Archive for » September 6th, 2013«

Boat sales sink by 26 per cent

REGISTRATION of boats and pleasure cruisers has fallen in the Valencia Community.

New boat sales fell by 26 per cent during the first half of the year compared to the same period last year, with 181 vessels registered in Alicante, Valencia and Castellon from January to June.

There has also been a decline in recreational boating businesses with registrations declining by 55 per cent between 2007 and 2012.

That is according to figures based on consecutive annual declines with the sole exception of 2011, when there was a surge of 17.94 per cent, followed by a fall of 14.85 per cent the next year.

The once booming business selling and renting berths in marinas has suffered a decline. Carlos Torrado, manager of the Valencian Nautical Club said: “For the last five or six years the volume of boats moored in the Community has fallen between 18 and 20 per cent.” He adds the industry has been equally hit by the recession with some owners abandoning their boats leaving unpaid mooring fees.

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One Question, One Minute with Spanky Hill of Galati Yacht Sales (Video)

Sept. 6 – One Question, One Minute with Spanky Hill of Galati Yacht Sales. Here, TBBJ Editor Alexis Muellner asks Hill to show off a few features of a 45-foot Cantius cruising yacht that sells for $799,000. See how you can be a couch potato on the water (Alexis Muellner/Tampa Bay Business Journal).

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America's Cup: Larry Ellison's epic journey to reach pinnacle of sailing marked by daring and defiance

SAN FRANCISCO — Larry Ellison was a novice sailor in his 20s, fresh to California from his home in Chicago, when he borrowed a small dinghy from the Cal Sailing Club in Berkeley — a Lido 14 that he describes as no more seaworthy than a Tupperware container. Sailing it way outside the club boundaries, right under the iconic Golden Gate Bridge, he panicked.

Out there — as his Oracle Team USA would find decades later — winds can blow at 40 knots. Tides can pull you in and toss you out. Waves roil. Boats break.

“If God lets me back in alive,” he said, recounting the story from San Francisco City Hall after winning the 2010 America’s Cup, “I will never do this again.”

When it comes to sailing, Ellison has been to the brink — and back.

The journey of the self-made billionaire through sailing’s hierarchy — both San Francisco Bay’s and the world’s — has been marked by daring and defiance. Along the way, he has remade the very nature of the 162-year-old international regatta from a graceful highbrow sport to a death-defying drag race. To ensure his control, he famously shunned the venerable St. Francis Yacht Club and embraced the blue-collar Golden Gate Yacht Club down the jetty that now flies its burgee over the 34th America’s Cup.

On the eve of the Cup’s final match, the epic vision of the thrill-seeker will be put to the ultimate test.

Unlike his past campaigns, the 69-year-old Ellison won’t be racing aboard Oracle Team USA’s high-tech 72-foot catamaran. He had considered crewing, telling this newspaper last spring he was getting in shape to endure the rigors of the fastest boat in America’s Cup history. Ultimately he decided to leave the racing to the young professionals — but the vision to transform the sport is pure Ellison.

The finals that start Saturday must overcome months of tragedy, hyperbole and scandal to redeem Ellison’s America’s Cup. If Oracle Team USA loses, Emirates Team New Zealand will

strip Ellison of the gleaming silver trophy and move the next America’s Cup regatta back to Auckland.

“It’s funny, I realized after losing the America’s Cup twice, my personality didn’t allow me to quit while I’m losing,” Ellison told Charlie Rose in a televised interview last month. “After winning the America’s Cup, I discovered my personality doesn’t allow me to quit while I’m winning. So I’m kind of trapped. I just can’t quit.”

Expectations set

On the steps of the grand, red-carpeted staircase of San Francisco City Hall in early 2011, Larry Ellison stood in his black turtleneck and sport jacket next to the America’s Cup trophy he had just won in Spain. He told then-Mayor Gavin Newsom and the crowd of VIPs that the regatta he would bring to San Francisco in 2013 would be unlike any in the history of the cup. Never before have spectators been able to watch the races from shore.

“We’re holding this cup in the San Francisco Bay, the most spectacular natural amphitheater for sailing that God created on this Earth,” he said.

“And hundreds of thousand of people will be able to watch these races whether they’re from Crissy Field, office buildings in downtown San Francisco, over in Sausalito or anyplace on the shoreline.”

What he uttered next, however, would come to taunt him: “I believe we’ll have more than 14 teams, 16 teams here representing more than a dozen countries throughout the world.”

