Well, I thought I would just ask the question. I have been mulling this around in my head for years now. The bottom line is this. People love their classic boats like they love their classic cars, toasters barbie dolls, whatever it was that triggers a memory and area of comfort. In todays world that is changing so dramatically anything that is familiar and evokes a nice image is golden. But as time marches on, those “things” fade away. Just look at the value of model A’s or 57 t birds. FLAT! Because that age group is passing on…yet 1969 Z/28s keep going up. Cobras, Shelby’s, the list goes on. Classic cars and boats are a mixture of memories and function. Now lets focus on boats…One had to have been around the water as a kid and enjoyed boating to have an emotional connection. To hate varnishing a boat with your dad, to recall the wonderment of hard work and varnished wood in the sun light. So the logical step is to refocus on kids today. Get those darn kids in a wood boat and they will love them later. I get that, BUT.. I recall doing that as a kid and you know what? I saw the boat as a boat. Plain and simple, there was nothing classic boat it, it was just a boat. We lived all summer long in a small Boston Whaler and a Starcraft aluminum boat. I have no need to get either of those boats today yet I love boating today for that reason. Note I did not say classic boating, theoretically I would hoard Boston Whalers and Starcrafts. The kids programs are great and fill a need, they are great for bonding with fathers and sons, they include the family and introduce boating as well, time to build a have fun with a boat. But is it the strategy to build the future of classic boating or just boating? Sadly I have come to the conclusion. NO… It’s not enough.
I feel that we are at a crossroads where memory is being lost to other things. Kids memories of tomorrow will be other things that are dreaming of today. We need to transfer the image of classic boatinga romantic image of a lifestyle. Timeless imagery that evokes an image, fashion. OK stop laughing and think. The real target to grow the hobby is 35-55 year olds right now. That is the real youth program. Talk to 30 year olds now and the rest will fall into place. 30 year olds are on the cusp of buying homes at a later date on the water in 5-10 years. they will be the ones in the market place. WE MUST REACH THEM NOW! If we miss this group, the hobby, passion will die and the 10 year olds of today will never connect. In fact the 10 year olds are the kids of the 30 year olds. Reach the 30 year olds and you get both groups.
SO… how do you do that? They aint coming to boat shows or reading newsletters thats for sure. They are not there yet. Don’t be mad at me.. I am speaking the truth, and the only way to improve things is to be honest. The 30-40 year olds sadly they have no memories of being out on the water in a wood speed boat. They don’t know what 2 cycle oil is, or varnish. No memories to tap into. They grew up in IROC z’s Toyotas, Datsuns.. Formula boats, Donzis… Note that the Donzi group is growing and thriving, fiberglass boats are becoming more valuable. That is not from youth programs. It’s a mind set and memory triggers. And of course affordability. Wood boats need to move from memory to art. This is were the “curator” in some peoples DNA kicks in as “rabbit ” put it a year ago in a similar article. The “Curater” which is ageless by the way, the curater demographic will come to boating as an artistic statement rather than a memory when they get there first place near the water. “If I am going to get a boat, I am going to get a cool boat”. is a good example of the thought pattern. I want a cool boat that evokes a lifestyle rather than is just a water craft to out on the water with. Do it in style.
How do we reach this target? It’s not complicated, its a simple media stratagy. Be were they are, be were they are while they are dreaming and thinking of how to spend there free time. Be online! Be on Facebook, be fun, be affordable, show them that a cool $500 plastic boat is just as cool as a $200,000 Triple. Invite them in to the tent, take them on rides. And talk about how these old cool wood boats are half the maintence as they used to be. It’s that simpke. The boats speak for themselves. It’s just putting them in the right place. If you own a new boat marina, put a 10K cool classsic boat in there. Offer all the same support as you would on a new boat. Offer a warrenty like Katz’s or Antique Boat Center.
We want your opinion. We did this story as a question because it’s just us thinking this way. We are not trying to attack youth programs, or any one group. We just see something out there as a folks that has been in the marketing field for over 30 years. We are indeed at a critical time in the life cycle of hobbies and passions. I would hate to see us miss the next generation to hand this all off to by being close minded. The lifestyle of classic style boating needs to life on in a timeless way. As a symbol of life on the water that includes style grace and fun. Otherwise it’s doomed to be put out beside the shed to rot away in peoples memories. Please comment and add your two cents. It’s all for a good cause.