Boating Industry

October 2014

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42 | Boating Industry | October 2014 /// Market Trends /// continue to drive boat sales. "Wakesurfing is a growing trend that also brings with it a whole new culture and enjoy- ment. We recognize this and want the experi- ence to be as fun on the water as it is for the audience in the boat," said McNew. The fact that just about anyone can do it also keeps the demand for surf-focused offer- ings high. "We have people sending us pictures of grandparents surfing tandem with their 10-year- olds. Anybody can do it, it's low-impact, you're going 11 miles an hour," said McNew. He said MasterCraft is making an easy bet on wakesurfing-tailored innovations. "This is not a one-time wonder, I think the segment will continue to do well for the foresee- able future," said McNew. "I would not be sur- prised to see double-digit gains in the next few years at least." Sporting goods manufacturer Aaron Kramer, CEO at Kwik Tek Inc., said they were pleasantly surprised by the reception of wakesurfing. "I think it's limited because only certain types of boats can wakesurf safely, but we introduced a wakesurf board and we were surprised by how many orders we got," said Kramer. "I think that's definitely a growing sport." He said that a big draw for older boaters is that it's the lowest-impact wakesport out there. "I do it personally; I find it to be the geriatric water activity of choice because there is no wear and tear on your body," said Kramer. Meddock said safety concerns that had drawn interest from law enforcement have been also been assuaged by research and education, making the activity even more attractive as the safest (mostly) towed watersport out there. "The concern was that wakesurfing had a carbon monoxide issue, that proved to be a non- issue," said Meddock. "We have worked with Dr. Bob Baron out of Nevada – he works for a hospital out of Las Vegas there. He is one of the preeminent authorities on carbon monoxide." Social Sells The dominant trend in the watersports segment continues to be social activities. Meddock said the social aspect was a big fac- tor in the original rise in wake sports. "The reason wakeboarding became so pop- ular – one of many reasons – is that it was so social," said Meddock. "Waterskiing, you had to tell everyone to stay on the dock when you went and skied because you wanted the wake to be small. Now you have an activity where you say, 'Bring as many people as you can le- gally fit on that boat because it will increase the size of my wake – and I'll have a bigger audi- ence to show off in front of.'" Of course, wakesurfing is even closer to the boat and the group. "People are so into it because one, it's low impact and two, it's just fun. You're close to the boat, so everyone in the boat feels a part of the action," said Pete Surrette, general manager at O'Brien Water Sports. Surrette said the fact that wakesurf boards are one of the best selling hard goods they offer – still slightly behind their wakeboards – is a sure sign that the social sports are a huge draw for boaters. Both Kwik Tek and O'Brien Water Sports said their multi-person tubes are best-selling products. Both companies are pushing the social aspect with their 2015 and 2016 catalogues by offering towed tubes and other products that can hold multiple people at once. Cable parks continue to grow Once seen as a direct competitor to boating, cable parks are proliferating across the country as U.S. dealers find new synergies with the parks. "If there's a trend that we're really excited "Wakesurfing is a growing trend that also brings with it a whole new culture and enjoyment." — Terry McNew, MasterCraft president and CEO

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