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Major Sailing Industry News

Moorings, Sunsail & Leopard Catamarans For Sale & Gunboat Sold at Auction

Sunsail, Moorings, Leopard Catamarans

TUI AG offloads adventure travel division, including Sunsail, Moorings & Leopard Catamarans as it cuts losses: TUI AG, the world’s biggest tourism group, is selling off their adventure division, Specialist Holidays Group. The portfolio of more than 50 specialist travel, includes TUI Marine, which comprises of marine businesses, Leopard Catamarans, Sunsail, Moorings, LeBoat and Footloose. The Specialist Holidays Group would not reveal any more details but confirmed it would operate under the new name “Travelopia” with immediate effect.

Sunsail and Moorings have gone through several ownership changes in recent years. First U.S. based Grand Expeditions acquired Sunsail and then was bought by UK based First Choice Holidays in 2005. They acquired The Moorings and boasted the biggest sailing fleets in the world under one umbrella. First Choice merged with TUI Travel PLC and in 2014 merged with parent TUI AG. It thus comes as a surprise that TUI is doing an about face by cutting the the adventure travel division loose.

Chief Executive Officer Fritz Joussen explains: “There is little vertical integration with the core tourism businesses…In addition, the potential impact on profitability and the large amount of brands are strong strategic arguments not to combine the portfolio under the TUI brand.” So, TUI is ready to walk away from the “adventure” holidays market and disembark from sailing tours in the Mediterranean and Caribbean to concentrate on its more mainstream, and more rewarding, holiday businesses.

What this means for Sunsail, Moorings and Leopard Catamarans, who in 2015 was projected to sell about 200 catamarans, remains to be seen. Without the backing of this behemoth travel company, and trouble in the European sector, particularly refugee plagued Turkey, one of their strongest holiday destinations, the sailing companies are facing an uphill battle. Sunsail general manager Scott Farquharson, commented: "It's business as usual for all our customers and colleagues...For the majority of us, our day to day job will continue as normal, however, in the long run, this will impact some individuals...". We will keep you posted.

*Picture courtesy www.thenomadtrip.com

Gunboat International Sold at Auction

Gunboat G4The beleaguered American icon, Gunboat International, was sold at auction this week to French company, Grand Large Yachting. GL Yachting comprises of French builders, Allures Yachting, Garcia Yachting and Outremer Yachting. The court accepted their $500,000 bid for the North Carolina company’s molds, hulls and marketing lists. GL Yachting CEO, Xavier Desmarest has a real passion for performance sailing and has been instrumental in developing the successful Outremer catamaran range. He has also made customer service one of his main focal points, something that Gunboat struggled with in recent years.

Gunboat filed for Chapter 11 protection under the Federal Bankruptcy Code in 2015 after several years of major disputes and mistakes. One of the biggest strains on business for Gunboat was the Chinese built Gunboat 60 series. The Chinese builder has abandoned warranty obligations for the 60 series, of which there was plenty and Gunboat USA has had to pick up the slack. It cost them time, money and productivity that they could ill afford. The abandonment of RAINMAKER, a Gunboat 55, by her owner and crew at sea certainly was not helpful to a new series and sales suffered. Capsizing the G4, and the collision during a magazine photoshoot, just added to the mountain of troubles that Peter Johnstone has had to deal with and it proved too much in the end.

No doubt Peter and Gunboat will always be known as trailblazers in the industry and we hope that we will see more great things from him. Meanwhile, we are curious to see what GL Yachting intend to do with the Gunboat brand. Will they continue and develop the brand or will they simply use the technology and molds to further and build out the Outremer brand. Time will tell.

*Picture courtesy www.sailmagazine.com

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