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Stuart Boat Show opens with strong first day – TCPalm.com

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Outdoors reporter Ed Killer talks about the setup for the Stuart Boat Show. Setup began Tuesday, and was ahead of schedule, at site of 44th annual Stuart Boat Show which will run from Friday, Jan 12 to Sunday, Jan. 14.
ED KILLER/TCPALM

Throughout the footprint of the Stuart Boat Show on Friday morning, people were smiling. Exhibitors, dealers, show-goers with serious queries about new and used boats and others who just want to go out and spin a few props, were excited about the opening day of the 44th annual expo, the largest boat show on the Treasure Coast.

The weekend event, presented this year by Infiniti, features more than 200 exhibitors and 500 boats from inflatables and paddlecraft up to a $5 million, 90-foot-long yacht. Included in the show are a full range of marine offerings ranging from accessories and services to equipment, electronics and motors.

Boat lifts, hurricane protection systems, theft deterrent and security systems, travel and tourism services, finance and insurance, boat yards, marinas, a full complement of resorts, air service and destination planning for the nearby Bahamas, less than 100 miles from Stuart, are all awaiting inspection from resident and visiting boaters and those who hope to soon join in the boating lifestyle.

“We’ve seen a couple of boats we like including a Regulator,” said Nicole Eggleton, of Jupiter and Connecticut, who was checking out the Stuart Boat Show on Friday with her husband, Joe, and daughters Heather, 6, and Sage, 3. “We’re on our way to check out a Jupiter, the Bahama 41 and if we can find it, Invincible.”


Stuart Boat Show opens with strong first day

CLOSE

Outdoors reporter Ed Killer talks about the setup for the Stuart Boat Show. Setup began Tuesday, and was ahead of schedule, at site of 44th annual Stuart Boat Show which will run from Friday, Jan 12 to Sunday, Jan. 14.
ED KILLER/TCPALM

Throughout the footprint of the Stuart Boat Show on Friday morning, people were smiling. Exhibitors, dealers, show-goers with serious queries about new and used boats and others who just want to go out and spin a few props, were excited about the opening day of the 44th annual expo, the largest boat show on the Treasure Coast.

The weekend event, presented this year by Infiniti, features more than 200 exhibitors and 500 boats from inflatables and paddlecraft up to a $5 million, 90-foot-long yacht. Included in the show are a full range of marine offerings ranging from accessories and services to equipment, electronics and motors.

Boat lifts, hurricane protection systems, theft deterrent and security systems, travel and tourism services, finance and insurance, boat yards, marinas, a full complement of resorts, air service and destination planning for the nearby Bahamas, less than 100 miles from Stuart, are all awaiting inspection from resident and visiting boaters and those who hope to soon join in the boating lifestyle.

“We’ve seen a couple of boats we like including a Regulator,” said Nicole Eggleton, of Jupiter and Connecticut, who was checking out the Stuart Boat Show on Friday with her husband, Joe, and daughters Heather, 6, and Sage, 3. “We’re on our way to check out a Jupiter, the Bahama 41 and if we can find it, Invincible.”


UK boating industry buoyed by weak pound

Sunseeker 76Image copyright
MiKe Jones

The UK’s boat and yacht industry has seen revenues surge to their highest level since the financial crisis after the weaker pound helped drive up sales.

Sales rose by 3.4% to £3.1bn in the year to April 2017, according to a report by lobby group British Marine.

It said that the depreciation of the pound since the EU referendum had boosted the sector by making products cheaper for international buyers.

Overseas sales for UK marine manufacturers rose by 4.7% last year.

It’s the sixth consecutive year of growth for the industry, British Marine said.

“These impressive figures demonstrate how the industry has successfully cashed in on the pound’s devaluation since the Brexit referendum in 2016,” said Howard Pridding, chief executive of British Marine.

Staycation boost

Revenues last reached £3.1bn in 2008-09 as recession gripped the world’s major economies.

