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Finns take up boating in record numbers

Boating season has started in Finland, boat sales have shot up, and a record number of new mariners are expected on the water once again this year.

The coronavirus pandemic gave a huge boost to the second-hand boat market and the trend is continuing. Image: Markku Lähdetluoma / Yle

Boating has grown as a summer pastime for years, and Jarkko Pajusalo, CEO of the Finnish Marine Industries Federation Finnboat, says that based on the surge in sales of second-hand-boats, large numbers of new boaters will be out on the the lakes and sea this season.

"There will certainly be a record number of new boaters on those waters this summer, as in the previous two," Pajusalo explains.

The most striking development in the trade has been the strong sales growth of registered boats that took off soon after the onset of the coronavirus pandemic. Over the past few years, about 30,000 of the register's boats have changed owners annually.

Pajasalo describes sales growth as "staggering."

New boats harder to find

Janne Korhonen, CEO of the boat and boating supplies retailer Vääksyn Konepiste, says that if you are considering selling a boat, now is a good time for it.

"There is a lot of demand for used boats, and now you can get a good price for your old boat," Korhonen notes.

Janne Korhonen of Vääksy Konepiste in his company's new boats showroom. Image: Markku Lähdetluoma / Yle

Orders for new boats were brisk throughout the winter. However, supply chain problems have meant that the availability of new vessels is limited and the most popular models may have already sold out.

About five thousand new watercraft are registered each year.

4-5 meter pulpit boat a favourite

Korhonen says that the most popular class in Finland are pulpit boats in the 4-5 metre range.

"Some models in this size range have already been sold out this season," he adds.

Meanwhile, Finnboat's Pajusalo says the supply of new boats is still being hampered by a shortage of components.

"Boats have a lot of electronics, which impacts manufacturing. The same challenges apply to boats made in Finland, " he explains.

The sun is the best salesman

More than 70 percent of boats manufactured in Finland go to export markets. Boating is a billion euro business in Finland, and one that saw an estimated 10-20 percent increase during the coronavirus pandemic.

"The sun is the best salesman in both the boat and summer cottage trade," Pajusalo says.

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4-5 meter pulpit boats are a favorite type of watercraft in Finland. Image: Markku Lähdetluoma / Yle

Fishing for fun

Janne Korhonen points out that the popularity of spin fishing is reflected in the sale of boats.

"These four to five-metre boats are equipped with an outboard engine and plenty of electronics for spin fishing," Korhonen explains.

Often featuring chartplotters, GPS, and multiple monitors, onboard electronics can easily cost as much as the boat itself.

The popularity of spin fishing is also being reflected in the sale of electric outboard motors.

"Not so long ago, only a few hundred of them were imported to Finland annually. Now, for example, in 2020, that figure was more than 2,000," Pajusalo says.