Australian boat-building doyen Bill Barry-Cotter hasn’t re-invented the wheel but he has created a new lean Maritimo manufacturing model that is paying dividends.
The markets in America and, to a much lesser degree, Europe have rebounded; his revised Maritimo formula focussing on efficiency and quality is being well received; and the three key new models released in 2013 were runaways in at least relative terms.
At the annual end-of-year media press conference on the Gold Coast last Friday (December 6), Barry-Cotter looked relaxed with Maritimo’s achievements, direction and future. He will tell you, as indeed he did us, that this year’s Fort Lauderdale International Boat Show was the “best ever for Maritimo, with multiple sales recorded.”
There’s a lot else to share, not least being an all-new 65-footer in a “custom line” with an interesting quad-engine option. Barry-Cotter says he has tried it before and, espousing its efficiency once up and running and switched to twin-engine-only operation, will now seek to create the ultimate long-range motorcruiser. Never a dull moment as long as he's at the helm!
A NEW TEAM
- Experience and enthusiasm led the way
Launched 10 years ago, Maritimo has seen something of a changing of the guard of its management team of late. Barry-Cotter has brought in new blood, namely Greg Haines (a Maritimo owner) from the eponymous Haines Signature boat brand to handle marketing, CEO Garth Corbitt, and most recently Phil Candler, a new General Manager of Operations, who worked for Barry-Cotter at Riviera for 15 years.
Suffice to say, it’s a formidable team, with a great depth of experience, not only from unsung shipwrights in the background, but from Barry-Cotter (72), who might hint at slowing down, although there’s no sign of that yet. In fact, there seems to be a spring in the step from the boatbuilder and his new team.
The big hits in 2013 have been the M58, which has been embraced in America especially, the M50 that replaced the M48 (108 sold), and the low-profile S50 Sedan variant sans flying bridge. The story goes that Barry-Cotter had the first S50 lined up for his own use, with a new upgraded Miele appliance package and more tweaks -- the boat fits under the bridge downstream from his waterfront home -- until the sales team found a buyer and off it went.
THE WINNING FORMULA
- The full-beam stateroom, walkaround decks and efficiency
Maritimo says its success with these boats rests with the combination of walkaround decks, aft galley, enclosed flybridge with internal staircase -- and the big one -- a full-beam master stateroom. Achieving that in the M50 and S50 with traditional shaftdrives instead of pod drives has impressed the market and rightly so. The stateroom is said to be 230 per cent bigger than in the M48 it replaces.
Some time ago, as fuel prices started heading north, Barry-Cotter made the decision to work even harder on efficiency and economy. His slippery and easily-driven hulls with low shaft angles and large fuel capacities lay claim to “as much as 17 per cent better fuel efficiency than the competitors [in the 50-footer and 58-footer classes]," declares Haines. Maritimo has also run its fuel figures up against a Nordhavn of [presumably] a similar size and, at 9.8 knots, claims their M58 is 40 per cent more fuel efficient. So fast or slow, the Maritimo’s are aggressively pushing fuel efficiency.
The other big thing for Maritimo has been the focus on fit and finish. The push to greater quality has been well received by the big-boat market especially. The growth in sales of these bigger 50-60 footers has been largely to pre-existing customers moving up to bigger and more luxurious Maritimos.
“Central to the whole review has been the design and performance of all our boats, greater fuel efficiency, sea-keeping capabilities and finally fitout and finishes,” Haines says.
NEW YEAR LAUNCHES
- Exciting new 65 with quad-engine option coming!
To the year ahead. Against the improving climate, CEO Corbitt says 2014 is looking promising for Maritimo, with a full order book and two new models planned for release.
“We have looked at everything that we do and we have developed systems that now see us doing it better and that ranges from the design of the boats to the layouts and right through to soft furnishings and the interior fitouts,” he said.
The first of the new boats will be the S58 Sedan, which shares the platform of the M58, but without the flying bridge. Not only is this welcome in some canal areas of the Gold Coast, but the single-level Sedans appear to be a hit with seasoned boaters who know how they use their boats -- rafted up alongside like-minded company.
The single-level aft-galley layouts work very well for entertaining. Two pre-sold 58s are now in the making. The first one is headed to the Gold Coast, the second M58 to Canada.
