Our review of 2011 as it happened in the jet ski industry.
Firstly, Happy New Year from Cathie and Kevin at Ski MD. Our annual "report" is slightly delayed from it's normal New Year's Eve publication on the website due to our in-house debate on what to write. From our emersion in the PWC world, especially as an independent operator, we hear many interesting things from the various dealers/manufactures all over NZ who we deal with on a daily basis, and from around the world, with much of it unrepeatable. Last year one Canadian watercraft manufacturer sicked their legal team on to us with threats of some big time legal action after some bit of info on our web site was not what they wanted consumers to know! All things taken in to consideration, we will try and give a snap shot of the year that was and hope you find it a little interesting and not too watered down!
Last year's report started with "Well on the way out of the financial crisis of 2009..." and yet it has been a mixed bag for many in the marine industry in 2011 and some shops have teetered on the edge of keeping their operation going. One of the largest shops in Australia, Gold Coast Seadoo, closed it's doors last year after having been a massive operation in previous times, selling PWCs in numbers to match the entire national sales of NZ. As we face bleak weather to start the summer it may be another rocky road into 2012 for many, and again threatening to reduce the available experience in the industry. Bad news was total overall sales of new PWC in NZ was down on last year, a reflection on the economy and us all exersizing some restraint on the old hire purchase I guess.
The top three PWC brands had mixed success in new PWC sales this year;
Kawasaki enjoyed having the world’s first 300 HP production jetski which sports an amazing rough water hull and has power to burn. This new model performed well in short course in enduro racing this year. Kawasaki also saw the end of production of the SXR pole ski, which is where it all started. As the ever tightening grip of the green brigade has eliminated the two stroke engine as we know it with the restriction of emissions laws.
Best thing about Kawaski: 300 hp Worst thing: Not enough dealers.
Yamaha, while suffering production issues due to Japan's earthquake and subsequent tsunami, sold bumper numbers of its craft in NZ and an end-of- year promo saw the stores emptied. Yamaha enjoy a strong team of advocates with Jetski Fishings Andrew Hill riding their brand as well as the recent teaming up with Jeremy Burfoot, jetski world record holder and adventure rider.
Best thing about Yamaha: Reliability Worst thing: Those squirters when your reversing.
Sea doo carried on this year with fluctuating pricing, cashbacks and warranty offers for it's line up of craft. Auckland gained a fourth dealership which was a first rumoured to be a replacement for one due to close but they all went into Christmas with doors wide open. ( this dilutes the depth of experience within the official Auckland dealer network to a mere 3.25 years average per dealership! Tauranga have near twelve years and Christchuch well in to the second decade,18 years with the Sea doo brand and pumping product out the door in a "shaky" economy....awesome effort! )
Thus said, Sea doo appears to be the hardest value to track with the constant moving of new prices, Who knows a safe purchase or trade in price on this brand. Certainly a change from what the brand and its owners have enjoyed while it was under prior distribution arrangements in NZ.
Best thing about Sea Doo: The brakes Worst thing: Premature obsolescence of parts.
Jetski fishing competitions turned out to be the biggest PWC event this year with over 70 entries at the last "King of Jetski Fishing" event. This fishing medium continues strong growth despite economic times with new forums, videos, supportive fishing shops, magazine articles and we eagerly await manufacturers and especially fishing technology equipment to catch up.
TAG Racing got backed by Yamaha New Zealand and brought the blue brand back to the forefront of PWC racing with three riders competing at the nationals and investment fronted to ensure the brand returns to the pointy end of competition this season.
Retro-racing looks to be the "new" thing with lots of older ski's (pre-95) being dragged out and fixed up for some low-buck racing, showing the depth of skill of the rider rather than an endless pocket of racing funds. The South Island club saw the first line up of a "pre-95" class at the local club racing with a good mix of Blasters, Raiders and X2's.
2011 will always be remembered for the events in Canterbury, and the jetski industry had it's own event-filled year; The NZ Nationals were a couple of weeks away from being held in Christchurch when the February earthquake hit and the entire event was cancelled - and then moved to Rotorua where many of the South Islanders came to compete and made a great weekend of it. The Christchurch shops, including the new 'Jetworx' shop, rose up out of the silt and liquefaction to see bumper sales going into Christmas with extra stock (new and used) being shipped down from Auckland to fill the high demand for jetski's. Maybe some EQC cheques being redeemed for assets not made of concrete?
South Island based website NZ Jetskis, made a fantastic contribution in 2011 in raising the profile of the sport and recreational riding side the jetskiing, gaining publication of photos and write ups in the local press. Great effort Grant, the sport needs guys like you.
Early last year, Jeremy Burfoot, set a new world record for the furthest distance recorded in 24 hours on a PWC. This amazing triumph was done with the help of a small team of people including Makz Gear in Tauranga. Towards the end of the year, there has been an interesting change of manufacturer for Jeremy as he teams up with Yamaha to attempt his next 2 world records in just a matter of weeks. Yet another amazing New Zealander putting PWCs in high profile around the world.
For us a Ski M.D, we have had a good business year with growth each month, new Rad4Racing products sold around the world, and a continued move towards our goals. 2011 was a year of 'turbo's' and Yamaha's for us. Many know that we have come from many years of repeated modifications to the Seadoo models and going to another brand has been incredibly interesting... and valuable knowledge is being accrued constantly and this info is used to further improve service regime of all craft we service. Often we are reading the factory service schedules and throwing them out the door as New Zealand conditions and salt water usage require servicing well in extent of what the minimal check lists for log book servicing instruct and as we all know, Kiwi's like to keep there toys in service and with resale value well in extent of the factory warranty periods.
Going into 2012, we can't wait to see further developments in the new craft. We already know of some exciting news from Kawasaki and Yamaha which will see further growth of their sales late 2012. Closer to home, there are more changes in the air for Ski M.D; 2012 will mark a whole new chapter and lead us into another new and pioneering phase of PWC support in NZ.
As always, these comments above are our own personal opinions and expressions which do not, in any way, reflect those opinions of any manufacturing companies or their representatives. Thank you for reading.