The boating industry in 2019 brought new trends with a heavy emphasis on technology and connected boats. Last January, Raymarine/FLIR, an industry leader, introduced a new docking technology: Docksense is a first for recreational boaters in object recognition and motion sensing.
Technology still reigns supreme, so boaters can expect to continue seeing new products designed to make the boating experience more efficient, sustainable, and enjoyable. In addition, 2020 brings a new focus on two critical subjects in the industry: safety and conservation.
Similar to cars, boaters will soon almost certainly be seeing big changes under the hood. Major electronic brands such as Garmin and Lowrance are getting into the trolling motor space for the first time, competing with industry experts Minn Kota and Motorguide among others who provide complete offerings like displays, transducers and trolling motors. Electric motors, such as the Torqeedo systems, may soon begin replacing diesel engines as they run cleaner overall, eliminate pollution, don’t smell, are quieter and generally easier to maintain as there are fewer moving parts that could break. Additionally, there is a significant savings in terms of fuel expenses.
The Torqeedo made its debut at Lake of the Ozarks in 2018, at the annual Shootout boat races. The 23-foot center console Calypso with a Torqeedo on the back puttered down the course: the slowest boat at that year’s race, with a speed of 25 mph, but maybe the most interesting! A Torqeedo engine returned to the race in 2019, this time mounted to an 18-footer named Volt, built by Canadian Electric Boat Company. The boat (very quietly) hit 30 mph!
Read more about Torqueedo at the Lake:
With some boats at the Shootout, if you blink, you’ll nearly miss their blazing-fast, 3/4-mi…
Boaters can also expect to see an increase in the use of renewable resources as companies like Mercury use recycled aluminum in their engines in an attempt to maximize sustainability. Using aluminum ultimately preserves energy and emits less greenhouse gases in production.
Another product that is gaining popularity is the corded kill switch, such as FELL. Essentially, this product will stop all engines if the operator falls in the water. We typically see these used on jet skis, but this will now offer boaters an easy to use, wireless option.
While the 2019 statistics have yet to be released, there have been a number of serious boating accidents that have led to both serious injuries and even deaths. Earlier this year, it was reported that in 2017, 81% of boating deaths were the result of the boat’s operator not having received proper safety instruction.
That same report labeled alcohol as the leading factor of fatal accidents. In 2019, New York took a stand against lack of instruction and intoxication as they pertain to boating, as the state approved boating safety bills requiring safety courses and heightened the penalty for intoxicated drivers, including revoking licenses and issuing felonies for operating under the influence with children onboard.
Since lack of safety training and alcohol are both still playing a role in boating accidents, we may see more states adopt similar legislation.
Over 17 billion pounds of plastic are dumped into the oceans each year. While saving marine life has been top of mind for several years, companies like Yamaha are starting to take a stand against pollution. Funding is also being allocated to resources to prevent and clean-up ocean pollution. Notably, The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Fisheries Science Center in Seattle and the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation have put forth nearly $700,000 in grants towards stabilizing and recovering Southern Resident killer whales, an endangered species. With matching contributions, the total surpasses $1.2 million. Others that are taking advantage of grants include “Trade Only” who is focusing on restoring the Chinook salmon habitat. On the product side, Engel Coolers are focusing on reducing chemicals in its rotomolded coolers to make them recyclable, a trend others may follow.
Other emerging conservation trends pertain to fishing products. The fishing industry is always under scrutiny with limits on forage fish, which have come up in order to protect larger fish and birds who feed on them. Some anglers are starting to use circle hooks to reduce injury and increase survival rates of released fish.
With continued technological developments, there’s no telling what new products and trends will emerge in the coming year. But as the boating industry focuses on conservation and safety along with fun, the future is bright!