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Recreational boating is $121 billion economic driver for US

National Marine Manufacturers Association
June 11, 2013
Filed under News

New data show 88 million Americans expected to take to U.S. waterways this summer

CHICAGO – June 11, 2013 – The National Marine Manufacturers Association (NMMA), today announced that recreational boating in the U.S. has an annual economic value of $121 billion. The industry’s rising tide supports 964,000 American jobs and 34,833 businesses, generates $40 billion in annual labor income and drives $83 billion in annual spending.

The NMMA, on behalf of the U.S. boating industry, released these findings today as part of its annual U.S. Recreational Boating Statistical Abstract, a collection of data and analysis on the state of the U.S. recreational boating industry. Additional data highlights include:

New Boat Sales

  • Retail sales of new power and sailboats increased 10.7 percent in 2012 to 163,245, demonstrating a post-recession recovery for the industry.
  • New powerboat sales increased 10 percent to 157,300 in 2012.
  • New sailboat sales increased 29.2 percent to 5,945 in 2012.

Trends

  • Small fiberglass and aluminum outboard boats 26 feet or less in size, continued their upward climb with an 11.3 percent increase in the number of new boats sold. Outboard boats are the most popular type of new powerboat sold, making up approximately 82 percent of the market.
  • Ski and wakeboard boats are seeing healthy growth with an increase of 13.4 percent new boats sold in 2012.
  • Jet boats, which are small fiberglass boats less than 26 feet in length, are a growing category. Of the 157,300 new powerboats sold in 2012, 4,500 were jet boats. New jet boat sales increased 36.4% in 2012.

What’s Ahead

Sales of new powerboats have remained steady during the first half of 2013 and continued growth is expected with the summer boating season. NMMA anticipates sales of new powerboats to grow five percent in 2013.

“Summer is a peak selling season for recreational boats, accessories and services throughout the U.S. as people look for ways to disconnect from the daily grind and enjoy fun times on the water, “ said Thom Dammrich, NMMA president. “New boat sales have historically been a barometer for the U.S. economy and the steady sales increases we’re seeing is being reinforced by the slow uptick in consumer confidence, housing and spending. As economic growth continues, we anticipate sustained steady growth through the remainder of 2013.”

Boating Participation

Of the estimated 232.3 million adults in the U.S. in 2012, 37.8 percent, or 88 million, participated in recreational boating at least once during the year. This is a six percent increase from 2011 and the largest number of U.S. adults participating in boating since NMMA began collecting the data in 1990. Recreational boating participation has steadily increased since 2006.

Helping People Discover Boating

Growing participation is a priority for the recreational boating industry as it drives new boat sales. Boat manufacturers, dealers, marinas, and other marine organizations joined together to form Discover Boating, a consumer program to grow participation and create a positive boating experience.  The North American effort provides resources to help those interested in boating get started and promotes the fun of the boating lifestyle through a national marketing campaign.

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Sailing

The announcement by America’s Cup officials came late Monday in the wake of last week’s decision by Sweden’s Artemis Racing to remain in the tournament following a fatal accident last month, even though its boat and crew won’t be ready to compete in the initial rounds.

Money for tickets for the opening days of the Louis Vuitton Cup, which is scheduled to start in early July, will be returned, as will seat payments for the subsequent semifinals, organizers said in a press release.

Round robin races are scheduled to begin on July 7. Artemis and two other teams are eager to win the cup from defender Oracle Team USA, backed by software billionaire and Oracle Corp co-founder Larry Ellison.

Artemis has said it might not be able to race until the end of July after losing one of its two boats in an accident that killed Olympic gold medalist Andrew Simpson. Simpson was trapped underwater after the Artemis’ 72-foot high-tech catamaran capsized and broke apart in a training run.

“This is the right thing to do for our fans who may be affected in the early rounds, before the racing hits full stride,” America’s Cup CEO Stephen Barclay said in a statement.

Organizers have adopted improved safety measures in the aftermath of the accident. They also said fewer races for the Louis Vuitton Cup, the winner of which challenges defender Oracle, would allow the teams, including Italy’s Luna Rossa Challenge and Emirates Team New Zealand, more time for boat maintenance.


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Recreational Boating is $121 Billion Economic Driver

The National Marine Manufacturers Association (NMMA) today announced that recreational boating in the U.S. has an annual economic value of $121 billion. The industry’s rising tide supports 964,000 American jobs and 34,833 businesses, generates $40 billion in annual labor income and drives $83 billion in annual spending.

