Executive Director's Report
It seems as if every headline in the marine trade press these days have the words "profits down," "boat sales down" or "attendance down" in the title. While I know this isn't really the case on a worldwide basis or in every segment of the market, there’s no denying that we are facing one of the toughest domestic market environments in recent history.
Without doubt, the economic uncertainty, the anemic housing market, rising fuel costs, and the fact that everyone seems to be working harder than ever, is having a serious impact upon the boating market and leisure activities in general. Despite this doom and gloom there are still some bright spots in the market. The export market is strong thanks to the weakening dollar and the “new wealth” in the emerging markets, with many companies experiencing solid sales in Europe, Latin America and Asia Pacific. Companies that have aggressively pursued new product introductions in the U.S. and abroad are fairing better than companies that have stuck with the same old tried-and-tested products. Many manufacturing companies are also seeing goods cost less through better outsourcing of products and components, and more efficient manufacturing processes.
Overall, the sailing market seems to be holding up better than the powerboat sector. High fuel costs are the primary reason for this advantage, but sailing is also more in line with the cultural and social aspirations of many people. Sailing is healthy, invigorating, exciting and, above all, GREEN. With growing environmental awareness and concern, sailing will be regarded as an “alternative fuel” vessel and, let us hope, will become the preferred choice for boaters.
Many of these issues will be discussed at the inaugural Sail America and GE Capital Solutions Sailing Industry Conference this June 11-13, in Newport, RI, at the International Yacht Restoration School (IYRS). The “Growth Through Innovation” business-oriented conference will bring together over 100 sailing-industry professionals for a full day of educational seminars, keynote speakers, panel discussions, breakout sessions, workshops and networking events. Proven leaders from the worlds of business, economics, technology, marketing and sailing will mix and mingle with conference participants to discuss future trends and best industry practices. Please click here to learn more about the conference.
In next month’s issue of Sail America News, we will take a close look at the Sailing Market State of the Industry research that was released at the Miami International Boat Show in February. According to the study, production in the sailboat sector fell 5 percent in 2007 to 14,158 units. The drop represents seven years of slow decline in sailboat production.
The study, which was conducted by Rick Walter of Market Research Associates and presented by The Sailing Company, concluded that the 20-foot to 40-foot category saw the biggest declines in production, dropping 15 percent from 2006 to 2,284 boats. The 0 to 20-foot category saw slight declines, but the 46-foot and above category saw growth in 2007, increasing from 145 units in 2006 to 249 boats in 2007. The estimated value of 2007 sailboat production increased 6 percent to $802 million.