New Zealand Boatshow 2006 - Sportsboat and rib magazine - by William "Bill" Grieve NZ


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2006 New Zealand Boatshow article written for Sportsboat & Rib Magazine

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New Zealand Boatshow 2006 - Sportsboat and rib magazine - by William "Bill" Grieve NZ

  1. 1. A Glimpse into an Antipodean Boat show The New Zealand, Hutchwilco 2006 Boat Show In Auckland. By William “Bill” Grieve For Sportsboat & Rib MagazineNew Zealand is probably as far South as anyone civilised would want to go. CaptainJames Cook on the good ship Endeavour, “discovered” the already inhabited islands in1769 and using the King of England as collateral quickly conned the locals into anevergreen HP agreement with The Crown, and annexed the country into the Empiricalfold– isn’t compound interest just the greatest force in the universe! Made up of twoislands, collectively about the size of the UK, and with a population of just over 4 millionpeople, it is a land of stark contrasts. Bill Grieve and the Mayor Penny WebsterIt has a desert, mountain ranges, glaciers and whale watching in Kaikoura. It is in theSouthern Hemisphere where it is Summer during the UK Winter, the nights are shorterwhile UK nights are longer, the days hot when in the UK they’re cold and water exits,whirl pooling the wrong way, out of any surface drain. New Zealand is Nuclear free, hasno enemies, tolerates Americans, has legalised prostitution and let Billy Connolly in to doa piece for his World Tour album. The New Zealand Dollar, the “Kiwi”, vacillates betweenstrength and weakness with about as much regularity and “Flip Flop” as some of thepoliticians in its parliament, going up and down, without fear, obscenely, like a pair ofcheap tarts knickers.Sportboat and Rib Page 1 of 10NZ Boat Show 2006
  2. 2. It appears to pander to the popular opinion of local importers and exporters, who eachhave their turns for harvesting the tantalising benefits of the currency peaks and valleys.There are over six and a half thousand helicopters in NZ and it is rumoured to have thehighest rate of boat ownership per capita of population in the world. New Zealand isgenerally known for its extremes….Extreme sports, extreme weather, extreme wine,extreme fishing and on this occasion, extremely good boats.The limited build up in advertising for the Boat Show gained momentum as the daysbefore the show got into single numbers and along with the newspapers and billboards,the radio shows joined in, the TV stations took note and soon the public was beingbombarded with advertising the like of which has not been witnessed in New Zealandsince the great Mad Carpet Sale. This was hosted six months before at the same venue,when forty shipping container loads of carpets were brought into NZ from around theworld in a grotesque Chinese style auction sale advertised by every possible meansfrom flyers to TV….The NZ Hutchwilco Boat Show is hosted at the ASB Showgrounds in central Aucklandfrom 1st – 5th June, The Queens Birthday long weekend in NZ. This has been ashowground venue for over 160 years and is maintained and operated as a non profitorganisation. The grounds are adjacent to the twenty three acre Cornwall Park, donatedto “The People Of New Zealand” by the original owner Logan Campbell in 1901, it isAuckland’s equivalent of London’s Hyde Park.Approaching the entrance to the Boat Show for the second day running, I am bemusedat the way that the entrance, off Green Lane, smallish by all standards, belies the visitornumbers which are witnessed inside. There are virtually no queues, perhaps small ones,but in the main, everything flows well. The gates facilitate ticket sales and a secondarysecurity check is carried out before the public enter the grounds by security staff, underthe watchful eye of a polite, helpful, pretty, friendly but firm, dark haired girl called Molly.There is plenty of parking – and lots of support staff. Dave Gibbs has organised theshow and as I have already witnessed, he is everywhere, allocating resources, divertingmanpower, calling for support where it will be needed, arranging strategy and, like anexperienced circus ringmaster – making sure that the show goes on – whateverhappens. Dave is a great guy, well organised, well liked and well respected – it just getsbetter and better as I am to witness later. In Africa there is an old saying “It is the eye ofthe Chief that keeps the cattle fat….”, well Dave is the Chief and this is one fat cow. Theshowground, like all showground’s, is a series of halls and tents with inter leadingwalkways and corridors.It’s all well marked and sign posted, there are loads of facilities and one has to beimpressed that a further $26 million NZD is being invested in the short term to make iteven better.Sportboat and Rib Page 2 of 10NZ Boat Show 2006
