Boating Industry

October 2016

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October 2016 | Boating Industry | 61 /// Market Trends /// a new consumer into the category." That new consumer, as often as not, is a younger family attracted by the deck boat's ver- satility and creature comforts. Those new boat- ers with young children are often price-sensitive, and appreciate the lower acquisition and owner- ship cost of outboard power. "The cost and value relationship between sterndrives and outboards has changed, as sterndrives have been forced to adopt catalysts and closed loop cooling systems, simply mak- ing outboards more affordable," observes Bob vanVollenHoven, vice president of sales for Stingray Boats. "Beyond that, the technological advances in outboard power have driven a lot of sales, and opened up some new opportuni- ties for Stingray in particular. Outboards allow a bit more cockpit space inside the boat, and they make it easier for a boater in Northern areas to prolong their season." Outboards also appeal in Southern, saltwater markets thanks to their ability to be tilted clear of the water when not in use. "The Southeast is a strong deck boat market, and Florida in particular," said Roth. "And that's very much an outboard-driven market." "Definitely, advances in outboard power over the last several years have helped grow the entire deck boat category," noted Peter Barrett, senior vice president of marketing and corporate devel- opment at Smoker Craft Inc. "To the point deck boats now represent 85 percent of our fiberglass sales. The newest generation outboards offer the kind of power, performance and quiet, smoke- free operation that used to be the exclusive realm of the I/O. They're less expensive than an I/O, and lighter in weight, which provides a real per- formance edge, particularly in the smaller boats that often appeal to an entry level buyer. With an outboard, these buyers can enjoy the same kind of exhilarating performance in that smaller pack- age as you would find in a bigger boat powered by a much larger I/O." But what about sterndrives? While there is clear consensus that technologi- cal advances in outboard power have benefitted deck boat dealers, a significant number of the deck boats made today retain the traditional I/O powerplant. What gives? "Having said that, sterndrives have also evolved in substantial ways, bringing entirely new levels of performance for boaters who prefer the open stern and continuous, extended swim platform that an I/O allows," continues Barrett. "Those extended platforms really make family boating easier, especially when you have kids enjoying tow sports and you're passing boards or tubes back and forth. The I/O is a great fit to the clean, contemporary styling that we're seeing OUTBOARDS ALLOW A BIT MORE COCKPIT SPACE INSIDE THE BOAT, AND THEY MAKE IT EASIER FOR A BOATER IN NORTHERN AREAS TO PROLONG THEIR SEASON. — Bob vanVollenHoven, Stingray Boats

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