizumi set up “Uminoko Saisei” (Children of the Sea), a cooperative project for fishermen from the Urato Islands and outside “stakeholders.” The stakeholders’ donations to help the area’s recovery will eventually be repaid with fishermen’s produce like oysters and seaweed.

Koizumi used Twitter and Facebook to promote the project, and since April 2011 over 14,000 people from across the world have sent donations.

“I didn’t want (fishermen on the islands) to quit,” he said. “I wasn’t a fisherman before. It’s very hard to be a fisherman. If I could succeed, it could help those who quit to come back.”

But Koizumi’s plan hasn’t been without some controversy. Some of his ideas have been hard for some of the established fishermen and the local Fisherman’s Guild to digest.

“At first many local fishermen didn’t have a clue what I was doing, like planning some innovative ideas and selling to new markets. It has taken time to convince them.

“Before, let’s just say that communication didn’t happen often between islanders,” he said, explaining that the Fisherman’s Guild had a tight hold on how fishing was regulated and before the tsunami most fishermen operated as individuals.

More than half of Miyagi Prefecture’s fishermen are over 50, but some of the younger residents of the Urato Islands are happy to follow Koizumi’s lead. Mr. Yoshinori, who returned to the area from Yokohama to help his father’s fishing business on nearby Nonoshima Island, says he’s open to Koizumi’s plans, but he currently has to work in construction as well fishing to make a living.

The tsunami has actually made this a good year for the bay’s oyster beds, as it brought in nutrients from the deep ocean, although this year’s harvest will still be half what was produced before the tsunami.

Forecasts are for oyster and seaweed production to return to pre-tsunami levels by 2014, but if the bay’s sea life is sure to recover, the life for those ashore is much less certain.

Even Koizumi’s project has changed from what he first thought it would be.

While support from individuals and NGOs has been forthcoming, the Children of the Sea Foundation was created to help manage the project and Japanese medical company Tokibo became a partner.

Executives from the company now sit on the board, along with Koizumi and members from the Urato Islands Fisherman’s Guild. It’s part of a wider phenomenon of companies in Japan partnering or helping previously independent communities or cooperatives affected by the earthquake.

“Many companies want to help the communities recover, but after two years when the local economy gets better, who knows what may happen,” said Professor Masahiro Yamao of Hiroshima University, who has studied the economics of post-tsunami recovery plans. “Some companies may want more and more return for their investment,” he added.

“But you can’t say what is right or wrong for these communities, they are all quite different, some more isolated than others, some more damaged than others. Many traditional communities will be okay without companies, so there is no one solution.”

The simple life of a fisherman still eludes Koizumi, administering the Foundation now takes nearly all of his time.

“Now there are lots of different opinions, and it makes it much more difficult,” he said.

“I just want to be able to prepare my own boat and fish.”

Unfortunately that day still seems a long way off.

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Renaissance Marine reports sales jump at Oregon show

Renaissance Marine reports sales jump at Oregon show

Posted on 27 February 2012

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Renaissance Marine Group said its “aggressive deployment of new models” has helped the boatbuilder set sales records.

Renaissance launched three new models, one each in its three prominent lines — Duckworth, Weldcraft and Northwest Boats.

Sales of the Duckworth brand set an all-time record at its first major boat show of the year in Portland, Ore. Total Duckworth unit sales were up more than 600 percent from the prior year. The new 18-foot Advantage led the pack, but other Duckworth models, such as the 26-foot Offshore and Navigator models, also had renewed interest and sales, the company said.

“Certainly, cost is a driving factor, but it’s more than that,” national sales manager Bruce Larson said in a statement. “We worked extensively with our dealers and marketing team to design a model the market truly needed — taller sides, a wider beam and a flexible open layout that buyers could easily afford. That was the goal, and the end result was unprecedented retail pull-through.”

Production of all three new models, the Duckworth 18-foot Advantage, the Weldcraft 18-foot Angler and the Northwest 187 Compass, have the manufacturing facility operating at full strength, the company said.

Renaissance, which is based in Clarkston, Wash., distributes its three brands though a network of more than 50 dealers across the West and Canada.

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