A CONSTRAINED shipping transport industry is imposing challenges on international exhibitors as they scramble to get their products to Australia on time for the Sanctuary Cove International Boat Show (SCIBS). But organisers assure the global context will be as strong as ever.

With a reduction in ocean freight as a result of a slowdown in manufacturing and consumer demand, international voyages have been cut back.

Despite the challenges it has not sunk the hopes of boat show management with a strong international component still confirmed

Participants from China, Taiwan, Korea, US, UK, New Zealand, Jordan, Italy, Netherlands, Belgium, Jordan, Turkey and Italy plus an array of Australian companies showcasing imported products will be on display. The Australian manufacturing sector is also well represented.

Organisers remain conservative in terms of beating or even meeting past international exhibitor records, but bookings to date have demonstrated resilience by the global marine community.

“The other problem is that a huge percentage of merchant transport fleets are tied up across the spectrum. There is not the frequency that once was and it only compounds the problem,” says SCIBS general manager Barry Jenkins.

“It’s a little too early to say regarding international product and a lot of them are at the mercy of the manufacturers. A lot of factories have downsized and so when orders come in they don’t have the resources to get boats out in expected timeframes by the consumer. Most are building to order, there’s no stock to put on a boat and ship it off to Australia.”

Director of Gold Coast City Marina and Shipyard Dean Leigh-Smith, says the issue had adversely affected marine trade in some sectors and the importation of individual components but it had also presented opportunities.

“Shipping lines have reduced the amount of voyages and the volume of containers has been reduced world wide,” he says.

“The upside for us is that it has created reasonable pricing for the importation of our Hampton and Alaska motoryachts from China. There was a time where it was quite difficult to get stock on a boat and have it over here to meet timeframes, but now it seems a lot less congested.”

Kane Bygrave, a director at Aurora Shipping Logistics in Brisbane, says the strong Aussie dollar against the US Greenback had created a new market in the US for repossessed boats.

“The line of service has put some (transport) vessels in dry dock, but the last four months we have seen a spike in imports from the States,” he says.

“The high Aussie dollar is creating good opportunities as the US is still in recovery and many repossession yards are selling boats at 20 per cent off market value.”

Now in its 22nd year, SCIBS is aiming to pull revenues of plus $200 million. There will be 80 new releases and around 40,000 punters are expected to be ushered through the gates.

Jenkins attended the International Boat Show in Shanghai last month, where he signed two exhibitors. Farnova Yachts, which manufacture sail boats and catamarans in Shenzhen and Prout International, a catamaran manufacturer from Zuhai will have a presence at the show. Despite the challenges numbers are up in China.

“We are confident that more than 400 exhibitors will commit this year,” says Jenkins.

“I don’t know how many people I spoke to in China and they all know Sanctuary Cove and it’s not just the boating industry they know but also waterfront marine development.

“I received the strongest level of enquiry in around a decade of marketing the show in China. We are very pleased how the show is tracking. I’d be disappointed if we don’t get the numbers that we got in 2008. While last year we were virtually blown away by the weather, figures still stacked up.

“It’s always good to feel positive when coming into an event of this size, it gives us the confidence to present the facility and for international exhibitors to come into this market.”

Stars of the show

A range of luxury vessels are expected to spin heads with the Australian launch of the Fairline Targa 58 Sport Yacht, the Fairline Squadron 55 and Fairline Squadron 65 by exhibitor CRS Yachts.

Sunseeker Australia is also releasing three vessels with the 80 Yacht, 86 Yacht and 30 Metre Yacht from the UK.

Chinese manufacturer IAG Yachts is participating for the first time while Turkish luxury motor yacht company Vicem Yachts will also have a presence.

Two Assegai Marine custom-built sport fishing boats will also be on show. Only 11 of these boats have been built by the Brisbane manufacturer since 1992. Australian manufacturers Riviera, Maritimo, Clipper Motor Yachts, LeisureCat Australia and Lizard Yachts are just some companies launching power boats on the world market over the four-day extravaganza.

Within the sail sector, the Bavaria Cruiser 32 and 45 models debut in the Asia Pacific region and the Asia Pacific launch of Fountaine Pajot’s Lipari 41 by Multihull Solutions has been confirmed.

Others include the Catalina 375, Dragonfly 35 Swing Wing Trimaran, Hanse 375, Seawind 1250 and the updated version of the NorseBoat 17.5 This year’s new component, the prestige brokerage and charter exhibition on marina arm C, has drawn 11 confirmed bookings including vessels of more than 30m.

“There are dozens of new products unveiled this year including Torqeedo’s Travel 503 and 1003 electric outboards released in South East Asia at the Show plus the national release of the Paguro 5000 marine generator by Welling & Crossley,” says Jenkins.

Mercury MerCruiser’s next generation big-block marine engine will be a world first along with Techno Fibre Australia’s launch of Michigan Wheel Europe’s outboard/sterndrive and inboard propellers throughout the Oceania region.

Jenkins is hesitant to put a revenue figure but expects more than $200 million in sales.

“It’s difficult to say and it would take a brave man to spin the dial on that one, but sales should be greater than $200 million,” he says.

“Ticket sales have also been strong for the Australian Marine Industry Breakfast facilitated by Gold Coast City Marina,”
says Jenkins.

The ticketed public event will feature president of the National Marine Manufacturers Association from the US Thom Dammrich and president of the International Council for Marine Industries (ICOMIA) as guest speaker on May 21.

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