The fall in the value of the pound has also helped the domestic market as holiday-makers decided to stay in the UK.

Examining the trends over the second half of last year British Marine said 60% of the industry’s tourism specialists reported an increase in sales over the summer.

Mr Pridding said: “As the pound has dipped, many Brits have rekindled their love for barges, yachting, watersports holidays and canal cruises in and around the UK.”

The figures were released as part of the opening of the five-day London Boat Show which runs until 14 January.


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Fair deal for Swan Boats?

The bid to operate the city’s iconic Swan Boats is so restrictive only one family can likely match the exact specifications that call for oak frames, foot-propelled paddle wheels and mock birds on the back — the same design that’s been around since 1877.

The Paget family boasts the boats are where “Memories are made” — but nobody’s flocking to compete for the $600,000-plus annual business for which bids are due by the end of the month.

“There’s so much uniqueness in this bid, it’s unlikely someone can accommodate it in so short a time frame,” Boston Finance Commission Executive Director Matthew Cahill said.

The Swan Boats — as Boston as the Old North Church and Fenway Park — turned back $25,796 to the city last year, according to an audit provided to the Herald.

Gross revenues topped $665,000, the audit shows, from the boats and souvenirs the family sold.

The Pagets of Jamaica Plain — who did not comment for this story — have traditionally kept ticket prices low, at $3 for adults and $1.50 for children. The greatest expense was for labor costs, at $473,866, but the audits Swan Boats provided to the Boston Parks Department do not have a salary breakdown — which Cahill said the city should demand.

“I’d recommend they ask for a more deep dive in their audits going forward,” Cahill said.

Six boats are set to be launched on the Boston Public Garden lagoon in April, as they have for the past 141 years, if the Pagets win the three-year contract as expected.

The oldest Swan Boat still circling the lagoon was built by John Paget in 1910. John, the son of founder Robert Paget, had six children with his wife, Ella. The rest is Swan Boat history.

The Paget family just completed a three-year contract. The Parks Department owns the lagoon and city officials are required by law to put the popular tourist attraction up for public bid — but the latest request for proposals was released just after New Year’s and will close at the end of the month.

“I’d recommend they put the contract out much earlier, the city could put this out in September and assign it in November to give people time,” Cahill said, adding that Swan Boats provided a unique service that’s difficult to replicate.

The three-ton boats, which carry 20 passengers, have a design that includes the classic large copper or fiberglass white swan in the stern.

The bid lays down specific requirements for any provider to maintain that design: “Every boat must be constructed of oak with copper covered frames and solid brass fittings, with a foot propelled paddle wheel mechanism, which is visually concealed by double-swan reliefs to the size, style and construction of the existing swan boats.”

In addition, the bid calls for any provider to already have the necessary boats — which Cahill said would be difficult to construct in a one-month period — and to be the “primary operations and maintenance company” for the full length of the contract.

As for the quick turnaround on the bid, Parks and Recreation spokesman Ryan Wood said the city is following state law.

The RFP requires the provider pay the city $5,000 up front to operate the boats and also give a percentage of gross ticket sales and souvenir sales.

The clock is ticking on any Swan Boat rivals.


Similar news:

Fair deal for Swan Boats?

The bid to operate the city’s iconic Swan Boats is so restrictive only one family can likely match the exact specifications that call for oak frames, foot-propelled paddle wheels and mock birds on the back — the same design that’s been around since 1877.

The Paget family boasts the boats are where “Memories are made” — but nobody’s flocking to compete for the $600,000-plus annual business for which bids are due by the end of the month.

“There’s so much uniqueness in this bid, it’s unlikely someone can accommodate it in so short a time frame,” Boston Finance Commission Executive Director Matthew Cahill said.

The Swan Boats — as Boston as the Old North Church and Fenway Park — turned back $25,796 to the city last year, according to an audit provided to the Herald.

Gross revenues topped $665,000, the audit shows, from the boats and souvenirs the family sold.

