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OPINION: Younger boaters have been priced out of the market

Most of us have heard the comment: “I didn’t leave my (fill in the blank). It left me.”

Concerning the headline on the front page of the July 2013 edition of Soundings Trade Only (“A ‘scary’ graying of our core market”), I imagine one reason that many prospective and former boaters are not current boaters is that they feel boating has left them. (See the full story.)

If a boater reads any of the popular boating magazines he will be inundated with ads for gadgets and doodads that cost more than his first boat. What does this look like to a boater on a budget? Probably not like an invitation to become a boater. This budget boater, probably young, sees all this great stuff, but when he goes to a dealership finds it costs way more than he can afford.

Thus the younger potential boater has been priced out of the market or left with an old clunker that will eventually cause him to really hate boating. If a boater is young and has great boating experiences, I think he will still be a boater when he is older.

On the same front page were instructions to jump to Page 8 to learn about the Bayliner Element. (See the full story.) I don’t know if this boat will be a money maker for Brunswick, but it is certainly a great move to bringing people back into boating (our future).

The marine industry would be well served to follow Brunswick’s lead and build something to attract these potential boaters. Come on, builders, whenever possible bring back the tri-hulls and bowriders, make them shiny and slap a little 50-horsepower motor on the back. The future of the industry will be better for it.

— Charles Fisher is the president of Boathouse Discount Marine in Melbourne, Fla.



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