June 1, 2013

blogger - Sealine

On 1st May the famous British boat builder Sealine went bankrupt and the company ceased activity.  It is always a sad news to see a boat builder go down, being it a popular name as in this case, or that which is more to heart to aficionados.  Sealine was founded officially in 1978 although its founder Tom Murrant starting building boats six years before when he built the 23 feet Continental.
The story of Sealine has been of two ownership changes in the past decade, from boat building giant Brunswick who bought it in 2001, to US investment house Oxford two years ago.  I think Brunswick never worked well with Sealine and always restricted the brand to European sales alone, in a time where Euro design in boats was booming in the US.  Oxford Investments had two little time and much things to do with the current difficult economy and nautical market not helping much in this.
Considering that Sealine has been a huge success since its inception, especially for entry and middle sized cruisers, I personally think that the market is currently giving some signals to the boat builders; where it wants to go and most importantly what people are asking for.  Surely customers are more conservative nowadays and they want a boat which looks good in about a decade time, the time of excesses from a certain point of view is over. Another important trend is also customization, an abused word in the industry used a lot on super yachts nowadays taking a more important meaning not only under eighty feet, but also under fifty size. Basically offering a single layout and a couple of material choices is not good anymore even sub fifty feet size.   
Can production boat builders manage to do this and still remain competitive? Now that will be the trick for those who want to ride this never ending storm in better condition.