Seawind Catamarans believe their new 950 model offers a long overdue multihull option to the "bottom end of the market" ignored by the Australian company's money and ego-driven rivals.
Company founder Richard Ward unveiled the 32-foot cruising cat to gathered media on the opening day of the 24th Sanctuary Cove International Boat Show. The Seawind 950 is a bolt together kitset cat that can be shipped around the world in two 40ft containers at a fraction of the cost of piggy-backing a fully assembled catamaran on a yacht transporter.
Ward is confident the concept will open up new markets in Europe and on the Great Lakes in Canada, as well as appealing to charter companies and young families who have previously been priced out of the multihull market.
"Catamaran manufacturers of the world have ignored the bottom end of the market. There is a lot more money at the bigger end and the bigger end appeals to their egos as well," Ward said.
"The Seawind 950 is a boat normal people can afford. It's a big boat feel, a great family boat capable of coastal cruising , but comes in a box, two boxes in fact."
The Seawind 950 comes with a NZ landed price tag of $299,000. In Australia, it can be shipped from Seawind's Vietnam factory to any major port from a starting price of A$225,000. Seawind then offer to assemble the boat for an additional $10,000 although with just six bolts, Ward believes many owners will choose to put the kitset cat together themselves.
Two qualified boat builders could assemble the boat in 1.5 days, Ward said.
"Cats are getting bigger and bigger and we're losing the entry level of the market. If you looking at an entry level cost of $400-$500,000, you're probably in the wrong business."
The Seawind 950 comes in a three cabin layout as standard with a spacious bathroom to port aft and a full galley down to starboard. Like its bigger sister the Seawind 1000, the saloon table in the 950 also drops down to offer another double berth. A two cabin, two-bathroom option will also be made available for the charter market.
The cat is powered by a fully-battened mainsail and overlapping jib with twin Yamaha 9.9hp high thrust outboards for auxiliary propulsion.
"We think it will charter very well, at the base charter level, for two couples. There is absolutely nothing like this anywhere in the world as far as we know so it's very exciting," Ward said.
"Shipping a 30-footer to Europe costs roughly $70,000 which is just ridiculous. We think it will open up a lot of markets now there is no barrier to shipping."
The Seawind 950 will be available from November 2012.
Meanwhile, Ward announced at the show that he is looking for investors in Seawind Catamarans which also owns Corsair trailerable trimarans.
"I'm 64 now and I started Seawind in 1982 which is 30 years. Thirty years is a long time doing the same thing...I want to go sailing."
Ward still wants to remain involved in the company. "I'm looking for someone who maybe wants a 30 or 50 percent stake or something like that. I'm not putting a prospectus out because I want somebody young to come in who actually cares for our boats, for our brand and not just about making money."
- © Fairfax NZ News
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