Archive for » September, 2013 «

Typhoon sinks three boats, leaves 74 missing

AFP – Getty Images

Emergency personnel work to secure fishing boats parked in a harbor on Yongxing island, in south China’s Hainan province, on Sunday.

BANGKOK — Seventy-four Chinese fishermen were missing on Monday after a typhoon sunk three fishing boats in the South China Sea as Thailand and Vietnam braced for torrential rain and flooding.

The ships were hit by Typhoon Wutip on Sunday as they navigated gales near the Paracel Islands, about 205 miles from China’s island province of Hainan, state news agency Xinhua said, citing sources with the Hainan maritime search and rescue center.

Rescuers had rescued 14 survivors, the sources said. The boats were sailing from the southern province of Guangdong.

Rains from the storm are expected to reach Vietnam on Monday before hitting Thailand on Tuesday.

Thai officials warned that more heavy rains could inundate already flood-hit areas of the northeast. At least 22 people have been killed in this year’s flooding.

“We’re expecting more floods,” Teerat Ratanasevi, a government spokesman, told reporters on Monday. “Soldiers have been asked to help evacuate people trapped in flood zones.”

Authorities in central Vietnam have moved children and elderly people to schools and other more solid buildings ahead of the storm.

In the central province of Quang Tri, an estimated 82,000 people would need to be evacuated if Wutip made a direct hit, a government statement said.

Vietnam said heavy rain had been falling in several central provinces while flooding and landslides could strike the region later this week.

Typhoons gather strength from warm sea water and tend to dissipate after making landfall. They frequently hit Taiwan, Japan, the Philippines, Hong Kong and southern China during a typhoon season that lasts from early summer to late autumn.

Sui-Lee Wee reported from Beijing, Amy Sawitta Lefevre from Bangkok, and Ho Binh Minh from Hanoi.

Copyright 2013 Thomson Reuters. Click for restrictions.

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Why Boat-Building’s a Tougher Business Than It Looks

Marine Products (NYSE: MPX  ) ‘s flagship brand Chaparral is the third-largest manufacturer of sterndrive powerboats in the U.S., based on 2012 unit sales. But its leading market share can’t help it avoid the difficulties of operating in an industry with bad economics.

Unattractive business economics

According to Marine Products’ most recent 10-K, there are approximately 70 sterndrive manufacturers in the industry, with the top 10 manufacturers accounting for about 78% of total market share in the 18-to-35-foot sterndrive category, based on 2012 data. This intense competitive rivalry is reflected in the fact that Marine Products has made little headway in increasing its market share over the past decade, with the market share for its Chaparral brand staying range-bound at 7.7%-8.4% from 2002 to 2011.

To make things worse, Marine Products is not solely competing with other boat manufacturers for customers’ dollars. If you have both money and time to spend, you have practically unlimited leisure options. You could splurge your cash on sports cars, or spend a full day enjoying yourself at ski resorts. In addition, consumer demand for boats is highly discretionary, suggesting that people will hold off their purchases if the economy is bad.

Margin downtrend

Marine Products’ fiscal 2012 gross margin of 18.3% is a far cry from the gross margins of 25.9% and 21.5% registered in 2003 and 2007, respectively. This downtrend reflects the key challenges that Marine Products faces.

First, boat manufacturing is a capital-intensive business, demanding a minimum level of sales volume to break even on economies of scale. While Marine Products sold 3,404 boats in fiscal 2012, on par with sales volume in 2008, this 2012 figure is only about half that of the 6,245 boats sold in 2006.

Secondly, the increase in the number of boats it sold — from 2,100 in 2011 to 3,404 in 2012 — is potentially misleading as a sign of market recovery. The company introduced lower-margin entry-level models, which make up a bigger chunk of its sales. In fact, Marine Product’s average unit selling price fell from about $48,000 in 2011 to $41,000 in 2012, partially offsetting any gains in sales volume.

Last but not least, labor and commodity costs are creeping up. Regulations like the Affordable Care Act are adding to the labor cost burden. Also, higher oil prices adversely impact the cost of Marine Products’ petroleum-based raw materials.