The NMMA, on behalf of the U.S. boating industry, released these findings today as part of its annual U.S. Recreational Boating Statistical Abstract, a collection of data and analysis on the state of the U.S. recreational boating industry. Additional datahighlights include:

New Boat Sales
· Retail sales of new power and sailboats increased 10.7 percent in 2012 to 163,245, demonstrating a post-recession recovery for the industry.
· New powerboat sales increased 10 percent to 157,300 in 2012.

Trends
· Small fiberglass and aluminum outboard boats 26 feet or less in size, continued their upward climb with an 11.3 percent increase in the number of new boats sold. Outboard boats are the most popular type of new powerboat sold, making up approximately 82 percent of the market.
· Ski and wakeboard boats are seeing healthy growth with an increase of 13.4 percent new boats sold in 2012.
· Jet boats, which are small fiberglass boats less than 26 feet in length, are a growing category. Of the 157,300 new powerboats sold in 2012, 4,500 were jet boats. New jet boat sales increased 36.4% in 2012.

What’s Ahead
Sales of new powerboats have remained steady during the first half of 2013 and continued growth is expected with the summer boating season. NMMA anticipates sales of new powerboats to grow five percent in 2013.

“Summer is a peak selling season for recreational boats, accessories and services throughout the U.S. as people look for ways to disconnect from the daily grind and enjoy fun times on the water, ” said Thom Dammrich, NMMA president. “New boat sales have historically been a barometer for the U.S. economy and the steady sales increases we’re seeing is being reinforced by the slow uptick in consumer confidence, housing and spending. As economic growth continues, we anticipate sustained steady growth through the remainder of 2013.”

Boating Participation
Of the estimated 232.3 million adults in the U.S. in 2012, 37.8 percent, or 88 million, participated in recreational boating at least once during the year. This is a six percent increase from 2011 and the largest number of U.S. adults participating in boating since NMMA began collecting the data in 1990. Recreational boating participation has steadily increased since 2006.

Helping People Discover Boating
Growing participation is a priority for the recreational boating industry as it drives new boat sales. Boat manufacturers, dealers, marinas, and other marine organizations joined together to form Discover Boating, a consumer program to grow participation and create a positive boating experience. The North American effort provides resources to help those interested in boating get started and promotes the fun of the boating lifestyle through a national marketing campaign.

NMMA is the leading association representing the recreational boating industry in North America. NMMA member companies produce more than 80 percent of the boats, engines, trailers, accessories and gear used by boaters and anglers throughout the U.S. and Canada. The association is dedicated to industry growth through programs in public policy advocacy, market statistics and research, product quality assurance and promotion of the boating lifestyle. For more information, visit NMMA.org.


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Purdy: America’s Cup run-up hasn’t been smooth sailing

SAN JOSE — There’s an old nautical joke. It goes this way: The two happiest days for any sailboat owner are the day he buys the boat … and the day he sells the boat.

At the moment, San Francisco probably feels the same way about this summer’s America’s Cup on the bay. The city’s two happiest sailing memories might be the day it agreed to host the regatta … and the day it mercifully is over.

Last month, Larry Ellison was buttonholed at a party by this newspaper’s intrepid yachting reporter, Julia Prodis Sulek. She asked if he planned to personally compete on the boat he’s sponsoring as the America’s Cup defending champion.

Ellison, the 68-year-old chief executive of Oracle software, said he wasn’t ruling out any crew position for himself but probably needed to get in better physical shape.

Know what? There should be no option. Ellison should be forced to man his boat at all times, so that he absorbs the full impact of the salty-spray mess he has spawned.

It’s staggering to ponder how much air already has leaked out of the America’s Cup hype balloon. According to the original advertising, this was supposed to be the most glorious series of sailboat races ever witnessed on any body of water in any galaxy.

Now? Thanks to grave miscalculations on the part of uber-rich-guy Ellison and his organizing team for the event, the spectators who expected to show up along the San Francisco waterfront in July for 18 days of

sailing competition may see as few as five days of actual racing.

And that’s only if none of the remaining three or four boats capsize and fall apart, as happened last month to the Artemis craft from Sweden, resulting in the death of one crew member.

Makes you wonder: By the time we slog through August to reach the actual America’s Cup finals in September, will there even be two boats left? And will anyone care?

Ellison’s original idea might have been well intended. After he won the 2010 America’s Cup in Spain, rules permitted him to control the next title defense. Ellison wanted to create the most spectacular boat race ever, drawing new fans to the sport. Thus, he stipulated that the 2013 Cup would be contested by mammoth 72-foot long catamarans that can skim and teeter across the water (very dangerously, as it turns out) at up to 50 mph.

