Mark Rothfield: US beauties pretty competitive

CHOOSING between American sportsboat brands is challenging because, let’s face it, they’re about as similar as Oompa-Loompas in terms of styling, layout and performance. But one stands apart for being just that little bit shinier.

Whether it’s moulding quality or ownership pride, Cobalt boats appear more polished. Their hulls have a richer, deeper lustre, borne from the use of a fade-resistant “buff-back” gelcoat with an exclusive Cobalt barrier coat.

The beauty continues skin deep with fully hand-laid fibreglass hulls reinforced with kevlar and composite structural components. The dash panel is aluminium, not plastic, and the switches are stainless steel.

This fastidious attention to quality has earned Cobalt the top spot in the highly competitive US market for runabouts and wake surf vessels ranging from 22 to 30 feet. Now the Kansas-based boat manufacturer has partnered with a new distributor in Oz to expand its presence.

Brett Thurley, better known as the managing director of Clipper Motor Yachts, is taking over the reins of marketing, dealer appointments and boat show strategy for Cobalt, nation-wide. 

Thurley has owned three Cobalts over the years.

“I have a relationship with Cobalt dating back over 20 years when I worked and lived in the US,” he said. “I have seen the company and their boats go from strength to strength and more importantly watched how they treat their staff, dealers and clients. They have no peer in the industry in my opinion.”

First step is to open an indoor retail showroom at Gold Coast City Marina to showcase the 2017 models. With on-water demonstrations and berthing available, it’s just a short flight from Newcastle Airport.

Cobalt has previously been represented by Dennis and Tracey Souvleris at JD’s Boat Shed in Cronulla and they’ll continue to handle the NSW market.

“Dennis and Tracey have done a great job building the brand so far in Australia and we look forward to expanding that base throughout Queensland and beyond,” Thurley said. “Cobalt has been operating for nearly 50 years and their boats are considered the Rolls Royce of their market niche.”

The first of the 2017 Cobalts arrive in Australia next month and will be sold with a five-year engine warranty, 10-year structural warranty and three-year component warranty. The range extends from 20 to 40 feet and includes family runabouts, cuddy cabin cruisers and a new outboard runabout range debuting in 2017.

They’re not to be confused with the similarly named Cobia Boats, a Florida-based sportsfishing brand being represented by new Sydney-based distributor Rocky Tassone. Tassone has just landed a Cobia shipment that includes a 201 Centre Console pre-rigged with a 150hp Yamaha, a 220 Centre Console with 200hp Yamaha, and the 220 Dual Console also with the Yamaha F200 four-stroke outboard. Cobias are built for tough and salty offshore fishing use, being backed by a 10-year warranty. Boat and motor packages for an 18-foot centre console start around $75,000. More at cobiaboatsaustralia.com.au.

LUXURY: The Cobalt R3 is sleek and shiny. It's Kansas-based manufacturer is expanding its presence in Australia.

LUXURY: The Cobalt R3 is sleek and shiny. It's Kansas-based manufacturer is expanding its presence in Australia.

CLASSY: The Cobalt R30 is large and luxurious. It's also well-equipped to accommodate your guests.

CLASSY: The Cobalt R30 is large and luxurious. It's also well-equipped to accommodate your guests.

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