Archive for » May 5th, 2014«

Boat industry deals with economic tides – Tribune

Luke Hellier and his wife have been shopping for two years for their first boat.

They’ve researched online and shopped Craigslist and auctions. But one place they haven’t set foot is the showroom. “We’re trying to find a deal,â€� said Hellier, a 29-year-old from Edina, Minn. “We think we can save 20 percent or more from a private seller.â€�

Used boats have always outsold new, but five years after the recession, powerboat buyers of every stripe are still focusing on value, value, value. Boat manufacturer Brunswick surveyed 15,000 people and found that the majority liked boats but saw cost as a deterrent.

That’s causing manufacturers to rethink the way they do business, including maintaining or lowering the cost of every new boat from entry-level to high-end. Manufacturers are not only offering new boats below the $20,000 threshold, but even under $5,000 in a few cases.

Mark Niforopulos, general manager of St. Boni Motor Sports in St. Bonifacius, Minn., said that he’s been begging manufacturers for years to change their “exclusionistâ€� thinking. “We went through this fancy phase with all these expensive bells and whistles,â€� he said. “The industry is badly in need of a reset.â€�

Boat buyers choose used over new by a factor of 5 to 1, a ratio that retailers and manufacturers want to narrow. In 2007, used outsold new by only 3 to 1, according to the National Marine Manufacturers Association.

Part of the reason for new boats’ sinking sales was an abundance of bargains when 35 percent of boat dealers closed during the recession, said Matt Gruhn, president of the Marine Retailers Association of the Americas in Brooklyn Park, Minn. “There was a lot of repossessed product back then,â€� Gruhn said. “We hope those days are behind us.â€�

Recovery continues to ebb and flow. The number of new powerboats sold in the United States prerecession had been cut in half by 2010. In 2013, the number grew to more than 160,000, but it still doesn’t qualify as a recovery.

Irwin Jacobs, who owned 16 boat companies in the 1980s and still owns Larson Boat Group in Little Falls, Minn., said the growth in new boat sales, while not stellar, is at sensible levels. “We’re the first business to go in a recession, and the last to come back,â€� he said.

To rev sales, manufacturers and retailers say they’re putting value front and center. At Brunswick — which owns brands including Mercury, Bayliner, Lowe, Crestliner and Lund — Chairman and CEO Dusty McCoy said, “Every new model made should cost the same or less than the model it replaces.â€�

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Sailing: Burling completes first regatta with Team NZ

Peter Burling. Photo / Brett Phibbs

Peter Burling. Photo / Brett Phibbs

Peter Burling has completed his first regatta at the helm of Team New Zealand with a podium finish at the Extreme Sailing Series in China, maintaining the top three spot on the overall standings established by Dean Barker.

The 22-year-old Olympic silver medallist, who is splitting the regattas on the circuit with Barker as Emirates Team New Zealand look to groom new talent, guided the Kiwi boat to third in Qingdao – the same venue he made his Olympic debut at just 17 – with a consistent run of results over the four days. The final day produced boisterous conditions, with gusts of up to 25 knots blasting across the course, creating chaos.

Even with the 12-boat fleet split into two groups of six to minimise the risk of collision, there was still carnage, with overall leaders Alinghi involved in what has been described as the biggest crash in the series’ eight-year history. The Swiss team were T-boned by the Red Bull sailing team as they maneuvered in the start box, forcing both boats out of the final races with extensive damage.

Despite watching the final races from the dock, Alinghi still topped the podium in Qingdao after the international jury awarded them a redress – much to the relief of skipper Morgan Larson.

“It’s great to have won, we had such a great regatta that it was bittersweet to end that way, but I think we earned it so it feels good. We’re just glad that no one was hurt and that the boat is repairable – it will take a week in a good boat yard, but it will be back and ready to race,” he said.

In the race for the remaining podium spots, Burling kept a cool head to hold off the defending series champions The Wave, Muscat to take third place and keep the pressure on the overall leaders..

Burling, who was joined in the crew by his Olympic sailing partner Blair Tuke, Glenn Ashby, Jeremy Lomas and Edwin Delaat, said it was a good result considering it is the first time the group have sailed together, but having been in the position to challenge for a top-two placing, he was disappointed not to finish any higher than third.

“I suppose there’s a little disappointment that we couldn’t get there. Coming into the start of the week we would have been pretty happy getting a third, so as the week goes on you seem to up your expectations – but overall we’re really happy to come away with a podium and keep in contact with the top guys on the overall series rankings.”

Burling will again be at the helm for the next regatta in St Petersburg, Russia at the end of next month.

Extreme Sailing Series 2014 overall standings
1 Alinghi (SUI) 28 points
2 The Wave, Muscat (OMA) 26 points
3 Emirates Team New Zealand 24 point
4 Realteam by Realstone (SUI) 22 points
5 Gazprom Team Russia 15 points
6 Groupama sailing team (FRA) 12 points
7 Red Bull Sailing Team (AUT) 11 points
8 J.P. Morgan BAR (GBR) 10 points
9 SAP Extreme Sailing Team (DEN) 9 points
10 Oman Air 8 points
11 GAC Pindar (AUS) 3 points

- NZ Herald

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