The Pagets of Jamaica Plain — who did not comment for this story — have traditionally kept ticket prices low, at $3 for adults and $1.50 for children. The greatest expense was for labor costs, at $473,866, but the audits Swan Boats provided to the Boston Parks Department do not have a salary breakdown — which Cahill said the city should demand.

“I’d recommend they ask for a more deep dive in their audits going forward,” Cahill said.

Six boats are set to be launched on the Boston Public Garden lagoon in April, as they have for the past 141 years, if the Pagets win the three-year contract as expected.

The oldest Swan Boat still circling the lagoon was built by John Paget in 1910. John, the son of founder Robert Paget, had six children with his wife, Ella. The rest is Swan Boat history.

The Paget family just completed a three-year contract. The Parks Department owns the lagoon and city officials are required by law to put the popular tourist attraction up for public bid — but the latest request for proposals was released just after New Year’s and will close at the end of the month.

“I’d recommend they put the contract out much earlier, the city could put this out in September and assign it in November to give people time,” Cahill said, adding that Swan Boats provided a unique service that’s difficult to replicate.

The three-ton boats, which carry 20 passengers, have a design that includes the classic large copper or fiberglass white swan in the stern.

The bid lays down specific requirements for any provider to maintain that design: “Every boat must be constructed of oak with copper covered frames and solid brass fittings, with a foot propelled paddle wheel mechanism, which is visually concealed by double-swan reliefs to the size, style and construction of the existing swan boats.”

In addition, the bid calls for any provider to already have the necessary boats — which Cahill said would be difficult to construct in a one-month period — and to be the “primary operations and maintenance company” for the full length of the contract.

As for the quick turnaround on the bid, Parks and Recreation spokesman Ryan Wood said the city is following state law.

The RFP requires the provider pay the city $5,000 up front to operate the boats and also give a percentage of gross ticket sales and souvenir sales.

The clock is ticking on any Swan Boat rivals.


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Ed’s Best Bets at Stuart Boat Show – TCPalm.com

“You have to see it!”

Expect to see a little bit of that sentiment shared on social media this weekend during the 44th annual Stuart Boat Show presented by Infiniti. One of the greatest qualities of the Stuart Boat Show every year is its timing.

It’s perfect. Literally.

It comes two months after the Fort Lauderdale Boat Show kicks off the unofficial “boat show season.” It comes a month before the Rose Bowl of boat shows — the Miami International Boat Show.

It means the newest, latest and greatest in the boating industry can be seen, inspected, felt and examined at the Stuart Boat Show. Here are a few of the things I think you should check out if you love boats or plan on keeping up on what is new in the boating industry for 2018.

Galeon 510 Skydeck

Find it at the MarineMax display on E Dock. It has gunwales which fold down to make an expansive party patio and give it nearly 20 feet of beam. Friends not included.

METCo Marine Electronics

Mark Palazzo and his staff bought two of the Treasure Coast’s most well-established marine electronics sales, service and installation businesses and rolled them all into one late in 2016 to create the Stuart-based METCo. Now the company services boaters from Sebastian to Delray Beach and carries three of the biggest brands in the boating electronics world — Garmin, Raymarine and SIMRAD. Stop by the large display tent near the middle of the show to register to win one of two personal locator beacons for boating safety.

Pursuit DC 365 and Tiara 38 LS

Head down the A Dock to find the Ocean Blue Yacht Sales of Stuart display which includes boats built by Fort Pierce’s Pursuit Boats. The Pursuit DC 365 (for dual console) is an ideal offshore fishing or island cruising weekend boat for the Treasure Coast angler. The Tiara 38 LS, a sister company to Pursuit, offers the same quality and construction with a different set of features designed to meet the needs of the versatile boater. Both boats were debuted at Fort Lauderdale. 

Bertram is back

Bertram is a legacy of the South Florida boating lifestyle. Vice president of sales Tommy Thompson hopes boat show attendees take a moment to check out how a well-known brand has reshaped itself for the modern boater.

