Archive for » January, 2014 «

Paraplegic sailors take full roles in yacht club

Mr Wilson is a long-time Wanaka resident who has been sailing on Lake Wanaka since he was a child. He severed his spinal column when he fell from a tree eight years ago. Wanaka Yacht Club commodore Quentin Smith.
Paraplegic helmsman Geoff Wilson.
Wanaka Yacht Club commodore Quentin Smith sails Roger North's Point of Sail on Lake Wanaka. Photos by Mark Price.
 


When Lake Wanaka’s Etchells fleet goes head-to-head this
autumn sailing season, two of their number will have
paraplegic sailors on board.

But Quentin Smith and Geoff Wilson are not just along for the
ride.

Mr Smith is helmsman aboard Point of Sail, the No2 boat in
the fleet, and Mr Wilson is helmsman of Ace of Spades which,
until it broke its mast recently, was always handy.

Mr Smith has also recently taken over as Commodore of the
Wanaka Yacht Club.

”It is good to be able to sail alongside able-bodied people
in the same boats and to be competitive,” Mr Smith told the
Otago Daily Times recently.

”Sailing is a good equaliser because you are using the power
of the wind and your technical and strategic thinking to
outsmart the other people, and you are not reliant purely on
physical things.”

Mr Smith is a familiar figure in Wanaka, sometimes acting as
taxi for daughter Madison.

He grew up in the Northern Beaches area of Sydney, racing
Flying 11 dinghies from high school age.

As the member of a family involved in aviation, it was not a
great leap for him to become involved in paragliding, and in
1999 he obtained his licence after completing a training
course at Manilla, in New South Wales near Tamworth, an area
regarded as the Australian Mecca for the sport.

”Paragliding is the simplest and purist form of flying.”

”Your first flight, when your feet leave the ground … you
really do feel like an eagle with the wind in your face.

” It’s a real buzz.”

Having visited Wanaka at times and paraglided from Treble
Cone, he decided in 2003 at age 23 it was time for a
permanent shift across the Tasman.

”It was really the mountains and the lifestyle; to get out
of the big city and into the mountains. I enjoyed the
paragliding and the skiing and the tramping.”

Then, in 2008, on rising, rough ground he crashed while
approaching the landing field at Treble Cone, and severed his
spinal cord.

”It’s hard to explain it, but it was a little bit of bad
judgement and a lot of bad luck … a minor error with big
consequences, I suppose.”

Mr Smith acknowledged the crash was a painful memory but ”I
certainly look back on paragliding with fond memories as
well”.

He spent about two and a-half months at the Burwood Spinal
Unit, in Christchurch before returning to Wanaka.

Six months after the crash he was back in the air flying
tandem, and within a year was flying solo.

However, he is no longer flying.

”I suppose the sense of freedom and independence was lost to
me just with the logistical difficulties launching and
landing.”

Mr Smith was already involved in sailing as part of the crew
of three or four on board the Noelex 25 of Wanaka cafe owner
Roger North.

They had worked their way up through the fleet over a period
of two years to be one of the most competitive boats in their
class.

Mr Smith said after the crash, Mr North and the crew were
”keen to get me back out.

”We did that reasonably early on.

”We got back on the boat and I was able to participate as
part of the crew.”

The crew have moved on to the bigger, 30-foot-long Etchells
keeler and continue to feature in race honours.

”We seem to be able to cope with a wide range of conditions
and sail competitively with the other boats despite someone
being in a wheelchair.”

Aside from there being far fewer boats on Lake Wanaka than on
Sydney Harbour, Mr Smith said there were bigger wind shifts.

”Here, not only can we get the wind arriving quite quickly,
it can also shift from northerly to southerly within a matter
of a few minutes.”

Mr Smith runs his own business importing wheelchair parts and
says while he is probably not the first person in a
wheelchair to act as commodore of a yacht club, having two
helmsmen on wheels would probably make the club unique.

– mark.price@odt.co.nz


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SAILING: Brits advance on a testing day in Miami

SAILING: Brits advance on a testing day in Miami

IN POLE POSITION: Bryony Shaw

THE wind returned and racing resumed on day four of the ISAF Sailing World Cup Miami with British teams making the most of the opportunity with two days of the regatta left to run.

