Synchronised swimmers, pillaging pirates and cow-punchin’ cowboys helped make the 20th anniversary of the Sanctuary Cove International Boat Show, held from May 22 to 25, one very memorable occasion.
Proudly co-sponsored by Club Marine, this year’s show was a milestone for the show’s general manager, Barry Jenkins and his dedicated and hard-working crew of helpers. Jenkins has been nurturing and steering the show since its inception, and took the opportunity of the official opening, conducted by boating icon Bill Barry-Cotter, to announce that he is stepping aside to take up other opportunities in the marine sphere after notching up his second decade at the helm.
Ultimately, though, the success or otherwise of boat shows is measured in the numbers. It’s all about boats on the water and punters on the pontoons and this year’s Sanctuary Cove was a definite winner in both respects, reinforced by the fact that there were at least 127 confirmed world and Australian marine product launches at the show.
In total, this year’s show missed out on eclipsing last year’s total of 456 boats by just one, but Jenkins did point out that if placed end-to-end, the boats on display at this year’s show would still stretch a total of 5.232km. And having wandered around the show for three days, I’d have to say that it certainly felt like they were laid out in a straight line. In fact, there were so many boats competing for space, that Mustang Marine displayed its boats in the lagoon pool and on the grounds of the Sanctuary Cove Hyatt Regency hotel.
The turnstiles were kept spinning throughout the four days of the show, with near-record attendance. And visitors would have been hard-pressed to take in all that the show has to offer, given the sheer number of boats on show, not to mention the hundreds of equipment and accessory displays in the numerous marquees. It is equally difficult to do complete justice to all exhibitors in print, but we’ll attempt to focus on some of the more notable efforts.
ALMOST A RECORD
“We had 50,678 visitors, the second highest tally in the show’s history, while the exhibitor count was just one less than last year’s record exhibitor field,” said Jenkins. “All exhibition space was fully booked and we are already receiving inquiries for next year’s dates.”
Fresh from accepting their awards at Thursday night’s Australian Marine Awards function at the Marriott Hotel, many proud exhibitors were displaying their winning sashes on their boats. And by the end of the show, quite a few were also celebrating bulging order books.
A snapshot of exhibitors – only a fraction of the full exhibitor list – confirmed actual sales for them at the show of close to $A150 million. And post-show follow-ups are likely to increase that figure substantially over coming weeks.
The feeling of the major exhibitors was that the show was positive and, for many, beyond their expectations. Tim Sayer, Managing Director of R Marine, said that the show had the best vibes of any in the world. Across the range of Riviera, Princess and Grand Banks models, Riviera accounted for some $A37m in sales, with more expected as leads are followed up.
The R Marine ‘compound’ was spread over a fair area of the on-water space, and the company debuted a number of craft at the show, including the new Riviera 38 and 61 flybridges, while the 48 Offshore Express and 47 Enclosed Flybridge made their first Sanctuary Cove appearances. The company also took the opportunity to give assembled journalists a sneak preview of its stylish, yet-to-be-released 58 Sport Yacht. The sleek, infusion-moulded craft features a raft of new touches, including a trio of Volvo Penta IPS pod drives and a full-beam stateroom. It’s due for release sometime early in ’09.
Riviera also announced the formation of its Blue Water Club, created to offer Riviera owners membership to a club that will host a range of boating activities around Australia. Anyone purchasing a new Riviera, Princess or Grand Banks from an R Marine dealership will be granted an automatic two-year membership.
And speaking of Grand Banks and Princess, both of which are now represented by R Marine, each had a number of boats on display, with Grand Banks acknowledging the growing importance of the show by conducting the world release of its stunning new 65 Aleutian, while Princess trumpeted the Australian launch of its sleek new P50.
A little further along the marina was the impressive Maritimo display. Fresh from taking out a win in the Australian Marine Awards for its 550 Offshore Convertible game fisher, the Gold Coast-based company also unveiled its stunning new European-styled Cabriolet 60 at a black-tie gala event at its factory on the Wednesday evening. The brand new boat attracted a lot of interest at the show. According to Maritimo marketing manager, Peter Jenkins, the company now has so many forward orders they will need to employ more staff and up production output. Also new at the show was the Maritimo 50 Sport Fish and the 48 Sky Lounge cruiser.
