Archive for » June 25th, 2014«

Investment group headed by Detroit Pistons owner sells Cadillac boat …


CADILLAC, MI – An investment group founded by Detroit Pistons’ owner Tom Gores has sold Rec Boat Holdings to the Bénéteau Group, an expansion-minded French company that is one of the world’s largest manufacturers of luxury yachts and powerboats.

Based in Cadillac, Rec Boat Holdings makes Four Winns, Glastron, Wellcraft and Scarab power boats. The company has annual sales of about $150 million and employs 475 people. Terms of the sale to the Bénéteau Group were not disclosed.

The company will be able “to expand its access to the European and global markets,” with its entry into the Bénéteau Group, according to a news release issued on Monday, June 23, by Platinum Equity Group, the Los Angeles investment firm founded by Gores in 1995.

“RBH has come a long way in the last four years thanks to a lot of hard work, a strong management team, great support from the dealer network and the dedication of so many committed employees,” said Platinum Equity Partner Louis Samson, who led the acquisition.

“With the turnaround complete and the business on sound operational footing, the time is right for a transition to new ownership,” Samson said.

“Bénéteau Group is a world leader in boat manufacturing and is a perfect strategic fit for the Four Winns, Glastron, Wellcraft and Scarab brands. We are putting the business in good hands going forward.”

RBH CEO Roch Lambert said the Cadillac-based firm has grown stronger since its acquisition by Platinum Equity in 2010.

“We have made remarkable progress on each of the core components of our turnaround: improved manufacturing efficiency, world class products and a powerful distribution network,” Lambert said in a news release.

“We have delivered on that strategy by constantly improving our processes and inspiring our people to be successful,” Lambert said.” The team in Cadillac is excited to join such a prestigious boat company as Bénéteau Group and we look forward to the opportunities ahead.”

During the past four years, RBH has redesigned the Four Winns and Glastron product lines, launching more than 35 new models, Lambert said. The company introduced an updated Wellcraft line this year.

RBH also launched a new Scarab line of jet boats in 2014 with three new models. A new Scarab dealer network was built from the ground up in 2013 with the company adding over 120 retailers worldwide, Lambert said.

The company also invested $9 million into the manufacturing operations in Cadillac, doubling employment from 2010, Lambert said.

Beneteau said the acquisition is part of its strategy to expand into the North American market for motorboats under 12 meters. Currently, motorboats make up 32 percent of its sales. Yachts make up 41 percent of its sales and housing contributes 27 percent.

Platinum Equity Group will retain ownership of Flippin, Ark.-based Fishing Boat Holdings, maker of the Ranger, Triton and Stratos boat brands.

Founded by Gores in 1995, Platinum Equity is a global investment firm with more than $7 billion in assets under management and a portfolio of operating companies that generated approximately $15 billion in revenue in 2013.

Platinum acquired the Cadillac-based boatmaking company in 2010, when it bought the assets of Genmar Holdings out of Chapter 11 bankruptcy. Genmar acquired the company in 2001 after Outboard Marine Corp., filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy. The company was founded in 1975 as the Four Winns Boat Co.

Jim Harger covers business for MLive/Grand Rapids Press. Email him at or follow him on Twitter or Facebook or Google+.

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San Diego Boat Show attendance soars, boosts summer sales

The 2014 Progressive Insurance San Diego International Boat Show closed Sunday, attracting 7,640 visitors throughout the four-day event, up 24 percent compared to 2013; the show’s footprint also increased this year, with 20 percent more exhibit space. Nearly 125 local, national and international companies exhibited at the boat show, and many are reporting it was the most successful show on the West Coast they’ve experienced in years.

“The team at Kusler Yachts continues to be impressed by the efforts put forth by the NMMA at the Progressive Insurance San Diego International Boat Show.  The show was a great success with one new Regulator Center Console boat sale and several new clients to follow up with.  Thanks again, NMMA!”  Michael Kusler, Kusler Yachts, Inc.