Then, Ellison and his people persuaded San Francisco officials to ante up $22 million for infrastructure and security, plus construction of bayside viewing areas. Private fundraising was supposed to repay the city. Media events were held to tout the big show. Tickets went on sale for the waterfront grandstands.

It was all going so well until the promises began to disintegrate.

Supposedly, there were going to be a dozen or more boats involved in the regatta, from countries far and wide. They would bring support crews and fans, spending barrels of money locally.

Instead, because the whiz-bang boats selected by Ellison require a $100 million commitment to build and sail, just three boats emerged to compete against his Oracle team. Those three boats were temporarily reduced to two when the Artemis boat capsized in practice.

Supposedly, there was to be 18 days of round-robin racing in July between the three challenger boats, building enthusiasm for the elimination races in August.

Instead, the Swedish team will not be required to participate in the round-robin races until it is ready. And since six of the first eight round-robin races were scheduled to involve Sweden, those six events will become no race at all. Monday, organizers offered refunds to ticket holders for all of the July competition.

Supposedly, the America’s Cup boosters would have no trouble finding donors and defray the $22 million in event expenses.

Instead, the group reportedly is running way short of its fundraising goals, and San Francisco’s politicos are getting nervous.

Supposedly, all of the racing in July and August was going to generate a sailing fervor among casual local sports fans that reaches a climax when the America’s Cup finals begin Sept. 7, with Ellison’s boat poised to hold off his foreign rivals.

Instead, you get the feeling that if the summer is a flop, there won’t be much passion for anything that happens in September — when the NFL schedule and baseball pennant races will begin sapping away casual fans, anyway.

Ellison’s big boat race already has been written off by some. Jonathan Mahler, a columnist for the online Bloomberg View, last week labeled Ellison’s pet project “a disruptive, innovative, colossal failure.”

We won’t be so conclusively nasty here — yet. But so far, the 2013 America’s Cup is a bad sailing joke. And no one is laughing. Ride the boat, Larry. You built it.

Contact Mark Purdy at mpurdy@mercurynews.com. Follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/MercPurdy.


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Behind the Captain of Sun-Powered Boat MS Turanor



PlanetSolar
Capt. Gérard d’Aboville, a veteran seaman, had to learn how to steer his boat, the solar-powered MS Tûranor, in direct sunlight as much as possible.

By Marta Falconi

After three decades sailing boats, Capt. Gérard d’Aboville considers himself an experienced seaman.

The French-born sailor, who solo-rowed across both the Atlantic and Pacific oceans, is used to keeping on top of currents and winds. But this year, Capt. d’Aboville added a new skill to his nautical tool chest: keeping his boat, the solar-powered MS Tûranor, in direct sunlight.

“I receive charts of sunny patches on the ocean,” Capt. d’Aboville said from the deck of the Tûranor, which is covered in more than 5,000-square-feet of solar panels. “Then I use them to pick the best route.”

The Swiss boat left Miami on Sunday for a journey up the East Coast this week, as part of a scientific voyage that will take it across the Atlantic Ocean. (Read WSJ’s story here as part of the weekly “Next In Tech” feature series.)

Capt. d’Aboville, 67, is no stranger to challenges.

In 1980, he set out in a rowboat by himself from Cape Cod, Mass. Seventy-one days later he arrived at his destination 3,160 miles away: Brest, France.

Eleven years later, Capt. d’Aboville decided he wanted to get sea-soaked again. So he rowed from Japan to Oregon, battling storms and swells, a journey that took 134 days.

He’s also taken part in a race on the Niger River.

Today, the captain’s concerns are mostly meteorological. The batteries on the Tûranor can power the boat for up to 72 hours before they need to be recharged, something only the sun can do.

“If you have bad weather, all you can do is sit it out, and wait for the clouds to move away,” he said. “It’s a new dimension of sailing.”


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Rowing, sailing groups offer little money for boating center, unhappy with plans

In 2007, the Town of Hilton Head Island offered boating and rowing enthusiasts this proposition: Come up with $500,000 in private donations, and the town would kick in $1 million more for a sailing and rowing facility.

Members of the Carolina Sailing Center, the Palmetto Rowing Club and the South Carolina Yacht Club — three groups pushing for the proposed center on Skull Creek — vowed to meet that challenge.

Over time, however, the fundraising goal has dropped.

By 2010, the boating groups were promising only $356,600.

And now, Town Council is poised to spend $950,000, with no significant financial contribution from the private sector, for a community park that would offer boaters access to the creek.

The nonprofit group organized to serve as the private half of the public-private partnership — the Hilton Head Island Community Rowing and Sailing Center — has just $18,000 set aside for the center’s facilities and operations, according to Kirk Glenn, the group’s treasurer, and John Rumsey, its chairman.