With the international economy tanking and costs to build the catamarans skyrocketing, only three challengers signed up — a reality that has soured the event for many of its backers. The challenger series that started in July was marred by the tragic capsize of the Swedish team Artemis Racing, which killed a beloved crewman, and an early boycott by the Italian team Luna Rossa Challenge, which complained the regatta was rigged against it.

And just this week, defending champion Oracle Team USA received the harshest punishment in the history of the cup for improperly adding extra weight to its smaller boats in a warm-up series last year. The defending champion will start the ultimate match on Saturday docked two races.

For Ellison, a man who spent his career getting his way both on and off the water, the event he envisioned has been spinning almost out of control.

But what happens over the next week or so could change all that.

“Larry is really a driven person, white line fever,” said Norbert Bajurin, commodore of the Golden Gate Yacht Club and owner of a radiator repair shop. “If he wants to do something, he won’t stop until it’s done.”

Trained on the bay

Ellison, perhaps the most competitive businessman in Silicon Valley, didn’t develop his confidence in the boardroom alone. He earned it on the bay.

At the volunteer-based Cal Sailing in the mid-1960s, Neil Larson taught Ellison advanced sailing skills on Thursday afternoons. He taught the young man how to sail the Lido 14 without a rudder, how to sail backward and to hang out over the water by his knees to keep the boat from tipping. He taught Ellison how to capsize, then right himself.

“He was talented and a fast learner,” said Larson, who would go on to a successful tech career himself.

If Ellison sailed under the Golden Gate, as he told the crowd at City Hall that night, he didn’t tell Larson. “You’d have to be a heck of a sailor to go out and try something like that,” Larson said.

Still, he said, he was disappointed when Ellison left the program. While the young man was never one to hang out and barbecue with the sailing group on weekends,”I thought he would be an asset to the club, but he disappeared.”

Soon, Ellison was building the company that would become Oracle.

80-foot Sayonara

Some three decades would pass before Ellison re-entered the sailing world. In 1994, a neighbor in Woodside suggested Ellison get into big boat racing and referred him to East Bay sailor Bill Erkelens. “A big boat to him was like buying a pair of roller skates,” said Erkelens, who presented Ellison a set of plans for the 80-foot Sayonara. “But it turned out to be quite a big thing for him.”

On Sayonara over the next decade, Ellison gained both confidence and humility.

In one of his first races, Ellison was reluctant to take the helm in a “maxi yacht” race in the San Francisco Bay against a group of blue-blood billionaires. The other skippers, including rival businessman Hasso Plattner, threatened to race without Ellison’s boat if he didn’t.

“I think he was just nervous,” Erkelens said. “He tended to hire very good people to do their jobs. He wanted everything to go as planned.”

But a different reaction proved more powerful, Erkelens said. “He felt they didn’t respect him.”

Erkelens and the sailing crew convinced Ellison to take the helm.

“He won and won by a lot,” Erkelens said. “He really started enjoying it after that.”

On board, “he is fully engaged and one of the guys, chitchats, and tells funny stories,” Erkelens said. “It’s not the business personality people love to hate, the aggressive warrior businessman.”

In 1999, Ellison learned a lesson of survival during the infamous Sydney-Hobart race, where a hurricane ravaged 155 boats and killed six sailors. Sayonara limped into the harbor in first place, but the crew was happy just to be alive.

“I think we do things like the Syndey-Hobart because we’re … always kind of curious if we can stack up,” he told members of the St. Francis Yacht Club in a speech a month later. “The most important lesson of the race for me is that life is short. Life is fragile.”

And Ellison wasted no time.

The very next year he was planning his first bid for the America’s Cup, and came to loggerheads with the St. Francis, which everyone assumed would be the team’s sponsoring club.

The reason? Control. Ellison wanted it. The club wouldn’t allow it. In one conflict, the Oracle CEO wanted to name his boat after his company. Some St. Francis board members considered that “too commercial.”

The club balked and Ellison walked — right down the spit to the Golden Gate Yacht Club, which was near bankruptcy before Ellison arrived.

For both Ellison and Golden Gate’s Bajurin, the move has often seemed like a triumph in the years since. Last summer, before all the troubles began, when the warm-up “America’s Cup World Series” was under way in smaller catamarans, the two of them stood side by side on the club dock and scanned the packed jetty and crowded Marina Green.

