by Jeni Bone
In the company's biggest ever showing at an Australian event, Seawind Catamarans has topped off a successful season of sales around the world with a strong local presence, sales and 'hot leads' that number in the hundreds.
This year's Sydney show began with the highest honour for an Australian Exporter, taking out the AIMEX Best Exporter Awards and Best Marketing Strategy category for 2010, as well as the BIA Award for Display Excellence.
Says Brent Vaughan, marketing manager for Seawind: 'It was a big year for us. We had three boats at Sydney - the 1000XL, 1160 and the new 1250, which we had shown at Sanctuary Cove and in Melbourne, but was making its Sydney debut.'
From the company's 'big tent' on the marina, Brent and other Seawind speakers conducted the customary Seawind seminars to transfixed and motivated audiences. 'Each year they get bigger and more elaborate,' he says. 'We have AV displays, maps, owners' stories - it's all there!'
'Our market is not really impacted on the financial climate, like perhaps powerboats,' he explains. 'Our couples are looking at cruising as a lifestyle, it's serious. They're retiring or taking a break and traveling around Australia or further. Their not looking at a boat for a toy. They have made up their minds to cruise and they're going, come hell or high water.'
During the Sydney boat show, Seawind was pleasantly surprised with the sales at the show, followed by many more sea trials and 'dozens of leads'.
Brent reports one sale of the new 1250 (RRP around AUD$700,000), two 1160s and many more hot leads. 'They would actually number in the hundreds,' he acknowleges.
The only hiccup to the Sydney boat show, observes Brent, was the sudden and brutal 50 knot squall that hit many of the boats as they moved out of the marina on the Tuesday. 'We had 20-30 knot winds while we were moving out, but we were lucky that we'd moved our boats back to their moorings at Birkenhead Point when the worst of it came through. We were all very lucky that it didn't hit while the boat show was on!'
Despite a slower world economy last year, and this year contending with a high and strong Australian dollar, Seawind experienced steady business around the world. 'Australia is our strongest market, but we also sell well in the US. We have a lot of interest there, particularly in the 1250. Australian products are really well received in the US in our experience. There's an assumption that our quality is exceptional and we know what we're doing when it comes to marine products, which is amazing and very helpful for our business.'
The strength of the Seawind range, says Brent, is that its design and layout are unique. 'It's a breath of fresh air. Not only is our quality high, they get something very different from the catamaran product they've perhaps seen before.'
For the time being, Seawind is focused on promoting the 1250. 'We have just finished trialling the first one and it's been sold to a New Zealander.'
Next on the agenda is the overseas and local boat shows, among them Anapolis in the US, Mandurah in Western Australia and next year, Miami and San Diego.
Race underway from Whitehaven Beach - Seawind Whitsunday Rally
'We have the Seawind Regatta in October, so we have a lot of planning and preparation that go in to that too,' says Brent.
More at www.seawindcats.com