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Old 01-02-2002
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Difference in boat prices?

This is a pretty complex question requiring a longer answer than I have time for this morning, but I will see if I can take a stab at it.

First of all, I agree with the above posters that you are not comparing apples to apples, with a comparison of Beneteau First 40.7 Aerodyne 47, to a Hinckley Sou''wester 43. Perhaps a fairer comparaison would be a Beneteau First 40.7 at $225K to a J-120, Farr 395 at $325K or Aerodyne 38 which I understand is closer to 400K since these are more similar in size and type.

In the interest of time I will just talk about how boat prices are derived. The price of any boat includes a number of costs that are not in real materials. When my mother and stepfather had companies that developed boats and imported them from Taiwan, approximately 15 to 20 percent of each boat''s cost was designing, prototyping (building mock-ups and developing details) and tooling (building molds and patterns for every non- mass produced peice that went into the boat)the boat. This was a long process typically taking 6 months to a year of money going out but none coming in. A mass production company like Beneteau has the resources to use computer driven cutters and shapers, to reduce the labor involved in fitting every piece but developing a new boat is still an expensive process.

Mom tended to use ''Yard Designers'' who were paid the prevailing wage in Taiwan. Beneteau tends to use ''world class designers'' like Bruce Farr, and Groupe Finot. These big design houses would be far more expensive, but I think there is more value than simple ''name recognition''. Design firms like Farr and Finot have a lot invested in research and development of their work. While much of this ''experience and research'' is performed at a particular client''s expense, we live in a competitive world and so some of the cost of maintaining this up to date knowledge base, retaining the necessary top people and equipment, is a real cost that these top design houses have to incur and pass on to customers. I doubt that Mom paid as much as Beneteau for each design.

Mom might sell 15 to 25 of one of her models. Beneteau seems to sell something well over a 100 of most of their models. I would guess that the greater volume and their ability to afford better technology probably brings the cost per boat down to something well less than 10% of the cost of the boat.

Mom''s boats were built over seas, like Beneteau. Shipping and import duties were somewhere around 15% of the cost of the boats as well. A company like Beneteau who ships a lot of boats may get a break here as well.

Then there is marketing. In Mom''s case, this was nearly 5% of her costs of operation. I ahve no idea how that relates to bigger companies. I will avoid getting into thier profit amount except to say that it was doubled when they sold a boat directly vs having a dealer sell the boat and commission it.

By the time we get though all of that the hard costs of the boat represents only 60% to 70% of the sales price. Big companies like Beneteau have really great buying power. They can probably afford to use name brand hardware for the same price Mom was paying for oriental knockoffs.

But here is where our examples come in. If we look at the boats that I suggest are closer to apples to apples you can begin to see where the price differences occur. Lets look at the Farr 395 vs the Beneteau 40.7. These are both Farr designed and approximately the same length, but delivered and ready to go comparably equipped, they are close to $100K apart in price.

To begin with the 395 comes standard with a carbon fiber rig, and a retracting carbon fiber spin sprit. The Beneteau has neither. This is probably a $20-30K difference right there.

While both boats were engineered at Farr, the Beneteau depends on lower tech solutions. Like all production Beneteaus, the Beneteau 40.7 is a non-cored hull. The 395 is a vaccuum bagged, cored hull. A cored hull is more expensive to build but produces a lighter stiffer hull. The 395 uses higher tech resins and laminates allowing a further weight reduction for the same strength but at a higher cost. If I remember correctly the 395 is more or less 4000 lbs lighter than the 40.7.

The 40.7 uses a molded pan that includes molded in longitudinals and athwartship frames. I am not sure about the 40.7 but many of the recent Beneteaus use a high tech adhesive to glue in the bulkheads. (Allegedly, the bulkhead will fail before the adhessive.)This is construction technique represents a major cost savings over the hand glassed in longitudinals, bulkheads and internal framing of the 395. When you get into recesses of the 395 you see a nicely finished view of the interior of the hull molding. When you look at most of the recesses on the Beneteau, you see a molded pan. While the pan requires tooling up costs, it greatly reduces labor and so saves a lot on a mass produced boat.

The 395 has a lot of cored interior components reducing weight further but greatly adding to cost and assembly time.

The 395 is loaded with really neat racing details. The Beneteau has some really nice cruising details including the convertable cockpit which really works wonderfully.

I believe that the keel foil on the 395 is an alloy with a lead ballast bulb. The 40.7 uses a single cast iron casting for both.

And so it goes. The Farr 395 can probably get more money partially on exclusivity, but I doubt that there is a much bigger profit margin on the 395 than the 40.7.

It''s late and I need to get into the office.
Good luck with your long term plan.
Jeff

BTW, I was delighted to note that you were a tenor who specialized in Verdi. When I was growing up, Dad would tune into the Texico Opera of the Week while we worked on the boat. Old ''Joe Green'' (as we called Verdi)was our favorite.
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