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Why such costly R & D?

lhooverlhoover Posts: 177 Baller
My bud and I were solving world problems today and lamented the fact that there are rarely, if any, 3 event boats displayed at Boat Shows by the Big 3. We could remember not that long ago that not only was this the Flagship boat of said companies, but also the ONLY boat of said companies.

Now it is the least expensive, least profitable, and (usually?) the worst selling boat in their inventory, and probably has been for a decade or more. Knowing that, why would any company put countless cash and man hours into R&D for their bottom feeding product?

Look at Correct Craft as a starter. Ten or twelve years ago, why would they completely redo the 196 and introduce the 200? Better boat, we are sure, but that much better for the money expended on the caboose of their fleet? Now the '19 comes along and same question. Seriously? THAT much better for mucho bucks expended?

MasterCraft did the same thing a few years ago when replacing the TT197, an outstanding boat. We can understand better gauges or screens or amenities, better bells and whistles, better engines and trannys, but ridiculous R&D money spent on the boat itself?

Then Malibu does the same thing a couple of years ago and just got us to wondering what we are missing. Of course, we are the Masters of the Universe (just ask us) while being clueless, for sure, but does anyone have some inside baseball knowledge as to why they do this for their least profitable boat?

Makes for good Winter time jawing, anyway.


  • BraceMakerBraceMaker Posts: 3,601 Mega Baller
    TT197 was both outstanding and hated. If you were working with junior skiers or skiing long line 26-32 mph that hull throws a great wake for doing flips but not great for slalom... Three event serious folk maybe liked it because it had good trick wakes and did fine for shortline - but The TT197 isn't that much nicer than an X2 at 15' 26 mph.

    CC had a better slalom boat development from about the TSC1's 196's but IMO I like the prostar compared to the 200.

    Malibu had a less than preferred hull then came out with their 98 diamond hull and from then through the mid 2010's had a pretty good hull - if you just have to have a bloat to slalom and want to have an open bow I'm pretty sure I'd buy a malibu 98-2014.

    So from there why develop what we have now?

    I don't really get the new Nautique - I think the directions should be more to useful all around boats that slalom really well so the new 200 makes mores sense than the new ski nautique.

    Mastercraft is about 5 years into their current boat....
  • Dacon62Dacon62 Posts: 661 Crazy Baller
    The DD ski boat is what started it all with these companies. It’s in their DNA and I think they just feel compelled to make ski boats because they love them. And face it there are bragging rights if you have the best boat/wake. It may be a small market but if you have the best boat and sell way more than the other guy you still sell a few boats. Also if Dad is a slalomer and prefers this “best boat” he will likely stay brand loyal once the kids whine enough about getting a surf boat. Then the big margin boat gets sold.
  • eleeskieleeski Posts: 3,829 Infinite Pandas
    The 196 is a crap boat - compared to the older bubble back Nautique. Not a move forward. The 200 was an improvement over the 196 (but not the bubble back). But the marketing hype overshadows any technical reality.

    The MC 197 was the victim of a disinformation campaign ( see @BraceMaker 's post above). The boat was fantastic for developing slalom skiers - I coached too many PBs behind mine. Other boats might have been slightly better at certain slow long passes but the boat slalomed great. And is one of the best all time trick boats. I'm still bummed that it was replaced.

    I like Bubba, UCLA's old 99 Malibu. I'm not sure the newer versions are improved.

    I like the new Nautique. But I hate the price.

    Rules drive some of the changes. Allowing hydrogates made the new Nautique possible. New USCG and DOT rules also forced some redesigns.

    New boats are nice. ZO is a huge part of this.

    My old 79 American Skier with ZO is pretty cool.

  • MISkierMISkier Posts: 2,531 Mega Baller
    I agree with @eleeski. The 197 was fantastic for developing skiers. Because, if you could run a pass at 22 off and slower than 36 mph behind that boat, you could run the course behind anything (wakeboard boats, cabin cruiser, the Queen Mary).

    Response and Response LX were great from 99 onward. Not as much of a fan of the LXi. Our 2015 TXi was very good.

    The new Prostar is a great boat. Other boats drive a bit better, but the wake is excellent for slalom.

