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British Marine – no one does it better
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British Marine – no one does it better British Marine – no one does it better

British Marine’s slogan is “Leading the Industry” and after a recent trip of international sailing journalists to the UK it’s hard not to understand why. The trip highlighted the “Best of British” for both power and sail in the marine sector, and helped to give the international press a better understanding of the depth and strength of the marine industry in the UK.

The Royal Southampton Yacht Club hosted the opening dinner, with outgoing President of British Marine Fiona Pankhurst giving a welcome speech. Sunseeker held the first tour and lunch. Simon Clarke, Sunseeker’s Head of Marketing, held a presentation detailing the company’s history and new releases: the 95 & 116 Yachts,and the new Manhattan 52 (its smallest flybridge model in over a decade).

British Marine – no one does it better

The company is one of the world’s leading brand for luxury performance motor yachts. Originally named Poole Power Boats, it was founded in 1969 by brothers Robert and John Braithwaite. The company changed its name to Sunseeker International in 1985 and became a global icon, with every Sunseeker the result of an uncompromising and unmatched approach to design, craftsmanship and performance. In August 2013, a majority stake in the business was acquired by Wanda Group, the Beijing headquartered conglomerate with strong footprints across China, Europe and the US.

From its manufacturing base in Poole on the southern English coast, Sunseeker employs 2,000 people and produces around 150 boats every year ranging from 50-155 feet. Demand for the company’s larger models continues to grow year-on-year with more than 100 yacht sover 100 feet in length already delivered. Buyers have benefitted from the company’s “bespoke” customization service, which allows individual customers to personalize their yacht. Working very closely with highly professional dealer representation in over 60 countries, service and product support is a key priority in maintaining customer satisfaction. The Sunseeker range constantly sets new standards and benchmarks competing against the Italian brands (Azimut, Benetti,Ferretti, Riva & Sanlorenzo). From the dynamic San Remo and Sport Yacht models, through its luxurious Manhattan range, iconic Predator models, and its majestic Yachts range, each Sunseeker is the result of an uncompromising approach to innovative design and engineering excellence.

After a lunch hosted by Sunseeker, the afternoon kicked off with a visit to Parkstone Bay Marina in Poole was highlighted when JL Audio Marine Europe’s Managing Director Paul Baker demonstrated the difference that good speakers can make on a boat. The company provides speaker systems designed and built for the testing environment of the ocean. Thesystem brings high end, home quality to the leisure luxury yacht and sports boat market. It has become the audio of choice of some of Europe's leading boat builders such as Princess, Pascoe International, Wahoo and Glider.

British Marine – no one does it better

Nautibuoy Marine is a world leader in innovative, multifunctional inflatable floating platforms. Company director Clay Builder took us through the practical applications of Nautibuoy telling us that the company’s inflatable platforms, which feature a patent pending modular air-toggle connection system, have a range of uses – from a highly attractive and luxurious swim and sunbathing platform to a jet-ski dock or as a sturdy base for carrying out essential maintenance. Available in four different sizes, the platforms (ranging in sizefrom 2.5-4.5 metres) ae stable, simple tomaneuver and easy to lift from the water, making them the perfect accessory for any yacht.

We then paid a trip to Salterns Marina in Poole Harbour to visit SeaLegs, and Salterns Brokerage’s Russell Hayden showed us their amphibious marine craft, which drives on land without compromising on-water performance. This powerful all-terrain vehicle turns into a high-speed, ocean going speed boat at the push of a button. Unfortunately, we didn’t get a chance to try one out.

Next was a visit to the Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI) in Poole, opened by the Queen in 2004 and a tour of its All-Weather Life Boat Centre. RNLI is a 8,000 strong volunteer charity that save lives at sea providing a 24-hour lifeboat search and rescue service around the UK and Ireland, and a seasonal lifeguard service from its 237 lifeboat stations.

The evening showcase at the RNLI Waterfront Suite featured 23 British companies. We tried to meet a representative from every company, but it just wasn’t possible. As Yacht Style’s Editor-at-Large Suzy Rayment wrote, “It was like speed dating, on steroids!”

British Marine – no one does it better

The next morning saw an early visit to McMurdo. Marketing Manager Sean McCrystal gave us a briefing, where we learned about the first life saved using the Medium-altitude Earth Orbit Search and Rescue system (MEOSAR) – an advanced next-generation satellite-based technology that is revolutionizing search and rescue(SAR).

