Newspaper article News Sentinel

Malibu Boats Offers New Wake Surfing Technology

Newspaper article News Sentinel

Malibu Boats Offers New Wake Surfing Technology

Article excerpt

Wake boarding and wake surfing are among the fastest growing segments of the water sports market, evolving over the past decade from a niche activity to a legitimate competitive sport.

Introduced this year, the new Wakesetter boats from Loudon-based Malibu Boats featuring Surf Gate have completely changed the way people wake surf, according to world champion professional wake surfer Brian Grubb.

Traditionally, surfing behind a boat requires the addition of weight to one side of the boat or the other to produce a wave on that side. Switching sides can take up to an hour to drain and fill weight tanks.

"Now, with just a press of a button, you can form a perfect wave on either side of the boat and switch between right and left on the fly," Grubb said.

The patented Surf Gate system uses flat planes that unfold from either side of the stern of the boat to create the wake. By switching between the two planes the wake can be formed on either side.

To a rider, the new technology makes a huge difference because it translates into more riding time behind the boat instead of sitting in the water adding additional weight.

As Malibu celebrates its 30th anniversary, the introduction of Surf Gate is an example of the innovation that has been a hallmark of the company. Since its founding in 1982, Malibu has received 19 "Boat of the Year" awards and 31 "Product Excellence" awards.

"Historically, Malibu has been very innovative," said CEO Jack Springer.

Malibu also was early to recognize the importance of wake boarding as an outgrowth of the traditional sport of water skiing 20 years ago. As wake boarding, and most recently, wake surfing, outpace the growth of other water sports, Malibu is poised to capitalize on the trend.

The focus on innovation in the fastest growing segments of the market has been among the most important factors in keeping the company afloat in a turbulent economy, Springer said.

The U.S. market for water sports boats peaked in 2006 with about 13,000 boats sold. Then came the Great Recession and by 2010 the U.S. market had declined 61.5 percent to 5,000 boats. The market has remained steady at about 5,000 boats in 2012.

But even during the recession, Malibu continued to grow its market share. The company now has about 30 percent of the towboat market.

The company is a leading manufacture in its category selling 2,850 boats in 2012. This year also was the best year the company has ever had internationally.

Malibu is gaining market share primarily through quality and innovation, Springer said.

"We're committed to bringing out more new boats than anyone in the industry," he said.

For its 30th anniversary, Malibu introduced three special edition boats which were displayed for the first time several weeks ago at the Malibu Open in Milwaukee, Wis.

The three anniversary editions included the Response TXi ski- boat, the Wakesetter 20VTX crossover for skiing, wakeboarding and wake surfing, and the Wakesetter 23 LSV for wakeboarding and wake surfing. …

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