Archive for » December 6th, 2014«

Sailing-Stranded global race crew recovering in Abu Dhabi

ABU DHABI, Dec 6 (Reuters) – The Volvo Ocean Race crew who crashed into a reef in the Indian Ocean and spent two days stranded on an island surrounded by sharks, have flown to Abu Dhabi.

The nine sailors of Danish-backed boat Team Vestas Wind were being debriefed by race officials and given any psychological support necessary.

“The priority remains the crew, and the sponsors and the race are concentrating now on ensuring their well-being is continued to be taken care of,” a Volvo Ocean Race spokesman said on Saturday.

The boat remains on the reef in St Brandon and the team and race officials are assessing how it can be retrieved.

“It looks doubtful that it can be repaired to join the race at a later stage but the team and its sponsors are determined to remain a part of the event in one shape or form,” the spokesman said.

The crew were rescued from the island of Ile du Sud on Wednesday and spent two days in Mauritius. Ile du Sud is surrounded by sharks and barracuda, according to the local coastguard on the archipelago of St. Brandon.

The team issued a statement from Australian skipper Chris Nicholson saying that human error, rather than any technical fault, was to blame for the collision in which the 4.5 million euro ($5.53 million) boat hit the reef at 19 knots (35 kilometres an hour).

“The miracle is that nobody was badly injured or even killed. Instead, they escaped with no more than minor scratches and bruises,” the spokesman added.

The incident last Saturday took place around the midway point of the second leg between Cape Town and Abu Dhabi of the nine-month global race which started in Alicante, Spain on Oct. 4 and is scheduled to finish in Gothenburg, Sweden, on June 27.

Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing, skippered by Britain’s twice Olympic silver medallist Ian Walker, won the opening stage and is leading on leg two with just over 1,500 nautical miles to go.

The six remaining boats in the fleet are expected to arrive in the Emirates next Saturday. Latest placings:

1. Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing, 2. Dongfeng Race Team (China), 3. Team Brunel (Netherlands), 4. Team Alvimedica (Turkey/U.S.), 5. MAPFRE (Spain), 6. Team SCA (Sweden).

(Editing by Ed Osmond)

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Unique mall boat displays generate significant leads

As boat sales continue to see a gradual upward trajectory, it’s paramount that dealers continue to get creative with their marketing. Some of the best methods are tactile in nature: It’s difficult to not imagine cruising on the water with the wind in your face when you’re on or near a boat. One Wyoming dealer is providing this visual in spades and garnering interest with its existing market.

Midway Auto and Marine is temporarily displaying 24 of its new and used boats at the Rimrock Mall in Billings, Mont., in a space formerly occupied by a Scheels Sporting Goods store. Mall officials say they are still seeking a permanent tenant but the Wyoming-based dealership has been granted permission to stay indefinitely until said tenant is found.

A team of six Midway employees began moving boats into the space on November 10 and spent 10 days hand pushing the vessels through the mall. Midway is currently displaying its new Larson and Supreme brands, as well as 13 used boats of various brand models.

“I thought it would be a great way to get exposure, get the new brand of boats out there, get our name out there,” said Ken Grant, owner of Midway. “We sell a lot of boats into the Billings areas so it’s a good market.”

He contacted the Rimrock Mall, which welcomes 1.5 million visitors during the holiday months of November and December, and made an agreement for two boats to be displayed. The mall reached out to him and alerted him of 40,000 square feet temporarily available for use instead, which Grant accepted. Grant is currently in the process of gaining a Montana dealer’s license so he can keep the boats in the mall.

Two Internet kiosks complement the boats to provide shoppers with accessible details on the over 100 boats Midway currently has in stock. Midway also displays a number of signs outlining the benefits of purchasing from its dealership and each boat comes with an information sheet.

Grant said that while it was originally intended to be an unmanned display, he hopes to add a staff person at the mall who can answer questions and assist potential customers.

The mall boat display helps Midway plant the seeds of interest during the holiday season and the dealership hopes to push leads into sales as it enters its peak selling season during boat shows.

“Every time I’m up there washing the boats down or dusting them, I strike up conversations. There’s a constant flow of people going through [the mall]. I’ve had conversations that have generated several really good leads,” said Grant. “I’m sure it’s going to generate a lot of sales for us when people get ready to buy [after the holiday season].”

Midway is based in Lovell, Wyo., 90 miles south of Billings, with additional locations in Cody and Worland. The business began as an auto dealership in 1995 and started selling boats in 2007, beginning with the Reinell brand. The dealership sold 25 boats in its first year and now sells 150 per year. Midway’s business model is unique because 90 percent of the company’s boat sales come from Internet consumers. Midway has no indoor boat showrooms.

“Because 90 percent of our boats are delivered to people, it’s not like we have high traffic flow of people coming into our dealership,” said Grant.

The boats are shown only through studio photos and videos and the dealership offers no-risk delivery, allowing customers to decide not to purchase the boat if it arrives to their home in an unexpected condition. Delivery fees are covered within 300 miles of its locations. Midway offers a buyback program where the customer receives the full purchase price of their old boat towards a new model, and all used boats come with an in-house warranty that covers the engine and outdrive for the first summer.

“We have to have a good custom website in order for people to get enough information to feel comfortable buying the boat sight unseen,” said Grant. “[It’s] a very detailed website – it has condition reports, NADA book sheets, videos, pictures, all the specs on the boats – everything they need to make a decision. Our website really is our showroom.”

Grant is open to other display opportunities in the future. He asserts the importance of getting creative with marketing boats to help sell the idea of having a boat in the family. Once they can envision using the boat together, they are willing to make that big purchase.

“The better you can make your product look,” said Grant, “it just becomes more effective for people to want to become involved in boating.”

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