The rib stands out, so different from all the other models on display within Zar Formenti‘s booth at the Miami International Boat Show. Boasting a dark grey livery, with orange superstructures and hull, the boat features a tube decorated with the skull of Sea Shepard, the international non-profit, marine wildlife conservation organization famous for its direct attacks to whalers and polluting ships aimed at defending whales and the environment. These real warriors of the sea have asked Zar Formenti for a fast agile vessel to be used in their incursions.
” It’s a great initiative. What we’ve built for them – Piero Formenti, founder and owner of the Italian shipyard told us – is not a new vessel but a Rib 16, the same used to sail throughout Italy last year, tailored to their needs”.
Our visit to Zar Formenti’s booth at the last Miami International Boat Show gave us the opportunity to take stock of the American market situation with a man who knows it very well.
With 10 boats on display – from the small Tender 0 to the latest Zar 85SL – the Motta Visconti-based company is at home in the States. The brand is increasingly growing and two new dealers, based in Cap Cod and Huston respectively, have joined the already large commercial network distributed in Seattle, Chicago, Fort Lauderdale, Tampa (seat of the importer), San Diego, Newport, Virgin Islands and Baltimora.
This growth has, of course, positively affected the income of the company which has registered a turnover equal to that of 2008, which was the last year before the great crisis. Even if the American market is significantly different from the European one.
” While the European market – Formenti explains – considers our product as intended for a primary use, the States perceive it as a large superyacht tender. In 90% of cases, our customers are big boat owners looking for fast seaworthy tenders. Only 10% of American customers look for a Zar rib to be used as first boat”.
And if satisfaction can be measured in double figures for Piero Formenti’s company, we take the opportunity to ask for an overall analysis of the yachting market. Piero Formenti is, in fact, Vice President of Ucina and Chairman of EBI, the association which represents the European leisure marine industry in Europe and worldwide.
” Things are going well – he says – and the yachting industry has been registering a 15% growth for two years. All the European market is going well, with Germany in the lead, followed by France, Netherlands and Great Britain. Europe is experiencing a general positive recovery”. And what about the domestic market?
” I can see things from two different points of view: as an institution and as a simple businessman. As for the domestic turnover, things keep getting better and domestic consumption is growing. We’ve gone from a domestic turnover of 33% in 2010 to 7% in 2014. Today, domestic sales have touched up to 12%, benefiting from a positive trend. As a businessman, however, I must say that efforts are not the same for everyone. In Italy, there are still some shipyards which have difficulty respecting rules in terms of recruitment and installations. This is unfair competition and it penalizes all the companies which, on the contrary, have chosen to work honestly and correctly”.