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Yamaha continues growth in recreational boat market

Jeff Hemmel, Contributing Writer
November 28, 2011
Filed under Features

New 19-foot boat aims to strengthen lineup

It might go overlooked in the hardcore PWC community, but Yamaha and Sea-Doo continue to become premier — if not outright dominant — players in the 19-to-24-foot boating market.

In fact, in 2010 Yamaha occupied the top sales position in both the 21- and 24-foot recreational segments. And for 2012, the company is targeting possibly the biggest segment yet, the ever-popular, entry-focused 19-foot market. Yamaha also will retool the brand’s 21-foot line.

Early on, jet boat players fought hard to overcome the stigma of their PWC heritage. It was a connection that led many consumers to dismiss the boats as toys rather than legitimate alternatives to sterndrive or outboard propulsion.

Yamaha, like Sea-Doo, fought back, extolling the virtues of jet drive. Those virtues include the obvious safety factor — no exposed prop in the water — but also include a much lower draft than their sterndrive or outboard counterparts, quick acceleration and more agile handling.

Jet propulsion also, however, opens up possibilities in design. By not having to account for the space required by a large, automotive-based sterndrive engine, Yamaha was able to open up the stern area, foregoing the standard sunpad or motorbox in favor of more cockpit room, increased seating, and aft-facing seats and swim platform designs. These designs have proven to be ideal for gearing up for watersports or simply relaxing while swimming at anchor.

And now, Yamaha is bringing those same virtues to an arena they haven’t played in for years.

The 2012 Yamaha lineup includes a makeover to the 21-foot line. The boats are now 21 feet, 4 inches long.

No wasted space
“We’ve reached important milestones,” said Yamaha national marketing manager Brian Seti, “becoming the No. 1 selling boat in both the 21- and 24-foot classes. Now we will strengthen our hold on the 21-foot market with the debut of a new 21-foot platform, and bring Yamaha’s boats to a whole new group of buyers with our new 19-foot boat.”

The 19-foot boat in question is actually two models — the SX 190 ($24,999) and AR190 ($26,999). Both will offer a single engine and aim to target the price-point consumer that the brand might not have been reaching with the current lineup. The company estimates that a quarter of the so-called “family fun” segment falls into the 18-to-20-foot category.

“We’ve been researching the 19-foot segment for years to understand what this buyer is looking for and how Yamaha can exceed those desires,” said Scott Watkins, Yamaha’s product manager. “This boat hit everything right from its large bow seating, spacious cockpit area, tons of storage and a large, low-to-the-water swim platform. It’s a 19-foot boat that feels like it’s 21 feet. There not one inch of wasted space on this boat.”

The 19-foot boat offers Yamaha’s familiar two-tier swim platform. The AR version adds a wakeboard tower. Yamaha also offers a few construction details not always seen at this price range, including a full cockpit liner and molded stringer grid, which produces finished interior surfaces for the ski locker and bilge.

As to the 21-foot makeover, the four-model 210/212 series is indeed getting a makeover for 2012. The boats themselves are now four inches longer (21 feet, 4 inches) and showcase a “fast-back” design aft. The helm has been updated and includes more storage. The bow cockpit is wider and features multiple seating configurations.

Other updates include modifications to the stern platform, including the addition of cupholders, better legroom and the lowering of the swim platform to be closer to the water. The towsports-oriented AR210 and 212X tower has been redesigned to include board racks and now folds down easier. Twin, 1-liter engines power the SX210 ($34,599) and AR210 ($36,599); twin 1.8-liter High Output engines power the 212SS ($39,999) and 212X ($43,999).

“There’s a reason why Yamaha’s 21-foot boats have become the best sellers in their class, and it’s because they offer more of what this buyer wants than any other boat out there,” Watkins said. “Now, we’ve taken it to an all-new level, with more options, more space, more comfort and even better performance.”

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