Future outlook

Chaparral’s market share of the 18-to-35-foot sterndrive market grew strongly to 13.9% in the first quarter of 2013, which compares favorably with 11.6% for the same period in 2012, and 8.4% for full year 2011. Notwithstanding this, I believe that the market share gain, partially boosted by the introduction of the new, smaller, entry-level Chaparral models in the fourth quarter of 2011, might not be sustainable.

It is not difficult for other premium boat manufacturers to introduce similar cheaper entry-level models. On the other hand, boat manufacturers focused on the entry-level value segment will seek to compete on cheaper prices and better features.

Also, the gain in market share seems to come at the expense of profitability, with Marine Products’ most recent quarterly gross margin falling by 170 basis points year over year to 17.3%. 

Going forward, Marine Products announced in April this year that it’s decided to enter the recreational jet boat market, with its first jet boat models to be introduced within the next 12 months. I see this as an extension of its strategy of targeting new boating customers with more affordable boating options, since jet boats tend to be less expensive than their sterndrive-powered counterparts.

Peer comparison

Marine Products’ peers include Brunswick  (NYSE: BC  ) and MarineMax (NYSE: HZO  ) .

Brunswick is a leading manufacturer of recreational products, and its Sea Ray and Bayline are the top two brands in the 18-to-35-foot sterndrive market, with the largest market share based on 2012 unit sales. Brunswick delivered a decent set of results for the second quarter of fiscal 2013, with quarterly revenue and gross margin up by 4% and 60 basis points, respectively. Looking ahead, it has guided for a 4% growth in full year revenue, notwithstanding an uncertain outlook for the U.S. powerboat market.

Unlike Marine Products, Brunswick has diversified beyond its core marine business. Fitness equipment and bowling billiards accounted for 17% and 9% of its fiscal 2012 revenues, respectively. The bright spot for Brunswick continues to be its fitness business, which is riding on the wave of positive health and wellness trends. It has seen significant growth in the sale of fitness machines to its health club and hospitality customers in the most recent quarter.

MarineMax is the largest recreational boat retailer in the U.S. Compared with Marine Products, it exhibited greater margin stability. Excluding the results for fiscal 2009, which were affected by the Global Financial Crisis, MarineMax’s gross margins have remained stable within a narrow range of 24%-25%. Nevertheless, it still suffered losses in three of out of the past ten years, reflecting the difficulty of operating in a cyclical and capital intensive marine industry.

It grew quarterly revenues and core net income before taxes by 16% and 20% for the third quarter of fiscal 2013. MarineMax’s efforts in enhancing promotional activities to meet the challenges of poor weather paid off, with a 16% increase in same store sales. Its balance sheet also remained strong, with the absence of long term debt on its books. With inventory range being a key differentiator in attracting customers, MarineMax’s balance sheet strength will allow it to stock up on the broadest product range available. 


Boat-building is a business with low profitability, given the fragmented nature of the industry and the availability of customer alternatives to recreation boats as a form of leisure. The long-term gross margin downtrend for Marine Products further strengthens my bear case on this stock.



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Sailing: Two world titles for NZ

Peter Burling and Blair Tuke in action. Photo / Supplied

New Zealand’s Olympic class sailors have pulled off an unprecedented result at the 49er and 49erFX World Championships with two world titles and a silver medal.

Olympic silver medallists Peter Burling and Blair Tuke secured their first ever 49er World title in Marseille, France, with compatriots Marcus Hansen and Josh Porebski behind them in second.

Alex Maloney and Molly Meech made it a New Zealand double by winning the inaugural 49erFX world title.

2013 has been a stellar year for Burling and Tuke who have won the 49er European title, the Red Bull Youth America’s Cup title and now the 49er world title after a ninth and a second placing on the final day of racing.

“We’ve worked hard for this not just over the past year but since we started sailing the 49er together,” Tuke said.

“To do it today it and have the other boys in second place and the girls win their world title makes it extra special.”

