How can the US new build market increase its global appeal to owners and potential owners? At an exclusive press event on board one of Ocean Alexander’s five vessels at FLIBS 2016, Richard Allender, director of US operations for the shipyard, explored what needs to be done by Ocean Alexander and, by extension, other US-style builders in order to appeal to a wider market.
“We have had to take a hard look at the different lifestyles and boating styles that you find around the world. When you sit back and study them a little, you find that they are really quite different,” starts Allender. “Even within the US the styles are different, how people use their boats in the north west and how they use them here [in Fort Lauderdale] are vastly different – not to mention European and South American tastes.”
For European and South American owners, as well as owners from the south eastern US, a superyachts core design features tend to focus on building a proximity with those on board and the water upon which they float. “People want to get in the water, they want to go to the Bahamas and so on, everything is designed to be in and with the water,” continues Allender.
Conversely, owners in the north western US - an area where Ocean Alexander dominates the market – don’t want to be in, or feel too close to, the water. “In the north west we need to design in large hangers for parker coats,” he says. “If you tell people down here that they might need space for parkers, they are never too keen.”
With the tastes of European, South American and Floridian boaters so in line, it is no wonder then that they choose to buy European yachts, regardless of currency fluctuations, political upheaval or the many other excuses used to explain the US markets decline. “I recognise that there are some vast differences in the way boats are used globally. As a result, we are now working on a new product that we intend to introduce to, what I call, the world market.”
The design, penned by Evan K Marshall, will borrow stylistic elements from European designs and will feature far more compound curves and sweeping angles. However, Allender is acutely aware that moving too far towards a European style will alienate much of Ocean Alexander’s customer base and, indeed, fail to capitalise on those features that make the yard distinguishable.
“How far do we take this project in terms of style?”, Allender asks. “We still need to retain a number of the elements that are common throughout the boats that Evan has already done for us. We are not trying to go after Italian design, but we are going to go through a period of modernising the particular style of this product.”
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