DUCK KEY, Fla. — Navico will wrap up a two-day media event today in the Florida Keys where more than 30 journalists got a chance to see firsthand the electronics company’s recently introduced products — and a sneak peek at new devices and technology that will be released later this year.
Navico, which owns the Simrad, Lowrance and B&G brands of electronics equipment, hosted the event at the Hawks Cay Resort on Duck Key.
“There are a number of developments on our Simrad line that we’re excited for consumers to see in the spring and early summer,” Navico marketing director Gordon Sprouse said. “Meanwhile, we are really trying to promote our new offerings from Lowrance and our Simrad and B&G ForwardScan technology.”
ForwardScan forward-looking echosounder technology gives the user a clear picture of the water column and bottom in front of the boat. The device and technology are navigational — as opposed to fish-finding — tools.
In December, Lowrance launched its High Definition System Gen3 fishfinder/chart plotter series, which is available in 7-, 9- and 12-inch models. HDS III combines a faster processor with enhanced, built-in fishfinder technologies and a modified menu system for an improved user interface.
Navico also promoted its dedicated brand for digital marine solutions — GoFree. The product line, which also was launched in December, delivers extensive content and a powerful MFD-based store with software updates, mapping and other data.
Journalists hit the water on Tuesday after a series of morning educational seminars that outlined the specifics of each product and technology. Radar, sonar, GPS, autopilot and other technologies packed the fleet of vessels, with displays ranging from 3 to 24 inches.
“For our type of products and the technology that they carry, there’s nothing better than getting on the water in real-life situations to show what the capabilities are,” Sprouse said. “At boat shows, everyone is tugging at you for your time. Here we get to give everyone the time and attention they deserve.”
Roughly 40 Navico employees were on hand, including product managers for the brands, marketing personnel and top executives. Three of those executives — Leif Ottosson (CEO); Louis Chemi (EVP Americas and global head of recreational marine); and new appointed deputy CEO Marc Jourlait will be featured in a video interview in Trade Only Today later this week.
Navico, with the help of boat company representatives, outfitted nine boats with its electronics products — eight powerboats from 21 to 46 feet and one 55-foot sailboat, a Beneteau Oceanis 55. The powerboats included a 36-foot Yellowfin center console, a 46-foot Post convertible sportfish and a Sea Vee 370Z. I took demo rides in the Beneteau, Yellowfin, Post and Sea Vee.
The Oceanis was a showcase for B&G sailboat instruments; the Post focused on demonstrating ForwardScan and the Yellowfin was outfitted with a new “game-changing” navigation and safety product that Navico is keeping under wraps until it’s ready for the market, which has not been determined. Navico placed an embargo on the press information for this product and a handful of others.
“We want to continue selling our current products and we have some new features in our products coming to market,” Chemi said. “But you have to be very careful with new technology. Sometimes issues come up at the last stages of development and they are a bit harder to resolve than you think. So we don’t want to promise something that we cannot fulfill.”
The largest powerboat at the event — the Post — showcased a flybridge full of multifunction displays from 12 to 24 inches. There were two NSO evo2 units with a pair of 16-inch MFDs; a second NSO evo2 linked to a 24-inch display and a 19-inch display (but this one mounted in the cockpit); and a 12-inch display dedicated to ForwardScan. It was an electronics enthusiast’s dream boat.
“This is definitely the most decked-out boat we have here,” Navico product expert Matthew Laster said.
Navico also was showing the Simrad IS35 digital instrument display, which automatically displays real-time data from NMEA2000-compatible engines and sensors.