ROBIN BAILEY tells how competing manufacturers are co-operating on a project to benefit everyone in the boating industry




An initiative that began around 10 years ago as a "what if" discussion between two men from different sectors of the marine industry took a big leap forward this week.



Auckland Coastguard stalwart Brooke Archbold was talking to top boatbuilder Tony Hembrow, from Rayglass, about the possibility of creating a method of recognising a standard of excellence for trailerboats. Archbold believed it could be a way of raising money from the industry for his always cash-strapped volunteer organisation.



Both men recalled this week that after tossing the idea around for a while, the fund-raising aspect went into the too-hard basket.

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Serious development work then went into the excellence aspect and at the 1996 New Zealand Boat Show the CPC-standard for trailerboats was introduced.



Six major manufacturers adopted the standard that gave them the right to display a compliance plate on their products. A year later that total had grown to 11 and today there are 16.



On Thursday night at the Marine Rescue Centre in Auckland, Archbold and Hembrow were in an audience of manufacturers and industry movers for the launch of a campaign the Marine Industry Association has devised to take the CPC-standard exercise to a new level.



The aim is to highlight the advantages of New Zealand's Coastguard-approved CPC boatbuilding standards programme and show how it benefits those buying CPC-approved boats.



"Primarily, the CPC standards programme is all about ensuring safety on the water," says Griff Simpson, chairman of the CPC Manufacturers Group, a division of the MIA.



"Boats built to the rigorous CPC standard are designed and built to be unsinkable even if filled with water, to be safe and strong in all conditions and to meet a detailed set of Coastguard-approved criteria that ensures they are suitable for New Zealand's challenging marine environment."



The CPC standard's new educational initiative was devised after research showed that many boat buyers did not fully understand advantages of the CPC labelling.



"Ours is one of the very best trailer boat standards in the world and the only one which is run and continually revised by the boat builders themselves," Simpson says. "We are always looking to make our boats safer and stronger and, when we find appropriate ways of doing that, we add them to the criteria."

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Additions to that criteria include making navigation lights and bilge pumps mandatory on all CPC-plated boats and ensuring that all have positive buoyancy to ensure they remain afloat even when swamped.



"More than 10,000 boats from 3.5 to 8m have now been built to CPC standards," says Peter Busfield, executive director of the MIA, and we expect to launch another 2000 this year.



"The CPC programme is, without a doubt, the most successful example to date of competing manufacturers co-operating on a project to benefit the whole industry in which they work.



"This has led to economies of scale, transfers of technology, joint marketing initiatives, higher build quality, better specifications and, of course, safer boats. It has also created stronger domestic demand which, in turn, has enabled participating manufacturers to confidently seek new markets offshore for these well-built New Zealand-made products."



Simpson says that, thanks to the new educational initiative, boat buyers will not only be able to better understand the benefits of a CPC standard boat, they will also be better able to recognise one in the showroom.



"We are very proud of the endorsement the Royal New Zealand Coastguard gives each of our CPC-plated boats and we intend to make both the boats and this endorsement very visible through point-of-sale display material.



"Also every CPC boat will feature a steering wheel swing tag to not only clearly identify the boat as being built to our standard, but to also explain, in clear, simple language, exactly what that means in terms of safety on the water."



The new display material will be in showrooms throughout the country from next month.



The 16 brands that meet the CPC standard are: Bonito, Buccaneer, Challenger, CBS Huntsman, Fibre Force, Fi-Glass, Kiwi, Marco, Ramco, Rayglass, Reflex, Seacraft, Stabi-Craft, Steadecraft, Street Marine and Tristram.