  3. 3. William “Bill” Grieve with Dave Gibb the show organiser.While I am at the show, I am invited to attend a VIP and Press briefing on the future ofthe showground development program where the Right Honourable Helen Clark, PrimeMinister, assisted by the Conservation Minister Chris Carter, and supported by anelement of Auckland Councillors, hand over a 1m x 2 m bankable cheque for $4.7 millionNZD. The Author William “Bill” Grieve with Prime Minister Helen ClarkIt is impressive to say the least. We have lunch and I have a few minutes with the PrimeMinister, we have met several times before and exchange pleasantries, but it is a goodphoto opportunity for the writer and I can add this to my collection along with MargaretSportboat and Rib Page 3 of 10NZ Boat Show 2006
  4. 4. Thatcher, Tony Blair, Bill Clinton, Pierce Brosnan, George Clooney, Russel Crowe and afew others.There is a lot to see and do in a short space of time. I am conscious that I could spendthe full five days that the show is on, browsing and still miss a lot. The gate prize, drawnat the end of the show, which could be won by any paying entrant submitting a ticket forthe draw, is a very well equipped fishing boat worth around £30k. So the gate price ofcirca £5 per adult makes it well worth a visit even if boats don’t interest you. I begin byworking my way through the myriad of new boat displays. It is impressive. New Zealandhas a great number of boat manufacturers and they cater for every style and idea. Thefibre glass boats are definitely New Zealand extreme, there are sizes and numbers herethat boggle the mind. There are more boats in super gloss finish than Imelda Marcoshad shoes. They look good, they smell of new upholstery and all of them profess theirindividual states of extreme performance and best attributes. The quality is high and thestandards aggressively competitive. The fibre glass boats are the equal of the best seenanywhere internationally and are World Class without a doubt. All the major motor andengine manufacturers are represented; the Honda stand is neat, Mercury great, Suzukibrilliant, Yamaha – Extreme. Competition amongst the boat builders and retailers forbest stand and presentation is fierce. Haines Hunter presents classical lines and boats ina neatly manicured stand, Family Boats has a masterpiece layout (especially whenconsidering their strategic location next to Surtees Boats), but in this writers humbleopinion, the best stand at the show has to be that of GulfLand Marine fromWhangaparaoa (pronounced Fungaparoa, luckily they don’t come from Whakatane…), alocally based Mercury outboard agency and multiple boat dealership.The Proprietor Craig Lewis is on hand almost all the time. Craig is a big man, quiet, kindhearted and a sensitive man, he likes his customers – and they like him - and they telltheir friends and their friend’s friends too. He once replaced a clients entire boat becauseof a mark on the front – that’s real customer service. From the rumour mill there are a lotof bad stories of “She’ll be right…..” a unique and lax approach specific to New Zealand.If you’ve ever been here and endured the services of the average NZ tradesman orbought from a large concern, you’ll know what I mean.It’s like the “Alright Love… worries” approach of “Bodgit and Scarper” in the UK, atotally unacceptable approach to getting things done – especially when it comes tocustomer service. Well there’s none of that at GulfLand Marine. Ably assisted by MikeBetts, himself recently from Poole in Dorset and a well qualified “Boatie” whom many UKboat owners have dealt with, you can be assured of absolute first class service eventhough you’re far removed from home. Mike is both diplomatic and articulate, but most ofall concerned – he wants you to be happy dealing with GulfLand Marine and he workshard at it. There are some boat dealers in New Zealand (and big one’s at that), thatcould learn from the team at GulfLand Marine. They are soft and they are caring, butdon’t take them as fools, Craig is a very astute and wealthy businessman and Mike Bettsdidn’t come down the Thames on a Tea Boat, the rest of the team are just as dynamic.They’re nice people and their hearts are in the right place – and that’s important to anyprospective boat buyer or boat owner that deals with them.The philosophy is simple – it’s not a crime to make money – only to steal it…’s greatto deal with nice people in a marine world where modern day equivalents of Pirates,Highwaymen and Buccaneers thrive.Sportboat and Rib Page 4 of 10NZ Boat Show 2006
