Archive for » October 16th, 2012«

Amphibious vehicle to go on sale soon in US

By DEE-ANN DURBIN
AP Auto Writer

DETROIT (AP) – Amphibious vehicles could soon be zooming out of James Bond’s garage – or pond – and into yours.

The Quadski – a one-person all-terrain vehicle that doubles as a personal watercraft – is being billed by its makers as the first high-speed, commercially available amphibious vehicle. It’s scheduled to go on sale in the U.S. by the end of this year for around $40,000. Michigan-based Gibbs Sports Amphibians Inc. hopes to sell the vehicle worldwide by 2014.

With its all-terrain tires and four-cylinder, BMW-supplied engine, the Quadski can drive up to 45 miles per hour on land. To take it into the water, the driver presses a button. In five seconds, the four wheels fold up and tuck into the sides. The Quadski can go a brisk 45 miles per hour in the water before a press of the button brings the wheels out again.

“You just drive straight into the water, quite fast, and keep on going. It’s sort of magic,” the founder of Gibbs Sports Amphibians, Alan Gibbs, told The Associated Press in a recent interview.

History is littered with attempts to make fast, long-lasting amphibious cars, from the campy German Amphicar of the early 1960s to current companies that rework sports cars by hand for $200,000 or more. But Gibbs, a former diplomat and entrepreneur from New Zealand, says the Quadski is the first land vehicle for sale that can go more than 10 mph in water. A lightweight, fiberglass hull and front wheels that rise mechanically when the vehicle hits the water are among the tricks the Quadski uses.

Gibbs, who has made everything from bras to television sets over a long career in New Zealand and the U.K., launched Gibbs Sports Amphibians 16 years ago after building his own amphibious car and wondering if he could make it on a larger scale. Since then, the company has spent $200 million, built nine prototypes and amassed more than 300 patents.

“It seems so simple, but it’s really difficult,” Gibbs said.

The Quadski isn’t the Gibbs’ first vehicle. That honor belongs to the three-seat Aquada, which debuted in 2003 and goes 100 mph on land and 30 mph in the water. Virgin Group CEO Richard Branson used an Aquada in 2004 when he set an amphibious vehicle speed record crossing the English Channel.

But the Aquada never went on sale. First its engine supplier, Rover, went out of business. Then U.S. safety regulators wouldn’t approve it for street use because of several safety issues. The government insisted on air bags, for example, even though Gibbs argued that they might deploy every time the Aquada hit a large wave.

Gibbs Sports Amphibians hopes to turn things around with the Quadski, which has fewer safety requirements because it’s an ATV. The company’s target customers are outdoor sportsmen as well as first responders. The Quadski will come in five colors and will be available at power sports dealers, concentrated in Florida, Texas, the New York to Boston corridor and the Great Lakes region.

Ryan Brown, a salesman at Carter Powersports in Las Vegas, has never heard of another vehicle like the Quadski and thinks it’s a great concept. But he’s not sure customers will pay $40,000 for one when a standard ATV costs between $4,400 and $10,000.

“These are toys people don’t have a lot of extra money for right now,” he said. “People are having a hard enough time getting financed on a $5,000 motorcycle.”

The Quadski will be made at the company’s Auburn Hills, Mich., factory, a former Daewoo Group parts plant. Gibbs Chairman and CEO Neil Jenkins said the company now has 100 employees at the plant. It plans to produce 20 Quadskis per day with 150 employees when the plant is in full operation. The company expects to sell around 1,000 Quadskis in the first year, but Gibbs says he won’t be disappointed if the company doesn’t meet its sales targets.

“We’ll respond to how the market develops,” he said. “We wouldn’t be doing it without being very confident people will love them.”

Gibbs said the company may return to the Aquada someday and try to make it street legal for U.S. buyers. In the meantime it’s planning eight personal sports vehicles based on the Quadski, including some with more seating and SUV-like proportions.

The company is also preparing to introduce the Phibian, a 30-foot long, 6.5-ton model, and the Humdinga, a 22-foot, 3.5-ton model, which are both intended for the military and first responders, Gibbs said. The company is looking for partners to produce those vehicles.

Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


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More to buying a boat than meets the eye

Thinking about buying a new boat or slipping into something pre-owned?

Then the Fort Lauderdale International Boat Show may just have what you’re looking for. One thing’s certain there will be a lot of marine eye candy on display.

But before you get carried away with visions of sailing off in your dream boat, you should do some homework before heading to the show.

While boat shows are good for comparison shopping given the number of boats and motors in one place, advance research will help simplify the buying experience, boating industry specialists say.

“Boat show prices can really good, especially with older inventory,” said Caroline Ajootian, assistant vice president, consumer affairs for BoatUS, a national association representing boat owners since 1966.

The good news is that if you’re in the market for a boat, financing is available.

“Money is readily available if people qualify,” said Bob Allen, office manager at Trident Funding Corp. in Fort Lauderdale. “More lending programs are available now than they ever were.”

Interest rates are also down a bit over last year, “which is a good thing,” Allen added.

This year, the hottest selling boat category in South Florida is the open fisherman, with three or four outboards, which is used for fishing and diving, said Scott Stamper, senior vice president Atlass Insurance Group in Fort Lauderdale. “These boats are fast and fuel-efficient.”

Boat sales are rebounding in the lagging economy, and that bodes well for the many boat sellers and manufacturers exhibiting at the 53rd Fort Lauderdale boat show, Oct. 25-29.

For the 12 months ending in September, sales of new boats in South Florida rose 5.5 percent to 3,854 units compared with 3,653 in the prior-year period, according to Info-Link Technologies Inc., a Miami-based marine industry tracker.