New to the Olympic programme for 2016 the 49erFX women’s skiff has attracted a number of accomplished international sailors and for Maloney and Meech to secure the world title is a massive achievement.

The young pair holds the ISAF World number one ranking after top three placings at all the major international regattas they’ve contested in 2013 including gold at ISAF Sailing World Cup Hyeres and a bronze at the 49erFX European Championships in Denmark in June.

Today’s world title puts the icing on the cake for Maloney and Meech who both only recently stepped out of the youth classes.

Like Burling and Tuke, Maloney and Meech went into today’s medal races with the overall lead. Competing in a fleet of ten boats with double points on offer they raced away with a second, a fifth and a fourth to secure the world title by a huge 20 point margin from silver medallists Martine Soffiati Grael and Kahena Kunze of Brazil.

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SAILING-Oracle sailors learned flying for America's Cup comeback

By Alden Bentley

SAN FRANCISCO, Sept 29 (Reuters) – The come-from-behind victory of Larry Ellison‘s America’s Cup team is a tale of learning how to fly a boat – and pushing the equipment, the rules and the crew to the very limit in the process.

Ellison’s Oracle Team USA fought back from an 8-1 deficit against the mighty Emirates Team New Zealand to win sailing’s biggest trophy last week in a series of races in 72-foot high-tech catamarans that sometimes exceeded 50 miles per hour (80 kph) on San Francisco Bay.

The Oracle comeback was lauded as one of the greatest in sports history. Yet the abrupt turnaround in the team’s performance in the middle of the finals series also has set off a flurry of speculation about whether Oracle, which began the regatta with a penalty for illegally modifying a practice boat last year, had used secret technological enhancements to engineer its comeback.

An online article in Sail-World summarized speculation that Oracle may have used “superhuman’ technology,” such as a computer-controlled stabilization system, that would have been against the rules.

Oracle emphatically rejected the notion of any high-tech silver bullet, and there is no evidence that the team did anything illegal.

Some of the speculation appears to stem from a protest lodged by New Zealand just before the finals began over an Oracle system that used an electrical switch to control the movements of the boat’s daggerboards. The challenge was rejected by the jury that addresses rules disputes, in part because it was lodged too late.

The system might have helped Oracle perfect the intricate movements of daggerboards, sails and rudders that were needed to keep the boat sailing at top speed – although it was far from being any sort of computerized control system.

Oracle says it achieved the turnaround the old-fashioned way: continual adjustments to the intricate boats, experimentation with sailing tactics, and relentless hard work by the sailors and the shore crew.


The turnaround appeared to begin just before race six, when Oracle was down 4-1 and used its single “postponement card” to take a 47-hour timeout to overhaul its boat, crew and training regimen. It started tweaking its boat each night – when it was hauled out of the water and the 135-foot wing was removed – and practicing on rest days, which New Zealand did not appear to do, or need to do. It returned to the race course each day with improved speed and crew work.

The America’s Cup yachts are 72-foot catamarans, which by design are fast because they can sail with just one hull in the water for less resistance. But the New Zealand team was the first to perfect hydrofoiling, finding that the boats could be nudged to lift the hulls completely out of the water onto thin carbon-fiber blades. As they ‘foil,’ they appear to fly above the water – and their speed increases with reduced drag.

The rival boats had never faced off on the water before the finals started on Sept. 7.

Throughout the regatta the boats looked evenly matched on the downwind legs, reaching speeds approaching 50 mph. The regatta was won and lost during the upwind zigzags, where Oracle’s team mastered the trick of flying on the foils.

Oracle’s lead designer, Dirk Kramer, told Reuters the U.S.-based team initially misjudged how fast the Kiwis would be sailing the boat into the wind. Early races were an eye opener and the focus shifted from performance with the wind to sailing into it, which required stabilizing the boat on its foils and a new approach to steering and wing trim.

Oracle began the finals two races behind and without a key crew member as punishment for breaking the rules by adding weight to its boat in a preliminary series. It had to recover from a capsize during training last year in which its boat was dragged out to sea and all but destroyed, an event Skipper Jimmy Spithill cited as a devastating moment but one that ultimately helped pull the team together.

