Periodically, we feature bases from across our network. This includes an informative interview with the base owner as well as some of the recent accomplishments of that base.
The first base selected for this feature is SailTime New York. With their strong success since transitioning to new ownership and the fact that they have sold the largest boat in the SailTime fleet to date, SailTime New York is certainly a crown jewel among the base network.
Let’s jump in and see what base owner and manager Andrew Troyano has to say!
SailTime: You are one of the larger Beneteau dealers in the Northeast. Can you give us some background on Great Hudson Sailing Center?
Andrew Troyano: Absolutely. Great Hudson Sailing Center has had a long history of yacht sales as well as a respected sailing school. My father started working for the dealership as a sales broker, around 1995. Eventually, he became the sales manager there. In 2004/2005 he purchased Great Hudson Sailing Center from the previous owner. During those years, back in high school, I was working for them part-time washing boats.
I went to college to become an architect, I loved boating but was going in a different career direction. Due to an illness with my mother, I came back to the dealership temporarily to help with the office work. Fast forward eight years later, and I am pretty much running the company now. My father still comes in every day, but he leaves most of the day-to-day operational decisions up to me.
Beneteau has always been our bread and butter per se. We concentrate our focus on that as a dealership.
ST: Tell us a little about your base, its location and some of the sailing area.
AT: Our base is at Liberty Harbor Marina in Jersey City, NJ. This makes it extremely convenient for our customer base that lives in New York City as the NY Waterway ferry stops at the marina. The majority of our members are professionals from the city, so our base is an easy escape and a fantastic way for them to impress clients.
Because we are a Beneteau dealer, we understand the boats inside and out. This gives us an advantage on knowing what systems to check and how to handle any issues. Down the road, when it comes time for the boat to be sold out of the fleet, it will bring a higher value as we have extensive records of maintenance.
Our sailing area is NY Harbor, and an increasing number of members are taking the boats down to Raritan Bay. Both of these areas offer great sailing. Because of our location, members can shoot over after work (or leave early) and go for a sunset sail in the harbor.
We focus on training, which I attribute to our sailing school history. We understand the necessity of proper instruction and the need for it, especially with a program like SailTime. In fact, when we purchased the New York SailTime Base, we instituted rigorous training for all members, including current members. This has increased confidence with our members and has ultimately lead to a much better experience for all involved.
ST: So, what prompted your decision to become a SailTime base owner?
AT: Well, to be honest, my father was very hesitant about it. But being that he lets me run the company and trust my judgment, I wanted to do it. Laurent Fabre, Beneteau USA’s past president, was influential in our decision. He had a great relationship with SailTime and introduced me to Todd Hess, SailTime’s CEO. From there we started our conversation as they were looking to transition to a new base operator in the area. We met with the existing base owner, and he was ready to move on, so it was perfect timing. We took over the base during the winter of 2017.
As a Beneteau dealer, we had a 41.1 in inventory that we decided to put into the program ourselves to help bolster the fleet. 2017 was a great year for SailTime New York.
ST: Let’s talk a little about becoming a SailTime base owner as a Beneteau dealer. You touched on the fact that initially it was seen as a negative. Explain that and what changed your and your father’s perspective.
AT: I can attest, when they first announced that Beneteau and SailTime were forming a relationship I thought, “this is going to take away from our boat sales.” It just so happened that the gentleman that was running SailTime New York was reaching out to me and saying, “Hey, I’ve got some customers interested in buying Beneteaus.” After learning more, I came around. It took a while longer for my father.
The market is definitely changing, that’s what piqued my interest with SailTime. It’s probably an overused analogy, but it’s like the Uber for boating. You have that shared economy aspect. Our urban area and generally younger clientele are conditioned to the sharing economy. It can be expensive to own a boat these days, especially new boat. Sailtime really appeals to our area, our demographics.
To give you a little idea, we didn’t put any marketing behind it last year and sold the 41.1 out within 48 hours of sending out an email blast. Obviously, at that point I realized this wasn’t going to hurt sales, it was going to be a fantastic way to expose more people to sailing who may be interested in owning their own boat.
ST: Wow, so it seems that the market wanted the experience of sailing if you sold out memberships in 48 hours after announcing it. That seems to be the continuing trend in your area as you have just sold the largest boat into a SailTime fleet, the Beneteau 51.1. Tell us a little about how that happened.
AT: The owner for the 51.1 was a private boat owner on a Beneteau 41. He was considering buying a larger boat but couldn’t really see the cost benefit of doing so. He heard about SailTime and immediately reached out to us. We showed him some numbers, and within one day of seeing the financial benefits of SailTime, he wanted to see the boat. We arranged a showing on the 51.1 in Annapolis and on the drive back, he called me and said, “Without a program like SailTime I wouldn’t be buying this boat, but these numbers make sense to me, let’s do it.”
When you consider the fact that maintenance, slip fees, insurance, etc. are all covered, SailTime really makes sense.
ST: You are passionate about the benefits that SailTime offers member-owners. Why is that?
AT: Because it offers the ability to have a boat in a management program that is unique from so many others. When you look at SailTime vs. a traditional charter management program, the numbers far and away point to SailTime being a much better program.
Just this weekend I had a walk-in at the dealership. A guy was interested in new sailboats. As we started discussing, he mentioned he had a Bali sailboat with a charter company that he lost in hurricane Irma last fall. I mentioned SailTime which he never heard about. He then opened up about how he wasn’t very happy about the program he was in as it’s not as transparent/well run as he thought. He chose the 65% / 35% split, but with that, he was responsible for paying for all the costs. He said he felt duped and there wasn’t as much profit as he thought. Additionally, there was a lot of work and other costs for him. I talked about SailTime and how it differs, he became very interested. We spent several hours looking at boats discussing how a boat placed into SailTime makes sense.
He left that day very interested in SailTime and noted that he appreciated the transparency of the program and how it works. Additionally, the boat will be close to home so he will ultimately get in more sailing. I feel very confident this customer will be an owner of a SailTime boat very soon.
ST: That’s a great segway into my next question. Talk to us about the Beneteau 51.1. Selling the largest boat ever to be in the SailTime program into your fleet is a huge accomplishment. What are your favorite features of the boat?
AT: The 51.1 is one of my favorite boats from Beneteau. Its design is different from other Beneteau designs, and it stands apart. In terms of sailing the boat, yes, it’s a big boat. But certain things make it manageable; everything is led back to the helm stations. There’s no cabin top winch. The winches are all right back by the helm station. The boat has a self-tacking jib which obviously makes it a lot easier to sail the boat when you’re tacking, and you don’t have a lot of experienced crew aboard.
In terms of entertaining, the cockpit is huge. It’s comfortable and spread out; you have lounges on top of the cabin top. It’s got everything down below in terms of amenities it even has a wine cooler. It’s similar to having everything you’d find in your apartment when you’re entertaining your friends or family. We find that a lot of members are interested in joining because they want to experience the lifestyle that SailTime affords.
ST: Any closing thoughts?
AT: I would like to invite any sailors from the New York or Northern New Jersey area to come down and visit us or give us a call to learn more about our program. We certainly have a need for more boats in our fleet which presents an opportunity for the customer out shopping for a boat now. Our location is fantastic, and our members and owners get to sail and view the greatest city in the world!
For more information about SailTime New York or SailTime in your local area, please use the contact form below and we will get in touch with you!