The Argentina Boat show, organised by the country’s marine association, drew to a close on Sunday with exhibitors reporting sales and organisers recording an attendance increase of some 2,000 visitors — the number reported by the time IBI left the show on Friday. The number of exhibitors also went up from 100 in 2011 to 114 this year.

Held at the public marina of San Fernando, a province located 28km (17.3mi) northeast of Buenos Aires, the 10-day show was a good time for the Argentina marine industry to kick-start the year, showcasing new products following the increased demand seen in the country since the beginning of the decade. The total number of boats in the country, registered to date, is 120,000. Over 10,000 boats were registered in 2011.

“This has been a positive year for the trade,” says Jorge Farre, president of Argentinean marine industry association CACEL. "The industry finished the 2011 season with demand for boats rising to levels higher than those of the 1980s, when nearly 8,558 boats were registered in Argentina. This makes us believe the market is potentially bigger than that due to demographic growth on the one hand and that Argentineans favour the marine lifestyle on the other.”

In addition to demand, the country’s performance in commodity exports, such as soya bean, has enabled the market to also benefit from foreign exchange rates and competitive prices on engines and marine equipment imports.

“There were times of abundance and some of that turned to the leisure sector and to the boats,” says Carlos Dorian Friedlander, president of Trimer, a navigation equipment importer. Among other brands, the company represents Navico in Argentina. The firm introduced the Simrad product range only 14 months ago and now claims to have a 40 per cent share of the market on the bigger boat range.

Guillermo Troelsen, Marine Sur general manager, says: “The boat market in Argentina has been growing steadily in the last few years to an average of 25 per cent. Demand surpasses the industry’s offer, which is very positive for boatbuilders.”

Marine Sur builds sportboats ranging from 4.5m-8.2m (15ft-27ft). In 2010, the company partnered with Brunswick to produce three models of its Bayliner range (160, 175 and 185). Beginning with 10 per cent of the company’s production, Bayliner’s production now represents 40 per cent. In 2012 Marine Sur is planning to introduce two Bayliner models.

Sales at the show

Some exhibitors canvassed by IBI reported sales at the show. Marine Sur said on Friday that a total of 30 boat sales were closed at the show, with Bayliner products, including the recently introduced Bayliner 285, being its best-seller.

“Business performance at the show has been similar to last year's edition in terms of units sold, but we have increased the turnover with the sale of the Bayliner 285. We foresee an overall sale increase of 30 per cent,” Troelsen told IBI.

Also reporting sales at the show were runabouts builder Custon, motoryacht maker Klasse A, sportboats builder Canestrani, and bespoke yacht maker Riviera.

Local boatbuilders chose the show to launch new models to the Argentina market. Yamaha Argentina sold at the show two units of its recently introduced sportboat 242 limited S.

Mediterranean, a company that builds offshore cruisers, brought to the show its new Med 285 and day-cruiser builder Custon had on display four new models, ranging from 8.6m-13.7m (28ft-45ft). Riviera exhibited the prototype of its new 80-footer as well as Segue Yacht Corporation with its new 26m motoryacht. Segue is Argentina’s first company to build a 94ft motoryacht, the country’s largest boat produced to date.

Marine equipment importers were less positive at the show. Despite the fact that construction has been flourishing and demand is on a high, restrictions to imports introduced by the government in February this year has “put the industry in jeopardy”.

“We have a stock halt at the harbour with the promise of freeing the shipment in due course, but this red tape only makes it difficult to do business in Argentina,” says Carlos Friedlander, president of Trimer, a navigation equipment importer.

Uncertainty spread among importers is also based on the turmoil caused by the government's decision to nationalise YPF.

Product share

Running from April 13-22, the boat show in Argentina had 100 boats on display at the marina ranging from 5m (16.4ft) sportboats to 21.9m (72ft) motoryachts. Another 140 boats, including kayaks and personal watercrafts, were exhibited at a dry area. Engines and equipment importers had a prominent exhibition at a 3,400m2 roofed premises.

The handful of sailing yachts exhibited at the show mirrored the market share the product has on the Argentina market. Whilst sportboats lead the country’s boat registration with 41 per cent, boats and kayaks follow with 32 per cent. Personal watercraft and motoryachts are 18 per cent, and six per cent, respectively. Sailing yachts are favoured by three per cent of the market.

Besides domestic demand, Argentina’s boatbuilders have reported that exports are growing. Segue Yachts is Argentina’s major exporter to Brazil with 16 boats sent to date.

According to CACEL figures, in 2011, the industry exported 825 boats, worth US$14.7m. In 2010 the figure was 469 boats at a trade worth US$8.9m.

“Boats made in Argentina led the market, with only three per cent share on the hand of international brands,” comments Farre.

IBI magazine will publish a full country report on its next issue.

For a snapshot of the Argentina Boat Show 2012, watch our video at http://youtu.be/nKx_e2gS85M