As usual, the Sunseeker display drew plenty of admirers, as well as the occasional well-heeled customer, with a range of the luxury UK cruisers, including the impressive new Manhattan 70, which was making its Australian debut. To celebrate, the Sunseeker folks invited members of the Australian Olympic synchronised swimming team to display their talents in the water next to the 70, much to the appreciation of a large audience. The $25 million display also included the flagship 75 Yacht, Predator 72 and 62 and the racy Superhawk 43. Sunseeker reported sales of some $15m worth of luxury cruisers during the show, with a Manhattan 70 sold on Friday, the sale of a 75 Yacht to a Sydney businessman and the sale of a Manhattan 66 to a Melbourne tycoon.
Speaking of luxury, one brand that definitely caught everyone’s attention was Horizon. Apart from snaring an Australian Marine Award for its stunning Horizon 65 Flybridge, the Taiwanese manufacturer had all eyes focused on its spectacular $7.8m 98, which comes complete with a $300,000 Audi R8 parked on the aft upper deck. John Rapmund, of dealer Boats International, said the 98 was a big hit at the show, along with the 65, new 68 Vision, and 73.
“The 98 really drew a lot of attention and it looks like we might have at least one sale for it,” he said. Sales throughout the rest of the range made this year’s Sanctuary Cove a big winner for the company, he said, with a likely final total of double last year’s sales.
American cruiser manufacturer, Sea Ray, was hard to miss, with a total of 19 craft on the water under the umbrella of local dealers, Queensland Marine Centre. Pride of place was taken by the spectacular new 55 DA Sundancer, a craft likely to lure those with a taste for luxury and open air cruising.
The luxury afloat theme was continued at the Fairline display, which was centred on the spectacular new flagship Targa 64 Grand Turismo, making its Australian debut.
“Australia’s Gold Coast is a great place to debut this luxury motor yacht,” said Mark Chapman from Fairline Sydney. “The Targa 64GT was launched to great acclaim in Europe and we are looking forward to the same success at Sanctuary Cove.”
Kiwi cruiser builder, Salthouse Marine, made the trek across the Tasman with a couple of craft on display, including its new Salthouse 57. The semi-production, Auckland-based company drew plenty of positive comments for its silver-hulled beauty and is likely to enjoy good sales from its show presence.
Iconic displacement cruiser manufacturer, Halvorsen debuted its new 34 Broadwater at the show, Developed from its popular 32 Sedan, the new craft boasts a more spacious entertaining area and an extended aft deck. The company also displayed luxury Chinese-built Selene bluewater cruisers and reported sales of two Selene 59s and one Selene 75, for a total value of $A7.3 million.
Local sports cruiser manufacturer, Sunrunner boasted a large display of 12 boats, including its new Express Cruiser hardtop range, and according to boss Paul Smithson, experienced a great show. “This year’s show is the best result I have ever had in my life,” he said.
AXIUS ON SHOW
The Avante marine group had plenty going on, including running demonstrations of the new Axius stern drive system on its Bayliner 320 – the only craft in Australia so far equipped with the revolutionary MerCruiser drive. In addition, Avante displayed a freshly-arrived Maxum 29 cruiser and a trio of new luxury Meridians, a 341, 391 and 411. A spokesman said the show had gone well for the group, in particular, there had been a lot of interest in Axius and the Bayliner 320.
Local trailer boat specialists, Haines Signature had its hands full with a range of craft and products on display. Apart from its primary Haines Signature brand, the company also showcased Suzuki outboards, including new 70, 80, 90 and 100hp powerplants, plus its new range of Seafarer boats and Walker Bay RIBs. One intriguing new model was a 485 fisher, which has been built entirely using the company’s own RIVALE (Resin Injected Vacuum Assisted Low Emission) technology. It’s claimed to result in a very strong and light craft and is certainly competitively priced at just $15,000 for a basic package.
