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THE STATE OF MAINE'S BOATING NEWSPAPER Volume 29 Issue 2 February 2016


US Postage Paid Permit, #454 Portland, ME

Maine Coastal News FREE Back Cove and Sabre Continue to Dominate the Market

This is a rendering of Sabre's newest model, the Sabre 66, which will debut at the Miami Boat Show in February.

ROCKLAND – Over the last several years the boatbuilding world on the coast of Maine has rebounded from some very dark years of little work to no orders during the recession, which began in 2008. Everyone was affected, but now as the stock exchange in New York is free-falling once again, one can only hope we are not destined for another collapse. Despite this news, there are some extremely busy builders on the coast and two of these are Back Cove Yachts of Rockland and Sabre Yachts of Raymond.

The board of Maine Built Boats held a meeting at Back Cove the middle of Janu- ary. With this meeting the board members were given a tour of this incredible facility and operation. Bentley Collins, VP of Mar- keting and Sales of Sabre and Back Cove Yachts and VP of Maine Built Boat’s board, discussed the history and future of the two companies. He said, “Back Cove happened when a group of Sabre dealers, who were loving what we were doing at Sabre Yachts, said that they needed something that they could sell more of. We just didn’t have enough production capacity to build more units at Sabre Yachts in Raymond. So we came up with the idea of a smaller boat, but we decided we didn’t want to share the Sabre name. We would have two parallel brands, but Back Cove would be all single diesel engines/bow thruster models. They would be much more production oriented with internal fi berglass units and fewer modifi ca-

tions could be made to them. In 2003, we had a group of six dealers meet in Manchester, New Hampshire. We spent a day discussing what would become the Back Cove 29 and by the end of that day those six dealers had committed to all 36 of the boats that we plan to build the fi rst year. They said on one condition that they would commit to all of these boats if we didn’t let any other dealer take it on for a year. So we did it. We came up with the Back Cove name and logo and all of the rest of it. We sort of shirt-tailed it into the Sabre marketing program so every- body knew it was the same company but a different brand and away we went. Now we have shipped over 600 boats in the last now 11 years.” The fi rst model was the Back Cove 29 and this was followed by the Back Cove 26. They built 205 of the 29s, but the 26 was never as popular. They built almost 60 and sales began to fade.

Bentley added, “Once a model gets to the point where there is about 10 percent of the hulls that you have built on the used boat market it kind of signals the death of that particular model. So we scrapped that tooling. Since the 29 and 26 we have built the 33, 37, 41 and then we came back to intro- duce the Back Cove 32 to fi ll-in the bottom end range. We will always be operating in this range from about 30 feet plus or minus to 42 plus or minus.”

Back Cove and Sabre powerboat hulls

are not an evolution of a Downeast lobster boat hull. They term them contemporary Downeast style and they are designed in- house. The design team consists of Kevin Burns and his two associates and they are working on new designs for Sabre and Back Cove every day. Bentley added, “Kevin has gotten the Back Cove hull tunnel shape to the point where we want it. It is very fuel-ef- fi cient, quiet and you don’t get too much cavitation in the tunnel. We have gotten to the point where Kevin has gotten a pretty good formula so he can come up with a new Back Cove model pretty easily. The hull run- ning surfaces remain pretty much the same through the line with some exceptions. The 41 has a little less dead rise angle than the 37 for example. We farm most of our tooling out to companies either in Florida or Rhode Island. They build the plugs for us and we build the moulds. We will come out with a new Back Cove model every two years.” The newest Back Cove model is the 41, which has been in production since early 2014. “We haven’t done anything new-new for a while, but we will have another new Back Cove model on the market in July of this year,” said Bentley, but he could not say what she was going to be as they need to inform the dealers fi rst, which will take place in Miami on 10 February.

Back Cove started with purchasing Northend Marine and Fiberglass Engineer- ing in Rockland in 1993. Bentley added,

C o n t e n t s

Publisher's Note Calendar of Events

COMANCHE Takes Honors Port SafetyMeeting

Obituary: Jeff Armstrong U. S. Navy News

4 4 5 6 7 7

Waterfront News Hinckley & Morris

Maine Maritime Academy News Lost Whaling Fleet Found

9 9

10 Strawbery Banke Breaks Ground 10 Commercial Fishing News DELA Director's Report

Misc. Commercial Fishing News Maine DMR News Boat Yard News

Shipyard Cup & Rendezvous

11 12 13 14 15

70s Memories - Leadership Maritime History

History from the Past Classifi ed Ads


22-26 27-31

“In 1993 Northend Marine and Fiberglass Engineering was a tooling shop and they were tooling the Sabreline 43 motoryacht. They came to us and said we don’t want to do this much longer and if you really want to have a tooling shop here in Maine maybe you would like to buy this. We came to terms and over time we decided we didn’t want to be in the tooling business. We decided we wanted to build boats here so we converted from being a tooling shop to being a boat- builder that is when Back Cove came along and fi lled that gap.”

In 2005 they moved down the road after purchasing the former Nautica building. “We have got 240,000 square feet under the roof here,” said Bentley. “We currently use 180,000 of that and lease the other 60,000. One of the leasers is a company that stores seaweed, which is used in the food process- ing and pharmaceutical industries. We also lease space to one of our suppliers, Compos- ites One.”

It is impressive to see what happens within the walls of this building. They have 200 employees. About 30 of those work in what they call Sabre lamination. They are building the parts for the Sabre 48 and 54 and the 48 and 54 fl ybridge models. Those parts are then transported over road to Ray- mond. Also in this facility they are building the Sabre 66. Hull No. 1 had already been

Continued on Page 18.

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