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NMMA reports solid new-boat sales growth in 2014

Posted on February 6th, 2015

The U.S. recreational boating industry is estimating that it achieved growth of 7 to 8 percent in sales of new powerboats in 2014 and will see additional growth of 5 percent in 2015, according to the National Marine Manufacturers Association.

This is the industry’s third consecutive year of steady growth coming out of the Great Recession.

Total 2014 retail expenditures are expected to increase by as much as 5 percent, “which would eclipse 2007,” one of the healthiest pre-recession years for the industry, according to NMMA data. Total expenditures include retail spending on boats, engines, marine accessories and services.

In 2014 the strongest sales came from new ski and wakeboard boats, pontoon boats, aluminum fishing boats, fiberglass runabouts and personal watercraft.

Sales of larger cruising boats also started to see an uptick.

“An improved economy with GDP projected to grow 3 percent, an improving housing market, a stronger job market, increasing consumer confidence and a multiyear low on fuel prices have bolstered people’s financial outlook, which bodes well for new-boat sales,” NMMA president Thom Dammrich said in a statement. “Should these economic indicators remain positive, we anticipate sales growth of new boats to continue over the next three years.”

A record number of Americans — 89 million — got onto the water in 2013, the most recent figures available.

“We’re seeing boat dealers and manufacturers increase their space at boat shows around the U.S., signaling their anticipation of a strong boat-show buying season,” Dammrich said. “We expect all boat segments to see growth at boat shows — from personal watercraft to small family runabouts to fishing boats and large cruising boats — especially with the variety of exciting new boats being offered and as more people turn to boating in an improving economy.”

U.S. recreational boating facts and figures:

▪ Recreational boating retail expenditures (new and used boats and engines, trailers, accessories and services, including fuel, repair, storage, insurance and taxes) increased 3.5 percent in 2013, to $36.8 billion.

▪ Sales of powerboats (outboard, sterndrive, inboard and jet boats) were up 2.4 percent in 2013, reaching a total of 161,130 units. Unit sales are expected to have increased 5 to 7 percent in 2014.

▪ It’s not just new boats Americans are buying; an estimated 955,300 used boats (power, personal watercraft, and sail) also were sold in 2013.

▪ Made in America: Ninety-five percent of powerboats sold in the United States are made in this country. Recreational boating in the United States creates more than 338,500 marine industry jobs, supporting more than 34,800 businesses.

▪ Americans are taking to the water in record numbers: Of the 242 million adults in the United States in 2013, 89 million participated in recreational boating at least once, up 1 percent from 2012.

▪ There were an estimated 12 million registered boats (power, sail, and some canoes/kayaks and other non-powered boats) in the United States in 2013 (the most recent data available).

▪ Ninety-five percent of the boats on the water in this country are 26 feet or smaller.

▪ Seventy-two percent of American boat owners have a household income of less than $100,000.

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Capitola's Morgan Larson, 43, establishes himself as one of world's best sailors

Morgan Larson doesn’t make a very compelling argument that he’s getting too old to be at the top of his game.

At 43, the Santa Cruz native just guided the Swiss vessel Alinghi to victory in the 2014 Extreme Sailing Series, positioning himself at least at the fringes — if not near the center — of the discussion of the top sailors in the world.

Over the course of 11 months, he skippered the 40-foot ship and its three-person crew in nearly 230 races at eight international venues. When the final race concluded in Sydney, Australia, in December, the Alinghi had beaten out 10 teams chocked with Olympic and America’s Cup royalty. Among those left in his wake were double Olympic gold medalist and Red Bull skipper Roman Hagara, British Olympic legend and J.P. Morgan BAR skipper Ben Ainslie and Leigh McMillan, skipper of The Wave, Muscat, who has dominated the Extreme Sailing Series over its eight-year history.

Skipper Morgan Larson of Capitola sprays champagne on a crew member after their Swiss boat, Alinghi, won the Extreme Sailing Series 2014 in Sydney Harbour

Larson called the win the pinnacle, thus far, of a career that also includes two America’s Cups.