Leaders of the nonprofit group acknowledge they’ve struggled to raise money.

The sailing and rowing community is stocked with seasoned boaters, but “we just don’t know that much about fundraising,” Glenn said.

Rumsey blamed the town for the fundraising problems.

“We haven’t pressed too much for donations because the town has been dragging this on for so long,” he said. He believes fundraising would be easier if a basic center could be built, showing something tangible to potential donors who might then pitch in to make improvements.

DESIGN DISAGREEMENTS

Despite that disagreement, the project appears likely to proceed.

The town has spent $102,000 on design and environmental studies, $82,000 to remove abandoned boats and a dilapidated dock from the site off Squire Pope Road, and $5.8 million to buy the 7.75 acres the center will be built on. The town purchased the land in separate parcels between 2005 and 2011.

Town staff awaits permit approval from the state Department of Health and Environmental Control and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers before asking for construction bids, according to town public projects director Scott Liggett. He said town staff applied for the permits in winter and expects approval soon.

Most council members said during a planning workshop last week they were willing to spend $950,000 for the project as designed.

Mayor Drew Laughlin said that after years of devoting resources to the project, the town “ought to just do it” rather than prolong discussions.

“Once something has been thoroughly discussed, I like for it to be moved on,” he said.

Some boaters, though, say the park’s design is extravagant and doesn’t fit their needs.

For instance, a ramp leading to a floating section of the dock would be too steep at low tide for boaters to safely carry their vessels to the water, according to Rumsey.

Palmetto Rowing Club member and Hilton Head Island Crew coach Lou Strayer said during a Town Council budget workshop May 22 that permanent restrooms were an unnecessary cost. Portable toilets would suffice, he said.

Other features of the center include a 1,400-square-foot picnic pavilion, fenced boat storage, a fire pit and parking.

Strayer and Rumsey say they wanted a modest facility initially, one where boaters could store and launch their vessels. After it was built, they say, they could attract public interest and raise more money to pay for other features.

But the town would not allow some of the features the group wanted, including a tractor-trailer cargo unit to store boats, and a dock that would rest on the marsh at low tide, Strayer and Rumsey said.

The problem, according to Liggett, was that neither feature would meet town design codes or DHEC requirements.

Laughlin said he stopped thinking about the project as simply a boating center after the group’s financial promises fell short. Instead, he considers it a waterfront community park for the north end of the island.

“I would love to have a financial contribution from (the boating group), but what are they going to be able to do? I don’t know,” Laughlin said.

The rowing groups have purchased boats and equipment worth $38,000 in the past 30 months, according to Strayer. The boats and equipment would be kept at the center but would not be available for public use.

The Carolina Sailing Club purchased two 15-foot dinghies last year for $10,000. Rumsey said those boats could be stored at the center and would be available for rent to experienced sailors, even if they don’t belong to the club. The rowing and sailing nonprofit group might take over the boats’ insurance policies, but Rumsey said that hasn’t been decided yet. He also said the group plans to provide building materials, donated by Espy Lumber Co.

Plans call for the Hilton Head Island Recreation Association to manage programming at the center, with help from rowing and sailing clubs and coaches.

The town would pay $67,000 a year toward the center’s operational costs. The boating group would not contribute for such expenses, according to Rumsey.

CLASHING OVER COSTS

While some in the boating community chafe at the park’s scope, some on Town Council are no happier about its cost, which has increased by $250,000 since the project was approved in 2012.

Councilwoman Kim Likins said during a town budget workshop last month that she is tired of being asked to pay more and more for what had been proposed as a private-public partnership.

“I am still in favor of the sailing and rowing center, but I am not in favor of spending $950,000,” Likins said.

Town manager Riley said it’s not the first time private groups have fallen short in their financial promises to the town.

“We’ve had groups come to us before and ask to do something (in partnership and) they would only (fulfill) part of it, but nothing to this magnitude,” said Riley.

Rumsey said the town is to blame for the growing cost of the center.

“They took (the project) over, which meant that we didn’t have to raise as much money because they were doing it,” he said.

But Riley said the town only took over after boaters were unable to raise any money.

Finger-pointing aside, Riley said the town is ready to move forward on the project.

“At this point, I don’t know why I (care) about the history. We are where we are right now,” Riley said. “I think no matter how it shakes out, it will be a nice community facility.”

Follow reporter Brian Heffernan at twitter.com/IPBG_Brian

Related content:

Council, sailors, islanders agree on boating center, Feb. 22, 2007

Hilton Head sailing, rowing center too expensive, council says, May 24, 2013


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