The universe of recreational boat models has been shrinking these days. The reason is the economy. As boat buyers have pulled back on spending, so too have many boat builders.
In fact, some builders that remain are being fairly prudent, carefully weighing development costs of a new or improved model against the potential return in sales of that specific boat.
In this cash-strapped climate, you really wouldn’t fault a boat builder for being reluctant to spend money, time and resources on creating a totally new hull, interior or other feature.
And yet, as evidenced in Trailer Boats 2011 Excellence in Design award program, many builders have pushed ahead with investing in fresh concepts. They are not only generating practical new boats, they’re also pulling away from the pack.
It is their way of getting you to notice and eventually spend your money on their boat vs. another. In marketing speak, this is known as product differentiation, and it has been a cornerstone of business since business began.
Of course, a boat also needs to be well built, reliable and seaworthy. This is what we expect. Yet, it’s the designs and features that we don’t expect that really capture our attention.
For 2011, these are just some of the design elements that we did not expect, het were exceedingly pleased to see among the 14 Excellence in Design award winners. Each is innovative and unique.
Still, many of these elements will not remain unique for only. Good ideas quickly spread to other brands. While the innovator may not be pleased at the prospect of knockoffs, the duplication of its ideas helps improve the breed as a whole. And boat buyers are the ultimate beneficiaries of this evolution.
Join us as we recognize the 2011 Trailer Boats Excellence in Design award winner for Boats under $25K category. The NITRO Z-7.
In our minds, a major pricing benchmark when it comes to boats is $25,000 – anything under this we view as moderately affordable. Then the question is : How much boat do you get for your $25K? This year’s winner not only delivers a ton of features, it also delivers great innovation.
Today, it is hard to imagine a full-featured, fiberglass bass boat selling for less than $35,000, but the 18 ½ foot NITRO Z-7 from Tracker Marine knocks that down to less than $24,000.
That price gets you a Mercury 150 OptiMax outboard and a single-axle painted trailer. And you don’t get short-changed on innovation, either.
It starts with TRACKER’s RPS (Rapid Planing Hull) design, in which the aft section of the running surface is notched in what TRACKER calls a “rear-vented stepped planning surface.” This engineering design promotes blistering holeshots and top speeds, as well as outstanding at-rest stability for fishing.
THE TRACKER also has an exclusive reboarding ladder. It’s always there and easily deployed should you go overboard – accidentally or otherwise.
However, what we consider the most innovative feature is the RPC – Removable Port Console. The left passenger console can be quickly removed, and just as quickly reinstalled.
The RPC lets you tailor your layout for your style of fishing on any given day. A single console maximizes cockpit space and fishability, while a dual-console layout offers wind protection and security for a second crew member.
This affordable bass boat doesn’t shortchange anyone – and that’s why it’s a winner in the under $25K category.
Trailer Boats Magazine - January 2011 issue