Seven British crews occupy medal positions heading into the business end of the week, with windsurfer Bryony Shaw, Sophie Weguelin-Eilidh McIntyre in the 470 women’s event, and the new 49er pairing of John Pink-Stuart Bithell all holding pole position in their respective Olympic classes, while British Sailing Team crews in the three Paralympic classes will be well-poised for their final day of racing today.

The Sonar crew of John Robertson, Hannah Stodel and Steve Thomas picked up both race wins in the three-person Paralympic event on Thursday to boost them into overall second place, while defending champion Megan Pascoe holds on to her lead in the 2.4mR event with Paralympic gold medallist Helena Lucas in overall third, just three points behind her.

Teammate Alexandra Rickham and Niki Birrell won the first of the day’s two SKUD races by a two-minute margin, and had a similar lead in the second race when they struck an abandoned anchor line, but still hold the overall lead heading into their final day of competition.

In the Olympic classes, today’s focus will be about booking berths in the medal races tomorrow, and British Sailing Team crews made good progress towards those yesterday.

Sophie Weguelin and Eilidh McIntyre showed good form on the 470 women’s course, picking up two race wins and almost a third until they had to take penalty turns for a port-starboard infringement just 20 metres from the final mark.

They have an eight-point advantage in the leaderboard, and McIntyre is happy with the pair’s progress so far this week.

“Our goals coming here were to work on our communication and our decision making so actually these (light wind) conditions have been really perfect for it. We’ve been doing really well, the tempo has been good in the boat and we’re really pleased.

“It’s not usually our preferred condition so it’s quite nice to have found a new strength and we’ve been working on that over the past couple of days.

Three top-three results for Bryony Shaw also give her an eight point lead in the women’s windsurfing standings, while the new 49er duo of John Pink and Stuart Bithell hold on to the top spot for another day with Stevie Morrison and Chris Grube just four points behind in fourth.

It was a solid day for Finn sailor Giles Scott with 5,5,4 from his three races, but Australia’s Oliver Tweddell had a better one with a race win and two seconds to take the overall lead by nine points.

The British Sailing Team Laser squad is advancing well – all four boats have made the cut for gold fleet racing on Friday, with Alex Mills Barton picking up a race win and a second from the fleet’s two races. Nick Thompson is poised just outside of the podium spots after a race win and ninth for his efforts.

“I’m really pleased,” said the three-time World Championship medallist of his day.

“The most pleasing thing was not really the result in the first race, it was the way I came back through the fleet. I didn’t take any big risks and just kind of fought my way back.

“It was the same in the second race – ninth isn’t the best result, but it’s a counter and again I fought my way back through the fleet. I guess it’s time to get off the startline properly!”

With three gold fleet races scheduled for today, Thompson believes that the eventual medallists will come to the fore.

“I think the regatta is literally going to be won and lost today. It’s effectively going to be double points, so like six races almost, so it’s going to be an exciting day and there should be some good breeze.”

Ben Saxton and Hannah Diamond are poised fourth in the Nacra 17 fleet, with Frances Peters and Nicola Groves occupying the same spot in the 49erFX standings, and Charlotte Dobson and Sophie Ainsworth just behind them in fifth.

The day got better as it went on for Luke Patience and Joe Glanfield, who posted a second place in their third race of the day to sit in eighth place, while Hannah Snellgrove will be pushing for the medal race spots in the Laser Radial fleet, currently in 17th place.

Racing at the ISAF Sailing World Cup Miami continues for all classes later today with the final races for the Paralympic classes and the penultimate day of competition for the Olympic classes, ahead of the medal races tomorrow.

For news and results, follow us at www.britishsailingteam.com on Facebook or on Twitter @BritishSailing.

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Columbia Boat Show hopes to shifts thoughts to sun from slush

As Wednesday’s rare snow turned to slush, some Midlands residents were dreaming of spring.

Many of them are longing for warm days on the lake or at the coast in their own boat.

