Boating Industry

July 2016

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July 2016 | Boating Industry | 31 /// Market Trends /// basic fi shability of the boat," said Kinsey. "You can add new features, but you can't compromise the boat's capability as a fi shing platform. The engi- neering challenge then is how to add capabilities without interfering with its basic design. The average price of the boat has gone up out of proportion to the unit gains, because people want their boat to do more." Key additions include amenities like pull-up jump seats in the rear cast- ing deck, removable seat cushions that convert the bow casting deck into a sunpad, and bimini tops for sun protection. "There's more demand for storage, and more purposeful use of storage spaces," said Kinsey. "There's also increased demand for greater elec- tronic integration." Literal growth When one talks about growth in the aluminum boat market, it's hard to overlook the physical growth of the boats themselves. With the addition of all those extra family-friendly amenities, freshwater fi shing boats can't help but grow bigger and more expensive. "Over the past three years the standard 16-foot fi shing boat has become an 18-foot or 19-foot model," said Phil Smoker, vice president of sales for Smoker Craft Inc. "Three years ago there were maybe 12,000 aluminum 16-foot boats sold in the U.S., and last year it was down to about 10,500. But at the same time, three years ago there were 10,800 18-foot boats sold, and last year it was up to 13,470. So the most popular boat size is now an 18-foot, rather than the traditional 16-footer. The bigger boats allow you to add the family features while retaining the core fi shing features that are critically important to buyers." Of course, moving a larger hull with additional features requires larger, more powerful engines. Where the standard 16-foot aluminum boat prob- ably had a 50 horsepower outboard on the back, today's 18-footer more likely to come with a 90 or a 115, said Smoker. "The development in outboards has paralleled the developments in boats," he says. "Today's outboards are very, very quiet. They're smooth, they troll down to a crawl, the fuel economy is tremendous and they're almost maintenance-free so you can just get in the boat and go." (Editor's note: Read more about the latest outboard trends in the May issue of Boating Industry or at Those bigger boats with bigger engines naturally carry bigger price tags. So while sales volumes demonstrate modest growth, increases measured in dollars are far more substantial. "The average price of the boat has gone up out of proportion to the unit gains, because people want their boat to do more and have more power," Increased options and comfort are making fi shing boats more versatile. Anglers continue to demand larger engines.

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