Cruiser segment begins to stir

Posted on Written by Richard Armstrong
The number of new boats at the Yacth & Brokerage Show was up 54 percent, led by models under 79 feet.

The number of new boats at the Yacth & Brokerage Show was up 54 percent, led by models under 79 feet.

Reports from The Yacht & Brokerage Show in Miami Beach echoed those from the Progressive Insurance Miami International Boat Show — the industry is clearly on the mend.

“I think it was an excellent show,” says Efrem “Skip” Zimbalist III, CEO of Active Interest Media and Show Management, which organizes the Collins Avenue show it co-owns with the Florida Yacht Brokers Association. “The attendance was great, and I’ve heard there were a lot of exhibitors coming away happy with the number of sales they made.”

Exhibitors dealt with the same circumstances as their counterparts at the concurrent National Marine Manufacturers Association-run show: An ill-timed storm kept some northern customers snowbound, but serious buyers found their way south.

“Some people didn’t make it down because of the weather up north, but our exhibitors said they were hoping to catch up with those at the Palm Beach show,” Zimbalist says.

Because there is no admission price for the brokerage show, attendance estimates are based on food and beverage sales, which “were up tremendously,” Zimbalist says, declining to share the percentage of increase.

Zimbalist remains “very bullish on the industry” and believes that technology and innovation seem to be driving increased sales.

“People had been hanging onto their old boats, but technological advances are making people think it may be finally worth it to pop for a new boat,” he says.

More boats

The number of new boats was up 54 percent, led by new boats under 79 feet (up 50 percent from the 2013 show).The increase more than offset a 17 percent decrease in brokerage boats, which organizers attribute to a combination of reduced inventory and increased Caribbean charter activity.

Brokerage and new boats in the under 49-foot segment were up 41 percent.

“If I had to pick out one thing that was most encouraging about the future, we’re seeing activity in the cruiser market, and that’s been kind of a stagnant segment for not only the boat shows, but the overall market,” Zimbalist says.

The show expanded this year to accommodate increasing demand, spreading north on Collins Avenue another 400 feet to add 30 yachts from 52 to 134 feet. The Miami Beach Marina location was added in order to group yachts larger than 164 feet, a segment where interest has grown in recent years.

The show covers more than 1.2 million square feet over a mile-long strip of Indian Creek Waterway and features more than 500 new and used boats valued in excess of $1 billion.

Superyacht expansion

During a press conference at this year’s show, organizers announced plans to bring Superyacht Miami, featuring superyachts larger than 150 feet, to the Island Gardens Deep Harbour Marina on Watson Island between Miami and Miami Beach as part of the 2015 Yacht & Brokerage Show (see story, Page 38).

Exhibitors new to this year’s Yacht & Brokerage Show included Sea Ray and Tiara.

“The show was definitely a success for both the Tiara and Pursuit brands,” says David Glenn, marketing director for S2 Yachts, which owns both brands. “In each case we exceeded our actual units sold from the 2013 Miami International Boat Show.”

Glenn says S2 sees the luxury consumables market enjoying strong retail demand, leading to robust consumer appeal for the totally refreshed design found in the new Tiara 50 Coupe and a forthcoming sister ship, the Tiara 44 Coupe.

“The design, layout and performance of these new Tiaras are groundbreaking for the company and have energized the Tiara Yachts brand,” Glenn says.

Sea Ray premiered its new flagship, the L650 Fly, part of the manufacturer’s Next Wave initiative, which received an enthusiastic reception, according to Matt Guilford, vice president of marketing.

Sea Ray had eight of its large boats along Collins Avenue, the L650 Fly, 580DA, 540DA, 510 Fly, 510 DA, 470 DA, as well as the Meridian 391 and 441.

“Sea Ray reported very positive big boat results in their return to an in-water display at the Miami Yacht and Brokerage Show after a several-year absence,” Guilford says.

12 Viking sales

Among iconic American-made sportfishing yachts, results were even better.

“The Miami show was good for us, but the even better news, however, is that the mix of Viking Yachts sold is indicative of a strengthening market for us since the variety blankets our product line,” says director of communications Peter Frederiksen.

Viking counted 5,000 guests who registered to see the 16 boats it displayed in a range of 42 to 92 feet.

