About 120 Chris-Craft dealers and owners this weekend got a chance to peruse the Sarasota Fla., builder’s 2014 lineup with a private in-water showing and sea trials.
The 140th anniversary sales event featured seven Chris-Craft models from 21 to 32 feet, Chris-Craft vice president of marketing and sales Jeff Ellis told me on Friday, the start of the three-day event. The company’s new Launch 36 was absent, but will make its debut Feb. 13-17 at the Miami International Boat Show.
“Obviously the winter boat shows are in full swing, but this event allows the dealer to cater a little more to the customer as a private event and avoid getting sidetracked by other brands at a boat show,” Ellis said. “The effort is concentrated on our product in the water. But the customer gets a more relaxed feeling. There’s not a lot of pressure. The boats are available for them to run any time they want. And they have the ability to see every boat, test different engines, see different colors and all the options we have available.”
The boats were the Capri 21; Launch 25 and 28; Catalina 26 and 29; Corsair 32; and Launch 32. The high-end vessels were powered with either outboards from Mercury and Yamaha or sterndrives from Mercury and Volvo Penta. Several models were equipped with joystick helm control, including the Corsair 32 (with twin 8.2-liter Mercury gas engines and an Axius joystick system) and the Launch 32 (twin V8 380s with Volvo’s sterndrive joystick).
“I came down here with the primary purpose of going out on the Launch 32, which is a bowrider,” said Rick Venner, a salesman for Walstrom Marine in Harbor Springs, Mich. “The customer came here with his wife and some friends, and we looked at the Launch and the 32 Corsair, which is a closed-bow boat. The couple figured out that a closed-bow boat would better suit their purposes. And the sea trial of the [closed-bow] 32 Corsair went well.”
Representatives from about 12 dealers attended the event, including a handful of international companies from countries such as Sweden, the Ukraine and Mexico, Chris-Craft marketing manager Allison Witty said.
Witty said the group of owners and clients included 40 couples.
“We have sea trials set up and waiting for the customers,” she told me. “We have some current customers looking to upgrade, and we have one couple who just bought a boat and is here to just be part of the [Chris-Craft] culture.”