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Weather took its toll on 1Q boat sales

Weather took its toll on 1Q boat sales

Posted on 14 June 2013


A nearly complete picture of first-quarter recreational boat sales has come into view and the results are no better than they previously appeared to be.

With 47 states reporting, Statistical Surveys said today that sales in the industry’s main powerboat segments fell 4.4 percent for the quarter to 22,456, compared with the same period in 2012, and they were 8 percent lower industrywide at 31,944.

The report covered all states except Maine, Illinois and Hawaii, or 96 percent of the national totals.

The results confirmed a trend that prior but less complete reports had identified. In an April report that included 27 early-reporting states, Statistical Surveys said sales for the quarter were 4.2 percent lower in the main segments and 7.5 percent lower industrywide.

“It almost mirrored them,” Statistical Surveys national marine sales manager Ryan Kloppe said of the broader results.

Kloppe said the wider data were not surprising because the weather in the early spring was poor in much of the country, but he said one silver lining is that industrywide sales for the 2013 quarter were higher than during the recession years of 2010, when 30,061 boats were sold, and 2011, when sales totaled 28,692.

MarineMax CEO Bill McGill and Brunswick CEO Dusty McCoy pointed to poor weather in their most recent quarterly earnings calls, saying it was responsible for making sales declines look worse than they were because the conditions were being compared with last year’s unseasonable warmth.

“Although we’re always reluctant to cite weather as a factor, we believe warmer-than-normal temperatures that occurred in the first quarter of 2012, combined with colder-than-normal conditions in this year’s first quarter for the eastern two-thirds of the United States, contributed to the declines experienced thus far,” McCoy told analysts. “In other words, we believe that retail sales occurred earlier last year, and this year they remain potentially deferred to later months.”

Jesse Wells, at Info-Link, said last month that if the sales dip is weather-related and there is pent-up demand, the effect will be seen in the next few months.

Boat dealers and marina owners in New Jersey worry that the cold spring will further harm their bottom line. Don Ditzel, at Comstock Yacht Sales and Marina in Brick, N.J., and vice president of the Marine Trades Association of New Jersey, said in late May: “Typically our spring is determined by the weather. This year, we haven’t had the best weather.”

The 47-state report showed that sales rose in only two categories in the main segments — 11- to 40-foot fiberglass outboards and 31- to 40-foot cruisers. Outboard sales rose 2.1 percent, or 161 boats, to 7,856, and sales of cruisers increased by 5.2 percent, or 13 boats, to 263.

Sales of aluminum fishing boats dropped by 9.2 percent, or 785 boats, to 7,763, and sales of aluminum pontoons were nearly flat, falling by 0.9 percent, or 40 boats, to 4,259. Both categories posted strong sales last year as the industry began to recover from the Great Recession.

Sales of 14- to 30-foot inboard and sterndrive boats fell 14.7 percent, or 368 boats, to 2,134.

Sales of jetboats dropped 21.9 percent, or 145 boats, to 517, personal watercraft sales fell 4 percent, or 149 units, to 3,591, and sales of ski boats were flat at 776.

Sailboat sales improved by 3.2 percent, or 14 boats, to 445.

On a 12-month rolling basis, sales through March remained higher. Main-segments sales were 120,824, up 6.7 percent, and industrywide sales were up 4.8 percent at 193,052.

Click here for the boat sales data.

— Jack Atzinger and Reagan Haynes

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Englishman fascinated with Malaysia since secondment to RMAF

Well-travelled: Sobey loves the sea and sunshine.Well-travelled: Sobey loves the sea and sunshine.

ANTONY Sobey, who is a qualified Royal Yachting Association (RYA) instructor, has an extensive sailing resume.

His love for the sea, its vastness and colours have inspired this Englishman to sail to various locations – making him a well-travelled man.

Originally from Poole, England, Sobey started sailing at the age of seven.

“Being on a boat, harnessing wind, wave and sail is like a dance that has rhythm.

“I just love to impart my knowledge of sailing to children and adults.

“I guide the beginners to become one with the boat, know its movements with the sea, handle the sails and more importantly, keep them safe and stir their interest,” he said.

“As a child growing up in Poole, which has one of the largest natural harbours in the world, I used to go sailing with my friends all the time. We enjoyed ourselves sailing and exploring. We loved the sea and found it magical,” he recalled.

Sobey has been fascinated with Malaysia since his secondment to the Royal Malaysian Air Force in the early 1970s to oversee the ground electronics servicing centres.

He opted for early retirement in his late 40s.

He said Malaysia has seen rapid development where highways have made it a breeze to travel from north to south.

“Even the port facilities are good for trade and sailing enthusiasts. Foreigners love Malaysia for its cultural diversity and friendly people,” he said.

The ex-squadron leader said he loved being involved in sailing competitions too.

“Sailing has given me so much in life, it is only right that I coach others and ensure that people can have the same opportunities through sailing.”

Sobey finds that more Malaysians from all walks of life are getting involved in sailing.

“One common misconception among Malaysians is that sailing is for the rich, but now parents are getting their children involved in sailing and even racing the boats. It’s just beautiful,” said the father of two girls, who is known for his patience when training novices.

Sobey said racing was fun too.

“Getting into a boat and being part of the movements at sea is beautiful.

“You get to make the boat go in the right direction, but the test is to make it go at the speed you want.

“You achieve success with a win or two and this is where you feel good about yourself. There is a sense of achievement.”

Although sailing is fun, there are dangers too and all students are taught how to handle emergencies like a fire onboard.

Other than sailing, Sobey is also very much involved in helping underprivileged communities in Malaysia.

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