The class rules allowed teams to make certain changes to their purpose-built AC72s. But even the tiniest alterations were checked by a team of independent measurers before racing and certified as conforming to specifications.

Sail experts and insiders have been speculating about how Oracle stabilized their boat, allowing it to foil better.


“Before they postponed that race, the (Oracle) boat was unstable when it was foiling, and they weren’t foiling upwind,” said Peter Thomas, who was on the building team at Cookson Boats, which built the New Zealand boat. “They definitely weren’t foiling as well as Team New Zealand were. And after two days in the shed, the boat came out foiling everywhere.”

Much of the discussion was based on whether electronics, computers or a motion-stabilizing gyroscope did some of the work meant to be handled by the crew. David Le Pelley, manager of the Yacht Research Unit and Wind Tunnel at the University of Auckland, which helped the New Zealand team, said both teams tuned their boats.

“Team New Zealand had a lot more time in the water given the Oracle crash, so Oracle had been on the back foot to some extent, so they’d had to play catch up and they got to the point where they managed to get more out of the boat than we did at the end,” he said.

Kramer on Saturday denied any use of computer-automated controls to manage the foils and stabilize the yacht. “Negative. No,” he said.

The yacht had a stabilization system but it was operated by humans, Kramer said. “There’s no computer driving any surfaces at all.”

Small electronic switches were used to open and close the hydraulic valves clutches. Theses were commercially available, not customized, according to Kramer.

The measurement committee gave Oracle permission in August to use an “electro-mechanical actuator” to move a valve. The jury on Sept. 6 dismissed New Zealand‘s claim that the actuator violated the manpower-only rule but on the basis that it was filed too late.

“Most items we used in there are literally servos from your kid’s remote-control airplane,” Kramer said. “It’s exactly as simple as that. It gets bolted to a valve and that is what operates things.”

Kramer said the many changes made to the yacht were “all small and all visible.”

“A lot had to do with the balance of the boat,” he said.

Minor changes were made to the shape of the 135-foot tall wing – the catamaran’s main sail – and to the rear of the hulls.

To reduce wind resistance, they swapped out the pointy bowsprit between the boat’s two hulls with a stubbier version, because the winds were too strong for the billowing headsail that attaches to it.

The top of the vertical fixed wing was tilted slightly forward and rearward to try different “rake” angles.

Oracle also replaced renowned tactician John Kostecki, a San Francisco hometown favorite, with British Olympic sailing champion Ben Ainslie, the backup skipper on Oracle’s practice yacht, leaving a single American on the winning boat.

“The sailors made a change to the way they were sailing the boat so we adapted the boat to help them make that change. There was no silver bullet,” said Grant Simmer, general manager of the Oracle team, denying speculation that Oracle had flown in extra carbon fiber components from New Zealand where parts of its 72-foot catamaran were built.

Meanwhile, Ellison, the billionaire software mogul of Oracle Corp, was a cheerleader on the sidelines, leaving the decisions to his well-paid professionals.

“He was encouraging us to keep going and never give in,” Simmer said.


In New Zealand, the loss has frequently been explained as boiling down to money – that the Kiwis in the end could not compete with a billionaire.

Oracle acknowledged it had outspent New Zealand but it is not clear how much by. Estimates of Oracle’s cup defense range well over $100 million but sources said the spigots were not opened any wider for the emergency work carried out after the team lost four of the event’s first five races to the Kiwis.

New Zealand backed its team with about $30 million in government funds. Managing Director Grant Dalton also raised tens of millions of dollars from sponsors over several years, and said the team spent about $100 million in all.

Oracle Team USA CEO Russell Coutts told Reuters that the team probably spent 10 percent more than New Zealand, based on his estimate of a Kiwi outlay of 105 million to 110 million euros ($142 million to $149 million.) He said salaries for designers and sailors made up 56 percent of Oracle’s cost.