“At shows all over the U.S. and Europe, we have literally had clients come just to see the new Bertram 35,” he said. “We finally have a boat available to show off at the Stuart show and I expect the same result. Come see what the fuss is all about.”

Edgewater 320 CC

Seagate Marine Sales in Stuart knows the 2018 Edgewater 320 CC will bring in the center console fan, but when they enter the display space near the middle of the show, they will also see the unique lines of the elegant Rossiter Boats.

What’s in a Billfish?

Billfish Boatworks builder Brandon Vernese may be the new kid on the block in the Fort Pierce custom boat building neighborhood — literally building boats in the same block as brands such as Maverick, Pathfinder, Pursuit and Bluewater. But he has made a big splash in a short period of time beginning with a 39 Walkaround and 39 Center Console, adding a 27 center console, but then hitting a home run with the 24 bay boat. At the show, Billfish has a 24 with the top deck left off so potential buyers can see how the boat is built below the water line which leads to its quality and performance.

Then schedule a sea trial on the D Dock with Monty Peters who promises to not get you wet. 

Seminar City

Want some helpful tips on fishing with your kid? Or are you planning to take an extended trip aboard the trawler yacht you just purchased? Find out the answers to these questions and much more with helpful free seminars at the Stuart Boat Show METCo Seminar Tent. The full schedule is available at Stuart Boat Show.

Bahamas Pavilion

Michelle Miller of the Marine Industries Association of the Treasure Coast recommends to anyone who plans on visiting the Bahamas anytime soon to stop the Stuart Boat Show’s Bahamas Pavilion.

“Whether flying there or traveling there aboard one’s own boat,” Miller explained, “the Bahamas Pavilion literally offers one-stop shopping with more than 12 resorts represented and more.”

This space showcases resorts, marinas and best ways to get there while Junkanoo music will fill the air adding to the Bahamian atmosphere.

Infiniti Lounge and Champagne Bar

Take a break. Relax. Get off your feet and into a new Infiniti by visiting the Stuart Boat Show’s title sponsor space on the main concourse. Show-goers will be able explore the vehicles on display and engage with Infiniti product specialists who will show how each model — including the full size QX80, with maximum 8,500-pound towing capacity—fits into the boating lifestyle. 

MIATC booth

It’s always a must to stop by and say hello to the folks at the Marine Industries Association of the Treasure Coast booth located just inside the north gate’s entrance. There are always hands-on displays and plenty of things to learn about the more than 400 marine businesses on the Treasure Coast, the 5,000 jobs and $619 million in economic impact locally.

Stuart Boat Show

When: Friday-Sunday

Where: 54 to 290 N.W. Dixie Highway, Stuart (west of the Old Roosevelt Bridge)

Hours: 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Friday and Saturday; 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday

Admission: General $13; veterans $11; children 12 and younger $6

Parking: Free bus shuttles from designated parking areas throughout downtown Stuart

Information: StuartBoatShow.com and also Facebook and Twitter

 


Similar news:

Ed’s Best Bets at Stuart Boat Show

“You have to see it!”

Expect to see a little bit of that sentiment shared on social media this weekend during the 44th annual Stuart Boat Show presented by Infiniti. One of the greatest qualities of the Stuart Boat Show every year is its timing.

It’s perfect. Literally.

It comes two months after the Fort Lauderdale Boat Show kicks off the unofficial “boat show season.” It comes a month before the Rose Bowl of boat shows — the Miami International Boat Show.

It means the newest, latest and greatest in the boating industry can be seen, inspected, felt and examined at the Stuart Boat Show. Here are a few of the things I think you should check out if you love boats or plan on keeping up on what is new in the boating industry for 2018.

Galeon 510 Skydeck

Find it at the MarineMax display on E Dock. It has gunwales which fold down to make an expansive party patio and give it nearly 20 feet of beam. Friends not included.