South Australian manufacturer, Theodore Marine also reported strong interest in its range of trailerable craft. Fresh from its sweep of the Australian Marine Awards, in which it snared a Commendation for Powerboat of the Year behind Riviera’s 4400 Sport Yacht, as well as winning the Fishing Trailerable Over 6m and Dayboat categories for its 720 Hardtop and 720 Open Coastal respectively, the company celebrated with a cowboy-themed party on the Friday night of the show.
Similarly, Melbourne’s Whittley Marine was boasting its AMIF Cruising Trailerable Over 6m award for its very impressive 2800 Cruiser, displayed prominently on the Northside Marine stand. CEO Neville Whittley said the interest in the new cruiser was “tremendous”, keeping him busy throughout the show talking to potential buyers.
Haines Hunter, via its Queensland dealer, Hinterland Marine, experienced a good show, with plenty of interest in its range of Breeze/R fishing boats, including the 495 and 585, as well as its family-friendly 650 and 680 Classics. Haines Hunter marketing manager, Glen Davidson said most of the interest was in the larger boats in the range and that he had registered almost 30 “qualified” boaties for a special on-water day scheduled for the following weekend.
“It proved that Sanctuary Cove attracts a lot of people who want to research the market before they buy a trailer boat,” he said, “which is why we’re having an on-water day afterwards.”
Another trailer boat manufacturer, CruiseCraft, said the show didn’t quite live up to expectations, with spokesman, Peter Benston saying he thought show numbers on the first two days were a little down on previous years. Nevertheless, the Queensland manufacturer still attracted attention to its range of Explorer and Outsider craft through its local dealer, Tweed Coast Marine.
Seawind Catamarans’ Brent Vaughan reported a lot of interest in the company’s new South African-built St Francis 50, an ocean-going sail craft for which Seawind is now Asia-Pacific representative. “It’s a good, sturdy ocean-goer that attracted a lot of attention and we hope to sell at least two of them in coming weeks,” said Vaughan. Seawind also hosted free seminars covering such topics as South Pacific cruising, heavy weather sailing and charter boat ownership, and Vaughan said they had “sellout” attendances and would be producing instructional DVDs that would be available via its website.
For Club Marine, the show was a great opportunity to meet and talk with our many members and our staff was kept busy for the four days dealing with insurance and magazine inquiries. Boosting attendance at our stand was the appearance of renowned chef, Bart Beek and his son, Kristian, who kept mouths watering with cooking demonstrations using recipes taken directly from our popular Gourmet magazine section.
Mercury Marine chose Sanctuary Cove to take the wraps off its most powerful outboard to date, the 350 Verado supercharged four-stroke, with a new 20hp four-stroke also released. Also on the corporate stand was the new Savage aluminium 540 Beachcomber, proudly displaying its award banner as winner of the AMIF Cruiser Trailerable under 6m category. Other products on display included the company’s just-released Axius stern drive system, plus the new Scorpion tow-sport engine and related Smart Tow system.
Rival engine manufacturer, Evinrude, chose the show to debut its all-new 130hp E-TEC engine, while a twin 175hp E-TEC rig was also on show at the Powercat stand. Evinrude’s parent company, BRP also ensured it attracted showgoers’ attention with the Sea-Doo girls turning the spotlight on the company’s 2008 range of PWCs.
In other show snapshots, Regal importer, Tim Catanese said: ”It’s the best show we have ever had.” He sold some $4 million worth of Regals in the 40-foot-and-above range.
Brendan Hunt, from VicSail, said he noticed a trend of people changing from power boats to sailing boats, particularly catamarans. “We sell more catamarans at the show than monohulls, as people come to compare the range of catamarans on display here before they buy,” he said.
Exhibitor feedback was overwhelmingly positive, particularly from the bigger end of town. In a time when many were expecting a significant downturn in attendance and sales, the 2008 Sanctuary Cove International Boat Show bucked the trend and hopefully sets the theme for the remainder of this year’s boat shows.
Dates for the 2009 show are May 21 to 24. For further details, go to: www.sanctuarycoveboatshow.