    The old bubble butt Nautique was a good boat. The 200 we had last year was probably the best driving boat I've ever seen and was decent for slalom. Not sure about the new Nautique, as I have only had two rounds behind it (State Championship and Regionals) and never drove it beyond mapping ZO in the course. I'd need to spend some real time with it. We will have the new 200 this year, so I will experience that boat.
    The worst slalom equipment I own is between my ears.
  • BraceMakerBraceMaker Posts: 3,601 Mega Baller
    edited January 11
    @eleeski I dont mean to add go the stereotype, the MC was a great all around boat, easily one of the best looking boats ever made.

    But in the context of this thread the 197 needed updating. And I have only ever bought MC so dont consider this brand bashing.
  • ObrienslalomObrienslalom Posts: 63 Baller
    Imagine all companies decided to stop R&D right now, and just keep the interior of the boat modern. The fear would be one company releases something truly better (not necessarily innovative), and the rest would concede the market. Reputation, sponsorship, and advertising probably matter more than market size.

    How much is actually spent on R&D? Is it disproportional to the market size compared to wakeboard/wake surf boats? I'm not sure wakeboarding boats R&D is/was dramatically more rewarding than ski boats. The discipline changed to surfing, so there were opportunities there, and the size/interior of the boats matter more. But is hull design so much different between those boats?

    What I'm getting at is I'm not convinced that slalom R&D is unproductive, even if your opinion is that we haven't seen a significant improvement in performance over a long span of time.
  • Orlando76Orlando76 Posts: 1,032 ★★★Triple Panda Award Recipient ★★★
    1. Doubt they really spend that much on R&D.
    2. I bet when they build a new product, they leave some technology out for next time. If they built the perfect boat, they’d work their way out of a job.
    3. I bet a vast majority of their R&D is stolen from failures and discoveries from their barge department.
  • dvskierdvskier Posts: 477 Crazy Baller
    Leading edge vs bleeding edge. Difference being leading edge has less market resistance than bleeding edge. Therefore more sales as the companies strive for more market share.
  • LoopSkiLoopSki Posts: 505 Crazy Baller
    edited January 11
    cant comment on the others, but the new MC is miles ahead of the 197 in many ways. it makes a great family boat that can handle open water. that opens more doors. im pretty sure the new mc is selling well and profitable. cc went the other way on their new boat and targeted a small segment of the market. but with that sky high price tag im sure they make money too.
    as far as boat shows go. the dealers pay for the floor space so its up to them what to bring. in sac town i saw all three last year. but we have a big ski scene here .
  • MDB1056MDB1056 Posts: 242 Baller
    Point of the thread as started by @lhoover is cost/benefit
  • swc5150swc5150 Posts: 2,216 ★★★Triple Panda Award Recipient ★★★
    I think people have the impression that the big 3 were selling tons of DD boats before the wakeboard craze hit. With my frame of reference being working for an MC dealer back in the day, it wasn't so much that the PS190 sales dropped substantially, it was the 205 and wake boats opened up new markets/buyers for MC. It got to the point where it made more financial sense to stock such models, and let people order out a 190. 190 buyers, for the most part, didn't need to be sold on the product. They knew exactly what they wanted when they walk through the door.

    Point is, a DD ski boat has always been, and always will be a tiny niche market, but the buyers are there. The big 3 just have product lines now that appeal to general population, versus just us, so naturally it would appear on the surface that their DD's don't mean much to their over all business. CC has DD 2 tugs out now, so that tells you something.
    Scott Calderwood
  • skimtbskimtb Posts: 236 Baller
    I’m with @swc5150 on this. How many folks that are in the serious DD market are going to the boat show to pick a brand? Or, to decide if they are or are not getting a boat this year. You (us) already know 95% or more of what you want without seeing one at a show, or even a dealer. That’s why we have this forum! And the internet. Thanks @Horton

    Shows cost money, which is a dealer expense. Floor space, transportation, prep, etc. So they are going to put there what they think will sell most/best/attract new people. Or simply draw attention, which is generally not a DD thing in current age.

    There are surely exceptions where serious skiing is big in the region and they will have DD at a boat show. But as many other threads mention, serious / tournament skiing is a small subset of “boating”....

    With respect to Corp R&D, it seems the companies keep a nice DD in the mix, but may let it run longer, while they focus on more wake/surf boats. The benefit we get from that is any interior features or options that can transfer over and be useful. I can’t belive any hull design work on a barge is worth anything for slalom wakes.

    Back to winter...

