Archive for » February 1st, 2015«

Flippin' dramatic at model festival

Tony Rusbatch drives his model airboat by remote control during the Otago Model Engineering Society's  festival week show.
The boat gets into trouble in heavy seas on the Charles E. Hazard Memorial Pond.

Murray Vince wades out to retrieve the stricken vessel. Photos by Peter McIntosh.

The shipping lanes were busy in Dunedin at the weekend, with
navy ships, merchant vessels, fishing boats and sailing craft
vying for space, when the Alligator Tours airboat got into
trouble in heavy weather and flipped.

Fortunately, the potentially disastrous scenario was played
out on a much smaller scale than real life, and was
restricted to the quite safe environs of the Charles E.
Hazard Memorial Pond. And Murray Vince, wearing waders, was
on hand to retrieve the overturned airboat.

What is colloquially known as ”the pond” was just one site
for model engineers to show off their creations on the first
day of the Otago Model Engineering Society’s festival week
show in St Kilda on Saturday.

The show began on Saturday and continues until February 8.
And to honour 100 years since the beginning of World War 1,
the 2015 event had a military theme, convener Michael Forrest

There was a wide variety of models, from trains to planes and

Mr Forrest said the club had a membership of about 115 people
keen to indulge in what he said was a creative outlet.

”What we do is make models. It’s creative – it’s part of
being human to have creativity in you,” he said.

For Mr Forrest, a train set he got for Christmas began a
lifelong interest in trains, and the instructions for the set
in French and German began a lifelong interest in languages.

The Otago Vintage Machinery Club and Dunedin Model Aero Club
were also involved in the show.

Footnote: The airboat was soon back on the water after its
model drama.

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Underwater during the recession, boating/marine industry is riding a wave of …

Sales of boats and marine products plunged deep underwater during the recession, but the industry has roared back in the past couple of years in the Sacramento area, throughout California and nationwide.

Experts cite various factors for the rebound: an improving economy, looser credit, increasing numbers of baby boomers making big-ticket purchases and a surge in the popularity of on-the-water activities enjoyed by younger generations.

“We fell off a cliff about five years ago,” said Dave Geoffroy, vice president for the western region of the National Marine Manufacturers Association. “Homes were going into foreclosure, and people were making hard choices. On top of that, manufacturers didn’t build many boats in those years. But we lived through it.”

Geoffroy said industry sales have improved for the past several years across the nation. In California, he said, the rebound started in earnest a little more than a year ago.

NMMA said sales of powerboats totaled 161,130 units nationwide in 2013, the most recent year for which full statistics are available. That was up 2.4 percent from the previous year. The association is projecting a 5 percent to 7 percent year-over-year increase in 2014, once all the numbers are tabulated.

In California, NMMA said sales of power boats, engines, trailers and accessories in 2013 totaled $451 million, up a nation-leading 23 percent over 2012. Total boat registrations in the Golden State in 2013 were 820,490, up 6 percent over 2012.

It’s a big change from the doldrums of the recession. Some Sacramento-area boat/marine operations went out of business from 2008 to 2010. Others suffered mightily.

Sally Mello, co-owner of Mello Marine at 2504 Mercantile Drive in Rancho Cordova, remembers the downfall.

Mello and her husband, Mike, were part of a partnership of stores, and she said “we were making money hand over fist” before the recession. By 2008, the bottom had dropped out of the economy and the boating/marine market, and the partnership subsequently folded.

Mello said she and her husband worked hard to save money and other assets, which enabled them to reopen in 2010 as Mello Marine in a closet-size space across the street from their current location.

The new business was helped along by an emerging on-water recreation activity that captured the attention of increasing numbers of water sports enthusiasts across the nation – paddleboarding. Mello Marine stocked paddleboards and related accessories of all stripes as the craze gained steam. The store also touted expert instruction for those who wanted to take up the activity.

It paid off. New paddleboard sales went from a handful in 2011 to about 300 last year. Paddleboards generally cost between $700 for a basic version up to around $4,000. Lightweight carbon fiber boards and paddles have opened the wallets of serious paddleboarders. Mello herself is a top-flight paddleboard racer.

One of the best things about paddleboarding is that it covers a wide age group, from 16 to 75 by Mello’s reckoning.

