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ShowBoats International - March 2008 - First Class Upgrade

Written by Bill Ando

Boat International USA - Westport 164

Westport tweaks the inside of its tried-and-true 130 and sales take off.

Styling changes on series production yachts usually don't generate great excitement and increase sales, but there are, of course, exceptions. Westport displayed its newest 130-footer (39.6-meter) with a restyled interior at the 2007 Fort Lauderdale International Boat Show and, apparently, something clicked with the public.

"The reaction we got at the show far exceeded what we expected," says Ron Nugent, marketing director for Westport.

The strong reaction to the redesign resulted in five sales. A stalwart of the Washington State builder’s line since its introduction in 2000, the 130 proved its popularity with 23 hulls sold prior to the show. A reasonable person might deduce that the additional five sales, which account for 17 percent of the series’ total sales to date, are a result of the restyled interior of the boat displayed at the show, Hull No. 1523.

The 130's usual cherry interior was replaced on 1523 by raised mahogany panels with crotch veneers and veneers on the tabletops and other horizontal surfaces. A few walls found on the old 130 also were missing.

Amy Halffman, who shares chief designer duties for the builder's 112- and 130-footers with Theresa Francis, says, "We make changes based on feedback from previous clients."

Philip Purcell, vice president of sales for Westport, refers to the process as "progressing the product," adding that "owners will come up with an idea that they would like to incorporate in their yachts. We can make the change to one boat easily enough. We call that 'early discovery.'"

Once the proof-of-concept is accomplished-such as the skylounge changes that were first seen on Hull Nos. 1519 and 1521-and the change proves to be an economical and practical modification that appeals to the general market, it is standardized into the design. Hull No. 1515, delivered in 2005, received the first galley modification, yet it wasn't standardized until Hull No. 1523 in 2007.

A few elements have met the criteria and been standardized beginning with 1523. On previous models, the skylounge dayhead was at the top of the stairs, necessitating a wider wall to starboard of the flat-screen TV that faced the room. Relocating the dayhead to the space behind the television not only opens up the stairway and removes that extended wall, but it also gives the dayhead a hidden portside entry. The alcove where the bar once stood is now open, providing space for a games table, office or even a library.

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