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Why such costly R & D?


lhoover
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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.

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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....

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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.
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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.

 

Eric

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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 .

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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.

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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...

 

 

 

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I must disagree with Eleeski's statement: "the 196 is a crap boat compared to the bubble back". While it may not be ideal for your chosen discipline, it is FAR from crap for short line slalom, it is and continues to be a fantastic slalom boat. Yes, the bubble back is a good boat, but the 196 has less of a trough at 35, 38 and 39 off. Sorry if off topic of R&D costs, but had to defend what remains a damn fine slalom tug.

With respect to R&D, when the 200 was being developed, I as told they took a 196 and added bondo to the hull to enlarge it and experiment with the running surface. That would require a significant amount of time and research.

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I do not think I have ever disliked or disagreed with so many posts in one thread before. Is the question "Why are boat companies bothering to make a better boat?" Seriously? It is a fiercely competitive market. It is pure free market. They are all trying to earn your business but trying to build a better boat than the competition.

 

Asking why do this is like asking why ski companies do R&D or why Ford does not still sell this:

Screen-Shot-2016-10-14-at-1.20.58-PM-940

The 1964 1/2 Mustang is COOL as hell but it falls short of new cars on almost every metric. I would love to have one as hobby car but not as a daily driver with my 4 year old.

 

 

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As for comments about the 197 - it was a cutting edge boat when it was released but when the ProStar was released in 2014 it was LIGHTYEARS better in terms of slalom wakes.

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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.

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@Wolfeie

MasterCraft did not buy Ilmor. https://www.ilmor.com/

The Ilmor engine was likely about the same weight as the Indmar.

 

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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.

 

Eric

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@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!

Eric

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@eleeski

 

15% of all tournament rides last year were trick rides. 75% Slalom. (data courtesy @JeffSurdej ) If you are a boat company would you focus on a slalom boat or a trick boat?

 

The old 197 may have had wakes that were passable for a slalom skier at my level but for the demographics that I think are most important ( new skiers, wives, girlfriends, and children) the ProStar is Lightyears better. I don't care how much the boat manufacturers tell you it's possible if a boat has awesome trick wakes it is a compromise for slow speed skiers. You just can't have both.

 

Furthermore, if you really want to be honest about it a narrow boat creates a better trick wake and a wider boat creates a flatter slalom wake at all speeds. At the waterline, I'm pretty sure the ProStar is the widest ski boat anyone has ever seen.

 

I freaking dare you to look me in the eye and tell me that teaching new skiers / slow speed small.with big disruptive wakes in a good idea.

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And let me just throw this out before Eric freaks, I was at 3 a event skier as a kid, I support overall, skiing overall skiing is great, but in the current environment slalom is dominant.

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The college kids come to my lake and PB behind my 197 at slow speeds and long ropes. The boat has zero effect on their learning curve. "Stern look in eyes."

 

There are barges that would inhibit their progress due to the wake but the 197 wake is good enough to not be a factor in their development. The 196 that SDSU had with a trick table that was so bad that I had to teach kids trick basics outside the wake was so bad that it tamped down the interest in skiing so much that their slalom development was hindered. Real life experience.

 

If only slalom is offered at a tournament, that skews the percentages. Three eventers must slalom as well so that skews the percentages. I wonder if you pulled out the old guys and looked at juniors and college kids whether that 75/15 percentage holds up. UCLA and SDSU who are the teams I coach a lot have full trick and slalom A teams. Often the trick teams are stronger and more enthusiastic.

 

The ex college skiers who are still active (and the driving force of San Diego skiing - and buying the new boats) had strong trick backgrounds and most still trick. That 15% gets a lot of leverage.

 

Design the boats to work for all three events!

 

Eric

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@eleeski

The college kids come to my lake and PB behind my 197 at slow speeds and long ropes. The boat has zero effect on their learning curve. "Stern look in eyes."

 

Bring those kids to my house, let them ski behind my ProStar. Let them tell you how wrong you are.

 

I would put up the ProStar slow speed slalom wakes against any boat. The CarbonPro is the closest competition.

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Shane, you bicycle loving, long haired hippie, how have you been. In case some of you ballers don't know, this is the same guy who thinks R&D starts with a stripper pole as the pylon. Dan and I want it known that we are delirious with elated happiness that the Big 3 actually spend money on the tiniest, least profitable segment of their product line, tournament boats. We just don't necessarily understand it.
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@Horton I've done coaching days at Ironwood's shallow lake where there is NO wake at any speed. Their learning curve was never better than behind my boat. Probably the ZO had more effect. Possibly the focus of the training trip vs "normal" ski days. Maybe my lake is just better (than Bako??). Whatever, my "horrible" 197 had no effect on their learning curve. But their tricks improved substantially faster behind my boat at my lake!

 

With that said, PLEASE do a training day for the UCLA kids! Quality training is way more important than a couple cm of wake height.

 

Eric

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@eleeski there is a 1975 Nautique on SkiWest lake 1 that I always wanted to trick behind. Would that be a good boat to teach slow speed / long line slalom?

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On a side note I wonder how many people visit this forum just to see @eleeski and I bicker at each other like old women.

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C'mon @Horton . We are well aware that certain wakes are outside the range that works for learning. The 197 is NOT outside that range.

 

There's a range we can accept - in skis, ski set up and in boats. You might prefer an old 196 but when it matters, the boat difference is insignificant. Your numbers are the same with the most modern boats as slightly older ones. Skiers at 30mph are rapidly advancing (hopefully) and the skills they are learning are NOT dependant on having the smallest wake.

 

The wake is a great excuse if you really aren't motivated. But if you aren't motivated, you shouldn't be buying a new boat.

 

I learned behind a 76 Nautique. Running it light (add PP or ZO) and it might not hold development back. Add a bunch of ballast and the boat is unskiable for slalom. OK for developing wakeboard skiers. Depends on how you set it up. Versatile. Especially for developing skiers. R&D for versatility is good.

 

Eric

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Wow .I have never skied a 197 . Did I miss out on something amazing? I have skied the same Era S190 and always thought it to be well made and nice looking, but boy it liked to hit me hard crossing the wakes at 22' and even 28' off passes. Did the extra 7" really make that much difference?

 

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197 was not really bad "in its era" but the new stuff is better. That is what this thread is about. My point is R&D has produced a better boat and a boat with the best possible wakes for the skiers who are slalom wake sensitive.

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@RAWSki, I believe the 190 made during the same years as the 197 was actually the same dimensions and was dubbed the 190 in closed bow form as marketing only. The 197 name was created for the open bow version. I believe they are essentially the same and would have skied the same at the rope lengths you mention.

 

 

The worst slalom equipment I own is between my ears.

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@MISkier 99.9999% sure that is wrong. The 197 replaced the 190.

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