Don Stevens, a 53-year-old teacher from Wellington, New Zealand, was recently hiking over rugged terrain in the Tararua Range when he fell more than 90 feet, breaking his leg, leaving him unable to walk. After he activated his McMurdo FastFind 220 personal locator beacon (PLB), the distress signal was relayed by the MEOSAR satellite system to the Rescue Coordination Centre New Zealand in only four minutes – 50 minutes sooner than the existing system picked up the same distress signal.

McMurdo is a global leader in emergency readiness and response including search and rescue and maritime domain awareness solutions. At the core of these solutions are resilient positioning, navigation and tracking products, technologies and applications that have helped to save over 40,000 lives since 1982.

British Marine – no one does it better

A division of Orolia, McMurdo brings together nearly 150 combined years of experience by consolidating proven Boatracs, Kannad, McMurdo, SARBE and Techno-Sciences, Inc. brands into the industry’s first end-to-end emergency readiness and response ecosystem (distress beacons, satellite connectivity infrastructure, monitoring/positioning software and emergency response management solutions). Airbus, Boeing, the British Royal Navy, the U.S. Coast Guard, NASA and others are among the hundreds of aviation, fishing, and government, marine and military customers around the world that trust McMurdo to prevent emergencies, protect assets and save lives. The McMurdo SmartFind AIS MOB device allowed the Derry~Londonderry~Doire team to locate and rescue missing crew member Andrew Taylor 3,000 miles off the US coast.

On 30 March 2014, the 70-foot racing yacht Derry~Londonderry~Doire, taking part in Leg 10 of the 9th Clipper Round the World Yacht Race (Quingdao to San Francisco), was performing a sail change on the foredeck in 30 plus knots of wind and large seas when one of the crew, Andrew Taylor, was swept overboard, setting him adrift in the Pacific Ocean for over 90 minutes. After over 40 minutes in the water and having watched his crew mates navigate away from his location in their search sweep, Andrew activated his manual S10 Smartfind AIS MOB which immediately flashed his position on the Derry~Londonderry~Doire’snavigation plotter screen. By providing a real time GPS position the AIS device allowed the skipper to identify that Andrew’s drift speed was considerable more than estimated in the initial search patternsand allowed the crew to locate him and start their recovery procedures. Taylor later came into McMurdo to meet S10 designer Ben Conner.

From McMurdo we traveled to RS Sailing in Romsey, one of the world’s largest manufacturer’s of one-design sailboats. Riki Hooker, the company’s Business Development Director, told us RS outsources hull and other component production and has established quality control processes with all its key suppliers. It is experienced in high volume manufacture (in sailboat terms), with between 200 and 600 boats of several models built each year,with total unit sales in excess of 2,000 boats per year and it has active dealers in approximately 40 countries around the world.

Of particular interest was the RS Venture Connect, which helps break down barriers to para sailing through plug and play specialist equipment that enables a standard boat to be set up for virtually any disability and converted back, as required. The high volume hull can carry up to eight sailors in its standard set-up, yet is also small enough to be sailed single handed - with multiple options in between for able bodied or disabled sailors, with or without an instructor. Designed from the outset to be efficient to build and adapt, the RS Venture Connect is cost effective against the alternatives.

After lunch, we went Solent Refit at Hythe where Managing Director Allan Foot showed us his 10,000sqm facility covering three halls with a 1,500-ton horizontal slipway capable of hauling vessels up to 60m long. It’s one of the UK’s largest yacht refit facilities, features 14 full-service booths up to 90m long and the complex was formerly leased to the US military.

There was also a demonstration by the Fire Aid International Academy and some press were able to sail on the Rustler 39.

The final day of the tour saw a visit to the Isle of Wight where we watched the start of the J.P.Morgan Asset Management Round the Island Race, organized by the Island Sailing Club. Featuring 1,533 boats sailing in multiple classes, the 50 nautical mile course race starts and ends at Cowes. RIBs got us to the start line where we had a chance to witness the spectacle up close. We later had a chance to see the Bunker/Race Control centre and also meet up with Peta Stuart-Hunt who heads up the PR team for the race.

