Boat builder treats dealers to Bluff's best

Stabicraft Marine southern retail and sales manager Adam Marshall takes Australian dealers for a...
Stabicraft Marine southern retail and sales manager Adam Marshall takes Australian dealers for a spin on Foveaux Strait last week in the company's new 1600 Carbon Project Fisher boat. Photo supplied.
Invercargill boat builder Stabicraft Marine has held its first international dealer conferences in seven years, a testament to managing director Paul Adams' increasing confidence in the market.

Twenty dealers - 19 from New Zealand and one from New Caledonia - attended the first conference, with nine Australian dealers at the second.

They came to tour the factory and test the latest models, but the lure of Bluff oysters might also have had something to do with it, Mr Adams said.

Visitors and hosts devoured 50 dozen oysters at ''Kiwiana'' evenings, along with whitebait, lamb and pavlova, he said.

''Everyone enjoyed their times here, seeing the factory and the upgrades we have done over the years and meeting our staff. We talked about having conferences more regularly. So long as they are in the oyster season, they're all pretty happy.''

Mr Adams and a business partner established Stabicraft 28 years ago, pioneering the production of positive buoyancy aluminium hulled boats.

The company hit a speed bump in 2009 with the global financial crisis and had to lay off 13 staff, but Mr Adams said sales had skyrocketed since about 2012, with about 600 boats now produced annually.

Most were medium sized boats for the recreational fishing market, as well as some larger purpose built vessels for commercial clients including Australian state departments and the United Nations. Boats went all over the world to locations as diverse as Burma, Madagascar, Zambia, Russia, Canada and Alaska.

Mr Adams said the dealers inspected the company's new design prototypes.

''That was good for cross pollination of information _ giving them [a heads up] on what we are planning on making, and getting feedback from them as to what they thought we should have in those prototypes and what their customers would want.''

The dealers also trialled Stabicraft's brand new Project Carbon 1600 boat on Foveaux Strait.

The boat comes in two models, both featuring cabins made of resin infused composite with carbon fibre strengthening. One model had a broad gunwale from bow to stern allowing people to fish from any point.

While carbon fibre had been used on racing yachts, mountain bikes and road bikes for some time, these were the first production trailer boats in New Zealand to use the material, Mr Adams said.

In development for the past year, four had been built so far, with another two in production.

''There have already been pre orders. Everyone is very excited about how it looks.

''The 16ft market is quite full - there are lots of players in it. What we have done with this boat is something that is quite different and unique in its look and its styling, and boat people will absolutely know that.''

One boat magazine reviewer had described the models as ''stealth fighter style rocket launchers'', he said.

The boats will be officially launched at the Hutchwilco New Zealand Boat Show in Auckland next month. Two will be given away as gate prizes.

-allison.beckham@odt.co.nz

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