In the end, though, a dejected Dean Barker, skipper of the Kiwi yacht, said in a post-racing blog that his team had wrung all the performance possible out of its boat before the race, while Oracle came in with room to improve.

Oracle just learned to fly the boat well, he wrote.

“Their boat was better suited for doing that for extended periods,” Barker said. “They certainly were doing a better job finding that extra gear that we simply couldn’t.”

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Smooth sailing so far at Lido Boat Show

After an international boat trip of his own, Ray Wilson was back selling at the Lido Boat Show on Saturday.

The representative for Heritage Yacht Sales was pushing a pair of Catalina sailboats, ones he said could cruise around the world much like he did.

When he returned from his years-long trip in 2011, the yacht-brokering scene had taken a turn for the worse thanks to the recession.

“It was like somebody blew the world up while I was gone,” he said. “In ’05 when I left, people were throwing money at you.”

It’s only in the last eight months that Wilson’s seen a slow return to that form.

During this year’s 200-vessel show at Lido Marina Village in Newport Harbor, Wilson and others said traffic is up, and more people are willing to make the investment in a small boat, massive yacht or whatever is in between — all of which were on display throughout the weekend.

“I’m feeling that,” said Duncan McIntosh, who runs the annual four-day show.

McIntosh didn’t have an estimate on how many people had paid $15 to walk through dozens of vendors and the docks almost completely surrounded by towering masts and multi-level decks, but on Saturday afternoon, with another day to go Sunday, he was running out of tickets.

“That’s a novelty I don’t mind,” he said.

Tony Burke from Long Beach and his friend John Widener from Anaheim have been browsing the Lido Boat Show for years.

Burke said he’d just purchased a 46-foot sailboat last week but couldn’t pass up coming to Newport where he kept looking.

He’s trying to talk Widener into trading in his fascination with powerboats for a more leisurely sailing style; plus he needed to buy new bedding for his cabins.

Of course, the two took the opportunity to gawk at “the fantasy yachts you get to dream about,” like the 118-foot Westport-made yacht named Isabella, which boasts five cabins and a built-in Jacuzzi on one deck.

“Where else do you get to see one of those?” Burke asked.

McIntosh said sales at the show have bounced back this year, with already a few deposits placed on boats this week.

That’s the key to his business.

Although sales doesn’t directly affect his bottom line, the only way to attract exhibitors is if his attendees are indeed willing to shell out the money.

It makes life a little more fun for the sales reps, too.

According to Wilson, it’s easy to get caught up in someone else’s euphoria when they make the decision to buy a boat — something he says can be life-changing.

“If you sell someone a boat, they’ll be buying you a beer,” he explained.

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Boats a 'passing irritant' to Indonesia ties, Australia PM

Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott Friday described asylum-seekers arriving by boat from Indonesia as a “passing irritant” to the relationship, days before visiting the archipelago in his first foreign trip as premier.

Abbott, who took power this month after winning national polls, has ordered a military-led border protection plan to deter boatpeople which will see vessels turned back when it is safe to do so.

The Australian leader denied the plan would jeopardise relations with northern neighbour Indonesia, which has been cool towards the scheme it has suggested infringes its sovereignty.

“The last thing I would ever want to do is anything that doesn’t show the fullest possible respect for Indonesia’s sovereignty,” Abbott told Fairfax Radio.

“This is a broad and deep relationship which is going to get broader and deeper over time.

“The last thing anyone should want is to have Australia’s relationship with Indonesia defined by this boats issue, which I am sure will be but a passing irritant.”

Abbott’s comments come after former foreign minister Alexander Downer called on Indonesia, which many asylum-seekers use as a staging post as they journey to Australia by sea, to stop the “pious rhetoric”.

At a meeting in New York on Monday with Foreign Minister Julie Bishop, Indonesia’s Foreign Minister Marty Natalegawa warned his country would not accept violations of its borders.

“Let me make this point for Mr. Natalegawa’s benefit: Indonesian-flagged boats with Indonesian crews are breaking our laws bringing people into our territorial waters,” Downer told national broadcaster ABC.