“When you have activity like this, it demonstrates the buyers are moving throughout our product line,” he adds. “People are finding what they want and are enthusiastic — good vibes all around.”

Even more encouraging, he says, is that the boats sold were a mix of inventory and new orders. “This combination allows the dealers to move their stock boats while adding to our backlog,” he says.

The final tally, according to Viking, was 12 boats sold: two 82 Convertibles, a 76 Convertible, two 70 Convertibles, three 62 Convertibles, a 50 Convertible, two 42 Convertibles and a 42 Open.

Hatteras-Cabo Yachts had 11 boats on display, including the iconic 41-foot fiberglass convertible Knit Wits, the first Hatteras, which was launched in 1960.

“Despite the winter storms hitting our friends in the Northeast, Hatteras-Cabo display traffic had increased from 2013, with Hatteras lead traffic up 71 percent and Cabo leads up 65 percent,” says Karl Kemppainen, vice president of sales and marketing. “We have seen a higher number of concentrated, qualified buyers at this year’s show, which reflects the consumer economic assurance of the industry. There is a pent-up demand from past years, and people are ready to purchase their dream boat.”

Kemppainen says sales are coming from a mix of international and domestic buyers, especially in the Southeast.

Among Hatteras-Cabo’s product lines, larger convertibles are drawing the most interest, Kemppainen says.

“At the Miami show we sold two 100 Raised Pilot Houses, a 60 and 80 motoryacht and a 44 Cabo, with more sales in the works and to take shape soon,” he says. “People are looking for a product that can integrate technology and product innovation with luxurious interior styling.”

Marquis Yachts displayed four boats (the 420 Sport Bridge, 500 Sport Bridge, 630 Sport Yacht and 720 Motor Yacht).

“The international presence within our Marquis display was very impressive and what was noteworthy was the high number of people from Latin America,” said Dick Nocenti, marketing director at Marquis Yachts. “Our dealers reported that the quality of customer that visited the Marquis display was high which resulted in several orders being written during and after the show.”

The show was apparently also successful for international manufacturers.

“Azimut Yachts sold 20 yachts,” press manager Giovanni Bogetto says, noting that some prospective buyers were kept away in the snowy north. Azimut sold 16 boats at the 2013 show. Through Fraser Yachts, Benetti sold Hull No. 19 of its 148-foot Vision 45m for delivery in June.

The Azimut Benetti Group exhibited 18 yachts along Collins Avenue, three of them making U.S. debuts: the Azimut 84, the Benetti Vision 145 and the Benetti Classic Supreme 132.

“The European market is still very slow, while the Middle East is quite good,” Bogetto says. He touted the Italian manufacturers’ exclusive partnership with MarineMax as a strength in the North American market, which represents nearly 45 percent of the group’s total sales.

“The United States — and the Americas in general — are key markets for Benetti,” says sales director Alberto Perrone da Zara. “Our goal is to further consolidate relationships with the network of regional brokers and, what’s more important, with existing and potential customers, being side by side, from its design and construction to final delivery.”

The Ferretti Group came in force, with 25 new yachts on display, the largest in-water display of new yachts in the history of the Yacht & Brokerage Show for the second year in a row, according to James Henderson, president and CEO for the Americas at Ferretti.

“We have had strong interest across the board in terms of all of the brands, as we were able to present a range of models from 27 to 100 feet,” Henderson says. “Throughout the period of the show we wrote contracts on all our brands, and with the follow-up over the last couple of weeks we have 12 boats under contract and we are still actively finalizing a number of very promising negotiations.”

Henderson, a Brit representing an Italian brand, says he sees the buying mood across the Americas as strong.

“We had an extremely busy inquiry period during the holiday season, which in turn has led into sales for the group, and we are currently closing out post-boat show sales and have an actively interested group of buyers throughout the Americas,” he says.

The group’s focus for 2014 remains a strategic expansion into key markets in South, Central and North America, along with growing the group’s charter and superyacht division, he says.

To that end, Ferretti Group in Newport Beach, Calif., and Ferretti Group Mexico were to open in March, and the group’s Allied Marine just opened a new charter and superyacht office in the Bahia Mar in Fort Lauderdale.

This article originally appeared in the April 2014 issue.

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