“It’s the highlight because of the level of competition,” he said in a phone interview from Hood River, Ore., where he lives with his wife and two toddlers when he isn’t in Capitola or out racing. “Two of the top four sailors in the world right now — well, two or three of them — were in that series. It was a big deal.”

In turn, winning the Extreme Series makes Larson a big deal.

“Morgan’s domination of the series shows his extreme level as a pro sailor,” David Ullman, a four-time world champion and former coach of the U.S. Olympic Sailing Team, wrote in an email to the Sentinel. “He is one of the best in the world.”

Larson expected America’s Cup teams to come knocking on his hatch after the win. They did at first, but none picked him up for their 2015 campaign. It’s a slight Larson attributes to his age and a movement in sailing toward younger skippers.

“A couple different people were interested and there were opportunities that slipped through the cracks and didn’t materialize,” he said. “It was kind of disappointing.”

“Ten years ago, I would think I was in the prime age of the top guys doing the job I would do on a boat. But boats have changed and the successful guys are now in their mid-30s,” he added. “If I was 30 years old and had the season I had, I would have several teams offering me multi-million-dollar contracts. But I’m not, and that’s just the reality.”

A few years back, Larson would have used the gap in his schedule to try to make the U.S. Olympic team. That was his ultimate goal in 2002, when he narrowly finished second in the 49ers trials. Now, however, as he tries to remodel a house and care for his daughter Lola, 2, and adopted son Taj, 1, he says that ship has sailed.

“It’s hard for a 43-year-old to go after the Olympics. It’s a big-time commitment with no real pay,” he said. “As much as it is what I would love to be doing, and I’m thinking I’m young enough physically to be doing it, somewhere in there you have to swallow the reality that you’re not as young and quick as a 25-year-old.”

So, Larson has been looking for new challenges. It seems he’ll find plenty of them this year.

Instead of taking his pick of events and boats, Larson actually found himself scrounging for assignments in late December, after Alinghi owner Ernesto Bertarelli announced that he wanted to go out on a win and would not enter the boat in the 2015 Extreme Sailing Series, scheduled to begin in Singapore on Thursday. In January, however, Bertarelli approached Larson with the idea of entering the revamped Great Cup 32 Racing Tour. The five-stop European tour features 32-foot foiling catamarans and mostly privately funded boats, unlike the Extreme Series, where Alinghi was the only unsponsored boat.

Larson has won three world championship titles and 15 national titles, but has never sailed a GC32. Then again, neither had he sailed an Extreme 40 until he joined the series aboard Oman Air three years ago. He skippered that team to second place, then joined Alinghi last year, when the team boat tied for first but lost the tiebreaker.

Larson, who has reputation of being appropriately laid back for a sailor from Santa Cruz, said his crew taught him a lot about the vessel and made the difference in this third try in the series.

“At the end of the day, they didn’t need leadership,” he said. “There were times when we broke our mast and the chips were down. All the people had been in the sport and were really level-headed, and that made it really easy. ”

Others, however, say that kind of teamwork needs nurturing. And over the years, Larson has developed an adeptness at bringing out the best in his crews. That’s why experienced sailors like Ullman and David Hodges of Santa Cruz — winner of 12 national championships as a skipper — believe Larson will have plenty of years and plenty of opportunities to return to the America’s Cup, if that’s what he wants.

“You have to have a special talent,” said Hodges, owner of Ullman Sails Santa Cruz. “Some is experience and some is just having the touch.”

Contact Julie Jag at 831-706-3257 —— (c)2015 the Santa Cruz Sentinel (Scotts Valley, Calif.) Visit the Santa Cruz Sentinel (Scotts Valley, Calif.) at Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC AMX-2015-02-06T05:16:00-05:00

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It’s all about the boats at Detroit Boat Show


boatAs Michigan’s economy rebounds, so has the marine industry in this Great Lakes State.  New boat, motor, trailer and accessories sales in Michigan have increased over the past 4 years. Along with this increase comes an increase in the size of the state’s premier boating sales event – the Detroit Boat Show.