“This is a breach of our sovereignty and the Indonesians need to understand that, instead of a lot of pious rhetoric about the Australian government breaching their sovereignty.”

Abbott, who visits Indonesia next week in the first foreign trip of his prime ministership, said he did not see the issue as jeopardising ties with Jakarta.

“If Australia did something foolish obviously it could be (in jeopardy), but the incoming government will not do foolish things,” Abbott said.

“We will do strong and sensible things which build on the good relationship that we already have with Indonesia.”

Interim opposition Labor leader Chris Bowen said it was clear that Indonesia saw Abbott’s military-led Operation Sovereign Borders as “an affront”.

“This is not an irritant to the Indonesian government; this is a clear matter of principle for them,” Bowen said.

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Ainslie, sailing’s most decorated Olympian, led an incredible comeback by Oracle Team USA, who came from 8-1 down to retain the America’s Cup 9-8.

The Briton, who boasts four Olympic golds and a silver from single-handed racing, came into the struggling team as they were losing 4-1 and, after getting to grips with the boat and crew, oversaw one of sport’s great fightbacks.

But the 36-year-old’s dream is to skipper a British yacht to victory in team sailing’s premium competition for the first time since 1851. And that, he explained, is a complicated and manic process.

“We’ll have to see what happens,” Ainslie told Eurosport-Yahoo! the day after his incredible triumph. “The goal was to build up a British team to compete in the America’s Cup – not just the World Series.

“We’ve got to work very hard over the next couple of weeks to see if we can raise the funds.

“It’s a bit like the transfer window in football – top designers and sailors are looking for their next projects and we have to act very quickly to get the right people involved.

“We’ve been working on it for a while but it’s hard to get sponsors and individuals to commit until the format is confirmed. Now that’s in process we can gauge the level of genuine support to get the team together.

“Being part of a wining Americas Cup team was a goal since childhood, so I’m very proud of that. But I would love to see British team, which is a worthy challenge, so that’s what we’re working on.”

That triumph is still settling in for Ainslie, who was in the process of being whisked across the United States from San Francisco to New York when he spoke to me.

“It’s an amazing comeback to be part of a team that did something so special in the sport of sailing,” the Macclesfield-born Ainslie added.

“The other thing was the loss of Andrew Simpson (the British Olympic champion who died in a training accident with the Swedish team earlier this year).

“It was quite a poignant moment, particular for us and his family at conclusion of the event. He lived for sailing so for a lot of us it was quite a moving time.

“There have been changes made to the boats and format of racing to improve safety. We have been seen through the teams that we are getting better at racing this type of boat and it’s getting safer and safer. And I’m very confident about the future.”

Ainslie is best known in Britain for his Olympic exploits as a single-handed sailor, winning a record four consecutive golds for Team GB.

But, after a dramatic victory at London 2012, he committed himself to America’s Cup sailing, which is an entirely different format that comes with different challenges but shared rewards.

“It’s much more about working with a team,” he explained. “From single-handed Olympic sailing to working with 11 on the boats, and there’s also the wider team of around 130 people.

“You have to work with designers, builders, a shore team, fitness trainers… It’s a massive difference to be part of that. It requires a different approach both on and off the water.

“But it’s rewarding to be successful with a team – to be part of that celebration is more powerful than individual glory.”

That may come as a surprise from a man so renowned for his solo achievements. But the camaraderie of a team sport has its benefits – and, on this occasion, the relative lack of pressure allowed Ainslie to enjoy his racing.

“It was a different situation to when I compete in single-handed racing. I wasn’t expected to race until very late, initially taking a support role before coming into the racing with one day preparation,” he continued.

“There was some pressure to do a good job but on other hand there was nothing for me to lose – we were 4-1 down. I just had to do the best I could and get people believing we could be successful again.

“I really enjoyed that. Everyone expected us to lose so it was the perfect situation in a way. Being able to prove people wrong after getting that momentum going – it was amazing to be part of it.”

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Pontoon boats popular at Atlantic City marina show

ATLANTIC CITY — Some of the most popular boats in the industry today are on pontoons, the wide-open carriers that look built more for comfort than for speed.