METCo Marine Electronics

Mark Palazzo and his staff bought two of the Treasure Coast’s most well-established marine electronics sales, service and installation businesses and rolled them all into one late in 2016 to create the Stuart-based METCo. Now the company services boaters from Sebastian to Delray Beach and carries three of the biggest brands in the boating electronics world — Garmin, Raymarine and SIMRAD. Stop by the large display tent near the middle of the show to register to win one of two personal locator beacons for boating safety.

Pursuit DC 365 and Tiara 38 LS

Head down the A Dock to find the Ocean Blue Yacht Sales of Stuart display which includes boats built by Fort Pierce’s Pursuit Boats. The Pursuit DC 365 (for dual console) is an ideal offshore fishing or island cruising weekend boat for the Treasure Coast angler. The Tiara 38 LS, a sister company to Pursuit, offers the same quality and construction with a different set of features designed to meet the needs of the versatile boater. Both boats were debuted at Fort Lauderdale. 

Bertram is back

Bertram is a legacy of the South Florida boating lifestyle. Vice president of sales Tommy Thompson hopes boat show attendees take a moment to check out how a well-known brand has reshaped itself for the modern boater.

“At shows all over the U.S. and Europe, we have literally had clients come just to see the new Bertram 35,” he said. “We finally have a boat available to show off at the Stuart show and I expect the same result. Come see what the fuss is all about.”

Edgewater 320 CC

Seagate Marine Sales in Stuart knows the 2018 Edgewater 320 CC will bring in the center console fan, but when they enter the display space near the middle of the show, they will also see the unique lines of the elegant Rossiter Boats.

What’s in a Billfish?

Billfish Boatworks builder Brandon Vernese may be the new kid on the block in the Fort Pierce custom boat building neighborhood — literally building boats in the same block as brands such as Maverick, Pathfinder, Pursuit and Bluewater. But he has made a big splash in a short period of time beginning with a 39 Walkaround and 39 Center Console, adding a 27 center console, but then hitting a home run with the 24 bay boat. At the show, Billfish has a 24 with the top deck left off so potential buyers can see how the boat is built below the water line which leads to its quality and performance.

Then schedule a sea trial on the D Dock with Monty Peters who promises to not get you wet. 

Seminar City

Want some helpful tips on fishing with your kid? Or are you planning to take an extended trip aboard the trawler yacht you just purchased? Find out the answers to these questions and much more with helpful free seminars at the Stuart Boat Show METCo Seminar Tent. The full schedule is available at Stuart Boat Show.

Bahamas Pavilion

Michelle Miller of the Marine Industries Association of the Treasure Coast recommends to anyone who plans on visiting the Bahamas anytime soon to stop the Stuart Boat Show’s Bahamas Pavilion.

“Whether flying there or traveling there aboard one’s own boat,” Miller explained, “the Bahamas Pavilion literally offers one-stop shopping with more than 12 resorts represented and more.”

This space showcases resorts, marinas and best ways to get there while Junkanoo music will fill the air adding to the Bahamian atmosphere.

Infiniti Lounge and Champagne Bar

Take a break. Relax. Get off your feet and into a new Infiniti by visiting the Stuart Boat Show’s title sponsor space on the main concourse. Show-goers will be able explore the vehicles on display and engage with Infiniti product specialists who will show how each model — including the full size QX80, with maximum 8,500-pound towing capacity—fits into the boating lifestyle. 

MIATC booth

It’s always a must to stop by and say hello to the folks at the Marine Industries Association of the Treasure Coast booth located just inside the north gate’s entrance. There are always hands-on displays and plenty of things to learn about the more than 400 marine businesses on the Treasure Coast, the 5,000 jobs and $619 million in economic impact locally.

Stuart Boat Show

When: Friday-Sunday

Where: 54 to 290 N.W. Dixie Highway, Stuart (west of the Old Roosevelt Bridge)

Hours: 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Friday and Saturday; 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday

Admission: General $13; veterans $11; children 12 and younger $6

Parking: Free bus shuttles from designated parking areas throughout downtown Stuart

Information: StuartBoatShow.com and also Facebook and Twitter

 


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Boat dealers power ahead as economy picks up – Houston Chronicle

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Dealers at the Houston Boat Show anticipate stronger local sales this year as oil prices stabilize and buyers look to replace vessels damaged by Hurricane Harvey.

