Looking back at the best year the high-performance powerboat world has seen in recent memory. Photo courtesy/copyright Pete Boden/Shoot 2 Thrill Pix.
When I think about this year in high-performance powerboating, I go a little “Spinal Tap,” meaning that on a 1 to 10 scale, I give it an 11. First and foremost, there were no major incidents at any of the major events. Coming off a couple of years that saw our world lose not one but four high-profile marine industry figures in accidents on the water, that metric is particularly meaningful to me. I can’t explain why 2015 was a safe year in our world. I’m just grateful it was.
Second, the industry did well. Here’s how I know: Lack of posturing among competitive boat builders when asked how they fared. Allow me to explain.
In a down or mediocre year, when I ask Boat Builder Smith about his sales, he responds positively but invariably says he can’t understand how Boat Builder Jones is “still in business.” When I ask the same question of Boat Builder Jones, he knocks wood over his sales numbers but “worries” for either Boat Builders Smith or Adams. And on it goes—you get the picture.
In hundreds of interviews with boat builders this year, I heard none of that silliness. OK, Boat Builder Smith might throw a dig or two at his competitors for this or that, but there was none of the posturing that indicates, to me at least, that no one did particularly well. This year, everyone I spoke to was more interested in telling me about his or her good fortune than dogging the competition.
That said, not all of my top stories from 2015—and offshoreonly.com columnist Jason Johnson will follow tomorrow with his picks—are feel-good stories about the industry. Some are still unfolding and some are bittersweet. Here they are.