Boat shows remain the single most important selling tool for dealers,” said Show Manager Nicki Polan.  “57 percent of those who buy a boat attend a boat show for a number of obvious reasons.” The Detroit Boat Show will bring hundreds of boats and 150 of the state’s finest marine businesses under one roof.  It would take someone weeks to see as much product on their own. We are also seeing more manufacturer involvement, which means more manufacturer exhibits and a sexier show.”

At 350,000 square feet, the Detroit Boat Show cruises into Cobo Center February 14 – 22. The show will be 50,000 square feet larger than in 2014 and a full 150,000 square feet larger than 2012.  The Detroit Boat Show features hundreds of boats for fishing, skiing, wakeboarding and cruising – also paddle boats, kayaks, paddleboards and inflatables. New product launches from engine and boat manufacturers, will be featured as well as marinas, canvas shops, aftermarket accessories, ski and wakeboarding equipment, tow toys, electronics and docks, lifts, and hoists.  It is the best place to shop all things boating,” said Polan.  “Show prices are also extremely competitive and buying a boat in February assures boats will be ready for an early summer launch.”

More than 68,000 consumers are expected to attend to see and buy hundreds of new 2015, 2014, and 2013 model boats of all types and sizes. Unlike auto shows, people actually buy boats at the Detroit Boat show.  Many dealers say they can attribute up to 50-percent of their annual sales to sales and leads generated at this show.  More than 1,500 boats, worth an estimated $50 million, traditionally sell during the Boat Show’s nine-day run, and shortly after to leads generated at the show.

The Detroit Boat Show also offers exhibits selling boating accessories and services including motors, dockage, water toys, skiing and wakeboarding gear, boating and fishing accessories, electronics, boat gear, nautical gifts, artwork and much more.

Special features also make this event fun for those looking to get a taste of summer in the middle of Michigan’swinter, including: The popular Rail Jam – a live wakeboarding show, Kid Rock’s Cowboy boat featured in his “All Summer Long” Video, Water-rollerz, The Bat Boat, Kid’s Boat Building Center, Meet a Mermaid, Learn to Sail Simulator and Exhibit, win a Stand Up Paddle Board, promotions, giveaways and a Free boater safety course.

Admission to the boat show is $12 for adults; children 12 and under are free with an adult. Save $2 per ticket if you buy tickets in advance on

Special admission days include:

Monday, February 16: Senior Day – seniors 65 and older receive free admission

Tuesday, February 17: Ladies Day – Ladies get in free Muscular Dystrophy Awareness.

Wednesday, February 18: A Boat Load of Food – Free admission with 5 cans of food for Gleaners Food Bank between 3 6 p.m.

Thursday, February 19: Half price tickets – get your tickets for only $6 between 3 6 p.m.

Discount tickets and hotel accommodations at the Courtyard by Marriott Downtown Detroit are available  HOURS: Saturdays: 11 a.m.9 p.m.; Sundays Monday: 11 a.m.6 p.m.; Tuesday through Friday: 3 p.m. – 9 p.m.  Parking is available at Cobo Center and surrounding lots.  The Detroit Boat Show is owned and produced by the Michigan Boating Industries Association (MBIA), the voice of boating inMichigan. Proceeds generated from this event are returned back to fund boater’s interests via MBIA’s programs and services. FOR MORE INFORMATION visit, or call 1.800.932.2628.


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Sailing the Ionian Islands in Greece

SAILING AWAY: The catamaran we chartered, a 42ft Lagoon, at Emerald Bay, Antipaxos Island, Greece.

PERFECT SECLUSION: Kioni, Ithaca island, Greece.

LOCAL SPECIALTIES: Seafood delights in Greece.

ISLAND BLISS: Spartahori village one of our favourite stops in the Ionian islands, Greece.

FREE-STYLE: Charter catamaran, anchored Mediterranean-style.