“This was the best summer boat show we’ve had in many years. The NMMA team helped build an impressive boat show that really impressed the crowds.  The team at South Coast Yachts wrote three retail contracts on new Beneteau Yachts at the show with plenty of qualified new leads to work with in the coming days. Thank you NMMA for all of your support in helping us all toward success!” Barrett Canfield, President, South Coast Yachts

“It was the first time participating in the San Diego show, and we’re very impressed with it. The docks were fantastic and there were lots of qualified customers – an “all in all” great show. The West Coast really needs a boat show like this, and I am sure it will continue to both improve and increase in size. See you next year!” Paul Hutton, Nordhavn Yachts Southwest

The 2014 Progressive Insurance San Diego International Boat Show, in partnership with the California Yacht Brokers Association, San Diego Superyacht Association and Port of San Diego, not only expanded its footprint in number of exhibitors but also the number of attractions aimed to attract attendees, including an expanded showcase of superyachts and a new seminar series on sport fishing and blue water cruising ‘south of the border’. Returning favorites included Try It Cove and the Discover Boating Hands-On Skills Training series, programs created to get people on the water through paddle sports and power boating and sailing lessons.

Boat show exhibitor participation, additions and features created a recipe for marketing success. Media coverage from the weekend included 48 plugs and feature stories on all of San Diego’s TV news programs, a front page story in the Business section of U-T San Diego and dozens of bloggers and community papers covering the event and sharing on social media.

For future exhibit opportunities, please contact Natalie Rankin,

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Ainslie tests waters with British America's Cup crew

By Alexander Smith

ISLE OF WIGHT England (Reuters) – Ben Ainslie isn’t angry, but sailing’s most successful Olympian is clearly irritated.

After a text book start to the annual “Round the Island Race” off Cowes, Ainslie and his crew aboard the sleek green racing yacht “Rebel” are locked in a tacking duel with another 45-footer called “Toe in the Water”.

It is 6.45 a.m. and under clear blue skies what promises to be a slow 50 nautical mile race has only just begun.

But with precious little wind, areas of “pressure” evident as darker patches on the calm waters, every turn of the boat – known as a “tack” – slows it down against a fast-running tide.

“We’re coming after you,” Ainslie says, half jokingly, half menacingly, after one of several close encounters with the maroon yacht. Its skipper has clearly decided to engage Britain’s America’s Cup hopeful by matching him tack for tack.

The 37-year-old Briton, who warned fellow competitors “you don’t want to make me angry” at the 2012 Olympics before going on to clinch gold in the single-handed Finn dinghy, gradually draws away as his boat makes its way up the Solent.

With an Olympic medal tally of four golds and one silver in consecutive games, Ainslie’s success continued last year when he helped bring Oracle Team USA back from the brink of defeat in the America’s Cup in San Francisco.

That remarkable victory helped him to launch his own campaign this month, signing up private sponsors, a design team and a crew including three-times America’s Cup winner Jono Macbeth, another New Zealand veteran Andy McLean and Britons David Carr, Matt Cornwell and Nick Hutton.

With this team, Ainslie is aiming to bring the “Auld Mug” to Britain for the first time since the trophy was won in an historic race around the Isle of Wight by the U.S. schooner “America” in August 1851.



The 2014 circumnavigation was meant to be an easy outing for Ainslie and his newly formed America’s Cup challenge team. But a last minute rigging glitch foiled hopes of a record attempt on board the 100-foot state-of-the art yacht “Leopard”.

So with only 45 minutes of practice on board “Rebel”, this is the first time Ainslie, Macbeth, McLean, Cornwell and Carr have raced together as a team.

By Ainslie’s standards, it is a recreational sail. A year ago, the stakes were much higher as he went for a record.

On a gusty day, Ainslie and his Ben Ainslie Racing (BAR) team broke the multi hull record for the race, rounding the island in just three hours and 44 minutes on a smaller version of the AC72 catamaran on which he later won the America’s Cup.

The mood was very different then. The day before he and friends including fellow Olympian Iain Percy had carried the coffin of their friend Andrew “Bart” Simpson, who died in San Francisco Bay when the catamaran he was training on capsized.