But these pontoon boats, which have helped buoy the industry the past two years, can provide both at once, according to several dealers at the Atlantic City In-Water Power Boat Show, which runs through Sunday at the Farley State Marina.

The 29th edition of the show offers 350 boats of all kinds at the marina’s extensive docks or on land, with 2014 models of yachts, cruiser, sport fishers and more.

Pontoon boats offer relatively affordable means to get into boating, are fuel-efficient, can still come with luxuries and — for more money on the high-end side — very powerful engines that can move them in the 50 mile-per-hour range.

“Our pontoons are probably the biggest seller right now,” said Shawn O’Neill, salesman for Sheltered Cove Marina with locations in Tuckerton and Vineland. The marina has a prominent area near the entrance of the boat show, and set up a row of Bennington pontoons to showcase.

“Everybody’s got a lot of pontoons. It’s an affordable, entry-level way to get into boating. You can run low horsepower, they don’t carry a lot of fuel so they don’t use a lot of fuel, and you can fit 14 people on them,” he said.

They can come with luxuries, like bathrooms that pop up on the deck. They typically travel around 20 miles per hour, he said, and some versions have a third buoy that adds stability.

Glenn Gioe, owner of Bayville-based New Jersey Outboards, said these “triple toons” can carry 150- to 300-horsepower engines and have become more popular recently.

“It’s not your grandfather’s pontoon anymore,” he said.

Of the 300-horsepower ones, Gioe said, the business sold around seven this year for about $70,000 each.

“People are spending money on these boats, and they are liking them,” he said.

The National Marine Manufacturing Association says new boat and engine sales reached nearly $9 billion in 2012. Pre-owned boat and engine sales totaled almost $12 billion.

Overall, industry saw an uptick last year from 2011, as new powerboat sales reached 157,300, according to the NMMA, which is based in Chicago.

But even before then — when sales were declining or flat in other areas — pontoon sales had increased.

The NMMA says sales of aluminum power boats, which include pontoons, increased 4 percent in 2011 compared to 2010. Overall, traditional powerboat sales were nearly flat during that time, with 142,830 units sold in 2011 and 142,330 sold in 2010.

Andrew Zierak, 30, of Johnstown, N.Y., was browsing pontoons boats Friday afternoon at the boat show.

Zierak, who bought a used pontoon boat last year, said he enjoyed taking it out with family and his young daughter.

“My father bought one two years ago. We got a lot of family and people who come up to the camps, you get the kids out on it,” he said.

Contact Brian Ianieri:


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Boats and more at final day of Auckland On Water Boat Show

Trailer powerboats, dinghies, RIBs, motor launches, sailing yachts and all the products and services needed to maintain them are on show for the final day of this year’s Auckland On Water Boat Show.

With more than 180 exhibitors and over 90 boats on the water of Auckland’s Viaduct Harbour, the vibe at this year’s show has been extremely positive with a number of boats of all sizes already sold.

Auckland On Water Boat Show CEO Michelle Khan says: “Feedback from the marine retailers and manufacturers exhibiting at this year’s Auckland On Water Boat Show indicates a definite trend toward a more positive retail environment. Every exhibitor we’ve spoken to says they have made sales and/or have many leads to follow up after the show.

“As an example, Terry Bailey, from Bailey Marine in Waipu, said that for the first time he can recall, he’s physically signed a deal at the show with a show visitor who had just seen the boat for the first time today.”

Bailey imports the European Arvor Boats’ range and the Arvor 280 sold retails for around $240,000 depending on the extras required.

In a similar vein, Lance Fink of Hamilton’s Tristram Marine has enjoyed talking with really enthusiast boaties keen to find the right boat for their lifestyle.

“The Auckland On Water Boat Show is a great venue for people to see the latest models, like the Tristram 741 Offshore Sterndrive which is attracting a lot of attention. We have sold a number of boats already and expect to receive confirmation of further orders after the show.”

