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A year like no other. The Queen said it all. - Australian newsletter

by Peter Rendle 17 Dec 2020 13:30 PST
Decontamination of boat interiors at Berthon © Harry Shutler

I believe it was the queen who coined the phrase "Annus Horribilis" in 1992. I am sure many people will label 2020 with the same description. In Australia we have mostly escaped the ravages of the Covid-19 pandemic and with vaccines being wheeled out in the New Year we have capitalised on being an island continent with a relatively small population.

Not so for Europe, Asia, the Americas and Africa. We have had our share of lockdowns which have become a way of life, together with state border closures dominating the news and restricting movements interstate and beyond. However, there is a light at the end of the tunnel and we move towards 2021 with a sense of optimism that the worst is behind us and, while there is a lot more work to be done, 2021 has to be an improvement.

As far as the marine industry is concerned the effects of the pandemic have been patchy. While sailing events and participation have been severely curtailed including all the major regattas, boat sales, mainly power boats have had a steady demand and even an increase in some countries. As the need for strict social distancing eases with the introduction of Covid vaccinations there is a hope that most sailing organisations will be able to get back to a normal sailing program next year.

Another victim of the pandemic was boat shows. In Australia all the major shows were cancelled and this opened the way for virtual displays of latest products to be shown via zoom from anywhere and to anyone from all over the country. However, there is nothing like the atmosphere at a buzzing show and I am sure all past exhibitors will be looking forward to being able to get in front of their clients to spruik their latest products.

At Sail-World we have broken all previous 'reach' records with over 500,000 individual readers accessing the global sites in November. From all accounts it appears that this trend is likely to continue as readers get used to keeping up with boating news within hours of it happening and being recorded.

This week we continue to bring you the latest updates. Electric propulsion within the marine industry continues to grow and a local boat builder has entered the fray. While hybrid cars are now commonplace on our roads, development of hybrid boats has been lagging behind - until now. A collaborative partnership between Ampcontrol, University of Newcastle and Steber International has conducted a series of highly successful bench and on-water trials of a hybrid diesel/electric boat prototype.

Steber International, General Manager, Alan Steber said, "This exciting R&D project has unlimited potential across the entire marine landscape and as a next step we plan to demonstrate the versatility and strengths of the vessel to prospective end users. Potential applications include marine park boats, police boats, recreational and leisure boats, harbour foreshore inspection boats, tourist boats, yacht club tenders, security vessels to name a few. Working with the Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA) we will establish the additional protocols required for commercial vessel registration and use. The project has the potential to boost jobs in regional NSW and we encourage all levels of government to support the next phases of ongoing R&D, marketing and commercialisation."

At the same time another Australian boat builder is rewarding its apprentices. Riviera has announced five winners in its Apprentice of the Year awards for 2020, showcasing the depth of talent within the company's workforce. The Riviera honours bestowed on these younger members of the team complement the recently announced TAFE Apprentice of the Year and the AIMEX Apprentice of the Year awards for a further three Riviera apprentices recognised for excellence in their respective boatbuilding crafts. All of the award-winning apprentices have a shared drive and determination found across Riviera's 600-strong team, namely a passion for creating the best luxurious blue-water motor yachts. The Riviera Apprentice of the Year winners are: Joel Neucom (fourth-year apprentice); Miguel Drescher-Paler (third-year apprentice); Zack Tagget (second-year apprentice); and Joe Moxey and Jake Smith (joint winners of the first-year apprentice category).

Our other major power boat builder, Maritimo, closes 2020 with one of its strongest ever forward order books and heightened interest in its range internationally. From beginning the year on the back of an incredible year of growth and success in 2019, the world was then hit with the impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic, and the wave of uncertainty that faced industries across the globe. Maritimo was one company which was able to adapt and counter the challenges that faced much of the industry, with successful international sales as a result, and a strengthened position heading into the future.

"It has been an unprecedented year amidst the health crisis that has so heavily impacted so many across the globe," said Maritimo Director of Branding, Tom Barry-Cotter. "Being an Australian motor yacht manufacturer, we are thankful and appreciative of where we come from, and as a company with an international customer focus, the year has presented some real challenges which forced us to review all facets of our business in order to deal with many of the flow on effects of the Covid-19 pandemic. "We and our customers were able to adapt, relatively quickly in many ways, and we now see those efforts in one of the strongest positions we have been in, with the strength of forward orders."

And a sailing product has been nominated for an award. B&G®, the world's leading sailing navigation and instrument specialist is pleased to announce that Nemesis was shortlisted in the DAME R&D Excellence in Adversity Award 2020 at the METSTRADE CONNECT virtual METSTRADE conference.

"We are proud to be shortlisted for this one-off DAME award" said Alan Davis, EVP B&G. "There were 47 entries this year and being in the final 5 is great recognition for the whole team involved in this launch. The pandemic forced us to change the way we work, with our teams working from home, but with home offices spanning at least 6 countries in 4 continents including the UK, Slovenia, Holland, New Zealand, Mexico and India - it was a challenge!"

The jury were unable to physically see and touch the entries this year, as the awards were completely virtual, meaning that all entries were reliant on video and text to tell their story. Explaining why Nemesis was shortlisted the DAME jury praised the Nemesis at many levels, from its design, to the range of innovative new features it brings through evident R&D effort. Summarising, one of the Jury members described it as a really clever "I want one of those" products.

As everyone knows, we continue to work through the Christmas break and while this is the penultimate Marine Business World newsletter for 2021, I'll take this opportunity to thank all our sponsors for their support this year and to our readers for taking notice! All of us at Sail-World, MarineBusinessWorld and Powerboat.World wish everyone a safe Christmas and New Year.

Stay Safe and have fun.
Peter Rendle

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