Powerboats are another ballgame. Mello said the age demographic for powerboat buyers is about 50 to 70. Mello Marine sells Centurion-brand powerboats, and the price range for a new boat is about $70,000 to $120,000. Even so, sales have boomed of late.

Mello said she sold five new boats in 2013, but that jumped to 22 last year. Used boat sales went from 40 to 60 year over year. Two months ago, Mello Marine moved into a 10,000-square-foot space, where colorful boats and paddleboards are exhibited side by side. The shop also includes a freshly stocked accessories room.

She said powerboat sales have been aided in part by greater interest in wakesurfing, where a surfer trails behind a specially designed boat, surfing in the boat’s wake. Mello also noted that comparatively older buyers of powerboats are not necessarily purchasing them solely for their golden years: “We’re seeing grandparents who are buying boats for the kids.”

Most significant, Mello said, “banks are lending again. I can’t stress that enough.”

She said getting a loan for a new boat was virtually impossible in 2010, and it continued to be a struggle into 2013, with perhaps 20 percent of prospective buyers able to get financing. In 2014, Mello said that jumped to around 50 percent.

Craig Larson, who oversees sales at Larson Marine at 11361 Folsom Blvd. in Rancho Cordova, agrees that economic conditions have improved dramatically “and business right now is good … that 2008-09 period was a disaster.”

The family-run Larson operation has been around since 1969 and is marking its 20th year at its current site in 2015. Craig Larson, 43, says that established presence helped the business stay afloat during the tough times.

“No question that repeat customers were a huge deal for us. Our customers stuck with us, and that really helped,” he said.

While the current weather is not ideal for boaters, the boat show season has kicked off, and the prime boat-buying season in California will run from now into early April. At last weekend’s San Francisco Boat Show at Pier 48 and McCovey Cove adjacent to ATT Park, organizers said crowds and exhibitors were up 20 percent over last year.

Jorgen Bateman, show manager of the March 12-15 Sacramento Boat Show Off Road Exposition at Cal Expo, said dealers in San Francisco “were selling products, not just talking.”

Bateman said “we’ve already outgrown our footprint” for the March show in at Cal Expo. Consequently, he said a 22,000-square-foot tent will be erected on the grounds to accommodate the overflow of exhibitors.

“I think there are several things going on now,” Bateman said. “Low gas prices have certainly helped, and the economy is a little better. People are not as cautious as they were two years ago. They have some disposable income and are more confident about going out and making that investment in a lifestyle.”

The NMMA’s Geoffroy agrees: “I think we’re seeing pent-up demand, and customers are getting more confident as times have gotten better … We’re seeing more people starting out with the smaller items, paddleboards, maybe a kayak or a canoe. That’s the nice thing; there’s a lot of product available for even younger buyers.

“For older buyers, there’s a lot of new green technology coupled with more fuel-efficient boats. And with gas prices being so low right now, that has helped.”

Call The Bee’s Mark Glover, (916) 321-1184.

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ISAF Sailing World Cup: Double gold for NZ

New Zealand has won double gold at 2015 ISAF Sailing World Cup Miami after Jo Aleh and Polly Powrie, and Alexandra Maloney and Molly Meech secured victories in the 470 and 49erFX events today.

A further three of the NZL Sailing Team also come away from Miami with a top five finish in what has been a successful regatta for the kiwi contingent.

Andy Maloney was 4th in the Laser and 5ths went to Gemma Jones and Jason Saunders in the Nacra, and to Paul Snow-Hansen and Dan Willcox in the Men’s 470. Sara Winther finished 9th in the Laser Radial.

49erFX Gold

Sailing a total of 15 races across the opening five days of the regatta Maloney (22 years old) and Meech (21 years old) proved the most consistent of the 40 strong fleet coping best with the variable and tricky conditions that Miami produced this week and opening up a massive 50 point gap earning them the gold medal before the start of today’s medal race.

Assured of the gold medal already the kiwi pair came home in 9th in today’s medal race and conclude the regatta 53 points ahead of second place.

Maloney says, “Definitely, the whole fleet had its moments. It was all about being consistent this week and no one quite found that consistency. It’s good to start the year with win and it’s great to secure our spot for the Abu Dhabi finals.”

