Blokart park helps firm weather recession woes

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Papamoa's Blokart Recreation Park serves as a base for Blokart enthusiasts.
Papamoa's Blokart Recreation Park serves as a base for Blokart enthusiasts.

Papamoa's Blokart Recreation Park has proven a solid base for Blokart International's development.

The park provides opportunities to rent and try out the one-design land yachts developed by Paul Beckett and launched in 2000, which have since reached global sales of about 11,000.

People who had been in New Zealand and experienced Blokarting had gone back to the US and ordered one or had gone on to become Blokart dealers in Europe, said Blokart general manager Matt Beckett, who joined his father in the business in early 2000.

The park also serves as a base for Blokart enthusiasts, in keeping with Paul Beckett's original concept.

"He felt that for something like this to survive, you needed to build a sport around it, otherwise it was just a fad," said Mr Beckett.

The strength of the brand was really in the network of Blokart sailors around the world, he said.

"People travel endlessly to the racing events - between deserts, beaches and airfields, from Aussie to Europe to the United States."

The basic Blokart weighs 29kg and packs into a carry-case. There is one basic model, with various accessories and four standard sail sizes, geared to wind strength. Speeds of more than 100km/h have been attained.

About half of the sales are in Europe, but Blokart sailing also has fans in Australia, the US and Japan. Sales took a knock during the global downturn but were building back up again, said Mr Beckett. "The US is growing slowly, and while Europe as whole dropped off, it has stayed steady and we are managing to find some niches and growth."

However, the Blokart rental business at Papamoa has held steady and grown year on year. It has been helped by the introduction two years ago of the Driftkart, which evolved out of the electric-powered Blokarts developed for the Rugby World Cup opening ceremony.

These three-wheeled karts with an electric front wheel are not yet available for sale, but have proven popular and now evenly match the Blokart in rental appeal. "It seemed like a natural fit and a relatively eco-friendly addition."

- BAY OF PLENTY TIMES

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