Supersize My Ride: The New Wave of Mega-Sportfishermen
by Elliott Stark
These days it seems that the sky’s the limit when it comes to building a new sportfisherman. Boat lengths and beam dimensions can sound more Panamax than Moppie. Modern luxury sportfishing behemoths, whose vacuous fuel capacities allow them to cross entire oceans, are wired with more advanced technology than the early space shuttles. Boats greater than 75 feet in length are expanding the limits of what can be expected from (and delivered by) a sportfishing vessel more than ever before.
And while forking over eight figures for your very own 90-footer isn’t something to be taken lightly, we have spoken with a number of industry professionals whose experience can provide some valuable perspective. Along the way, several themes and considerations emerged.
Defining the Market
Peter Frederiksen is the director of communications at Viking Yachts, a company that has perhaps benefitted—and fostered—the supersizing of modern sportfishing boats as much as any other. Viking debuted its 92-footer at its annual dealer meeting in September 2014; since then, Viking has sold nine of its newest and grandest dames of the fleet. What is the secret to this success and what drives demand for giant sportfishermen.
“The important consideration for boat size used to be fishing,” says Frederiksen, a 14-year veteran of Viking. “Now, it’s comfort, range and self-sufficiency that drive consumers. Viking built the 92 because consumers purchased so many of our 82s. It was a natural progression.” With the availability of sizes (Viking will build 64 boats this year, from 42 to 92 feet in length), the number and sizes of boats people bought provides market research about what people want. “The [Viking] 82 debuted on Thanksgiving in 2007. Hull number 28 has been purchased and number 30 is entering production. The 74 and 76 are also good sellers,” Frederiksen states. “If you can deliver what people want, they will buy it.” When it comes to the 92, he says, “If a person can buy a boat like this, they can pretty much buy anything they want.”
Viking’s success in the mega-sportfishing arena results from reading the market and producing a boat that captures the visions of its clients. The Viking 92 is currently sold out through 2016.
The Context of Going Bigger
Captain Danny Hearn can be found at the helm of the Blank Check, a 77-foot Jarrett Bay. Hearn has worked for the same owners for 25 years. The 77-footer is the fourth Blank Check he has run, starting from 53 to 58 to 68 to 77 feet. They have an 84 in progress. He is based out of Palm Beach but the boat travels extensively. “Moving up to a larger boat is like moving from a studio apartment to a 3,000 square-foot house,” Hearn explains. “Everything increased exponentially when we went from the 68 to the 77. Everything involving maintenance, provisioning, and fuel increased two-fold.”
And it’s not just length that expands on a longer boat, but the beam as well. The growth of a sportfisherman is similar to a blue marlin: a 103-inch blue might weigh in the 300-pound range but add just 35 inches to the fish’s length and this results in a much wider girth and an approximate weight of 900-plus pounds. Adding area to a big boat produces not only bigger cockpits and salons but results in more places to sleep, increased fuel capacity, storage and much more. This impacts all stages of trip planning. “With the bigger boat, we had bigger washing machines and did more laundry so we went through twice as much detergent as we would have on the old boat,” Hearn reports. “The tower is bigger too. Now instead of…………………….(To continue reading this article click here) You can also subscribe to InTheBite The Magazine to enjoy more industry leading editorial.