So far this year, boat sales are up as much as 25 percent over last year at some of the shows around the region, said Craig Stukes, a spokesman for Ray Klepper Boating Center in Irmo.

That boat dealer will join 17 others at the Columbia Boat Show, Feb. 7 to 9 at the State Fairgrounds, to show off the latest watercraft to Midlands mariners.

“The early results on the early shows is everything is positive, the recession is over and everything’s rebounding,” Stukes said. “Do I think it’s going to be a banner year? Probably not. But I’m cautiously optimistic.”

Columbia’s boat sales community was just beginning to recover from several major Lake Murray drawdowns that had impacted boating for several years running when the economy plunged into the Great Recession.

“We were gearing up for everything bouncing back and then, wham, you get hit with the recession,” Stukes said. “It’s been a while since everything’s been outstanding, but everybody’s plugging along.”

The most popular boats so far this year have been pontoons and small “runabouts” from roughly 17- to 23-feet long, Stukes said. The market for cruisers is not great, he said, but there are indications that deck boats could make a comeback.

This year’s show will feature about 40 percent more dealers than the show did two years ago, Stukes said. In addition to a range of boats, patrons can expect a variety of vendors, food trucks and a children’s play area.

Even though there’s still snow on the ground, this is the time of year consumers typically start looking for a boat if they are in the market, Stukes said. That’s because if they want to order a boat that is not in stock, it will take a couple of months for it to arrive, he said.

“It’s good that it snowed this week, and it’s supposed to be 70 degrees (next) Saturday,” Stukes said.

If you go

What: Columbia Boat Show 2014

When: 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Feb. 7, 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Feb. 8, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Feb. 9

Where: State Fairgrounds, Assembly Street at Rosewood Drive

Cost: $8, adults; free, children 12 and under; parking, $2

More information: Columbiaboatshow.com


Similar news:

Columbia Boat Show hops to shifts thoughts to sun from slush

As Wednesday’s rare snow turned to slush, some Midlands residents were dreaming of spring.

Many of them are longing for warm days on the lake or at the coast in their own boat.

So far this year, boat sales are up as much as 25 percent over last year at some of the shows around the region, said Craig Stukes, a spokesman for Ray Klepper Boating Center in Irmo.

That boat dealer will join 17 others at the Columbia Boat Show, Feb. 7 to 9 at the State Fairgrounds, to show off the latest watercraft to Midlands mariners.

“The early results on the early shows is everything is positive, the recession is over and everything’s rebounding,” Stukes said. “Do I think it’s going to be a banner year? Probably not. But I’m cautiously optimistic.”

Columbia’s boat sales community was just beginning to recover from several major Lake Murray drawdowns that had impacted boating for several years running when the economy plunged into the Great Recession.

“We were gearing up for everything bouncing back and then, wham, you get hit with the recession,” Stukes said. “It’s been a while since everything’s been outstanding, but everybody’s plugging along.”

The most popular boats so far this year have been pontoons and small “runabouts” from roughly 17- to 23-feet long, Stukes said. The market for cruisers is not great, he said, but there are indications that deck boats could make a comeback.

This year’s show will feature about 40 percent more dealers than the show did two years ago, Stukes said. In addition to a range of boats, patrons can expect a variety of vendors, food trucks and a children’s play area.

Even though there’s still snow on the ground, this is the time of year consumers typically start looking for a boat if they are in the market, Stukes said. That’s because if they want to order a boat that is not in stock, it will take a couple of months for it to arrive, he said.

“It’s good that it snowed this week, and it’s supposed to be 70 degrees (next) Saturday,” Stukes said.

If you go

What: Columbia Boat Show 2014

When: 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Feb. 7, 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Feb. 8, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Feb. 9

Where: State Fairgrounds, Assembly Street at Rosewood Drive

Cost: $8, adults; free, children 12 and under; parking, $2

More information: Columbiaboatshow.com


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2014 Oceanbridge Sail Auckland: Paralympic Showdown

2014 Oceanbridge Sail Auckland: Paralympic
Showdown

31 January 2014

Oceanbridge Sail Auckland
2014, sailed at the home club of Auckland’s disabled
sailing programme, is about to play host to one of New
Zealand’s biggest ever Paralympic Class fleets. Four
2.4mR, four SKUD 18 and two Sonars will take part in the
regatta which kicks off
tomorrow.