“The boat market appears to be trending upward,” Stamper said. “Financing has loosened up…interest rates are low if you have a good credit score.”

Some lending specialists say a 680 credit score or higher, is realistic to obtain a boat loan today.

Consider these tips:

Do advance research

Check several dealer websites to get an idea of the fair market value of the boats of interest, which will better enable you to size up boats at the show.

While show prices can be attractive, it’s probably a good idea to buy from a local dealer that provides warranty service, boat industry specialists say. It can be costly if you have to trailer a boat out-of-state for servicing.

Pre-qualify for loan

“The [boat] brokers like it. It means they’re serious buyers,” said Allen of Trident, an exhibitor who already has several pre-qualified prospective buyers coming to this year’s show. “More and more people want it [pre-qualification] so they can get the money if they find their dream boat.”

Calculate full costs of boat ownership


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18 countries line up for the 33rd edition of the RMSR

The 33rd edition of the Rolex Middle Sea Race 2012  will kick off next Saturday, October 20 with the roaring of the start canon across the Grand Harbour at 11:00h, with some of the boats taking up to 5 days to complete the course.

Dating back from 1968, the RMSR covers a course distance of 606 nautical miles in a nonstop start-finish sprint that takes the boats through the Messina Strait, past Stromboli, around Favigniana, by Lampedusa before crossing the archipelago between Malta and Gozo to the finish line opposite the Royal Malta Yacht Club at ta’ Xbiex. 

The RMSR has earned its place as a highly rated offshore classic, often mentioned in the same breath as the Rolex Fastnet, The Rolex Sydney – Hobart and Newport-Bermuda as a “must do” race. The race is a challenge to skippers and crews who have to battle through often changeable and demanding conditions.

A record entry is expected to start this year’s race and around 1000 sailors hailing from 18 different countries will be taking part in this year’s edition.

The largest contingent is from Italy with 29 boats, with the next big group of 13 boats coming, from Russia followed closely by 12 UK boats. German is participating with seven boats together with five Austrian boats, four from Croatia, three Czechs, two Irish and a single representation from France, Monaco, South Africa, Switzerland, Greece, Gibraltar, Ukraine and Spain. 9 local sailing boats, including last year’s overall winner Artie‐RTFX, have already secured their registration.

Malta’s Arthur Podesta has taken part in every edition held since the first start in 1968 and will be making the start line on board Elusive II.

With a 30 meters waterline, Slovenian Super Maxi Esimit Europa 2 is the largest yacht taking part in this years edition and stands as a favourite for line honours, whilst  Russian entry Visconte skippered by Artem Brum  is one of the smallest competitors at 9.7 metres. Having just sailed 3000 miles to make it to the start line, Barry Hurley’s Irish entry Dinah is one of 7 yachts being raced Double Handed.

Last year’s line honours went to Esimit Europa 2 skippered by Igor Simcic, whilst the 2011 overall winner was Artie‐RTFX co‐skippered by Lee Satariano Christian Ripard. In 2007 George David on board Rambler (ex Alfa Romeo) managed a new course record of 47 hours 55 minutes and 3 seconds which remains unbeaten.

The race can be followed online through the boat’s tracking sytem on: www.rolexmiddlesearace.com/tracker/#pt


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18 countries line up for the 33rd edition of the RMSR

The 33rd edition of the Rolex Middle Sea Race 2012  will kick off next Saturday, October 20 with the roaring of the start canon across the Grand Harbour at 11:00h, with some of the boats taking up to 5 days to complete the course.

Dating back from 1968, the RMSR covers a course distance of 606 nautical miles in a nonstop start-finish sprint that takes the boats through the Messina Strait, past Stromboli, around Favigniana, by Lampedusa before crossing the archipelago between Malta and Gozo to the finish line opposite the Royal Malta Yacht Club at ta’ Xbiex. 

The RMSR has earned its place as a highly rated offshore classic, often mentioned in the same breath as the Rolex Fastnet, The Rolex Sydney – Hobart and Newport-Bermuda as a “must do” race. The race is a challenge to skippers and crews who have to battle through often changeable and demanding conditions.

A record entry is expected to start this year’s race and around 1000 sailors hailing from 18 different countries will be taking part in this year’s edition.

The largest contingent is from Italy with 29 boats, with the next big group of 13 boats coming, from Russia followed closely by 12 UK boats. German is participating with seven boats together with five Austrian boats, four from Croatia, three Czechs, two Irish and a single representation from France, Monaco, South Africa, Switzerland, Greece, Gibraltar, Ukraine and Spain. 9 local sailing boats, including last year’s overall winner Artie‐RTFX, have already secured their registration.

Malta’s Arthur Podesta has taken part in every edition held since the first start in 1968 and will be making the start line on board Elusive II.

With a 30 meters waterline, Slovenian Super Maxi Esimit Europa 2 is the largest yacht taking part in this years edition and stands as a favourite for line honours, whilst  Russian entry Visconte skippered by Artem Brum  is one of the smallest competitors at 9.7 metres. Having just sailed 3000 miles to make it to the start line, Barry Hurley’s Irish entry Dinah is one of 7 yachts being raced Double Handed.

Last year’s line honours went to Esimit Europa 2 skippered by Igor Simcic, whilst the 2011 overall winner was Artie‐RTFX co‐skippered by Lee Satariano Christian Ripard. In 2007 George David on board Rambler (ex Alfa Romeo) managed a new course record of 47 hours 55 minutes and 3 seconds which remains unbeaten.

The race can be followed online through the boat’s tracking sytem on: www.rolexmiddlesearace.com/tracker/#pt


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