Ainslie recalls how he left Simpson’s wake at midnight and was picked up by a launch from Southampton on the mainland at 2 a.m to take him to Cowes to be ready for the start of the race.

He says that Simpson’s death will mean more rigorous structural tests for the new generation of catamarans in the next America’s Cup, where he expects seven or eight teams to compete for the right to challenge Oracle Team USA.

Getting his own team ready is a huge project, involving the construction of a base in Portsmouth and the building of practice boats, which the team will hone its skills on in the waters through which he is now sailing.

Ainslie’s crew say he is working night and day to get the money and backing he needs to make the bid a success.

Their skipper says they have raised around 40 percent of the 80 million pounds ($136.06 million) he reckons is needed to successfully become the challenger to Oracle Team USA in 2017, including the cost of building a new high-tech 62-foot catamaran.

“I would love to bring the America’s Cup back here. The America’s Cup is about designing and building the fastest boat and then going out and sailing it really well,” Ainslie told Reuters on board “Rebel” during Saturday’s race.

“We’ve been having some really good early discussions with a number of different brands and businesses. So I’m pretty confident we will be there and we will have the funding that we need,” he added.


Once past the jagged chalk rocks known as the Needles which protrude from the western end of the Isle of Wight, “Rebel” is clearly ahead of “Toe in the Water” and builds a healthy lead around the southern side of the island.

Ainslie is more relaxed, but still watching for every wind shift and giving instructions on tactics or trimming the boat. He never raises his voice, his directions more like wishes such as “I’m thinking about…” or “You might want to…”.

There is genuine affection for Ainslie among the newly-formed team, with Carr referring to him as “Guv” throughout the race as he seeks advice or reassurance on tactics.

And they rib their skipper when he ventures to the front of the boat, saying he’s about to produce a couple of distress flares and hold them aloft, in a recreation of the posture he adopted when he celebrated his last Olympic gold medal.

Ainslie responds with words of encouragement when the crew pull off a tricky “gybe” maneuver really well.

But any talk of line honours in the Round the Island Race is dashed when “Rebel” and the other leading boats pile up in a wind hole with just four miles still to go. “Toe in the Water” is able to spot the trouble ahead and manages to keep sailing.

Then the wind drops completely and Ainslie has no option but to “kedge”, dropping the anchor to stop the boat being swept backwards by the tide. Of the 1584 boats which entered the race, more than half retired, with only 715 finishing.

“Who says sailing isn’t fun?” Ainslie says, with a wry smile, breaking the despondent silence among the crew.

When the breeze does finally pick up again, Ainslie tries to find more wind on the opposite side of the channel.

But his gamble doesn’t pay off and by the time “Rebel” crosses the finish line after 10 hours and 18 minutes, “Toe in the Water” has comfortably beaten the America’s Cup winner.

“We had a great race… we got around in one piece, that’s the main thing,” says Ainslie with a smile as he looks forward to helming a fast catamaran in the Extreme Sailing Series in St. Petersburg later this week.

($1 = 0.5880 British Pounds)

(Editing by Ossian Shine)

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More people in Broward County are taking to the water in new boats. – Sun

More people in Broward County are taking to the water in new boats.

Registrations of new boats increased 17 percent in the year ending in March, after jumping 13 percent the year before, according to Info-Link Technologies Inc., a marine industry tracker based in Miami.

The reasons: an improving economy, attractive financing and people who are tired of waiting to buy, marine retailers say.

“We’re doing well in South Florida,” said Chuck Cashman, vice president of east operations for Clearwater-based MarineMax, the nation’s largest recreational boat and yacht retailer with about 55 stores in 18 states. “We’re seeing consistent, solid growth. We’re pretty well up over last year.”

Cashman oversees nine MarineMax stores from Martin to Monroe counties, including sites in Pompano Beach and Fort Lauderdale. He said sales of new boats in particular are “going very well.”

The rebound is a relief to an industry that weathered tough years after the recession. New-boat registrations in Broward County totaled 1,350 in 2008, but the numbers declined for three years after that.

The total number of recreational boats registered in Broward still has not recovered. It fell from 40,668 in 2012 to 40,208 last year.