Sonar
Earlier this month, Team
Kiwi Gold unpacked their two new Paralympic class Sonar
Keelboats, the first of their kind in New Zealand.
Oceanbridge Sail Auckland will be the first regatta for the
class in New Zealand, and helming a boat each will be Rick
Dodson and David Barnes, who sailed together to an 8thplace
finish at the IFDS 2013 Sonar World Championships.

The
Sonar is sailed by a crew of three sailors with physical
disability, and with just two boats in the country, the
regatta is sure to be an action packed dual between the
pair.

Skud 18
Also for the first time, all four
New Zealand based SKUD 18 boats will take part in the
regatta. London 2012 Paralympic crew Tim Dempsey and Jan
Apel have started separate campaigns, and this will be the
first major outing for Tim’s new teammate Gemma Fletcher.
Also new to the class is Jan’s skipper Paul Wager who is
taking part in Oceanbridge Sail Auckland for the first time
in 2014.

Tim and Gemma, along with most of the Paralympic
fleet, have been in a Yachting New Zealand supported
training camp for the last three days, getting up to speed
for the regatta and starting to prepare for the IFDS 2014
World Championships in Canada next August.

“The training
camp has been worthwhile even to just get all the Paralympic
sailors in the same place at the same time,” says Coach
Charlie Baillie-Strong. “This is the first time we’ve
run a clinic like this with all three classes, and the set
up at Royal Akarana Yacht Club has been great for video
debriefs.”

At Oceanbridge Sail Auckland, the SKUD 18 two
man keelboats will be sailed in the J3 configuration,
meaning that both skipper and crew must stay seated in the
centreline seats at all times while racing. Similar to last
year, some boats will have an able bodied crew member,
however this year, nobody will be allowed to
trapeze.

2.4mR
The 2.4mR fleet in particular is
destined to showcase tight racing over the next few days,
with 2012 Paralympians Paul Francis (pictured above) (NZL)
and Matt Bugg (AUS) going head to head with two Christchurch
sailors Andrew May (1996 and 2000 Paralympian) and Brett
Willcock.

Matt Bugg placed fourth at the 2013 2.4mR World
Championships and 7th at the 2012 Paralympics, and he has
been one of the training partners this week with all three
of New Zealand’s currently active 2.4mR sailors.

“It
sounds like a couple of the kiwi 2.4mR sailors will be going
to the IFDS Worlds this year too” Charlie continues,
“the fleet has really come alive again after being a bit
quiet this past year”.

Invited Classes: Hansa Liberty
and 303
Last year’s winner of the Hansa Liberty
class, Russell Phillips of Australia, has returned again to
front a defence of his title in the six boat strong fleet,
and he is sure to be given a run for his money by locals
including John Buchanan and Max Stacey who placed in the top
five last year.

Three teams from Singapore will make the
fleet of the Hansa 303 double handed class.

To follow
the action head to sailauckland.org.nz
– the
up-to-the-minute website features a social media feed where
competitors, supporters and volunteers posts using
#sailakl on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram will
paint a real-time picture of what’s happening on the
water.

About 2014 Oceanbridge Sail
Auckland

Oceanbridge Sail Auckland 2014 will take
place at the Royal Akarana Yacht Club from the 1st –
4thFebruary 2014.

The NZL Sailing Team are anticipated to
feature strongly in what is the biggest Olympic and
Paralympic class regatta in New Zealand, and alongside them
will be New Zealand’s top developing youth sailors and
keen competitors in a range of invited classes such as the
OK Dinghy and A-Class catamaran.

All Olympic and
Paralympic class boats are invited to take part: The Laser,
Laser Radial, Finn, 470 Men, 470 Women, 49er, 49er FX, RS:X
8.5, RS:X 9.5, Nacra 17, Skud 18, 2.4mR and also other
classes are encouraged: the OK Dinghy, 29er, 420, Liberty,
Hansa 303, Kiteboards, F18 and A Class Catamaran.

