Mercedes Benz and CRT | ROBRADY design

Designer's Log: Miami Boat Show 2014

In an effort to keep our finger on the pulse of the marine industry, Rob Brady (ROBRADY CEO / Design Director) and I battled alligator alley and Miami traffic to spend a day walking the 2014 Miami Boat show. My last trip was in 2007, so everything there was fresh to my eyes. As it’s a show full of high dollar big-boy toys, I bought a couple Powerball tickets on the way out of town.

A couple of products really stood out from the crowd and, personally, the entire BRP Sea-Doo product range came in at the top of my list. The no-restrictions styling of their mid and high end watercraft were sure fun to look at, but the entry level Spark was by far the most unique product of the show. Designed from scratch to be as affordable as possible, this watercraft is about half the price of its closest rival. Its in-mold colored and textured body panels display well in all flavors. Up close, they are visually cheaper looking than conventional watercraft, but the Spark embraces the value statement and stands out from the crowd for it.

In the outboard market space, this was the first time that I had seen the 557hp Cadillac CTS-V powered V-8 outboard engine by Seven Marine LLC in person. A high percentage of the “show” boats featured a number of these impressive outboards on the transom. We spent some time talking with the engineering team and came away impressed with their product knowledge and fantastic results. The cowling design is bold and striking and when color matched to a specific boat, the entire package looks awesome. Competitor outboards of this size now look dated by comparison, but at 557 horsepower (I was told they could be tuned to 700hp) there really isn’t a direct competitor. Each engine starts around $80K which is triple the cost of a Merc 350. But for most of their customers, price isn’t a concern – they simply want the best. The “Seven” outboard makes for a nice "opposite bookend" when thinking about the philosophy behind the Sea-Doo Spark – high end vs. entry level, but always superior value being the hallmark of good design.

It was a nice surprise to see the Mercedes AMG Vision Gran Turismo Concept in the Cigarette Racing booth. It was only unveiled a couple of months ago at the LA auto show, so to see it in person was a treat. The AMG Vision is about as dramatic of a form you can shape for an automobile and, honestly, it was the coolest looking thing at the show (coming from a die-hard car guy).

MasterCraft must have access to a monster machine shop because I have never seen so much machined billet aluminum on one product. Their wake towers are made almost completely out of the stuff. That theme is carried through the interior as aluminum accents catch your eye wherever you look. It’s another one of those “if you have to ask, you can’t afford it” kind of product propositions.

After spending 6+ hours looking at those kind of products, my fingers are crossed. A $330 million Powerball jackpot would definitely help scratch that itch.

About the Author:
Erik Holmen is an award winning Senior Industrial Designer at ROBRADY design and a College for Creative Studies (CCS) Alumni.

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