“Winning the first race on the opening day whilst many of the others failed to finish definitely helped. It gave us a bit of a points buffer but anything could have still happened. It definitely wasn’t over, until it was over.”

Taking victory at this ISAF Sailing World Cup Regatta is significant for Maloney and Meech who have made regular podium appearances through 2013 and 2014, highlighted with the 49erFX World Championship crown in 2013. It secures them a spot in the ISAF Sailing World Cup Final in Abu Dhabi in October which, after format changes from ISAF, is limited to only 20 boats in each class.

Not only that it demonstrates to their rivals, including the formidable Brazilian pairing of Martine Grael and Kahena Kunze, that they’re on top form coming out of a short break from international competition over the New Zealand summer.

The 49erFX skiff is a debut class at the Rio Olympic Games in 2016 and Alexandra Maloney (Murrays Bay Sailing Club) and Molly Meech (Tauranga Yacht Powerboat Club) got into the boat together as soon as the new equipment was revealed in early 2013.

Women’s 470 Gold

The story of Jo Aleh (28 years) and Polly Powrie’s (27 years) victory here at ISAF Sailing World Cup Miami is similar to their NZL Sailing team-mates. They too sailed so well through days one to five that they were well ahead of the rest of pack going into today’s double-points finale, with a 19 point gap.

However if Hannah Mills and Saskia Clark (GBR) could force the kiwis into making an error today a disqualification would leave the Brits in with a chance to overthrow what looked like certain victory for Aleh and Powrie. But the kiwis showed their class to take 2nd place in today’s medal race to secure the gold medal, while the British finished 6th and have to settle for silver.

The Women’s 470 fleet in Miami of 30 boats, includes the world’s top sailors in the class and Aleh and Powrie will be delighted to open the year with victory over both Mills and Clark (GBR), who were Olympic silver medallists in London 2012, as well as reigning world champions Lara Vadlau and Jolanta Ogar of Austria.

Laser, Laser Radial, Men’s 470 and Nacra

Andy Maloney has finished well in the 100 plus Laser fleet improving his position during gold fleet racing to end the regatta in 4th overall. The Murrays Bay Sailing Club representative, who recently defended his New Zealand National Championship title, was 3rd in today’s medal race edging him up one position on the final day. Sam Meech ends the regatta in 13th, and Mike Bullot in 23rd.

Gemma Jones and Jason Saunders will be disappointed to let the bronze medal slip from their grasp in today’s Nacra mixed multihull medal race. Lying 3rd going into today’s top ten finale the kiwi pair placed 6th and end the regatta in 5th overall. The top five result in this Olympic class featuring a mass of sailing talent, is still an impressive result for Jones and Saunders who opened the series with a string of top three results showing they can foot it with best.

Paul Snow-Hansen and Dan Willcox come away from ISAF Sailing World Cup Miami with a 5th place finish after they finished today’s medal race in 10th place.

Sara Winther has also earned a top ten finish for New Zealand with 9th overall in the Women’s Laser Radial class. The Takapuna Boating Club single-handed sailor, who represented New Zealand in the class at the London 2012 Olympic Games, finished today’s medal race in 4th.

Winther reports; “Solid medal race, but still 9th overall. Good week of learning and lots to improve on. Bring on 2015!”

ISAF Sailing World Cup Miami attracted 856 sailors from 63 nations to compete across the ten Olympic and three Paralympic events. It is the second regatta in the 2015 ISAF Sailing World Cup Series which includes events in Melbourne (AUS), Miami (USA), Hyeres (FRA), Weymouth (GBR), Qingdao (CHN) and Abu Dhabi (UAE).

ISAF Sailing World Cup Miami: New Zealand’s final results

1st Jo Aleh and Polly Powrie – Women’s 470

1st Alexandra Maloney and Molly Meech – 49erFX

4th Andy Maloney – Laser

5th Paul Snow-Hansen and Daniel Willcox – Men’s 470

5th Gemma Jones and Jason Saunders – Nacra 17

9th Sara Winther – Laser Radial

13th Sam Meech – Laser

23rd Mike Bullot – Laser

26th Erica Dawson and Ellie Copeland – 49erFX

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