MYTHICAL MAGIC: Our private beach at Ithaca, the fabled home
of Homer.

Any tourists may have a preconceived idea of traditional Greek islands but it’s probably quite different from the reality of the seven main islands of the Ionians. Unlike the harsh, arid landscapes and white-washed houses that mark the islands on the eastern side of Greece, on the western side of mainland Greece, the Ionians are lush, green and soft. Even the architecture is different – houses in the villages feature red-tiled roofs and walls daubed in brilliant pastels, hinting at their Roman-influenced heritage.

It’s a heady mix – warm, vibrant colours contrasting with the verdant green landscape and clear waters and larger-than-life, friendly Greek hosts. Thanks to our rampant Kiwi dollar, the islands are relatively inexpensive. In short – the islands were a wonderfully dry, sunny escape from a New Zealand winter when we took a 14-day yacht charter there in September.

Benign and predictable sailing conditions make for a popular cruising area. The cruising guides say that from May to November the wind blows northwest at Force 2 – 5. The direction is correct, but it’s more like Force 1 most of the time. Hoisting sails is a novelty. In 14 days we hoisted our main only three times – and still motor-sailed.

Boating NZ’s latest issue is now in stores.

The wind – such as it is – typically arrives around lunch time and dies at sunset. This makes for an easy sailing schedule. It’s all eye-ball navigation and there are no currents or tides to worry about. Distances between islands are one to three-hour passages with scores of bays dotted around every island. At the head of every bay is a little village, typically with a long quay for mooring, stern-to.

Some quays offer lazy lines, but mostly it’s a case of dropping the pick and reversing in, with enthusiastic restaurateurs standing by to grab your stern lines. Most – but not all – of the mooring is free, with there’s an unspoken agreement that, in return for the mooring, you will eat at the adjoining restaurant. Many quays have shore power and water; all the restaurants have free WiFi. Again, the password is accessed in return for dining there.

As with any popular cruising destination, the major issue is getting to your next port relatively early to secure a good position on the quay, where there are usually between four to 30 tavernas and plenty of shops. For the more energetic, there are good walks, though the heat, even in September, tends to dissuade you from long hikes.

Stern-to mooring isn’t compulsory, and many cruisers prefer to anchor around the periphery of the bays, running long stern lines ashore and coming in by dinghy, but quay mooring is extremely convenient, even if the all-night parties can be a little boisterous.


The Ionian cruising season runs from May to November but September is ideal to miss the bulk of the crowds and to find cheaper charter prices.

Our bareboat party comprised three couples on a Lagoon 42 catamaran. Equipped with four double cabins, each with an en suite bathroom, we had more than enough space and the air-conditioning was welcome when connected to shore power at night. The Lagoon was fitted with an inverter and a generator, ideal for charging phones and iPads.

Catamarans have pros and cons. They offer masses of space, great areas for chilling, no heeling and, with their inherent stability, the likelihood of unsettled tummies for those prone to mal de mer is slim. Twin engines help when easing into tight berths.

Space is a cat’s biggest appeal and its biggest drawback. Securing a berth for the night operates on a first-come, first-serve basis and it’s doubly difficult for a cat. You have to arrive at a port by around lunch time, when all the monohulls have left and before the next influx arrives, and even then it often requires getting the boat into an improbable space.


Multiple charter companies operate at two main bases in the Ionians, at Corfu and, further south, at Levkas. Depending on your budget and available time, you can opt for one or two weeks. Two weeks allows you to explore many more of the islands, particularly if you opt for a one-way cruise as we did, in which you deliver the boat to a different port.

We picked up our boat in Corfu and sailed south, stopping off at Plantaria and Mourtos on the mainland before heading to Levkas, Meganisi, Paxos, Antipaxos, Cephalonia and Ithaca, and then returning the boat to Levkas – about 250 miles all up.