  • ski6jonesski6jones Posts: 951 Mega Baller
    edited January 11
    As a sample of one I would have bought Malibu, Nautique, Malibu and Prostar at any given time had I bought a NEW boat over the last 20 years. I guess that's why they do R&D.
    Carl Addington, Lakes of Katy, Texas
  • WolfeieWolfeie Posts: 175 Baller
    15-20 years ago when you went to the LA Boat Show there were plenty of waterski specific boats to choose from; Mastercraft, Natique, Supra, Tige, Malibu, Brendella etc...I had actually purchased 2 ski boats during the boat shows with the special boat show savings. The last time I went to the LA Boat Show about 4-5 years ago I could not find one single DD ski boat displayed. The LA Boat Show shrunk in size when economic times were not so good, and now it is at the Pomona fairgrounds. instead of the LA Convention Center.

    As far as the 197 goes, I had a 2004 X7/197. The wake was comparable to the current 196. It was a great boat, only thing could not put ZO in it to upgrade at a decent cost.
    So I looked at a 2008-2009 promo 197 at a neighboring lake. It was a totally different
    boat with the Ignor? (I forget the name) engine Mastercraft was now using since they bought the engine company. this engine was much heavier and it showed in the wake
    even at 34mph @32 off. Thats when I bought my current 2011 SN200 promo.
    Brad Wolfe - Ski West Village, Arvin, Ca; Radar Pro Build, SN 200, I can see Ball of Spray headquarters from my lake house.
  • swc5150swc5150 Posts: 2,216 ★★★Triple Panda Award Recipient ★★★
    Naturally the big 3 all brought ski boats to the shows way back in the day. Their product lines were much, much smaller too. You can only bring so many models within a given sell space. Bring the ones with more mass appeal.
    Scott Calderwood
  • HortonHorton Posts: 27,397 Administrator
    MasterCraft did not buy Ilmor.
    The Ilmor engine was likely about the same weight as the Indmar.

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  • BraceMakerBraceMaker Posts: 3,601 Mega Baller
    edited January 11

    MC sponsors team penske.

    Roger penske invests in equity firm that takes over mc.
    Penske is a coowner of ilmore.
    Equity firm gets rid of MC then MC starts using ilmor engines. Who knows

  • oldjeepoldjeep Posts: 3,390 Mega Baller
    Nobody is losing money selling a 70K plus itty bitty ski boat.
    Chuck P
    Not a mechanic but I play one at home
  • eleeskieleeski Posts: 3,829 Infinite Pandas
    Is R&D good if certain aspects of performance are ignored? I have no respect for R&D that ignores trick and jump.

    The 196 started as a horrible trick boat and ended as a bad trick boat. That's poor R&D. But great Koolaid factor.

    The new MC started as a ridiculously small and unacceptable trick wake. It's better now. My one MC trick score this year was horrible - but I was struggling with a injured knee so that's not fair. But I don't choose it any more. The trick wake is way worse than any marginal gain in slalom over the 197. @Horton how many buoys did the boat alone help your average? I looked you up. Your two top scores were 104 each year. Hmmm. "Lightyears" better?

    Shouldn't we actually ski better if the R&D works? Not be unable to do toes (196) or get air (new MC).

    At least ZO is a fantastic advancement.

  • marknmarkn Posts: 201 Solid Baller
    Mmmmm.., sounds like an opportunity for you to invest your own money and time on R & D, molds, staff, insurance, factory and design and build a better boat.
  • BoneHeadBoneHead Posts: 6,044
    Does anyone trick any more?
    Shane "Crash" Hill

  • BoneHeadBoneHead Posts: 6,044
    Sorry, eleeski, I had to give you a hard time! lol
    Shane "Crash" Hill

  • BoneHeadBoneHead Posts: 6,044
    Hoov, I love you man, but you guys need to think about something better than this. You need at least a double panda for posting this.
    Shane "Crash" Hill

  • eleeskieleeski Posts: 3,829 Infinite Pandas
    @BoneHead I'm sure @JeffSurdej can give the exact statistics on the size of tricks events (with a special focus on the junior divisions which are growing nicely) but there are plenty of skiers who trick and even quite a few trick specialists. Tricks and jump matter!
  • eleeskieleeski Posts: 3,829 Infinite Pandas
    @markn That's exactly what the American Skier project is. It has the optimal trick wake but needs a better slalom wake. I have ideas to try out.

    Of course my slalom PB in practice is behind that boat so maybe it isn't really "lightyears" bad.

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