Hundreds of visitors to this year’s Auckland On Water Boat Show have written messages for Emirates Team New Zealand in a special book being created for the team on the Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron site at the show. The squadron has the 2007 Louis Vuitton Cup on display and invites anyone attending the show to contribute their written messages to the team. After the show, the book will go to the RNZYS headquarters at 101 Curran Street, Westhaven where members of the public are welcome to visit and add their own messages.

Khan adds: “Whether people are looking for a replacement diesel engine, a new paint to re-finish their boat or new marine electronic components, theys can find a range of exhibitors to talk to who are keen to share their knowledge and passion for on-water activities at this show.”

The Auckland On Water Boat Show is open from 10am to 5pm on Sunday 29 September with tickets available at the gate. Children 15 years of age or younger are free of charge.

See for full details or find the show on Facebook

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Sailing-New Zealand shrugs off America's Cup loss

By Greg Stutchbury

WELLINGTON, Sept 26 (Reuters) – New Zealand Prime Minister John Key summed up the feelings of his country when their America’s Cup team were beaten by Oracle Team USA in the winner-take-all showdown in San Francisco on Thursday.

“Bugger,” he Tweeted from New York.

In a taciturn country where one word is more than enough to convey the gamut of emotions, it said it all. Frustration, disappointment and, ultimately, resigned acceptance.

Tens of thousands had been on tenterhooks for a week as Dean Barker’s Team New Zealand established what many considered an unassailable 8-1 lead, needing just one more win to clinch international sport’s oldest trophy and return it to Auckland.

Oracle, however, powered back with eight successive wins to seal the trophy in a remarkable comeback that helped make the once-troubled event among the most exciting in sailing history.

“Not unexpected. It just seemed fairly obvious over the last week that the gains Oracle have made they have got better and better,” Graeme Mercer, a sailing instructor at Wellington’s Royal Port Nicholson Yacht Club, told Reuters of the final day’s racing.

“Our boat wouldn’t go any faster and today just showed that despite the minor errors that Team New Zealand had made in some of the previous races, it wouldn’t have made any difference.”

Backed by NZ$36 million ($30 million) in public funds, Team New Zealand’s performances to establish their lead had created a sense of expectation that a trophy they had last held in 2003 was within their grasp.

Despite the stunning turnaround, Mercer said Oracle had won as a result of a sensational fightback, not by Team New Zealand choking.

“Choking is an armchair critic response from people who have no idea what they’re talking about,” he added.

“Maybe if you’re putting a golf ball and muff it … but this is a technology sport and … Team New Zealand could not have raced any faster.

“Oracle continued to pull away upwind and that technology is what delivered it for them.”

Oracle team boss Russell Coutts, who won the America’s Cup twice for New Zealand in 1995 and 2000, told Reuters in San Francisco that despite having a population of only 4.4 million, New Zealanders would fully have expected to win.

“New Zealand expects a lot out of their sports people,” he added. “As a nation we generally fight above our weight.

“As a nation we expect the All Blacks to win and expect our sailing teams to win and if they don’t people say ‘Why not?’ I don’t think that’s a bad thing.”

In addition to missing out on the sport’s bragging rights, New Zealand is set to miss out on an estimated NZ$500 million in additional economic activity for its $170 billion economy.

Despite the defeat, New Zealand’s marine industry was still seeing some positive spinoffs.

Oracle established an 80-strong boatbuilding factory in Warkworth, north of Auckland, for the regatta, while more than 40 other local companies had provided components and expertise to the four syndicates.

“What happened was all very unfortunate, but the positive spin is that it’s really revitalised the America’s Cup,” said Peter Thomas, project manager at Cookson Boats, which built TNZ’s two state-of-the-art 72-foot catamarans.

“The man in the street now is excited to watch it.

“Team New Zealand did such a bloody good job that I’m sure the whole world feels for them.

“They didn’t win it but everything else is good. The New Zealand marine industry will benefit from this.” (Additional reporting by Alden Bentley in San Francisco and Naomi Tajitsu in Wellington; Editing by Peter Rutherford)

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