Hundreds of dealers showcased more than 1,000 boats at the 63rd annual expo, which occupied the entire showroom floor at NRG Center. Many sold boats to buyers cheered by recent economic gains and fielded questions from those assessing replacement options after receiving their insurance checks.


The interest builds on last year’s sales momentum, which picked up after a plunge during the oil bust. Daniel McCormick, general manager of SMG Wake in Conroe, said he at last feels comfortable forecasting a positive year after months of uncertainty.

“We’re excited,” he said. “It was a hard-hit segment.”


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Though local dealers saw sales drop as oil prices bottomed out in 2015, many recorded increases last year amid slow-but-steady economic improvements that benefited the entire retail industry.

Locally, rising oil prices coincided with a decline in the state unemployment rate, which settled at a record low last month. Chill Pillsbury, a sales associate at MarineMax in Seabrook, said sales at his dealership rose steadily for the first eight months of the year. Then Hurricane Harvey slammed the coast and hovered over Houston, destroying or damaging an estimated 13,500 boats worth $155 million, according to data from the U.S. Boat Owners Association.

Unlike auto dealers, who saw an immediate spike in sales as Houstonians rushed to replace flooded cars, boat dealers anticipate a latent uptick as Harvey-affected residents complete home repairs and other priorities.

Pillsbury, whose dealership serviced as many as 50 Harvey-damaged boats, already received some interest at the show from buyers whose vessels were totaled. He said he expects to see replacement sales begin in earnest during the second quarter, before the summer boating season.

“There will be a lot of pent-up demand,” he said.

The show, which began on Friday, had a high attendance last weekend. As many as 75,000 people are expected to attend the show, which runs through Sunday.

“Dealers have had strong sales,” said Ken Lovell, the show’s longtime president.

The boats on the floor modeled improvements in fuel economy, steering and horsepower. The latest technology, Lovell said, is vastly different from the basic equipment aboard the boats at the show in 1988, when he first took the helm.

Pontoon boats, once considered clunky, squarish cruisers for the sunset years, have seen a spike in sales driven in part by more streamlined designs, updated features and major improvements in speed. The National Marine Manufacturers Associations estimates sales in that segment increased last year by as much as 8 percent, slightly more than other types of boats.

Lynn Kirkpatrick and his son walked the exhibits at the show Wednesday afternoon, a tradition they’ve shared for more than 10 years. But this year, for the first time, they considered buying a boat.

Kirkpatick’s wife can no longer ride the jet skis they used to haul to their house on Canyon Lake, so they plan to replace them with a boat fit for cruising. He and his son left with a photo of a 22-foot NauticStar model to show her.

“We want something she can enjoy,” he said.

Martin Borrego came to the show in search of a picnic boat, a sort of cruiser more common in New England and Florida than in Texas. He wants to start a charter business out of Clear Lake with his wife, who lives with him on a sailboat they recently took from New Jersey to Galveston on a 40-day adventure at sea.

“We’re thinking of doing a sunset cruise,” he said.

McCormick of SMG Wake doubled his floor space at the show last year, anticipating a pickup in sales.

His dealership sells Bennington pontoon boats, a popular manufacturer, as well as boats specially designed for wakeboarding and other sports.

This year is looking even better than last, he said. He anticipates the dealership will sell 30 percent more boats during the show.

“Everything is firing,” he said. “It’s fun.”


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We’re going to need a bigger boat: UK yacht makers buoyant as buyers cash in on Brexit

Whether it’s over pints of warm ale in a mocked-up canal-side pub or flutes of champagne on the bow of brand new 76ft (23-metre) luxury yachts, the London Boat Show’s organisers were raising a glass to Brexit on Wednesday.

