The 13th Auckland International Boat Show was opened by Prime Minister John Key on Wednesday evening and closed at 6pm Sunday, 18 September, having launched a new era in the New Zealand marine industry with a new venue and new time of year.
Moved from March to September to coincide with 2011 Rugby World Cup and held in the newly opened Viaduct Events Centre, the show welcomed an unprecedented number of international media from several Asian countries, South Africa and Australia, many of them guided to the show by NZ Trade and Enterprise.
Peter Busfield, executive director of the boat show organiser NZ Marine Industry (NZMI), said the significant interest from overseas media would continue to bring benefits to New Zealand for up to two years.
'We have shown up to ten groups of journalists from Asia around the show and introduced them to companies which are active in China or interested in becoming active there,' he says.
'We are also seeing an increase of international companies exhibiting at the show,' adds Mr Busfield. 'Some international exhibitors said they found this show to be the most productive show for them in Australasia.'
Veteran sailmaker Frank Warnock, left, and Tom Barker demonstrating classic sailmaking techniques on the Calibre Sails stand. - Click Here to view large photo
Visitors who came to the four-day show mostly had a clear idea of how they wanted to further their boating experience. Many exhibitors commented that the boating public are becoming increasingly knowledgeable about the technical aspects of boating. Whether they were looking to upgrade their boats or to carry out work on their existing boat – for example, an engine repower, a re-paint, or installation of new equipment – they have a clear idea of what they need to know before they arrive.
Overall, exhibitors were extremely happy with the calibre of visitors and reported strong leads to follow up on over the coming weeks.
Yachtfinders Global, which imports the Beneteau range of yachts, had a spectacular start, selling an Oceanis Beneteau 37 cruising yacht within three hours of the show opening. Director Gary Erceg says the yacht is one of his most popular, two-cabin models. He also received significant interest in the new model Beneteau First 35.
Other new yachts included Equilibrium, the newly launched 55-footer from Lloyd Stevenson, and Greg Elliott’s new Tourer 1350, Fiction.
Powerboat manufacturers reported strong levels of interest at the show. Lance Fink, managing director of Tristram Marine, thoroughly approved of the new venue. 'I love it,' he said. 'The atmosphere is just fantastic. We’re really excited to be here and now’s an excellent time to buy a boat for the Christmas holidays.' He’s seen a steady level of enquiries, especially for in the Tristram 690 Bowrider and the Tristram 741. 'We have sold several boats since yesterday [Friday],' said Mr Fink.
Rayglass Marine was delighted to sell two Rayglass 2500 by the second day of the show, each in the $200,000-plus bracket. Both boats spec’d the company’s diesel option, a VW TDI V6, 265hp, said Dave Larsen, general manager of Rayglass Marine.
'We’re seeing much more interest in the diesel option; our customers seem to prefer the greater range the diesel engine gives them when fishing further afield,' said Mr Larsen.
Another major powerboat player, Haines Hunter, was rapt with the level of serious enquiry, especially for the flagship SS725 model.
Lionel Sands, managing director of Haines Hunter, believes now is best time to buy a boat. 'Despite the economy, there is still plenty of money of out there. We’re seeing most interest in the bigger boats. Right now these boats represent really excellent value for money.'
Christchurch-based Griff Simpson at Fi-Glass has had more than his share of problems due to the earthquakes over the past 12 months, but Mr Simpson had only positive things to say about the Auckland International Boat Show.
'It’s now a world class event, it’s just fantastic. The venue has lifted the show to another level.'
Fi-Glass offered a special boat show deal: one-third, one-third, one-third, which enabled buyers to buy the boat in three payments over 24 months.
Engines also generated power at the boat show. Many owners are keen to repower and Volpower was promoting the debut of the new D400 Volvo engine/sterndrive which features a fully electronic fly by wire control system.
Contestants in the International Boatbuilding Competition, from front: NZ Marine, Fitzroy Yachts, Superyacht Interiors NZ, Specialist Marine Interiors, Alloy Yachts. - Click Here to view large photo
Central to this is the Power Trim Assist (PTA), which allows the driver to pre-program the stern leg’s trim angle so it automatically responds to varying amounts of throttle and boat speed.
Andrew Wilkes of Marine Xpress said this was a most successful show exceeding his expectations of sales for his range of stainless steel ladders and marine equipment.
'We sold predominantly to Kiwi visitors but we sold a reasonable amount to Australian visitors and Australian boat builders – enough to decide to scoot over to the Mandurah Boat Show [Western Australia] due to some work there we’ve picked up on the back of the show. It has been a real eye opener after what has been an awfully tough time for us. The fact that we can meet those demands with weird and wonderful [custom-made] equipment worked very well for us at the show.'
Projects secured by Marine Xpress at the show include a 97-year-old ferry from the South Island to be converted into a pleasure boat and a 1976 Lidgard 47. 'We’re just blown way,' said Mr Wilkes.
But there was plenty to dream about, too, in the 55ft Steve Ekman-designed, $5.7 million luxury powercat Bucket List from Fibreglass Concepts in Whangarei which hosted TVNZ Breakfast on Saturday morning, and the 17.5-metre metallic bronze Voodoo designed by Roger Hill and built by Dave Pachoud of Tauranga.
Voodoo’s sunroof and open, light-timber sole interior presented a new look for a Roger Hill design, and complemented its neighbour, the 14-metre helicat, Kukai, also designed by Roger Hill.
The biggest crowd puller of the show was Saturday’s on-water race for the International Boatbuilding Competition, organised by NZ Marine Industry Training Organisation. Teams of apprentices and boatbuilders from superyacht-related companies had built outrigger canoes prior to the show to demonstrate their skills and innovation in boatbuilding. Specialist Marine Interiors won three categories – most innovative, best quality of build and best overall presentation – while Alloy Yachts won the race under paddle, sail and outboard motor on the water.
In his opening address, Prime Minister John Key said he was impressed by the diversity of the marine industry, as reflected by the range of sponsors who contributed significantly to the show as a world-class, vibrant event.
Auckland Mayor Len Brown attended the International Boatbuilding Competition representing major sponsor, Auckland City. The Moorings package of three prizes, each a one-week sailing holiday in the Bay of Islands, encouraged visitors to complete the boat show survey, thus ensuring an even better event next year. Sponsor Line 7 provided smart, branded wear for official boat show staff; Total Floating Systems Ltd transformed the Viaduct Harbour by installing 987 lineal metres of floating marina in just three days, and the fleet of Kia, four-wheel drive vehicles proved perfect for towing trailer power boats.
The top floor of the new Viaduct Events Centre provided the best views of the boat show and comfortable seating to enjoy the Boating New Zealand Weekend Seminars. Topics included kayaking, weather, game fishing, yacht design, classic yacht restoration and protecting the Hauraki Gulf Islands.
By spreading the word about safe boating, gamefishing and the marine sea life, the Boating New Zealand Weekend Seminars will help to ensure New Zealand boaties get best use from their purchases at the Auckland International Boat Show.