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In NZ, sharing the fun with Ownaship – the country’s biggest boat-share player

Westhaven-based Ownaship – the country’s biggest boat-share player – recently took delivery of its 11th Rayglass 3500 launch. Like the other 10 in the fleet, this one belongs to a syndicate of six owners, a sharing model Ownaship managing director Simon Barker says has multiple attractions.

Ownaship’s Westhaven Marina pier, Auckland

In a nutshell, it’s mainly about convenience and stress-freeboating. A vessel in a Westhaven berth means easy access, and all the responsibilities that come with boat ownership – securing a berth, insurance, security, maintenance, cleaning – are eliminated. It’s literally a walk-on-walk-off style of boating.

The company now operates 31 vessels – the other 20 range in size from Rayglass 2500 runabouts, medium-size launches, to the ultra-luxurious Maritimo M55, as well as sailing and power catamarans. Ownaship, says Barker, “has doubled the size over the last 24 months.”

And there’s little evidence of any slow-down. To meet the growth another Rayglass 3500 will join her siblings later this year, with another two arriving next year. Currently there is a single Elite AT43 launch in the Ownaship fleet, but another arrives this December, with a further three on order. In addition, three more Maritimo M55s and an S55 will arrive in the next 12 months.

Corresponding to the growth is a significant shift in the company’s client profile, says Barker. “Many are newbies – people who’ve never boated before – or who perhaps have minimal boating experience.

“Most of these new shareholders come to us via word of mouth. They have friends who have gotten into boating through us and have raved about how easy and enjoyable it is. That’s really appealing to people who don’t have a lot of experience or time”.

“I think their ‘step-into-the-unknown’ is made a lot easier by our training programmes. It’s a thorough, immersive process with the accent on hands-on experience. Our training and support gives them the confidence to skipper large vessels with ease – our shareholders are among the best-trained skippers in the country.”

Changing preferences

Barker also believes the ‘profile’ of the typical Kiwi boat owner has changed (and continues to change), and says various factors are driving the shift.

“Many traditional boaties have far more diverse interests these days – boating is no longer the all-consuming activity. It’s simply another component in their busy lives, and that means the associated boat owning responsibilities are even less appealing. It’s increasingly difficult to justify the expense of buying and maintaining a vessel you might only use a few times a year.

“On the flipside, though, there is also much greater interest in bigger, more comfortable and luxurious vessels. The boat-sharing concept gives someone access to a boat he/she might not be able to justify as a sole owner. Yes, boats might be bigger and more complex, but with ‘can-do’ technology like bow-thrusters and joy-stick manoeuvring it’s also much easier to operate a bigger vessel.”

An analysis of the 220 clients across 31 Ownaship’s vessels underscores his point: “There’s a noticeable pattern – a general trend of ‘upgrading’ to bigger boats shared between fewer owners. Our vessels typically operate on half-, quarter- or sixth-share models. The trend might see an owner selling a sixth share in a Rayglass 3500, for example, and buying into a quarter share of a Maritimo M55 – or even a half share.”

There’s also a noticeable shift, he adds, in the way people use their boats. “Going back 10 or 15 years, the typical owner was a chap focussed on fishing with his mates – with an occasional ‘family day’ thrown into the mix. Today it’s switched 180° – it’s more about cruising with the family or friends – and very little fishing.”

Ownaship’s research found that with the sharing model, clients spent more time boating (on average) in a given year than a typical sole owner.

The future

The acute shortage of marina berths in the greater Auckland region, says Barker, is another factor in the growing popularity of the sharing model.

“You only have to consider the pattern in Sydney to see how the scarcity of marina berths has resulted in a massive growth in boat sharing companies. Even if you were lucky enough to secure a berth, the costs are prohibitive.

“Sharing a boat – with a berth in an easily accessible marina – eliminates the problem. We’re seeing the same scenario play out here in Auckland.”

The fleet

Barker says the Ownaship model offers a ‘sharing solution’ to every kind of client, whatever the experience level, budget and boating aspirations. The 31 vessels in the current fleet include Rayglass 2500s, 2800s, 3500s and 4000s, one Elite AT43, three Fountaine Pajot sailing cats, a Fountaine Pajot MY40 power cat, two Maritimo X50s, three M51s and the new M55.

The Rayglass 3500

Accounting for more than a third of the Ownaship fleet, the Rayglass 3500 is obviously a favourite ‘sharing’ boat, typically owned by a syndicate of six members. What makes it so popular?

“It’s very affordable price-point,” says Barker. “A versatile cruiser, it sleeps six and is wellappointed. Equally suited to day trips or weekend getaways.”

Adds Rayglass sales director Scott Little: “It’s built around a very sea-friendly hull with an easy motion. Twin engines and a bow thruster make for easy manoeuvring – it’s not a daunting boat to handle, even for relative beginners.”

For more information call Ownaship at +64 800 696 7447 or visit