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Sunseeker’s Robert Braithwaite presented with Lifetime Achievement Award
Eight winners and seven honourable mentions were announced last night in Amsterdam at the second Boat Builder Awards for Business Achievement in association with Raymarine. Robert Braithwaite CBE, founder of Sunseeker International, picked up the Lifetime Achievement Award sponsored by Side-Power, capping off a night to remember at the National Maritime Museum.
More than 280 guests attended the gala dinner under the glittering dome of the museum’s central courtyard to hear the winners announced. Sea Ray kicked the ceremony off with its award for best Retail Marketing Initiative sponsored by Saltwater Stone, for the launch of its SLX series of sportsboats. Quicksilver picked up a honourable mention in the same category for its custom price configurator.
This time around Axopar, after being named a runner up last year, netted the award for International Distributor/Dealer Development sponsored by Lumishore. The judges also felt the fast-expanding builder Galeon worthy of a honourable mention in this category.
The Boat Builder & Equipment Manufacturer Collaborative Solution award, sponsored by Ultraflex, was one of the most hotly contested this year, but it was Azimut Benetti’s and Rolls Royce's development of their lightweight AZP C65 thruster that the judges ultimately felt deserved the top prize. Lewmar, NV Equipment and Beneteau each received honourable mentions for their work on a new sunshade design for Beneteau’s Sense sailboat range.
Italian boatbuilder Ferretti Yachts picked up an award for its submersible garage on the Ferretti 850, in another keenly contested category - Innovative On Board Design Solution sponsored by Fusion. US ski-boat builders Mastercraft and Malibu Boats also each received honourable mentions reflecting the particularly high standard of innovation in that market segment.
The Dometic-sponsored award for Innovation in a Production Process went to Vripack for its ground breaking virtual prototyping software.
Winner of the very first Environmental Initiative Award sponsored by Scott Bader was Blue Gas Marine from the US for its development of natural gas fuel options. In another first the Best Apprenticeship and Training Scheme award sponsored by Marine Resources was given to Berthon, with fellow UK yards Sunseeker and Pendennis each receiving honourable mentions.
The evening however belonged to Robert Braithwaite CBE, the man behind one of the industry’s most iconic brands, Sunseeker. IBI’s publishing director Nick Hopkinson labelled Braithwaite a “boating visionary, someone who understood the potential power of a brand from early on.” Unable to attend the dinner in person, Braithwaite was presented the award by IBI’s Nick Hopkinson at Sunseeker’s Poole, UK facility just prior to the event. Via a video link Braithwaite thanked the judges, gala dinner audience and Award organisers IBI and METSTRADE for the honour of this most prestigious award.
Robert Braithwaite CBE: "This award means an enormous amount to me because it shows you have succeeded in what you set out to do. That is very important to me." When asked about a 'standout' boat in the builder's history Braithwaite added: "I think probably the first 17 footer, that's when we started in the early '70s. There were seven of us working then. Now there are over 2,000."
Robert Braithwaite CBE transformed what was a small boat dealer on the UK’s south coast going by the name of Poole Power Boats in the late 1960s, into one of the largest global boat brands that today employs 2,200 people with a turnover forecast for 2016 of approximately £240m. It builds a range of sports cruisers, flybridge motor yachts and superyachts from 50 to 155 feet. Last year the builder celebrated the significant milestone of having built 100 yachts over 100 feet.
About the Boat Builder Business Achievement Awards
Now in its second year, the Boat Builder Awards for Business Achievement are organised jointly by METSTRADE, the world’s leading platform for professionals in the leisure marine equipment industry with its flagship event Marine Equipment Trade Show (METSTRADE), and Time Inc. (UK) Ltd., the London-based publishers of International Boat Industry (IBI) magazine.
METSTRADE is the world’s largest trade exhibition of equipment, materials and systems for the international leisure marine industry. It is organised by Amsterdam RAI in association with ICOMIA (International Council of Marine Industry Associations).
International Boat Industry (IBI), which was established in 1968, is the leading business-to-business magazine and website (IBInews.com) covering the global recreational marine trade. The magazine and its related daily newsletter, IBI-plus.com, are received by over 14,000 professionals in the industry.
To see the night in pictures visit www.boatbuilderawards.com