New hard-top targets growing market

New hard-top targets growing market
The 591 Sportsman Hardtop is one of McLay Boats biggest sellers.

Industry trends and customer feedback have influenced the development of McLay Boats latest model, the hard-top Sportsman HT 571.
Owner Steve McLay says with the market shifting into hard-tops of all sizes, and with 70% to 80% of New Zealand boats now sold being hard-tops, he believed the time was right to launch the new model.
“For the New Zealand market we sell far more hard-tops than cuddy cabin open boats now.”
“This brand new model is based on the 571 Sportsman cuddy and shares a lot of the same features that our top selling model, the 591 Sportsman Hardtop has.”
Following the success of the 591 Sportsman Hardtop, McLay Boats became aware they we probably missing out on sales to other companies, of a smaller version of the 591.
The Sportsman HT 571 is based on its sister cuddy cabin model, but with a modification to the hull to counter the extra weight of the cabin.
“Having now done extensive testing on this new model, I can honestly say it has exceeded my expectations. Stability at rest, with three adults, is exactly the same as the 571 Sportsman cuddy, and the ride and handling is every bit as good.”
Steve expects this model will prove very popular with both ardent fisherman and recreational boaties alike who are looking for a great all round, easy towing, smaller hard-top at a very competitive price.
“We feel it will be ideal for people who like the idea of having a hard-top but don’t have a huge budget and don’t need a boat as big as 5.9 metres.”
Because the users of a hard-top are much better protected from the weather, it is more appealing to go out in colder conditions than in a cuddy cabin boat, which easily justifies the relatively small extra investment.
“It takes all that wind chill away that makes it much more pleasant.”
With 31 years experience in designing and manufacturing alloy boats behind it and a well-refined base model, the company took just two months to develop the Sportsman 571 Hardtop.
A hallmark of this experience was that the production model now being manufactured is identical to the original test boat which did not need any changes.
The new Sportsman 571 Hardtop featured at last month’s Hutchwilco New Zealand Boat Show in Auckland.
Attendance by McLay Boats at the boat show is crucial to not only promote the company and garner orders, but to showcase new models to the public and influential boating magazine editors, Steve says.
“It’s a big expense, but it is very beneficial. We find it very good and it effectively sets you up for the season.”
Of the boats sold in New Zealand each year, about 60% go to the North Island and 40% to the South Island, however on a population basis the South Island punches well above its weight.
The company employs 25 staff and has a network of 10 dealers throughout New Zealand, six in Australia, one in New Caledonia and one in Sweden.
The export market is important to McLay Boats as about 40% of its production goes overseas.
McLay Boats craft are covered by a comprehensive five year hull warranty, and all models – from the 461 to the 1100 Walk Round – have 4mm, 5mm or 6mm bottoms and fully welded tread plate floors for superior strength as standard features. This company also undertakes custom builds for New Zealand and overseas markets.
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