by Des Ryan
The Hutchwilco New Zealand Boat Show has been judged a great success by both organisers and attendees alike. Held at the ASB Showgrounds, May 15-18, in Auckland, the New Zealand Boat Show is New Zealand’s largest, most popular and most varied boat show — and, according to those who visit boat shows in both countries, this year it was the best boat show in Australasia!
RG150514-BoatShowDay 1 004A - Hutchwilco NZ Boat Show 2014 - Day 1, Weta Dinghy Central
About 36,000 people attended this year and already boat builders are crying out for more staff to meet demand generated by interest and actual sales at the show.
Retailers generate about $40 million over the four days, selling anything from a $2.6 million launch, to women's underwear specially designed for boats without toilets.
'If you have the right team and head-space you can do five or six months' worth of business in the four days,' says Rayglass Boats general manager Dave Larsen.
Sale time Hutchwilco NZ Boat Show 2014 - Day 2
Retailers are confident the turnout is a sign of what's to come.
'We've had a few false starts coming out of this recession, but it really does feel like we're over the hump now and we're coming out of it,' says Mr Larsen.
In the past the Boat Show has been used to predict how many orders boat builders are going to get over the next summer, and how many staff they will need to do the job.
Napier boat builder Jason Dickey has seen a dramatic turn-around in business since he started in 2007, at the start of the global financial crisis.
Coastguard Boating Education - Hutchwilco NZ Boat Show 2014 - Day 2
'We have come into this show [and] sold out into the following year,' says Mr Dickey. 'We have had an amazing response from the show. We've got more than we possibly can do in the next two years.'
Mr Dickey says it is difficult to keep up with the growing demand in New Zealand, as well as exports to Australia and Europe.
'We are absolutely screaming out for more boat builders,' he says.
Last year the recreational marine industry pumped $1.65 billion into the economy, about one third of which was revenue from exports.
But the industry is hoping to top that this year after setting its retailers up for success with the Boat Show.