Innovation Awards Encourage New Thinking

Escape Electric Fun Boat
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Two new boats that could benefit the cruising sailor and three consumer products were recently honoured for innovative achievement by the National Marine Manufacturers Association (NMMA) and Boating Writers International (BWI) at the 65th Miami International Boat Show, which closed 20th February.

The Innovation Awards program, organized by NMMA and judged by BWI, recognizes those products that best meet the following criteria: innovative distinction from other products currently being manufactured; benefit to the marine industry and/or consumer; practicality; cost-effectiveness.

'This year, we had a record-number of entries in the Miami Innovation Awards program—upwards of 75,' says Roger Marshall, Innovation Awards chair and president of BWI.

In the Inflatables, Small Boats and Tenders category, two companies won awards: Walker Bay Boats, for its Genesis 310same, and the Escape Electric Fun Boatsame from Johnson Outdoors Leisure Group.

'We had two strong contenders in this category, and both are so different that the judges felt giving each an award would be appropriate,' says Marshall.

The self draining floor, trim flaps, injection moulded polypropylene hard bottom, folding transom and a host of other features make the Genesis 310 a truly innovative vessel, according to the judges.

'The Walker Bay has innovative features not seen in RIBs this small before,' says Mundy. Judge Alan Wendt agreed. 'The Walker Bay has been bringing fresh ideas to the market for some time, and this collection on the Genesis 310 is worthy of an award,' he says.

In the case of the Escape, judges say it redefines the entry level boat for youngsters and is an ideal vessel to get new people into the industry.

'The 10-year-old child in the Escape will be the 16-year-old who buys a 16-footer, and the 30-year-old who buys a 30-footer,' says judge Rudow. 'This boat reaches to the very core of our industry’s biggest challenge—bringing new boaters into the fold.'

Sail-World thinks it would also be a great boat to keep the kids entertained on a cruise-away weekend. Its silence will be a great benefit to other sailing boats.

There were two winners in the Consumer Electronics category, the Remote Commander from Simrad and the Northstar 8000Isame from Brunswick New Technologies.

Simrad Remote Commander
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The Remote Commander allows a captain to control his or her vessel from anywhere on the boat. It also has a built-in VHF radio that gives the captain instant communication with other captains without having to visit the bridge.

'The Remote Commander allows you to take your controls with you wherever you go on the boat,' says Rudow. 'The VHF incorporated into the remote control is a great idea,' agrees Mundy.

North Star 80001
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The 8000I offers video, navigation, radar display, CD player and up to 20 other electronic devices, including Mercury Marine’s SmartCraft engine sensors technology, in one easy-to-use touch screen unit. Each 12-inch display has its own CPU so if one screen sustains damage, the user can simply move to another screen and continue navigating or checking engine controls with no loss of data. 'The 8000i offers masterless control PC technology with infra-red fast touch screens, all in a waterproof package,' says judge Pike.

Racor Fuel Filter
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Finally, in the Consumer Installed Non-Electronic Hardware category, the winner was the Racor Filter Pumpsame from Parker Hannifin Racor Division. Judges say the filter pump addresses an old problem plaguing mid-range to large boats—the messy job of changing filter housings.

'It is user installable and retrofitable to older units,' says Marshall. 'It also eliminates getting air into the injection system by pressuring the injector system while filling the cylinder.'

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