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11 Sep 2013
What powerboating can learn from the ultimate sails-man
Journalist Rob Mundle OAM has long had the serendipitous knack of spotting a ‘good thing'.
In his 18-Footer sailing days he pioneered the practice of having the skipper on trapeze and also conceived the concept of adding wings to extend the beam.
With that innovator eye he soon spotted the potential of a 4.2-metre sailing dinghy from the US, which was originally christened the Weekender but later became the Laser.
Mundle jumped on what was Laser number 35 and blatted across the bay. Barely had his feet hit the sand than he signed the Australian rights.
‘Brand awareness is everything in marketing so I put the word out quickly and got the Laser in front of people,' Mundle recalls. ‘The price was right ($695) and what stunned everyone was the performance compared to simplicity.'
The Laser suited the no-nonsense Aussie way of sailing. Mundle also ramped up the social factor and built a great rapport around the class. World-wide more than 210,000 Laser have been sold over the last 40 years so Mundle was on the right track.
‘Too often in this industry boatbuilders think they're marketers. It's easier to be a promoter and find the boatbuilders. The big thing is getting the orders,' he says.
A few years later a 24-footer from the US blipped on Mundle's radar – the J24.
Mundle secured the rights, and for maximum impact at Sydney Boat Show he parked a 911 sportscar beneath the hull and penned the tagline ‘Porsche of the Seas'.
A bigger coup was convincing wives that this flush-decked flyer could adapt to romantic weekending. ‘I put the nicest cushions imaginable on it, placed an esky at the bottom of the stairs, and fitted a toilet and stove. We sold seven boats, deposit paid, at that show,' Mundle says
J24 World Championships 2013 David Branigan/Oceansport
Mundle saw similar potential in the Adams 10 and applied the marketing magic when required. It didn't end there ... he casually suggested to John Biddlecombe that the market needed an affordable, fibreglass centre-cockpit cruising yacht for dreamers. Six weeks later the Manitou 32 was born, and Biddlecombe flogged more than 100 hulls.
Could he market a dog? ‘A dog gets found out,' Mundle says without hesitation. ‘The boat has to be right.'
So what is a yachtie doing in this powerboat column??
Well, the same marketing logic applies across the whole boating sector. Those traits of simplicity, sociability and affordability, along with exceptional performance, will be eternally popular.
Powerboating has had its Bertram 25, its Kawasaki jetski, its Quinnie tinnie but surely we're due for something new to propel the next generation of boaties. It will just take a keen eye to find it.
In boat show news: On the The 26 to 29 September running of the Auckland On Water Boat Show – the 15th edition of the annual event formerly called the Auckland International Boat Show – features a number of brand-new trailer powerboats, and sail and motor yachts. Michelle Khan, CEO of the Auckland On Water Boat Show, says the September timing of the show offers New Zealand boat builders and distributors the ideal opportunity to display the newest models as boating enthusiasts prepare for the busy summer season on water. Lots more boat show news, read on...
Ian Moule took the win in the final race - P1 AquaX Championship 2013 P1 AquaX
And on powerboat competitions: At the P1 AquaX Championship, the heavens opened shortly before the final race at Stone WaterSports club flattening off the sea in St Lawrence Bay and it was Tim Batte who led the 300 Class into the first buoy with Ian Moule hot in pursuit followed by Nick Thompson and Khris Leach leaving Huddleston trailing. But Batte dropped back later in the race suffering from mechanical problems leaving the way for Ian to take the final win. Read more inside...
UIM-ABP Aquabike Class Vittorio Ubertone/ABP
And finally at the Grand Prix of Italy, Youssef Al Abdulrazzaq has sent a clear message to the world's top Runabout GP1 riders on the UIM-ABP tour that he is the man to beat in 2013 after another dominant performance to complete the win-double in Viverone and emphatically win the Grand Prix of Italy.
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