“Look at all the people,” Bajurin recalls Ellison saying. “This is amazing. This is what we wanted.”

And that’s what he wants again, starting Saturday, hundreds of thousands of exuberant fans lining the shoreline watching the best sailors compete in the fastest boats.

But he wants one thing even more. He wants to win.

Contact Julia Prodis Sulek at 408-278-3409.

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Chaparral and Robalo Boats hold successful 49th annual dealer conference

September 5, 2013 – The 49th Annual Chaparral and Robalo Dealer Conference held at the exclusive Ocean Reef Club in the Florida Keys, was truly an “Experience Like No Other”. Cool ocean breezes and unique meeting sites provided Chaparral and Robalo Dealers with an exceptional meeting experience. With over 480 attendees the meeting was a huge success. “We asked our staff to really think outside the box for our dealer conference this year, to provide our dealers with an experience like no other. The conference agenda and Ocean Reef Club provided us the unique experiences we were looking for.” said Chaparral President Jim Lane.

There was a balance of business and fun at this year’s conference. With over 20 Chaparral and Robalo boats in the water and an exciting business meeting, dealers were updated on the company in style. New to the water this year were the Chaparral H2O 21 and the 307 SSX and the Robalo 206 Cayman and R222. The Ocean Reef Club provided many fun actives including snorkeling and an alligator tour.

The annual business meeting was held in the Ocean Reef Club’s Cultural Center. Jim Lane, President of Chaparral, provided updates on the company and the boating industry. Buck Pegg, Founder, and Mike Fafard, VP of Engineering, presented the exciting updates to the boats and also introduced new boats available this year. Buck and Mike also provided in depth presentations on Chaparral’s entrance into the Jet Boat Market. In addition to these presentations there were also dealer speakers and a Presidents Panel.

Four of Chaparral’s leading dealers presented, Johnny Padgett – Modern Marine, Nashville, TN – Earning and Retaining Exceptional CSI, Phillip Foss – Destin Sunrise Marine, Mary Esther, FL – Profiting from Nationally Advertised Boats, Gary Nichols – Nichols Marine, Monkey Island, OK – The Dividends of Investing in Your Boat Show, and David Lowman – The Boat Rack, Sherrills Ford, NC – Brand Focus Market Share Leader. “Each of these dealers that spoke had an interesting message and experience to share with our dealer base” Jim Lane said.

The first time ever assembled, the Presidents Panel was made up of Presidents from companies that are leading the marine industry. The Presidents Panel fielded questions that had been provided by the dealers. Topics discussed ranged from the right size of inventory dealer levels, future interest rates, grow boating funding, changing demographics, sterndrive sales increases, importance of boat shows, the role of the Internet in the consumers’ buying cycles, customer satisfaction and the necessity for political involvement in our industry on the local, state and national levels among many other relevant strategic discussions.

The Presidents Panel included: Thom Dammrich – President National Marine Manufacturers Association, Matt Gruhn – President Marine Retail Association of the Americas, Ron Huibers – President Volvo Penta Americas, Mark Schwabero – President Mercury Marine, Ben Speciale – President Yamaha Marine Group, Bruce Van Wagoner – President GE Commercial Distribution Finance Marine Group. Liz Walz of the MRAA served as the moderator for the Presidents Panel.

“To have this group of leaders in the industry assembled in one location was truly a great opportunity for our dealers” Lane said.

The conference ended with the annual awards banquet with Key Note Speaker Mike Pilot, Chief Commercial Officer of GE capital. Dealers enjoyed gourmet food and video presentations throughout the evening.

For some fun, Chaparral and Robalo hosted a Fishing Tournament and a Golf Tournament. Chaparral and Robalo also hosted unique evening events including a Street Party and a Beach Party. The fish that was caught during the fishing tournament was later served at the beach party.

With over 49 years in the boating business Chaparral and Robalo are proud of their dealer network and the success it has had. “I believe that any time you do a job well and you are successful in your endeavor it brings a lot of satisfaction and when I look at our dealer network I see a lot of satisfaction.”, said Lane. It was truly a Dealer Conference Like No Other!

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New England dealer honored by Monterey Boats

New England dealer honored by Monterey Boats

Posted on 05 September 2013


Monterey Boats recently ranked Bassett Yacht Boat Sales fourth among its top five domestic sales-performing dealers for the 2013 model year and fifth among the top 10 CSI dealers during Monterey’s annual dealer conference at the Boca Resort Club in Boca Raton, Fla.

