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VIDEO: Bayliner bets on changing tastes

Bayliner customers are looking to go day boating rather than overnighting. They want to go short distances and don’t mind going slower to get there. They want to load their boats with as many friends and family as possible in logical, comfortable seating arrangements that promote conversation and fun.

These were some of the findings Bayliner leaders collected during the last year — information that bolstered their decision to drop all U.S. sales and production of cruising boats from 24 to 35 feet and flex their muscles instead in the under-21-foot open dayboat market.

“We are going to focus on new product development to address changing consumer preferences,” Bayliner director of marketing and portfolio planning Matt Guilford said Saturday at a press event at the Hyatt Regency Sarasota on Sarasota Bay, Fla.

“We had to figure out where is the growth for our company? Where is the return for our shareholders? Our clear mission is to be the leader in fiberglass recreational dayboats 21 feet and under — that is who we are. We are placing our bets on the [recreational dayboat] market and diversifying across different segments of it, particularly segments showing significant growth.”

Click play for a look at the 210 DB.

Bayliner has responded with four new boats — two 21-footers, a 19-footer and a 16-footer. Four of the five on display at the Sarasota event were powered with outboards and one had a sterndrive. All have open topside layouts with seating from bow to stern. All are driven at a starboard-side helm station designed for sit-down operation. The 19- and 21-footers come in three styles: with full windshield, with helm windscreen or a fishing package.

The smallest boat is Bayliner’s Element, which has an LOA of 16 feet, 2 inches, with a beam of 7 feet, 5 inches. Guilford said pricing for this boat will be unavailable until its official introduction Jan. 3-6 at the New York International Boat Show.

The 210 DB (deckboat) with a 150 Mercury FourStroke and trailer retails for $31,599, and it is $38,599 with a 200-hp Mercury Verado. The 190 DB with a Mercury 115-hp 4-stroke and trailer is $20,699. The sterndrive boat, the 215 DB, comes standard with a 4.3-liter MerCruiser and trailer. Pricing was unavailable.

The 190 DB has an LOA of 18 feet, 7 inches, with a beam of 8 feet, 1 inch. It rides on a hull with a 17-degree deadrise and can be powered with 115- or 150-hp 4-strokes or 135- or 150-hp Mercury OptiMax (DFI) 2-strokes.

The 210 DB and 215 DB share the same hull with an LOA of 20 feet, 7 inches, a beam of 8 feet 6 inches, and a transom deadrise of 20 degrees. Power options for the 210 are the 150 Mercury FourStroke, the 200-hp Verado 4-stroke or OptiMax 2-strokes in three models — 135, 150 and 200 hp.

The 215 DB can be powered with five MerCruiser sterndrives from 190 to 260 hp. The engines are either 4.3 or 5.0 liters.

“In the past folks wanted to go 50 to 55 mph,” said Michael Yobe, Bayliner product portfolio manager. “Speed is not as important as the ability to carry those people — the ability to do things with the boat with those people. They define performance as the ability of a boat to carry 10 people and tow a tuber or wakeboarder. Top end is not that important.”

I drove all four boats, messing about on Sarasota Bay for about 20 minutes with each vessel. The engines seemed to deliver the power they needed, although I drove them solo. Because seating plays a major role on these boats I plopped myself in each boat’s various settees, finding all comfortable and safe. I like the added safety precaution of the heightened backrest on the 21- and 19-footers in their open bows.

Bayliner research shows that people are traveling only short distances with their boats, running to their favorite anchorage or beach. Bayliner has dubbed the trend “coving.” So these boats have smaller fuel tanks than on previous models. The 190 carries 35 gallons of fuel, and the 210 and 215 hold 55 gallons. Carrying capacity looms large, as well. The 210 models can carry a dozen passengers and the 190 holds as many as 10. Specs on the Element were unavailable.

The 210 and 215 DB and 190 DB are beginning to arrive at dealers now and can be seen at many winter boat shows. The Element also will be part of the boat-show circuit, making an appearance at 20 shows. In addition to the Element, Bayliner expects to debut a waterjet-propelled boat this summer, Guilford said.

— Chris Landry

@CPLandry on Twitter



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