Over
four days of racing 11-15 races will take place for each
fleet, and the format for all classes will be fleet racing
with no medal race. All racing will take place in the
Waitemata Harbour, in the surrounds of Rangitoto Island,
North Head, Mechanics Bay and Browns Island.

Oceanbridge
Sail Auckland is made possible only thanks to the
contributions from principle sponsor Oceanbridge, and
supporters: Sport New Zealand, Yachting New Zealand, Royal
Akarana Yacht Club, Danske Mobler, The Landing and Orakei
Marina. Equally important is a team of more than 50
volunteers that are behind the success of this regatta every
year.

ENDS

© Scoop Media


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Hot Rum sailing series

Tyson Taylor

sports@pqbnews.com

The second of seven sailing races of the “Hot Rum” series was held last Sunday (Jan. 26) by the racing fleet of the Schooner Cove Yacht Club.

The races are conducted under the rules of the Performance Handicap Racing Fleet or PRHF, a recognized standard for racing in North America. This system penalizes a faster boat at the expense of a slower boat so that theoretically all boats are equal. The only variables are the weather and the skill of the crew.

The winds were as light as the fog was thick making it a very challenging contest for the skippers and crews of the four participating boats.

After the start of the race at 10:45 a.m., the competitors disappeared into the mists and many did not see one another until completing the course. Finding their way around the course in the fog proved very difficult for all of the crews. With almost zero visibility, blind luck was the extra factor for all the crews involved.

The next race in the series is scheduled for February 9.

Jan. 26 results:

Vessel               Skipper                 Time

1. Calais            Wayne Stremel     1:47.47

2. Freewind        Ian Watson           1:54.27

3. After Five       Andrea Bourdreau   1:59.10

4. Shingebiss    Neal Berger            2:00.32


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Boat sales on a new tack after Oundle firm’s appearance at top show

Boat builder Fairline is celebrating after a successful London Boat Show appearance that triggered strong sales across its maritime range.

Oundle-based Fairline Boats exhibited nine models at its stand, including the luxury boat brand’s striking new 48ft models.

The debut of the third model in Fairline’s 48ft range – the Targa 48 GRAN TURISMO – was one of the main highlights of the show.

Chief executive Kevin Gaskell said: “The introduction of this new range has played a significant part in the recent uptake in orders and recovery in forward sales that the brand has seen.

“To meet this demand Fairline is now actively recruiting up to 38 boatbuilders to work across its factories.”

The show also saw Fairline launch its 100th Squadron 78 model, which is now in its 12th year of production and isone of the brand’s most successful and iconic luxury motor yachts.

Mr Gaskell added: “We are delighted with the success we enjoyed at this year’s London Boat Show.”

He said that sales at the show had been excellent, with the final total exceeding last year’s figure.

He said the firm’s Concept Cinema had proved extremely popular with customers, visitors and industry guests.

The news comes after a difficult few years in which jobs have been axed and the company structure overhauled.


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Setting sail for distant waters

Setting sail for distant waters
Setting sail for distant waters

Sailing prodigy Jayden Dalton has the wind firmly at this back after securing a spot in the Australian side for the Optimist World Sailing Championships in Argentina during October.

The 14-year-old finished third out of more than 350 entrants in the Optimist National Championships in Melbourne earlier this month.

Now the young champ is looking forward to the prospect of sailing on the other side of the world.

“I’m just really happy and excited, ” he said.

“I’ve sailed overseas before in Singapore and New Zealand – it’s not hugely different, you just have to learn the tide and current.”

Dalton first took to the water four years ago with the Bunbury Sailing Club but has spent the last two years training out of Fremantle.

As well as finishing third overall as an individual, Dalton also played a key role in securing equal second for the WA Under-15s Optimist team.

“I really enjoy team racing because it is not just about trying to finish first individually, you have to work together to try and force your opponents into mistakes, ” he said.

Dalton said sailing was as taxing mentally as it was physically – one of the main reasons he enjoys it so much.

“The wind changes all over the place so you have to race smart and know what you are doing at all times, ” he said.

“You have to read the conditions and there is a lot of technicality in the boats.