Late morning saw us off to the Spinlock factory and office; the company is an independent, innovative marine company, widely acknowledged as a world leader in rope handling technology and personal protective equipment. Based in Cowes, Spinlock has over forty years of experience in designing and manufacturing equipment to make sailing simpler, quicker and more enjoyable. Products in Spinlock’s range include cleats, clutches and jammers, holding ropes from 2mm to 32mm and loads up to 12000kgs. Spinlock Deckware Series is an innovative range of personal protective equipment, raising the quality of personal flotation equipment, through improved wear-ability and making them more attractive to wear and wear for longer. Thanks to Doug Vincett, of Spinlock’s Technical Sales & Support team & James Hall, Spinlock’s Sales & Marketing Manager for literally showing us the ropes and providing us with lunch.

British Marine – no one does it better

Next up was a visit to the UKSA programs; a really eye-opener as it highlighted what can happen when disadvantaged youth are given the chance to learn aquatic and leisure marine skills that they can then teach or share with others. Simon Davies, UKSA’s Director of Youth Development & WillMyles, UKSA’s Head of Sales & Marketing gave us a comprehensive briefing and tour of the facility.

The last night’s dinner was held in a private room at the Island Sailing Club, West Cowes, which was overflowing with competitors celebrating the 85th anniversary of the Round the Island Race.Phaedo 3, completed the course in two hours, 23-minutes and 23 seconds earlier in the day, smashing Sir Ben Ainsle’s multihull record.

The Gold Roman Bowl, the first IRC boat on corrected time, went to Bernard Langley’s TP52 Gladiator, the second monohull to finish, crossing the line 4 & ? half hours after the start. Owner Tony Langley was not on board, but three of his children were. Mike Leopard’s 100ft Leopard, took monohull line honours.

We couldn’t go anywhere without putting on a lifejacket. That may seem like a small point, but at the recent Samui Regatta, a team of journalists, including myself, set out in a power boat to cover the regatta. A short time later, rough weather reared its ugly head – we were caught in a white-out without lifejackets and a compass, and little gas in a very stormy sea with a crew that had become disoriented and had got us turned around the wrong way. Luckily, one of the journalists had GPS on her phone and she could show the crew that we were going the wrong way – out into the middle of the Gulf of Thailand. Point being, we would never have been able to leave shore in Britain.

To be honest, I felt like a kid being called up from League Two to the Premier League for a few days. What struck me most (especially with the visits to McMurdo, RNLI & the Fire Aid International Academy) was the focus on safety, prevention and rescue. Too often, PR visits focus solely on power and performance (how beautiful we look and how fast wecan go) and forget that so much else in involvedwhen it comes to enjoying your time on the water –not the British marine industry. The groundbreaking work seen at the All-Weather Life Boat Centre at RNLI was fascinating, especially when you consider the number of lives saved (140,000 since 1824,rescuing 22 people a day on average).

British Marine – no one does it better

What stood out most during the trip was the passion and pride displayed by all the British companies we met. Sure, they wanted to make money off theirproducts, but they took a great deal of pride in manufacturing items, or creating training programs, that helped to enhance the safety, performance and pleasure of all those involved the leisure marine industry.

Thanks to Chatham for the shoes and Gill for the jacket given to all the media. For over 25 years, Chatham has traded on a nautical tradition of quality and is now growing into one of Britain's key lifestyle footwear brands. Quality, durability, marine aestheticsand performance all from an integral part of the Chatham product. Chatham is committed to creating a range of classic sailing kit, all served up with Chatham's very British style. Combining traditional craftsmanship with innovation, durable materials with attention to detail, all of Chatham’s footwear is designed to be comfortable, functional and able to withstand all that nature can throw at it.

Gill is a very rare these days, a company that only does one thing, make ultra-technical sailing clothing. Their waterproof gear keeps you comfortable in all conditions. For four decades. Gill has been designing its gear by listening to sailors and their needs and it test severything both in its lab and on the water to make sure their kit delivers. It strives to make the best sailing clothing on the planet.

Many thanks to British Marine’s Richard Selby and his team, including Camilla Colborne, Fiona Day, Johanna Sargeant and Annabelle Wildey, for all their help and support during the mission. The trip wouldn’t have been a success without their hard work.

British Marine (www.britishmarine.co.uk) has over 1,600 members drawn from a broad range of businesses, including boat builders, chandlers, brokers, marinas, passenger boats and engines, and represents an industry employing more than 31,500 in the UK. It runs two world-class events annually; the London Boat Show (www.londonboatshow.com) every January, and the Southampton Boat Show(www.southamptonboatshow.com) every September.