Mercury Marine hosts test ride media event in New York

On August 1, Mercury Marine held a press event for non-marine journalists to showcase the advantages of boating through Mercury’s product integration and intuitive features.

“Every time we have an opportunity to get people on our boats and experience our engines and experience the new technologies we’re bringing to the marine world to make things more intuitive and easier for boats, we think any time is the right time to do that. This seemed like a perfect opportunity to do it,” said Mercury Marine President John Pfeifer.

The event, held at Pier 59 of Chelsea Piers in New York, was a little different than others Mercury Marine has held, in that no new products were launched. The main purpose of the event was to get journalists out on the water, especially if they hadn’t been boating recently or ever, to experience how Mercury’s latest innovations make boating easy and fun.

MarineMax at Chelsea Piers 59 in New York hosted and provided support for the event.

MarineMax at Chelsea Piers 59 in New York hosted and provided support for the event.

“At an event like this, we’re trying to bring people in to let them experience for themselves what our latest innovations have been in boating and let them experience the product, because some of these innovations, if you don’t physically use them and experience them, you can’t really appreciate what it does,” Pfeifer said.

An innovation Mercury believes needs to be experienced to fully appreciate is the SkyHook technology, which uses GPS technology to virtually anchor the boat. Boaters push a button and the boat holds its position. Saying how SkyHook works may sound great, but true understanding comes from stepping on a boat and seeing it yourself.

“If you think about all we’ve done to make boats easier to operate and intuitive in a lot of ways – joystick control, advanced features like SkyHook technology, autopilot, WavePoint tracking – it’s not impossible, but you can’t get the full experience of that just by presentations,” said David Foulkes, vice president of product development and racing at Mercury Marine and chief technology officer at Brunswick Corporation. “It’s great to take people who are maybe experienced boaters or novice boaters or even they’ve never boated before and show them that they can dock the boat, they can hold the boat in position, and then they can run the boat.”

Daniel Calrkson, director of product development and engineering, shows journalist Bryan Campbell Mercury's app features before a test ride.

Daniel Clarkson, director of product development and engineering, shows journalist Bryan Campbell Mercury’s app features before a test ride.

Journalists from a variety of consumer and trade publications such as Forbes, Fortune, The Huffington Post, Popular Mechanics, The New York Times and more visited Mercury at the event. Bryan Campbell, staff writer at Gear Patrol, had done some boating over the past few years with his father and brother but had never experienced the technology Mercury currently offers.

“The systems they have on the boat are pretty amazing [with] all of the automation they are putting into it,” Campbell said after a test ride on a Cigarette boat.

Foulkes took a test ride with a pair of journalists – one of who had grown up boating but hadn’t been for some time, and one who had never been boating. Foulkes said both journalists were impressed by the innovations.

“I think they were both really excited by how much tech there is in boating,” he said. And for the inexperienced journalist, “He was really surprised with how quiet the engines were, about how responsive they were.”

Mercury has hosted events like this before at the Miami International Boat Show, much like test ride events Discover Boating holds, and will host several more in the future. Mercury also held Mercury Edge events throughout the year, many of which were in Florida.

“We’re targeting specific areas and really bringing boaters in those areas out to events where they can experience some of the latest technology that we have,” said Pfeifer. “We want people to be able to experience it to really be able to appreciate what we can do now in the market.”

Clay Risen of The New York Times tests a Boston Whaler with his two children on the Hudson river. SkyHook technology allowed Risen to virtually anchor the boat and show his children the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island.

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