“For instance if your ties slip and stretch too far you can be disqualified for sailing illegally.

“Your sails and your rudder and everything have to be checked off and signed.

“I probably spend about an hour before every race just making sure the boat is up to standard.”

Dalton will now take part in an Australian Optimist sailing team training camp next month before heading to the New Zealand Optimist Nationals in April.


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Not your grandpa’s pontoon: Premier leading surge in boat sales

Pontoon boats are lined up in the final stage of production at Premier Pontoons in Wyoming, Minn. (Pioneer Press: John Doman)

Pontoon: A flat-bottomed boat floating on metal tubes. Maybe 60-gallon steel drums. Folding lawn chairs optional.

No more.

The pontoon boat, long snickered at by anglers and pleasure boaters, is carving tight turns through the boating public. And it’s leaving more traditional V-hull family boats in its wake.

Think: When SUVs and minivans stormed into the auto market, pushing four-door sedans and station wagons to the trade-in lot.

The full impact of the pontoon revolution, which features larger boats with powerful engines and high-performance designs, will be on display this week at the Minneapolis Boat Show, which runs Thursday through Sunday at the Minneapolis Convention Center. More pontoons will be on display — and possibly sold — than any other style of boat.

Consider this: In 2009, 20 percent of aluminum outboard boats shipped in Minnesota were pontoons, according to statistics from the Marine Manufacturers Association. In 2013, pontoon market share had shot up to 42 percent.

This comes as the entire boating industry appears to have fully resurfaced from the Great Recession, which saw sales drop 40 percent to 50 percent. According to some figures from the trade group and interviews with manufacturers and dealers, sales, production and employment levels are near or ahead of 2006 levels.

It should come as no surprise that Minnesota, the state where the pontoon boat was invented in 1952, is thick in the middle of the trend, with a family-owned company leading many of the innovations.

NEW DESIGNS

In the early 1990s, Blaine native Bob Menne found himself between jobs, many of which had been in the marine industry. His last employer, Forester Boat Company, was in the twilight of its existence, and boat dealers he had known for years told him the market needed a new pontoon company. He should start one, several suggested.

“My initial thought was we’ve got enough boat builders in Minnesota,” Menne said. “I knew if we did it, we’d have to be different. We’d need new designs and a higher-end product because nothing like that was available at the time.”

The pontoon boat’s beginnings were humble. In 1952 in Richmond, Minn., farmer Ambrose Weeres placed a wooden platform on two steel cylinders, creating a stable, if not unwieldy, new kind of boat.

That image arguably saddled the pontoon industry for decades. Change was in the air in 1992, when Menne founded Premier Pontoons in Wyoming, Minn. Comfortable furniture was being added, and engines larger than 15-horsepower were pushing pontoons along at speeds greater than a putter. Premier’s influence was immediate.

“That first boat show in St. Paul, we were a big hit,” Menne recalled. “You could only get two colors of carpeting at the time.

Mary Peterson does a quality control final inspection on a Mirage changing room aboard a new 2014 Cast-A-Way model pontoon at Premier Pontoon in Wyoming, We added more colors. We used thicker gage aluminum. We got rid of wood, or any places that could soak up or collect water.”

One of his proudest patents is the J-Clip, a simple plastic gizmo that makes it easier to secure a boat cover than traditional snaps. “The ladies used to tell us they were breaking their nails putting the cover on,” said Menne, now 71, who frequently solicits female feedback. “My son (Tim) came up with the idea while driving back from the Indianapolis boat show one year. A lot of other companies copy things we do, and I don’t want to spend the money on litigation, but that one, the J-Clip, I’ll defend that patent with my life.”

INDUSTRY LEADER

Today, Premier employs about 250 workers in seven buildings in its Wyoming plants, just east of Interstate 35. Last year, the company produced between 2,500 and 2,600 boats, a volume that puts it among the top three or four pontoon builders in the country.

That’s a major rebound from just a few years ago, when production was down and Premier, like many other boat-makers, was laying workers off. Now they’re pumping out about 55 finished boats per week. That’s full capacity, and Menne said they’re looking to add a second shift of workers in anticipation of producing up to 3,000 boats per year. (Those figures don’t include the New Ulm operations of Weeres Pontoons, the company founded by Ambrose Weeres that Premier bought several years ago.)