The collapse in the value of the pound since the referendum vote in June 2016 has fuelled a boom in British boat building as the vast majority of UK-built yachts are sold overseas. Boats and equipment sales totalled £3.1bn last year – a 3.4% increase on 2016 and the best year since before the 2008 financial crisis, when rich people’s appetite for new yachts evaporated.

“We suddenly became 15 to 20% cheaper than our competitors in Europe and the US [after Brexit],” said Russell Currie, managing director of Fairline Yachts, at the opening of the London Boat Show at ExCel in east London. “It’s been a fantastic year.”

Currie said 95% of the company’s yachts, the biggest of which sell for several million pounds, are exported so the collapse in the pound has made its vessels better value compared to European and US rivals. “That doesn’t mean that only 5% of owners are British,” he said. “Most of them are British but they are buying them in a sunnier climate than ours.”

Brexit has helped Fairline recover from collapsing into administration two years ago. “We’ve gone from zero employees, with zero contracts and zero dealers in January 2016 to more than 380 employees, and a full order book,” Currie said. “We’ve sold 162 boats in the last two years … no, 163, we sold one this morning.”

Currie explained that Fairline’s customers, who he said are generally very rich with self-made wealth, are increasingly demanding bigger boats, which had created a headache for the company which is based in landlocked Oundle, Northamptonshire.



Inside a Fairline Squadron 53 boat at the London Boat Show, but the company is facing increasing demand for larger models. Photograph: Facundo Arrizabalaga/EPA

At present Fairline’s boats are transported to the sea by lorry in the middle of the night, but doing so has limited the maximum size of its yachts to 78ft.

“Our Oundle base is nowhere near the sea, and the cost [of transporting boats to the sea] has compromised the size and design of our boats,” Currie said. “So, we have invested £30m in a shore-side manufacturing facility on Southampton Water.” The company will hire about 200 new workers in Southampton.

The new base will allow the company to match its customers’ growing demand for roomier boats. “We have made 115 78ft boats, and 80 65ft boats, that gives you an indication of the appetite – they want bigger,” he said. “Buying our boats is how our customers reward themselves for the success they have achieved.”

Currie said the company’s customers tend not to be too ostentatious, but have been been known to buy “seven, eight, nine or 10 Fairlines – but not all at the same time”. He said the company’s strategy is to encourage owners to start small and then upgrade to bigger models as they get more experienced with yachting, and their bank balance grows.

“They want to bring their families and enjoy their free time,” Currie said of his customers. “They tend to be very family-orientated , they want to enjoy their wealth rather than show their wealth.”

Even Fairline’s Russian owners Alexander Volov and Igor Glyanenko, who bought the company out of administration for £4m in 2016, do not own the brand’s biggest boat. “One owns a 42ft boat the other a 62ft,” Currie said. “These are conservative guys. These are very hard-working business guys – this is not an oligarch story.”

Sales are so strong at Poole-based Sunseeker International that the now-Chinese owned company is splashing cash on sponsoring the 2018 Fifa World Cup in Russia, which will allow the company to invite a selection of its super-rich customers to the tournament.

Phil Popham, chief executive of Sunseeker International, said Brexit had helped fuel “very, very strong growth” and he expected 2017 sales will have increased by at least 10% on 2016. The company collected revenue of £252m in 2016, an increase of 26% on 2014.

“We sold 140 yachts last year, and we expect to sell a lot more than that this year,” he said, on the bow of a newly launched 76ft model. “We’ve sold 90% of our production for 2018 already on forward order.” For some larger models customers will have to wait until 2020 for delivery if they order now.



Sunseeker yachts at the London Boat Show on 10 January 2018. Photograph: Facundo Arrizabalaga/EPA

Popham said demand is strongest for superyacht-sized models, including the largest 131ft Sunseeker, which costs £16m plus tax. “It takes 10-12 guests and requires seven crew, it really is a superyacht,” he said. “We’ve sold 125 boats over 100ft since 2002.”