It’s difficult to pick a favourite island and port – they’re all colourful, charming, welcoming – but Kioni on the island of Ithaca is among my top three. According to legend, Ithaca is the birthplace of Homer – the poet and author of the Iliad and Odyssey epics, not the chubby kid from The Simpsons – and it’s utterly beautiful.

Spartahori, a bay on the island of Meganisi, offers some of the most majestic views over the Ionians. It’s a long, sweaty climb to the tiny village at the top, but the beer that greets you is ice-cold.

Spartahori village, like most of the villages in the islands, is swathed in brilliant bougainvillea but has never enjoyed the services of a town planner ­- it’s narrow roads are unbelievably convoluted.

The restaurant down at the water’s edge, where owner Babi reigns supreme, is legendary throughout the islands. He runs a lively and hilarious operation involving the entire extended family. Grannies, aunts, cousins – and lots of the children – are the waiters/chefs/washing up crews.

His brother, a fleet-footed chap, divides his time between cooking and dashing out in the dinghy to help yet another late-arriving yacht on to the quayside, no doubt securing their meal orders at the same time.

The quay was designed for, say, 20 vessels – he easily squeezed in about 40. Many were simply moored erratically to other boats. Leaving the next morning required delicate manoeuvring. Enormous fun.

Paxos and its smaller sister Antipaxos are particularly attractive. The latter’s Emerald Bay is a favourite day anchorage and large ferries also bring in scores of day trippers from the mainland for a swim in its pristine waters.

Fiskardo, the northernmost port on Cephalonia, is an excellent base for more extensive exploring. We hired two cars there – they don’t have vehicles for six people – for a day trip around the island. In the centre of the island is an unusual geological feature, an underground lake with only a small roof aperture letting in light.

A boatman punts you around in a small wooden skiff – eerie, but spectacular. Lunch at the waterside restaurant in Asos, a tiny village on the western side of the island, offers the world’s best crispy sardines – bar none.

Despite Greece’s fragile economy and debt crisis, there is zero evidence of financial hardship in the Ionian Islands. This could be because the restaurants and shops operate on a cash economy and credit cards are rarely accepted.

The islands are magical. Greek cuisine offers scores of traditional standards: souvlaki – skewers of lamb, beef, chicken or seafood or a mix of all; moussaka and gyros, with the inevitable tzatziki – cucumber and yoghurt dip, and aubergines swimming in olive oil. I don’t know what they do to the tomatoes in Greece, but they are unlike tomatoes anywhere else in the world. Sublime, particularly in the ubiquitous Greek salads, with large pieces of goat feta.

The seafood is also particularly good and the availability of this food – fresh, enormously varied and in great abundance in even the smallest little village – intriguing. Where do they get the tuna, sardines, squid, mussels, octopus, prawns, scallops and anchovies? Anyone who’s dived in the Mediterranean will tell you the water’s unbelievably clear but devoid of sea life. So from where does this bounty come? New Zealand?

While Greek wine is mediocre at best, the Mythos beer is excellent, though they serve it in 500ml bottles and drinking a litre at one sitting tends to leave you rather glazed.

The most difficult aspect to Ionian chartering is getting there – two long-haul flights and quite a bit of time in airports. But if you have the resilience and a good bunch of friends to share the cost and the experience, it’s worth the effort. But go easy on the Mythos.


Until about five years ago chartering in the Mediterranean required only the bareboat skipper to provide a resume of experience. Pressure from the insurance industry and Coastguard authorities has changed that. You now need at least a Day Skipper’s ticket to prove your competence, and your first mate must provide a brief resume to illustrate their abilities.


There are plenty of flights between Europe’s main centres and Corfu. Leaving the Ionians is more problematic if you leave from a different port. After delivering the boat to Levkas we flew from the nearby airport at Preveza on the mainland.

Flights out of Preveza are relatively limited and cater mainly for the German and Austrian charter market. Most of the flights are to Vienna and Frankfurt, which means a connecting flight to centres such as London or Paris.

This article was first featured in the November issue of Boating New Zealand. For more like this subscribe at

 – Boating NZ

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