The work is a mix of manufacturing and assembly. Aluminum sheets arrive and are rolled and welded into form.

A completed Premier pontoon boat is towed across the yard to the Hallberg Marina sales yard in Wyoming, Minn., for a new owner  on Tuesday.     (Pioneer Rails and plastic walls are bent into shape. Many items, such as the “furniture,” are made elsewhere and installed in Wyoming, but Menne is quick to note that the majority of the boat comes from Minnesota or the Upper Midwest. “Wiring harnesses from Grand Rapids, plastic components from Hoyt Lakes, aluminum anodizing and powdercoating from Minneapolis, sewing from Pine City. The number of suppliers from Minnesota is huge,” said Menne, who co-owns Premier with Gene Hallberg of Hallberg Marine, located just down the street.

Premier’s boats range in price from $20,000 to $150,000.

Yes, people are paying that much for pontoons.

To be clear, some of the models have little in common with pontoons of generations past other than the basic notion of a platform on floating tubes. Modern pontoons can be large, up to 10 feet wide and 30 feet long. They can be powerful, with twin 300-horsepower engines that push one model along at 52 mph. And they can be luxurious, with plush furniture, and a bar with a sink, grill and its own canopy (including wine-glass holders). Some models have a fold-up “changing room” that can also hold a portable toilet.

Or they can be more basic.

“They all sell,” said Dan Chesky, owner of Dan’s Southside Marine in Bloomington. “Pontoons right now are the hot thing, and Premier is the one pushing the innovation, pushing the envelope. I attribute it to the family. They use the products, and they know what people want.”

It’s unclear whether the image of the Minnesota walleye angler jigging for the state fish will ever become a guy in an armchair on a pontoon, but Chesky said he frequently sees customers trading in fiberglass-hulled family boats — Bayliner and Sea Ray brands — for pontoons.

He said obvious selling points for pontoons are the ease of boarding for aging boat owners and youngsters alike. But it doesn’t end there.

“That Premier (performance) hull, it corners and banks as well as almost any V-hull, you can fish all day and tow your kids in the tube or water skis, and then you can cruise under the stars at night,” Chesky said. “Even when serious fishermen come in, I’ll show them the pontoons.

“Sure, I still see guys — I’m sure I’ll see some at the boat show — who say, ‘I’ll never buy a pontoon.’ But these days, there’s always at least one of his buddies who’ll pipe up and be like, ‘Are you nuts?’ ”

Dave Orrick can be reached at 651-228-5512. Follow him at twitter.com/OutdoorsNow.

IF YOU GO

Minneapolis Boat Show

When: Thursday 2-9 p.m.; Friday, noon-10 p.m.; Saturday, 10 a.m.-9 p.m.; Sunday, 10 a.m.-5 p.m.

Where: Minneapolis Convention Center

Cost: Over 16: $11; under 16: free with paid adult; active military: free; Senior Thursday: $8 for over 62

On the web: MinneapolisBoatShow.com


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UAE

(MENAFN – Khaleej Times) Sponsored by the Jumeirah Group for the eighth year, the annual regatta has been a major highlight and permanent fixture in the UAE’s sailing calendar.
The event brings together top young sailing talent from across the emirates, including many of the UAE’s most experienced fleet racing competitors. DOSC has the biggest and most competitive racing fleets found in the Gulf and the Jumeirah Regatta included 10 categories including dingy boats and keelboats.

The three-day event kicked off with a long day race on Thursday along the coast line of Dubai. Friday and Saturday included competitive racing ’round the cans.’

Gareth Lloyd, general manager, DOSC, said: The Jumeirah Regatta was a fantastic weekend of racing and we have witnessed first class competition out on the water. There were over 140 boats that took part from all over the UAE with around 400 people on the water and this has been one of our best regattas to date. “

Piers Schreiber, Spokesperson for Jumeirah Group, said: “We were delighted to sponsor the regatta. It was extremely competitive and it was great community event which saw quality racing across all 10 categories.”


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