Sunseeker is now the world’s largest producer of yachts over 85ft, turning out about 30 a year.

While Brexit has helped make Sunseekers more price competitive, Popham said cost was not the primary motivator of his customers. “This [he said tapping the yacht] is a discretionary purchase, no one needs a superyacht.

“The world is becoming more and more affluent. There are more ultra-high net-worth individuals than ever before, we see that trend continuing and that is clearly our target market.”

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Boat dealers power ahead as economy picks up

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Dealers at the Houston Boat Show anticipate stronger local sales this year as oil prices stabilize and buyers look to replace vessels damaged by Hurricane Harvey.

Hundreds of dealers showcased more than 1,000 boats at the 63rd annual expo, which occupied the entire showroom floor at NRG Center. Many sold boats to buyers cheered by recent economic gains and fielded questions from those assessing replacement options after receiving their insurance checks.


The interest builds on last year’s sales momentum, which picked up after a plunge during the oil bust. Daniel McCormick, general manager of SMG Wake in Conroe, said he at last feels comfortable forecasting a positive year after months of uncertainty.

“We’re excited,” he said. “It was a hard-hit segment.”


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Business


Though local dealers saw sales drop as oil prices bottomed out in 2015, many recorded increases last year amid slow-but-steady economic improvements that benefited the entire retail industry.

Locally, rising oil prices coincided with a decline in the state unemployment rate, which settled at a record low last month. Chill Pillsbury, a sales associate at MarineMax in Seabrook, said sales at his dealership rose steadily for the first eight months of the year. Then Hurricane Harvey slammed the coast and hovered over Houston, destroying or damaging an estimated 13,500 boats worth $155 million, according to data from the U.S. Boat Owners Association.

Unlike auto dealers, who saw an immediate spike in sales as Houstonians rushed to replace flooded cars, boat dealers anticipate a latent uptick as Harvey-affected residents complete home repairs and other priorities.

Pillsbury, whose dealership serviced as many as 50 Harvey-damaged boats, already received some interest at the show from buyers whose vessels were totaled. He said he expects to see replacement sales begin in earnest during the second quarter, before the summer boating season.

“There will be a lot of pent-up demand,” he said.

The show, which began on Friday, had a high attendance last weekend. As many as 75,000 people are expected to attend the show, which runs through Sunday.

“Dealers have had strong sales,” said Ken Lovell, the show’s longtime president.

The boats on the floor modeled improvements in fuel economy, steering and horsepower. The latest technology, Lovell said, is vastly different from the basic equipment aboard the boats at the show in 1988, when he first took the helm.

Pontoon boats, once considered clunky, squarish cruisers for the sunset years, have seen a spike in sales driven in part by more streamlined designs, updated features and major improvements in speed. The National Marine Manufacturers Associations estimates sales in that segment increased last year by as much as 8 percent, slightly more than other types of boats.

Lynn Kirkpatrick and his son walked the exhibits at the show Wednesday afternoon, a tradition they’ve shared for more than 10 years. But this year, for the first time, they considered buying a boat.

Kirkpatick’s wife can no longer ride the jet skis they used to haul to their house on Canyon Lake, so they plan to replace them with a boat fit for cruising. He and his son left with a photo of a 22-foot NauticStar model to show her.

“We want something she can enjoy,” he said.

Martin Borrego came to the show in search of a picnic boat, a sort of cruiser more common in New England and Florida than in Texas. He wants to start a charter business out of Clear Lake with his wife, who lives with him on a sailboat they recently took from New Jersey to Galveston on a 40-day adventure at sea.

“We’re thinking of doing a sunset cruise,” he said.

McCormick of SMG Wake doubled his floor space at the show last year, anticipating a pickup in sales.

His dealership sells Bennington pontoon boats, a popular manufacturer, as well as boats specially designed for wakeboarding and other sports.

This year is looking even better than last, he said. He anticipates the dealership will sell 30 percent more boats during the show.

“Everything is firing,” he said. “It’s fun.”


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