But in Barry-Cotter's inimitable style, the M65 (concept now in development) is truly unique. The deck is due in early 2014, with the boat launch expected to be in the third-quarter of 2014. The revolutionary four-cabin 65 will have oodles of accommodation: a VIP that is as big as a stateroom in a 50, the option of scissor berths in the bow, his and her heads behind the full-beam stateroom bedhead, and optional crew quarters.
What looks to be an enormous saloon on the renderings has three stools fronting the galley/bar, a three-metre long lounge, with an optional second island amenities centre on the flybridge balcony, plus possible internal engine-room access so owners can check on things from their stateroom.
We’re told engine options will include 900hp Volvos, 900hp (continuously rated) Scanias, 1150hp Cats or, get this, a quad engine set-up with smaller engines, costing a similar initial outlay to bigger twins, but offering greatly reduced running costs. Propped light, you will be able to run on two engines at a time at 18-20 knots and enjoy super-long range, says Barry-Cotter.
Barry-Cotter says he’s built boats with four (shaft-drive) engines before. The outboard engines go forward , the aft ones back, and there are two rudders. Effectively, by switching between engine pairs, you’ll be halving running hours and servicing intervals, he says.
Meantime, the new Maritimo raceboat has hit the water and is undergoing fine tuning. The boat will contest the European circuit next year. Its engines alone were three years in the making. Maritimo won the world championships in America last year. In 2014 or 2015, the new boat will compete internationally running UIM engines rated at 850hp.
The boat has been designed by Michael Peters and overseen by Bill Barry-Cotter and the fine tuning and adjustments that have been made to increase its performance have come from Bill and, until his passing this year, Phil Frazer.
- Big boat sales lead the way in USA
Maritimo USA President, Dave Northtrop, shared his views on the rapidly improving American market, saying the Maritimos are coveted by experienced boaters who enjoy spending serious time aboard. He even set records this year, with more pre-sold Maritimos in the month of December than at any other time in the States before. Sales for the month were up 700 per cent year on year. He said Maritimo now has the enthusiasm and momentum on its side.
Indeed, the stats Northrop mentioned suggest the American market has certainly improved. He said sales of inboard 41-62 foot boats in October were up 60 per cent on the previous year, and up 50 per cent in the same period for 63-99 footers. They’re still talking hundreds not thousands of boats, but it’s the first big increase in several years.
Northrop said he wrote sales for three Maritimo 50s in one day at the 2013 Fort Lauderdale show. “We've gone from one of the smallest to the largest staterooms in our class… it’s been a godsend,” he said, adding that more and more American owners are taking delivery in Australia and cruising the Whitsundays before shipping their Maritimos home.
Why buy a boat built in Australia? Northrop answers the question asked of him many times. It’s not a financial decision, he says, as Maritimos are priced as a premium product in the US...
“There are two things: these are unique boats from Bill Barry-Cotter with ingenuity and functionality; and it’s the labour force. In Australia, boatbuilding is a profession not just a job. The result is the boater’s boat. ur average USA customer is clocking up 300-400 hours per year. And there are more than 150 of them in America now.”
Candler, the new operations manager, points to the depth of experience at Maritimo, hints at expansion and a reinvigoration of the apprentice-training program.
- Improving fortunes but steady as she goes in Oz
Barry-Cotter says he’s going to keep the momentum going in 2014. The US is on the mend and Europe is coming out of it, he says. “We’re the last into recession and probably the last out of it. Property prices are improving so that will help,” he adds.
“We’re pushing efficiency and will keep working on that. We’ll definitely expand into the 60-footer-plus market for our existing customers. He forecasts doing three to four 65s a year. The market right now is all 50-footer and above. Mustang sales are slowing and I can see that coming to an end,” he says.
So bigger boats rather than lots of smaller ones appears to be the trend. Maritimo doesn’t talk numbers but did around 30 boats in 2012, a few more this year, and is looking at ways to expand a bit without compromising quality. Exports accounted for 60 per cent of sales in 2013, but 70 per cent of sales in the last few months of the year.
“I don’t see that changing and if the dollar pulls back it could be improving,” Barry Cotter wraps up before lunch is served.
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