Bassett, which has locations in Old Saybrook, Conn., and Springfield, Mass., achieved its CSI ranking by earning high marks from its returned surveys for the model year. The surveys rate each dealer on the customer’s sales and service experience.

Bassett also was recognized as one of Monterey’s top dealers because of outstanding overall model-year sales.

“Bassett Yacht Boat Sales is an outstanding dealership. They have an aggressive growth initiative, demonstrate excellent business practices and the determination to succeed in today’s market,” Monterey co-chairman Charles Marshall said in a statement. “It is an honor for us to be able to award them, and we are proud to have them represent our brand.”

Click here for the full release.

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5 Tech Innovations Behind Extreme Sailing — America's Cup Preview

By Asim Khan, Director of Information Systems, Oracle Team USA

The 34th America’s Cup constitutes a complete makeover for the oldest trophy in international sport, bringing the electrifying experience of professional boat racing to San Francisco. Thousands of shore-side spectators will be able to watch live, while on-board cameras and microphones will extend the excitement to viewers around the globe.

Fittingly, all this innovation is largely driven by technology, especially when it comes to the boats themselves. Building and sailing an AC72 catamaran demands extensive performance analysis based on collecting huge amounts of data, and applying the right analytics to improve boat design and performance.  Essentially, we need to be information gluttons and analytical gourmands, and we have five essential tools to help us succeed:

Data collection. More than 300 sensors throughout the boat collect a huge amount of performance data and transmit it to a server in the hull. We’ve got about 3,000 variables running about ten times a second when we’re sailing, from sensors that measure strain on the mast to angle sensors on the wing sail that monitor the effectiveness of each adjustment. We run several video feeds, and take still images of the sail wing every second. We pull about a gigabyte of raw data per boat per day as well as about 200 gigabytes of video per day.

Depending on what we’re measuring, we’ll configure a light feed of about 150 key parameters and transmit them in real-time to the Oracle Database on the performance chase boat.  For example, if we are measuring sail wing performance in certain conditions, the feed will be heavy on data from the wing.

Real-time analytics.  The performance chase boat is the analytical hub, where we run a whole raft of different analyses live while the boat is sailing. Sometimes the analysis requires a very complicated combination of 10, 20, or 30 variables fitted through a time-based algorithm to give us predictions on what will happen in the next few seconds, or minutes, or even hours in terms of weather analysis. We rely on the Oracle Database, along with a number of screens around the boat running simple Java applications on displays that show us the sensor-generated numbers. We run a four-man crew, all involved in real-time analysis geared to make the AC72 really scream.  One team member analyzes data from the sail and wing, while another looks for data trends; a system tech monitors the system itself, and I look at the data from a sailor’s point of view to see how the performance is changing. We can also pull data from the shore system via a 4G connection.

Performance sailing technology. Each crewmember wears a ruggedized PDA on his wrist, and receives a real-time, customized feed of information to help improve performance—what the load balance is on a particular rope, for example, or the current aerodynamic performance of the wing sail.  We don’t want to overburden the wireless network, but at the same time foiling demands requires real-time, accurate information. So we use Java for the PDA displays—it’s lightweight and can maintain a high refresh rate for up to 30 devices without crashing the network.

Historical analysis. We use a custom application called Race Cutter to package historical data into a geographical frame for review. The design and sailing teams can compare today’s sailing data to information from a specific point in time and analyze any number of performance factors—the strain on the dagger boards, or the load on the rope, for example.  We also have still photos and video frames linked to that data, so if you click on a certain point in time, it’ll jump to the images and video from a number of different camera viewpoints. And it can all be shown linked to the live database information coming into Race Cutter, which is backboned by the Oracle Database.

Extreme database performance.  We just upgraded from our previous hardware to an Oracle Exadata Database Machine. We needed it, having outgrown our previous setup. We’re just settling into full use on Oracle Exadata, and the performance improvements are already startlingly evident. For example, Exadata gives us roughly a 10 times speed improvement on CPU-intensive tasks. When you are dissecting a training run, it is best to get at the data while the sail is still fresh in your head, so every second of performance improvement translates to better support for the sailing team.

This year’s America’s Cup will be like no other previous cup. From the boats, to the venue, to HD cameras on each boat showing close up action, you can expect extreme speed, action and excitement.





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