Sea Ray abandons plan to join jetboat market

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Sea Ray decided not to enter the jetboat market because of the “unacceptable quality, reliability and durability of the propulsion systems” in prototype boats.

“The primary and by far most significant reason Sea Ray decided not to enter the jetboat market was the reason given in the written statement — the unacceptable quality, reliability and durability of the propulsion systems in our prototype boats,” marketing vice president Matt Guilford told Trade Only Today.

The company did not mention its supplier by name, but has said in the past that German engineering company Weber Motors would provide the jet propulsion for the endeavor first announced in 2012. Weber did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Guilford said other reasons, such as BRP’s decision to sell its jet propulsion systems to at least two boatbuilders after exiting the boatbuilding business itself, were secondary considerations at best.

“Obviously the landscape changed significantly” since Sea Ray made its decision to enter the segment, Guilford said. “When we started the project we knew BRP was leaving the industry and at the time had made its jetboat business for sale, so that part of the landscape changed. That played a role, but that certainly wasn’t the only reason. We said as clearly and as well as we could what the major component was in the release we put out.”

Guilford said the endeavor wasn’t a complete wash because while Sea Ray was doing market research for the project the builder gained insights into consumer tastes and preferences in the 25-foot-and-under recreational day boat segment — an area the company has said it plans to aggressively pursue in both the sterndrive and outboard configurations.

“For Sea Ray, there were enormous insights we got into consumer tastes and preferences in the recreational day boat segment, and that helped our understanding of what consumers are looking for in the 25-foot-and-under category,” Guilford said.

“Even though we are not pursuing the jetboat business I think the insights we got are going to increase our competitiveness in that category. It wasn’t a waste,” he said. “As we got to the end of this thing we were able to say, ‘That’s not the right path for us,’ but it has illuminated other market opportunities. We’re not coming out with jetboats, but we are laser-focused on delivering highly competitive sportboats.”

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— Reagan Haynes

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