Water sports weathering rough summer
By Tom Kaiser, Senior Editor
August 27, 2013
Filed under Tom Kaiser
It’s hard to write about a summer that’s been lackluster and cool in the midst of a several-day excessive heat warning, but here we are at the tail end of August. It’s been a strange one, but hopefully Mother Nature has set us up for an Indian summer that will bring a rush of late-season orders.
Approaching Labor Day, it’s a natural time to evaluate the summer that was 2013, but it’s also on my mind as I just finished writing a five-page feature for the next issue of Boating Industry about the water sports market.
Looking at current trends in water sports, namely the rise of wakesurfing and skating and its effects on boat builders, this year’s weather has been a significant factor in a season that was looking to be a bit better than this.
Reporting the story was a big undertaking, but very interesting, as I’ve learned about some cool new sports and the truly amazing technology that’s turning boats into another piece of athletic equipment, as Tige’s Rick Correll stated in an interview.
It was also interesting hearing different takes on the cable park phenomenon. Once viewed as a detriment to boat sales, Nautique has purchased a cable park facility near its headquarters in Orlando and sounds poised to buy its second soon. Nautique CEO, Bill Yeargin, feels these parks are a natural way to get people into the water sports that will eventually lead to their own boat purchase for the freedom and power you can only get out on the open water, with an actual boat.
Larry Meddock, of the Water Sports Industry Association, also shared his perspective on the current trends, including the challenges of explaining wakesurfing to skeptical law enforcement agencies across the country. Using an example of one rider stopped out on the water, some officers are worried about the close proximity to the boat, as well as the dangers of carbon monoxide. It’s an interesting situation, which requires grassroots efforts on the part of Meddock and the WSIA.
Above it all, I was most impressed by the complicated engineering required to produce wakes and waves that can be modified at the touch of a button. They’re changing the industry, and giving water sports a much-needed cool factor that we haven’t seen since the dawn of wakeboarding.