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Old Boat Article


I was poking around the internet, looking for some history on when Lear Siegler bought O'day, when I came upon this article:

Published: January 4, 1987


AMERICAN builders of auxiliary sailboats are facing 1987 with cautious optimism. While last year's sale of 3,900 units represented an increase of almost 3 percent, a combination of factors has created what industry experts like to refer to as a ''soft'' market.
Competition is stiff. The entry of more small-volume builders has fragmented the market, and the rising popularity of foreign-built boats, especially those from France and Taiwan, have rendered near moribund the growth industry of the 1970's.
Some observers think the surge in powerboat sales, aided in part by the oil glut, has hurt sailing. In any event, the soft market has meant Chapter 11 for more than one builder.
But American builders are fighting back. Despite some criticism that the industry lacks imagination and has failed to induce younger generations into buying entry-level boats, surviving builders are cutting costs and struggling to develop appealing new images.
Most sailboat exhibitors at the New York Boat Show are large-production yards, building from 100 to 1,000 units per year. But size isn't necessarily a requisite of financial health. C&C Yachts of Canada, one of North America's largest builders, last year filed for protection under bankruptcy laws. The New owners have reduced the number of models to its most popular club racers and family cruisers. The C&C 35 will be displayed at the show.
Other builders are developing new strategies to combat sluggish sales. Starcraft Sailboat Products, the division of Lear Siegler that builds Cal and O'Day sailboats, has adopted details of European styling on its new O'Day 302 and 322. Large tinted plexiglass portlights, a feature borrowed from the French builders, give a space age look. A wing keel, popularized by the 12-meter Australia II, gives shoal draft with superior upwind performance. The aft double berth, which just five years ago was considered unthinkable in a 30-footer, is now standard. The O'Day 302 sells in the ''low 40's'' according to Leslie Lindeman, director of marketing for Starcraft.
Pearson Yachts of Portsmouth, R.I., is one of the country's largest and oldest builders of auxiliary sailboats. Sold by Grumman Allied last year to a South Carolina businessman, Pearson will unveil its Pearson 27 at the New York show. Priced at $30,000 with a 12-horsepower diesel engine, the P 27 has six-foot head room, an unusual U-shaped dinette forward, a wing keel and, of course, a double berth aft under the cockpit.
Greg Wiley, mechanical-systems director for Sabre Yachts in South Casco, Me., feels his company has expanded the appeal of its two most recent models by giving them racier looks.
''They've given us a real shot in the arm and opened the market for us,'' said Wiley. ''We had a traditional reputation, but our typical buyer now is younger, and they're looking for quality but with contemporary styling.'' Citing statistics that indicate 75 percent of the buying public is interested in the 30- to 40-foot range, Wiley said the company dropped its 28-footer and in the future will not build boats smaller than 30 feet. The Sabre 42 will be exhibited at the show; it carries a base price of $148,800.
America's second-largest builder of auxiliary sailboats (after Catalina) is Hunter Marine of Alachua, Fla. While president Warren Luhrs campaigns his 60-foot Thursday's Child in the B.O.C. Challenge singlehanded, round-the-world race, the company will display its Hunter 28, Legendek 35 and 37 and Hunter 40 at the show. Noted for innovation and value, Hunter has made aggressive efforts to win a large share of the market.
Cruise Pack extras such as VHF radio, digital instruments and lifejackets are standard equipment. New on the Legende 37 is the standard Fun Pac, which includes a video player, television and stereo. The company's national sales manager, Richard Ash, said the boat also has flush skylights and a walk-through transom that is molded into the deck rather than the hull. Its price is $85,000.
With the passing of the veteran designer Carl Alberg, Cape Dory Yachts of East Taunton, Mass., is seeking to update its line of conservative, full-keel cruisers. Clive Dent drew the lines for the Cape Dory 30 Mark II and 300 MS, base-priced at $62,900 and $69,995. By painful staff cutting and paying closer attention to production costs, President Andy Vavolotis is pulling up his company's bootstraps. The 30-foot motor sailer has been particularly successful, especially appealing to older couples along the East Coast. And the 300 Mark II is up to hull No. 10 with more orders waiting.
More than two dozen sailboat builders will exhibit at the New York Boat Show, including Hobie Cat Freedom Yachts and Tartan Marine. Pacific Seacraft of Santa Ana, Calif., will show its handsome vest-pocket cruiser in the Dana 24. Billed as a world cruiser, it sells for $45,900.
Bristol Yachts of Bristol, R.I., is showing a Bristol 45.5, a luxury center- or aft-cockpit cruiser. And Ericson Yachts of Irvine, Calif., one of the last major production yards still located in Southern California, is showing its new Bruce King-designed Ericson 34.
Predating all these builders Is Alcort Sailboats Inc. The Waterbury, Conn., builder of small fun boats plans to show the public three sketches of its 40th anniversary Sunfish. Persons may cast their votes for the best graphic scheme and may win a Heritage Edition Sunfish in a boat-show drawing.
First built of wood in 1946, the Sunfish has undergone many subtle changes over the years, but, like the Volkswagen Beetle, its enduring appeal is its simplicity and sameness. For those without the inclination or cash to buy a large auxiliary sailboat, the $1,445 Sunfish is a great way to get afloat.


Barry Lenoble
Deep Blue C, 2002 C&C 110
Mt. Sinai, NY

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