Boat and supply dealers say the industry seems to have bottomed out. Both big and small boats are in demand this year, they say.

Dusky Marine in Dania Beach has seen an upswing in sales of its custom-built offshore and shallow-water sportfishing boats in the past two months, after a slower start to the year due in part to the lingering winter.

Just recently, two boats were sold, and more orders are rolling in.

“We’re backed up three to four months,” said Michael Brown, vice president and owner of the nearly 50-year-old business. “I can’t build them fast enough.”

Still, highly customized boats with luxury trimmings, priced from $55,000 to $70,000, are what people are buying most, Brown said.

“We build them from scratch to finish,” Brown said, noting that Dusky is one of only a few boat builders in Florida. “We’re a Florida boat built in Florida.”

Nationwide, sales of new boats are forecast to rise 5 percent to 7 percent in 2014, according to the National Marine Manufacturers Association, a trade group based in Chicago.

As estimated 166,800 new powerboats and sailboats were sold in 2013, an increase of 2.2 percent from 2012, the group says. Florida led the nation in sales of new powerboats, motors, trailers and accessories last year, with $1.93 billion, up 14 percent from 2012.

As the economy improves over the summer — a peak selling season for boats — the NMMA expects to see continued growth, President Thom Dammrich said.

He attributes part of that to boat makers trying to make new boats more versatile and appealing to entry-level boaters.

Last year was the first time since 2009 that new-boat sales began to close the gap with used, the NMMA said.

Sellers of small boats, boating accessories and other supplies say they’re riding the wave, too.

“We’re seeing a lot more traffic in the last six weeks or so, with more and more folks over the weekend,” said Erik Rimblas, southeast U.S. regional vice president for West Marine, a specialty chain retailer of boating supplies and accessories— the largest in South Florida.

The retailer, based in Watsonville, Calif., has about a half-dozen stores across Broward and Palm Beach counties, including its largest company store: a 50,000-square-foot superstore at 2410 S. Andrews Ave. in Fort Lauderdale.

“Fort Lauderdale is doing pretty darn well, and overall [sales] growth has been good,” Rimblas of the nearly 3-year-old superstore.

Hot sellers in recent weeks have included small inflatable boats, stand-up paddleboards and fishing kayaks — “anything to do with recreation on and around the water,” Rimblas said., 954-356-4209 or Twitter@TheSatchreport.

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Bluenose II sailing season in jeopardy

Nova Scotia’s historic sailing schooner the Bluenose II needs a modern hydraulic system to turn its 3,200-kilogram rudder and make it seaworthy, says the senior government official overseeing the vessel’s restoration.

David Darrow, the premier’s deputy minister, said Tuesday the work means the Bluenose II – known as the province’s roving sailing ambassador – likely won’t be setting sail this summer. Experts will be hired to design the hydraulic system and to investigate a backup system where buoyancy is added to the rudder to help it move, he said, adding that the solution will also have to be certified by regulators and tested at sea.

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“We’re doing our best to grease the skids so that … these activities can happen within the shortest possible time frame,” Mr. Darrow told a news conference at a fisheries museum in Lunenburg after the vessel underwent a sea trial on Tuesday. “That said, I must tell you I’m not optimistic we will be able to salvage much, if any, of this year’s sailing season.”

Mr. Darrow, who was handed the file by Premier Stephen McNeil after a series of cost overruns and delays, said he recently made a personal visit to the vessel. He said he leaned on the wheel with all his force and could barely budge it.

Experts say the wheel of the vessel should be turned with about 30 pounds of force, Mr. Darrow said, but it currently requires more than three times that pressure.

The four-hour test off the coast of Lunenburg was otherwise successful, but Mr. Darrow said it confirmed the rudder is just too difficult for most people to operate.

Kelliann Dean, the deputy minister of Communities, Culture and Heritage, told the province’s public accounts committee last week that the cost of restoring the vessel has risen to $19-million.

The Bluenose II, launched in 1963, is a replica of the original Bluenose, a Grand Banks fishing schooner that won worldwide acclaim for its graceful lines and speed.

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