Info-Link reports gains in 30-foot-and-up category

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Large fiberglass boat sales were up 20 percent in 2013 from the previous year, but not across the board.

That’s according to Info-Link managing director Jack Ellis, who says 2013 was the first year that the 30-foot and above category has shown a sales gain since 2009 for the 12 months that ended in December.

“One clear trend is that outboards are being put on bigger and bigger boats every year,” Ellis said. “At the Miami show I saw a huge Intrepid with quad Yamahas on the back. It’s just incredible.”

However, if you look at what the industry typically classifies as yachts and cruisers, and “toss out fishing boats, it’s a slightly different story,” Ellis told Trade Only Today.

“It shows that last year, in 2012 versus 2011, the market was flat after declining for many years,” Ellis said. “This year, as of January 2014, it’s up slightly, around 7 percent.”

Ellis speculates that one reason the segment has yet to rebound is the time of use versus the expense of the boats. “Do people have the time? [Taking it out a few weekends a year] makes it difficult for people to justify that type of boat.”

Interestingly, New England has seen a rebound in larger boats this year, despite having one of the shortest boating seasons in the country.

“It’s interesting because economically this is a different group of people,” Ellis said. “In some regions of the Northeast it’s still a rough place to be.”

Several dealers at the New England Boat Show confirmed the statistics, telling Trade Only that larger boats were finally getting back on track.

“People got out of big boats for a while, but now, with the economy coming back, we’re seeing people buying boats,” Tim Bassett told Trade Only Today last week at the show. “We’ve already gotten two people on the Merry Fisher 855,” which happens to also come equipped with Yamaha outboards.

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With the exception of Rhode Island, Connecticut and Vermont, sales of larger boats were up in the Northeast. New York experienced the highest spike, followed by Massachusetts and New Hampshire, respectively.

Florida, Virginia, Texas and the Carolinas also saw solid increases in sales of boats larger than 25 feet for the year that ended in December.

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