  5. 5. The Gulfland Marine stand was incrediblePropeller manufacturers are present with world class export quality propellers at a lowcost in comparison to many European suppliers. Life Jackets, advanced electronics,desalination, trailers, T shirts – there is a lot of anything and everything boat, sun, funand fishing related.You just have to be impressed by the displays – its all good high quality stuff.The Boat Show has something for everyone, the Fishing Gear Hall is crowded andalmost as busy as Blackbushe market on a Summer Sunday. The crowd is bustling andpeople are standing four deep in some places waiting to purchase a fishing Widget or aboating Gubbins to fit somewhere in their tackle outfit or rig. There are lots of posters,gadgets, CD’s and freebies on offer as well. There is someone peddling somethingeverywhere in the well stocked and neatly laid out halls – and it all looks like good stuff –I see some things I want, but I already have two of each in the garage at home and threeof many as well. Temporary insanity is a classical symptom of TAS – Tackle AcquisitionSyndrome. On this one occasion – I abstain, reluctantly. My head hurts and my bodysends a shiver down my spine, but I have survived another spontaneous impulse tacklebuying session – and I’m richer for it and a stronger person – until next time. I make amental note to join TAS Anon – there must be one somewhere – there are certainlyenough sufferers and addicts around……There is a good vibe at the show which permeates through exhibitors and attendeesalike and people are buzzing. Surrounded by an intrigued crowd, Steve Wheeler -Sculpture, Swordsmith and Cutler, New Zealand’s well known and leading knife maker isplying his trade – pretty but deadly. Eerie, gentle, Pan Pipe music emanates fromPatricio Lema, an Aztec Indian who plays incredible and soothing music from theprimitive Peruvian and Aztec tribes throughout the day – all available to buy on modernSportboat and Rib Page 5 of 10NZ Boat Show 2006
  6. 6. CD’s of course. The Surtees Boats stand adjacent to Family Boats (owned by theCarlson family) is busy busy busy. Phill Noblett of Surtees is explaining the concept ofthese uniquely designed aluminium boats to a prospective buyer. There are lots ofpeople listening, this is an incredible design – it has a 380 kg water ballast tank in thebottom of the Deep Vee hull that fills to capacity in around 4.5 seconds when the boatstands still and empties just as quick on forward movement. The water ballast providesstability at rest and comfort in motion – it provides the best of both in the compromisingboating worlds of stability and ride dynamics. The water can be retained during journeysto provide a smooth ride in rough water. There is a model for everybody, in the end it’s aquestion of just how much money you want to throw at the boat of your choosing. Thecompromise is between fishing ruggedness and stylish comfort and the meeting point iswherever you the buyer want it to be. It becomes apparent from ear wigging that thecompany is having growth pains though and there is a five month waiting list for theboats, with seventy units currently on the line at any one time. There are a few adversecomments on the quality of some of the final finishing touches and customer service –this is good though – it will remind them of how they got where they are from buildingone boat and not to neglect quality to make money faster and especially not to forgetabout customer care, where twenty percent of a customer’s boat purchase price actuallyrests. They will have to keep their eye on the ball to stay ahead of the competition – “Hewho reaches for a star is often tripped up by a straw……”. Quality Control and Customerservice are serious business – for any manufacturer - especially in a relatively smallemerging market where people have a choice and vote with their credit cards. The hall was filled with tackle and TAS buyers.Pontoon aluminium boats are something you will never have come across in the UK orthe EU, and certainly not in the Mediterranean. It’s a boat designed and made upprincipally for fishing and for the rough conditions found off the South Island in NewZealand. It has several sealed pontoons which make the boat virtually unsinkable if thehull is damaged or the boat becomes waterlogged and even if the integrity of more thanone of the pontoons is breached for whatever reason. The pontoon design causes theboats to sacrifice some area and width, but the stability and safety are increaseddramatically. For a fishing boat these are ideal.Sportboat and Rib Page 6 of 10NZ Boat Show 2006
  7. 7. Lots of room and great stability - as flat as the water surface you’re resting on at alltimes. There are many pontoon boat manufacturers in New Zealand and the marketleaders like Stabicraft, Kiwicraft, Orca and Osprey come to mind.They look good, they’re robust and quintessential for a NZ boating fisherman. Lots of thesmaller manufacturers are looking at this type of design because that is the way the NZmarket is swinging.Combine New Zealand innovation like this with a quality policy of Kaizan and things justkeep getting better and better. The inevitable is happening – a boating revolution in NewZealand – and it’s all to the benefit of the end user.But, there’s more …..combine innovation and NZ high quality manufacturing with thecurrently low dollar in NZ and it may even be worth looking at the boats seriously forpurchase abroad and in Europe. After all if Porsche were manufactured by Russianproduction engineers, assembled cost effectively and sold for half the price of itscompetitors it would certainly be worth looking at by John Everyman, from New Zealandto New Mexico.Boats in every shape and form – NZ has the highest boat ownership in the world.The Auckland Fire Brigade are present in fair force in case of a fire breakout at theshow, however instead of just standing by, they are drawing crowds with livedemonstrations, expertly carried out, on how to deal with typical daily hazardoussituations and domestic flame encounters. They are highly trained and carry out their livedemonstrations with the expert ease of a well rehearsed circus trapeze artist troupe –making it look easy to deal with a chip fire – and it is, when you know how….just watchthe experts and learn.In glancing at my watch, I’m reminded that the sun is well over the yard arm and the dayhas gone – and I’ve so much more to do and see still, even on my second day here. I’vespoken with Minister Carter, the NZ Conservation Minister and he is positive. I’ve spokenwith the PM, Helen Clark and she is awesome, I’ve sat with Graeme Sinclair, wheelchairSportboat and Rib Page 7 of 10NZ Boat Show 2006
  8. 8. bound commentator and fisherman extraordinaire for “Carters Gone Fishing” a weeklyTV programme – and he is in fine form. William “Bill” Grieve with Graeme SinclairI’ve had a long talk and had a photograph taken with Dave Gibbs the show organiser,dressed as Bond – he is great. I’ve had a chat with Doug Redenius, Vice President ofThe Ian Fleming Foundation, who supplied the spectacular exhibits for “The Boats ofBond” display here. I photographed the NZ Prime Minister kneeling down beside one ofthe early Bond aqua craft – The Tow Sled used in Thunderball in 1965, of the 18 made,only two units remain in existence. Doug is well travelled and a real man of the world, Ithink he can be the life and soul of a party without even trying hard.He hovers around as we have a photo opportunity with his attractive models “The Girlsof Bond” at the Bond display. I smile silently thinking of a joke he has just related. The writer William “Bill” Grieve posing with “the girls of Bond”Sportboat and Rib Page 8 of 10NZ Boat Show 2006
  9. 9. Although the day is over, it feels like I’ve only just arrived at the show. There is still somuch to see and do and a lot that I want to see again. There simply isn’t enough time inone day, perhaps not even in two, to fully experience everything that is on offer. The writer William “Bill” Grieve with Doug Redenius Chairman of the Ian Fleming Foundation (James Bond)The word “Awesome” is used by Kiwis to describe most things positively and is appliedas an extreme exaggeration, for instance one might say “How was your weekend?” towhich the typical Kiwi answer would be “Awesome!”. Kiwis love to exaggerate like this,especially to each other. It’s like standing in a ring, where everyone is patting each otherand the next one on the back, telling them how well they’re doing, how great NewZealand is and how incredible The All Blacks are. One thing is sure though – the NewZealand Hutchwilco Boat Show 2006 is good….its big, its well organised, it’s full ofquality high and low cost items. Its fun, it’s friendly and it’s fine to be part of – and that’swhat Kiwi’s really call Awesome! High Speed wave runners galoreSportboat and Rib Page 9 of 10NZ Boat Show 2006
  10. 10. The end of the day for me is near and as I head into Auckland on State Highway Onetrying to digest all the fishing, fun and boat related things I’ve seen, I still feel a bit guttedat not having bought anything and momentarily I desire the thrill and satisfaction of aTAS purchase “fix”…The local Auckland radio blares out Dave Dobbyn’s Kiwi classic tear jerker“Welcome Home”, which he sung at former NZ Prime Minister David Lange’s funeralservice earlier this year. It was New Zealand’s equivalent of Elton John singing CandleIn The Wind for Princess Diana.I’ve been away from the UK for a year now, where I lived in Hampshire and PottersCross, Iver Heath, Middlesex, for nine years and in Africa before that. The melodyplaying on the radio is haunting, but the “Welcome Home” he’s singing applies to Menow as well – and that’s Awesome too!It’s a warm afternoon and as I drive along with the car window open, the New ZealandWinter sun sets gradually on the horizon, prematurely, reminding us all of the change inseasons. The words of Arnold Schwarzenegger come to mind and I know that next year- I’ll be back….A few references:- example of Craig Lewis, the gentle giant of Gulfland Marine really incredible individual and a legend in the marine industry in NZ.Dave Dobbyn, NZ singer song writer sings “Welcome Home”….a haunting melody atFormer NZ Prime Minister David Lange’s funeral. and Rib Page 10 of 10NZ Boat Show 2006